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Tribute Videos: The Unexploited Video Niche That Pays In Love & Money

Apr 10, 2008
Video producers are everywhere.

What was once an exclusive turf driven by hardware, capital and corporate clients is now open to anyone with a camcorder and a computer.

I've produced video for 35 years, and I know that the "miniaturization" trend that has lowered the price of admission can be bring both boon and boondoggle. That new video kid on the block may be a joker or a gem.

So, what if you've got the spark, the gear, and you want in to the business?

The gear is easy, the entry may not be.

The worlds is overloaded with companies producing video for the corporate world, and documentarians hoping to get their latest idea onto Discovery or HBO.

Both fields are too crowded, with too much price erosion and not enough opportunity.

What the aspiring video producer needs is a niche.

Wedding videos are a niche, but that is a very crowded field.

Okay, what about a niche within a niche? I've got one:

Tribute Videos.

What are tribute videos?

Tribute videos are documentary-style personal stories about an individual and his or her life, produced for family, company, or organization use. Trbute videos mix historical media (slides, photos, documents, film, video) and sometimes new media (video interviews) to document the impact an individual has had on his or her family, coworkers, or cause.

They are often a personal life history; sometimes they chronicle a professional life.

Why is this a rewarding niche?

Let's define reward: There are two kinds in the video business: emotional, and monetary.

Tribute videos are full of emotional rewards. First of all, there is the reward from the audience. They applaud, cry, laugh, cheer, and thank you profusely. You often also get to know a person's life story better than most anyone else, and the life lessons learned are also invaluable.

The other reward is monetary. As a high-niche producer, you are more apt to be able to control your financial destiny. Corporations pay for what they can't get easily, and individuals or families will pay for a high end producer they see as a guru. Being a generic "we do anything" producer is the enemy of a decent income stream these days.

Tribute videos are work: about 100 times more work than a talking head training video or a YouTube stupid human trick. But the financial and emotional rewards are commensurate, if you know your stuff.

Tribute Videos are the perfect production and storytelling playground. To succeed, they need plenty of audio and video production prowess, but they need storytelling chops as well.

Which is why the field is still wide open. The training hasn't been there... and some people just don't like to work!

Which is a shame, because for me, with years of training, product, meeting, fundraising and other business video work behind me, the Tribute video remains the one niche that always satisfies and always rewards.

Consider it. Get a good foundation, and you may be the first-- and best-- on your block.
About the Author
Brien Lee has produced audio-visual communications his entire life. He is a creative director, scriptwriter, and producer, and made videos for some of the largest-- and smallest-- companies in the world. His website at VideoStory School explores Tribute-style videos and their potential.
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