The Late Comedian AJ Johnson and the Lost Potential of His Brand Value

Like many of you, I was certainly sad to hear of the passing of actor comedian AJ Johnson recently. For those who remember the 1990s with great fondness, his talent and face helped to make my favorite decade the best ever. One of the cherished movies he played in, 1990’s House Party, kicked off the golden era of Black entertainment, along with other notable Black movies that merged hip hop with acting and R&B music. We also remember Ice Cube’s Friday franchise that helped put a stamp on that decade, and BAPS with Halle Berry and the late actress Natalie Desselle-Reid. And AJ seemed to find a niche with Master P and his film making enterprise, which included I Got the Hook Up. But of course, the 90s would not be the classic it became without two great TV show series, Martin and The Jamie Foxx Show. I remember, before I moved to the Dallas area after graduating OU, I got a speeding ticket one time because I was racing home to catch the next episode of Martin.

Those were the days!

I could go on and on about AJ Johnson and that great era in Black entertainment, but to keep this video from going too long, I invite you to click the links below for other sites that have covered his life’s work. What I want to focus on in this video is the heart wrenching discovery that he died practically penniless. I’m not sure what kinds of contracts he had for the various movies, TV shows, comedy tours and music videos he appeared in, but I do know that those of us old enough to remember him in his prime years, know that his brand value could have easily afforded him and his family a comfortable life if managed properly. That’s even without life insurance.

Why do I say this?

Because the 1990s have become a classic era for our community, every memorable talent from that decade has intrinsic brand value that can be easily monetized using today’s technology. Social media memes are a good indicator of brand value, and AJ has been used in many memes. There have been a few brothas and sistas who used social media as a catalyst to lucrative entertainment careers.

So for all the established and rising entertainers out there in comedy, music and acting, social media is definitely your friend. But that’s just the distribution part of your business model, the part where you present the product of your talent to your fan base. But behind the scenes, you have to have the technology in place, in addition to a digital brand management strategy, along with digital rights management, as I speak about in my videos.

So what technology am I referring to? The visual presence of comedians, musicians and actors gets stored in various video file formats, most notably, MP4s and Apple’s MOV. These files are called digital assets. You need your own website to centrally manage these important assets worldwide so that, if your comedic routine is so raunchy that YouTube shuts you down, your fans can still go to your website.

But how do you store these massive video files? Website platforms like WordPress and WIX allow you so much space to store your videos, but at a price that is not always affordable for upcoming artists. A little known, much cheaper way of storing your digital entertainment assets is through cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.

My business uses Azure’s Digital Asset Management services for many of our videos. It’s very cheap actually, like a few pennies per month, depending on the size of your website traffic. My last monthly invoice from Microsoft for Azure was just under $10, and I have several big video files up there linked to our 50Plano TV Roku channel. But most importantly, you have total control over your video content, and you can stream it from your cloud account to platforms like Roku TV, the most popular video streaming platform.

Imagine if AJ could have set up his own channel on Roku and used Azure’s CDN technology with digital asset management to charge a subscription and stream his content himself. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, which helps you manage the efficiency of how you deliver your videos to platforms like Roku. This is what the big dawgs in Hollywood use, so today’s technology is definitely on the side of entertainers.

Also, the rise of NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) is making it possible to profit from memorable moments in history, and what better moments than the video clips from our favorite 1990s movies and TV shows. No need to be broke begging for the old school entertainment industry model to pay you fairly. If I personally knew AJ, I would have advised him to monetize his brand in this manner.

And if you are an established entertainer, or know someone who is, share this video with them, and come up with a digital asset business plan that uses these ideas as a foundation for wealth. AJ’s surviving widow and family members can still pursue digital rights management and negotiate copyrights, with any rights holders, as copyright law gets a little complicated after the death of the talent.

If you need help setting up your own entertainment based cloud account, let me know. Until the next video, my business warriors, war and peace.




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