Today we’d like to introduce you to J.P. Haynes.
J.P., let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a creator, my journey was quite whimsical. For me, my most recognized industry work has been Selma The Musical: The Untold Stories. We toured the country with the live theater experience of the story of Selma as far East as New York, as far South as Mississippi and everywhere in between. We were fortunate enough to perform on The Royal Caribbean, at the Georgia World Congress Center, in the Bahamas and the list goes on and on. We were featured twice on Good Morning America, Sway in The Morning and many other syndicated radio and television programs. By all accounts, we were a wildly successful, independent Off-Broadway production.
While working to make the leap to Broadway, myself and the cast even moved to New York for nearly six months (on our own dime), under the impression that a residency followed by a Broadway deal was on the horizon. We were terribly wrong and the move turned out to be a horrifying misstep for a myriad of reasons. After licking the wounds of what seemed to be that failure, we began touring the U.S. again with the live show. The success then led to the second installment of Selma: The Untold Stories with a 4 episode made for television miniseries that I wrote and created. Before and after filming the limited series, we were on the prowl for a major network deal. From Netflix to YouTube TV, ABC & Apple TV, we just needed one network to give us a shot. The pitch meetings began and the phone never rang. Except for one network. We, however, ended up turning down that offer after learning they would own the series and effectively me and my intellectual property. I hadn’t gone through three years of struggle, loss and heartbreak with this production to sell it so someone else could profit.
I didn’t realize it in that moment, but the seeds for the culture of ICTV were then being planted. With no deal in hand (again), we decided to just do it our own way. That is when an aggregator stepped in and got us a deal with Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon and YouTube TV. Finally! We were thrilled and thought we were finally making the “next step” in the industry. If you look back at some of our old marketing, you’ll see the logos for those companies lining our series poster. Then one day, out of the blue and, of course, to my dismay, the aggregator was gone. The company was gone, the website, the brick & mortar, all of it, gone. I later found out that the company filed bankruptcy and was in the wind. At this juncture, I’m over it… all of it. I’m over the doors being closed. I’m over getting so close to the door time and time again and not getting through. From stage to film, I’m just over it all, from Broadway to TV, I was just over chasing the dream. There had been so much time and money lost. There had been sacrifices made that you couldn’t imagine and insurmountable losses as a result of those sacrifices.
Financially, emotionally, spiritually, I was done. We had played to sold-out audiences all over the country, and not once had we departed a city that didn’t result in a standing ovation. I knew our product was good. We were industry tested and proven. I had proof of concept. I had proven that as an independent creator, I could stand next to and run with the “big boys,” in theater and in television. So, that last blow was devastating. It took the wind and the desire out of me. At that point, I decided to release the series on YouTube and hope for some sort of viral miracle but those chances seemed incredibly slim. I really just wanted to be done with this project. Enter network that I’d previously turned down a distribution offer from. This was a smaller network that I had decided against doing business with. They approached me a second time. This time with an offer that seemed to be one I couldn’t refuse.
They offered me ownership of my own digital streaming platform. I was floored. Partly because the week prior, I had shared with two of my cast members that I should just create my own version of a collaboration between Sound cloud & Netflix where creators could own their content but we could offer a distribution platform. So, here it was. This opportunity to do just that. Fast forward to today. ICTV is preparing for worldwide launch! It is to be noted that I still did not go with that particular company due to poor business practices, but I was able to create a partnership with a company that has given ICTV Worldwide distribution and I have 100% ownership. We even have linear and satellite options. We’ll keep those in our back pocket for now with the trajectory and projections of digital streaming. ICTV will be available on Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, Samsung TV, Android TV, on all iOS & Android devices and the web. Literally everywhere.
For me, its important for creators and consumers to know that you can download our app and stream ICTV original television, movies, music, documentaries and so much more all of the same ways you can download Netflix, Hulu and all of your favorite streaming apps. We are geared toward the creator and we offer all or majority ownership in most instances depending on the individual deal structure. Not only that but we also offer a portion of distribution revenue to the creator for perpetuity. That, for me is another element that’s extremely important. Ownership & compensation based on your work, your fan base, what you’ve done and what you bring to the table is significant to us. I tell creators often, life-changing money, for now, is not always life-changing money forever and at ICTV, allowing you to own your content will help create a new wave for creators. We not only want to build our own table but at ICTV, we want creators to own their seat at the table as well.
That is the culture of ICTV, finding ways to empower creators, creatives & talent. We are providing a voice and a platform with global exposure that they may not have otherwise had access to. For me, taking the next step in the industry was met with adversity and dozens of no’s, and although that’s inevitable in this world of entertainment, quite frankly, I got tired of waiting for someone to give me a deal. I decided to take ownership of my “yes” and my “no.” I decided to make my own deal and then create opportunities for others as well. Nick Cannon most recently said, “you can’t fire a boss.” Well, at ICTV, we are giving creatives the tools, the resources, the support and distribution to be the boss of their creation story and that starts with ownership. We are launching our Sports Division, IC Sports, our theater division, IC Broadway, our magazine, IC Magazine, Live Sports & Event Streaming, IC Shorts, IC Culture Conscious Content, ICTV originals, IC Indie for content creators with completed content they’d like to bring to the network. And recently, at IC Sound, our music publishing label, we just signed a contract with Universal Music Group. A deal with Universal is game-changing for us. It is next level! So we want people to join this ICTV wave because we are going to do things differently to shift the paradigm for all creators, creatives and consumers.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road is never smooth when you’re building. Some things and opportunities may come to others sooner but I would venture to say everyone’s road has bumps. For me, one of the struggles was knowing I had a production that would had all of the makings of a Tony Award-Winning Broadway show but not having the relationships or the resources to take the show to the next level. Another was balancing my 9-5, my relationships and my dream. I did a terrible job at the beginning. I’m finally finding my footing and learning the battle of balance, but the road to get here has no doubt been bumpy. COVID-19 has surely created bumps in the road for everyone but during the majority of this pandemic is when the meetings (Zoom), planning and orchestrating of this network took place. There have surely been challenges, but we’ve still been so blessed to prosper in pandemic and through the obstacles.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with ICTV – Infecting Change Television – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
ICTV is a digital streaming service with an intensive focus on providing creators on the verge with an opportunity to have worldwide distribution and production through ICTV. I am most proud of what the culture and spirit of the company represent and I think that also answers the question that asks what sets us apart from others. We encourage ownership. We applaud it. We believe that creating more leaders/owners is a testament to the integrity of our company, not the other way around. We want everyone at ICTV to want to be here. We want our creators to have freedom in ownership over censorship. We want our talent to feel valued and not voiceless. We want our teams to feel encouraged, and we offer our creators, our talent and our team revenue distribution opportunities that allow them to maintain ownership and a portion of their distribution as well. Master P made the blueprint. We are just tweaking it and running in his footsteps.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I like the swagger of Atlanta natives. Remind’s me of T.I.’s lyric, “got the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid.” There’s a hustler’s spirit here, and I dig that. Least… has got to be the traffic. I mean, it’s not like LA traffic, but I try to avoid it at all costs.
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