Why did you start RightOutTV?
In 2010 we had an interview with Len Rogers from Rainbow World Radio in the U.S. and we were talking about a need in the LGBT music community for a central place that people could find queer-themed music videos. We had just made a few for our own music project, Sugarbeach and had no place to release them to. The radio and music side was well supported in our community, but other than sifting through YouTube, there wasn't a video resource, like a streaming channel or website that focused on that. By the end of the interview we had convinced ourselves that maybe we were the ones to give it a go. I had been in many aspects of the music business my whole life and Tully had a strong business background and some amazing computer skills…so we started approaching artists to give us permission to stream their videos on a live stream channel we called RightOutTV. Within a few months, we realized we could do even more to promote the artists so we took the channel and embedded it into a new fully promotional website, RightOutTV.com. Another big motivation at that time was also our desire to give LGBTQI youth a queer music resource where they could go to and find a whole lot of great music from people who are just like them.
I don’t see any advertising on either of your websites and you don’t charge annual membership fees. How does RightOutTV make money?
We started this as a “labor of love” which basically means, we couldn't see a way to make money and do it the way we wanted to but we felt it was important, so we did it anyway. It was never our intention to make money from the artists and although the awards does bring in a small profit (about a week’s pay for 3 months work), we never wanted to charge a membership fee. We do have some plans to seek sponsorship and find a way to fund the websites outside of our artist community.
Other than raising the profile of LGBTI artists, what do you hope RightOutTV has done for the queer music community?
We are aware, and only because the artists have told us, that RightOutTV and the awards have made them feel more like an important part of something bigger, like they aren't just out there as indie artists 'working it' on their own. That they appreciate being able to send us their new releases and there are no iron gates to get through, we just promote them! We often refer to this as the RightOutTV family because every artist we promote is now connected to us and to each other. We see some artists booking shows and performing together who met because of RightOutTV and more artists supporting each other on social networks. They often tell us that they appreciate discovering other LGBTI artists and are in love with their music..we, of course, are in love with hearing this!
How did the RightOutTV Music and Video Awards start?
We saw another need to be filled, a grassroots, indie, video awards that honored not only the artist who could afford to make pro videos but also the artist who was filming, editing and directing their projects themselves. The difference with our awards was we wanted to have industry professionals doing the judging, not an academy of artists voting for each other. We approached radio hosts, event coordinators, film directors, music producers, LGBT magazine editors, all people that not only would have an educated opinion but people that it would be good for the artists to be exposed to, Our first year, only 10 months after we launched the channel, we launched the RightOutTV Video Awards and had PRO and DIY (do it yourself) separated video categories.
When and why did you add music releases into the awards?
By the next year, we noticed that many of the artists we were promoting on RightOutTV.com still weren't making music videos but could use some recognition for their singles.(Right, so we see the pattern here…apparently we can’t stop ourselves from trying to fill a need.)
In 2011, we extended the name to the RightOutTV Music & Video Awards and had to cut down some of the video categories to make room for music. This was an excellent decision as we have been able to acknowledge so many more artists with this addition.
I love how the artists take part in your video awards presentation where you announce the winners. How did that start?
We never forget that this is all about them. So right from the first show, we asked the nominees if they could manage to film themselves announcing each other and send it to us so we could edit them into the show. In 2012, the announcers took it to another level sending us fantastic pieces of creative filming that totally made the whole presentation!
Are you planning to ever do a live awards show?
We have thought about it. If there comes a time when we can get sponsorship to fly the artists in to perform and pay them, then we’ll consider doing a live show, because that is what they deserve.