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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

5 people who became rich in awesome ways

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What makes humans so remarkable is our capacity to come up with solutions when we’re stuck. Ingenuity and initiative have propelled civilization forward at an exponential pace throughout history. People have created new methods to earn a living, even flourish, and become millions and billionaires.

1. Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, was able to profit off his critics when he created “I Hate Elvis” badges, which he marketed to people who would not otherwise pay for Elvis goods.

Photo Credits: Red River Parish Journal, Wikimedia

When Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, fell into financial difficulties in 1955, he sold Elvis’ contract to RCA Records. Parker, an ex-carnival promoter, became his manager there. When Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” became his first million-selling single against low expectations, Parker decided to promote him like never before.

In 1956, Elvis’ long-held hidden ambition of becoming an actor was realized with the release of the film Love Me Tender. The film was a smash success, with the title song selling over a million copies, a record for a single. To capitalize on this, Parker struck a $40,000 merchandising contract with the aim of turning Elvis into a brand. Over 50 distinct items targeted at the adolescent market were launched in only a few months, including charm bracelets, scarves, bubble gum cards, and shoes. One of Parker’s efforts featured the sale of “I Hate Elvis” badges. [Source]

2. After being annoyed by telemarketers’ frequent calls, a UK guy set up his own personal 0871 number in 2011 to charge whomever contacts him. He provides that number to the bank, gas company, and electricity company when they ask for his contact information.

Photo Credits: Canva, Lee Beaumont/Twitter

Lee Beaumont’s situation is familiar to everyone with a phone number, and nearly everyone has been annoyed by calls they aren’t interested in at some time. According to a Citizens Advice study, more than two-thirds of those contacted got unsolicited calls, emails, texts, or letters. So, in November, Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT to set up his own line, which would price 10 pence each call, with seven pennies going to him.

When the businesses questioned why they were assigned such a number, Beaumont told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours program that he was honest about what he was doing. Surprisingly, nearly every company he called on that number did not protest, and if they did, he urged them to send him an email. [Source]

3. An American called Daniel Balsam left his job and went to law school only to file lawsuits after getting enraged by the volume of spam emails he was receiving. In court judgements, he has earned over $1 million.

Photo Credits: Canva, The Law Offices of Daniel Balsam

Balsam got a lot of spam emails promoting women’s procedures while working in marketing. Enraged, he filed numerous small claims court cases in 2002. He began bringing cases as a pastime, but eventually decided to make it his profession. As a result, he enrolled in the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where he received his law degree in 2008.

Since then, he has filed lawsuits against every spam email he has received and has amassed enough money to sustain himself full-time and hire an attorney, Timothy Walton. They earned an average of $1,000 per email amongst them.

He was granted $1.125 million in damages against a business that sent him 1,125 spam emails. He didn’t get paid for this or many other cases since most of these businesses have fake company names and are registered to post office boxes. [Source]

4. Vulfpeck published a totally quiet album called Sleepify on Spotify in 2014, urging listeners to play it on repeat while sleeping. Before the record was withdrawn, they earned $20,000 in royalties.

The album, which was published in March, included 10 songs that were each about 30 seconds long and titled with the same amount of Zs as the track number. “The first track,’ Z,’ definitely sets the tone, a quiet, fascinating work,” according to Tim Jonze of The Guardian, adding “It’s followed by ‘Zz’ and ‘Zzz,’ which continue along similar lyrical themes while remaining faithful to Sleepify’s overarching minimalist aesthetic.”

The record took advantage of a flaw in Spotify’s royalties calculating system. According to the band’s creator, Jack Stratton, the concept originated from a podcast discussion with Ron Fair, who described how if a listener wanted to hear the cover of Lady Marmalade, they would have to download the whole soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge! The band intended to use the profits to crowdfund a free concert tour of the same name. Despite the fact that a Spotify representative hailed the album a “brilliant prank” and joked that it was a “derivative of John Cage’s work” it was quickly deleted for breaching the site’s terms of service. [Source]

5. After seeing how famous the Trollface meme has become on the Internet, its author registered it in 2010. He made $100,000 in licensing fees and settlements by 2015.

Photo Credits: Sacrafan/Imgur, Medium

Carlos Ramirez, then 18 years old, was ignoring his college work and browsing the 4chan anonymous image board in 2008 when he decided to upload a Trollface cartoon he created on MS Paint, as he regularly did. He was delighted to see 4chan members spreading the doodle the following day. He had to go on a lengthy vacation after that, and he couldn’t use the Internet. When he returned, he saw that 4chan members, as well as many other Internet users, were using the picture to call out individuals who made weak arguments or provided inaccurate information but claimed they were simply “trolling” when challenged.

Ramirez didn’t make much of it at first, and his sister was the only one who knew of his meme’s popularity. She stumbled and informed their parents about it one day. Ramirez’s mother, to his surprise, was very pleased of him, even going so far as to create a graffiti of the meme on their home wall. Ramirez agreed to register the doodle when she suggested it.

Many lawsuits were filed against individuals who profited from the meme, including Ninja Pig Studios, which created a game called Meme Run based on his drawing. On Nintendo’s eShop, the game was available for $4.99. Ramirez didn’t go after people who just used it for fun and not for profit. [Source]

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