PerformerTrack, the web-based application that is literally changing the way performers handle the "business of show", is a tool that didn't just happen overnight. A series of events and a number of performer organizational products that have been refined (and refined again and again) over the past 15 years are what caused Holdon Log (our parent company) to not only become a household name in the performing community, but also enabled us to create the powerhouse performer organizational tool, PerformerTrack!
You might still be asking - "So how EXACTLY did PerformerTrack come into being?" Well, to answer that question we have to turn the clocks back ... let's take a look at some of these company highlights...
1998 - 1999: The Actor's Life
Brian Vermeire and Kristina Hughes (the CEO and the President, respectively, of our parent company - Holdon Log), both actors, were consumed and overburdened with the daily minutia of a performer's life - (Auditions, Callbacks, Bookings, Income, Expenses, etc.).
Brian, was the "typical" performer at that time ~ getting called for Auditions by his Agents and Managers and then jotting the details (Project Title, Character Description, Date & Time, Audition Location, etc.) on anything he could find...scrap paper, sticky notes, the back of his hand... inevitably, he would find himself scrambling trying to find these "audition notes" that apparently were misplaced with other scraps of paper. Embarrassed, Brian would have to go back and contact the Agent or Manager and ask for the Audition information again. Of course, this scenario never did sit well with his representation.
Kristina, on the other hand, was a very business-like and professional Actor. Brian noticed that every time she was called in for an Audition she would pull out a spiral bound college-ruled notebook and ask her Agent or Manager a series of questions in a very methodical way, always asking the same questions in a sequential manner (Project Title, Audition Date & Time, Audition Location, etc.). She would then write this information down and always knew where it was...in that spiral bound college-ruled notebook!
2000 - December: An Idea Is Born
It was Christmastime and Brian tried hard to figure out what to give Kristina. Clothes? Jewelry? A day at the spa? Hmmm...what would really stick out as a cool, unique gift? The more he thought about it the harder it seemed to come up with an idea for that "perfect" present... yup, he was destined to go to the mall and do the usual gift hunting... or, was he?
Just as he picked up his car keys to go out and do his Christmas shopping... Kristina got called in for an audition... again, Brian observed Kristina's rhythmic Q&A session with her agent - same questions - different answers - all being written down in that spiral bound college-ruled notebook!
AN IDEA IS BORN!
In the dark of night, behind closed doors, Brian drafted up on his computer an Audition Form Sheet.
After days of tweaking the layout (complete with the now famous "Booked Project Star"), Brian had 200 Audition Form Sheets printed and coil bound at the local Kinko's. He then individually numbered each page by hand! It was definitely a unique gift... however, the vinyl navy blue cover looked rather dull.
To remedy this, Brian dug up some card stock, gold string and Crazy Glue. He then proceeded to give the "Official Audition Log" a facelift. Let's just say his artwork needed a little...eh, hem...work.
Well, so the story goes, Christmas rolled around and needless to say it was a hit, Kristina LOVED her unique gift!
January, 2001: Multiplying
A week after New Year's Day Brian observed Kristina actively using her "Official Audition Log" - uh, oh... it worked so good for her that he realized that he need one for himself! Some would say that his next move was a tad tacky ~ he, in essence, cheapened her "unique" gift by creating his own. Not to fear, Kristina was okay with this - in fact, she encouraged it!
After a couple weeks of Brian & Kristina heavily using their "Official Audition Logs" - something interesting started happening ... their acting friends were asking how they could get an "Official Audition Log"! Without hesitation, Brian & Kristina printed and bound a dozen Logs and gave them to their friends as gifts.
2001 - February: Forming The Company
Four weeks later even more friends were asking for Brian & Kristina's homemade Logs - it was at this time they realized that they had "something special" that was needed by ALL actors - an organizational tool!
Brian & Kristina did research and found that there was nothing quite like their "Official Audition Log" on the market ... this is when Brian & Kristina went into high-gear - to form a company and produce larger quantities of their "Official Audition Log". However, before they could do that they had to come up with a name!
"Audition Journal" - no...
"Acting Log" - no...
"The Acting Diary" - no...
"The Mono-Log" - (achooo) no way...
"Holdon Log" - YES!
Holdon Log: Where Does The Name Come From?
This is a question posed to all of us who work for Holdon Log all the time. Most people think that "Holdon" must be the last name of one of the owner's of the company...but, that isn't the case...
Really, the name came from what the Actor says to their Agent, Manager, or a Casting Director when the get called in for an audition.
The conversation usually goes like this:
INT. - APARTMENT - DAY
An Actor is stapling resumes to their headshots. The sound of a cell phone snaps the Actor into action. The Actor dives to the couch where the cell phone rests and answers...
A smile beams across the face - it's the Agent calling...
I have an Audition tomorrow - excellent!
Okay... can you
HOLD ON a moment?
I have to get my LOG...
The Actor confidently reaches for the Holdon Log on the coffee table... and writes down all the important details...
We Need A Company Logo!
Just like a movie needs a theme song, a company needs a logo! So what would Holdon Log use for a company logo? After all, image is everything!
Everyone was dead-set against anything cheesy! No palm trees... No Hollywood sign... No drama masks! Actors are sick of being sold to and we weren't about to offer a truly useful product that (from its logo) reeked of a fly-by-night acting-related scam.
At first we liked our original logo... non discript... a big "H" in the middle...
However, customer feedback was pretty much all the same... everyone thought it looked like a football (to which we would retort, "Holdon Log, it's the playbook for your career!").
Needless to say, that didn't last long.
We then hired a different graphics company to makeover our company logo as it is known today:
A vast improvement, don't you think?!
April, 2001: Sam French & Then Some!
In April of 2001, Holdon Log enters into its first bookstore - an order for just 20 Actors' Holdon Log Books was placed by Samuel French Bookstores in Los Angeles. Who would have known that this was just the beginning of Holdon Log products being picked-up by many performer-related bookstores, retail outlets and Web sites worldwide?!
2001 - August: Holdon Log's Website Launched
The last week of August 2001 was when Holdon Log went fully online with an integrated shopping cart! That's right - www.HoldonLog.com was officially on the "World Wide Web" (whoopee)! Not much fanfare nor hubalabub was made about it - but that was okay...Holdon Log had a mission - to get Performers organized!!!
September 11th, 2001: Persevere
It was September 10th, 2001, HoldonLog.com had been on the Web for almost 2 weeks ~ no online sale had transpired... yet.
On this day Brian & Kristina had to hurry and fly back to Los Angeles after attending a weekend wedding in Seattle. The reason why is because (according to their archived Holdon Logs) they were in callbacks on this day for Host positions on a new show called "American Pop Idol" (yes, this was to be the show that is now known as "American Idol")!
After their callbacks they had to get busy and pack for a flight the next day, September 11th, from Los Angeles to Hawaii. They were to attend a family reunion...
The morning of September 11th was a beautiful one - that is, until the news of what transpired that fateful day was known. Obviously, Brian & Kristina's morning flight was cancelled.
The utter shock and sadness was overwhelming to say the least. A feeling of hopelessness and fear hung in the air. However, something interesting happened...
Later that morning the very first order for an "Actors' Holdon Log" came through the HoldonLog.com Web site. Odd, it seemed - yes. Of all days, why on September 11th did someone decide to buy a Holdon Log??? The last thought that would be on anyone's mind was "actor organization"... but we at Holdon Log took this as a positive sign ... a glimmer of hope.
The world that day seemed to be turned upside down. Yet, there was an actor out there who knew that life goes on and that the terrorists weren't going to win at deflating the human spirit of drive and determination. It was a dark day - but to this performer it was a day that would mark a change of a life and career...to be more organized today - to be better prepared for tomorrow - and the next day - and the day after that. We thank that actor for teaching us that life does indeed go on...and no matter how bad things seem, one must persevere.
2002 - Logbook Expansion
2002 was quite a booming year for Holdon Log! Several employees were brought on board and its paper-based product line was expanded with the release of three new logbooks:
April, 2003: ActorTrack Software Launched
The founders of Holdon Log always knew from the first day they went into business that their logbooks would someday be translated into software. Well, that someday became reality in April of 2003 when Holdon Log released the first ever truly comprehensive software program for performers, ActorTrack v1.0. It actually debuted at the Back Stage West tradeshow in Los Angeles and never looked back.
Over its 5 year existence ActorTrack quickly grew into the single largest-selling organizational tool for performers! Thousands of ActorTrack users in 47 states and in various countries including Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, South Africa and Japan have all benefited from what was dubbed as the "Standard In Career Management Software for Performers".
After a series of upgrades ActorTrack v2.0 was officially retired in late 2008 to make way for the much-anticipated and eagerly-awaited follow-up online application, PerformerTrack.
2004 - Holdon Log: Sponsorships & Philanthropic Endeavors
In 2004 Holdon Log began its quest to give back to the entertainment community and to other worthy causes through the creation of its Corporate Sponsorship & Philanthropic Endeavor Divisions.
We are proud to say that since its inception Holdon Log has sponsored, made monetary contributions or donated items to over 100 deserving groups/events!
As our company continues to grow and expand, our level of sponsorship commitment will as well!
2004: Logbook Product Expansion #2
Because of the outcry from live performers who wanted the same ability to log & track the nuances of their "business of show", and the plea for a submission tracking system from performers who target projects and/or representation, Holdon Log created two more logbooks in 2004:
It's the success, feedback and then refinement of all of our paper - - based logs that we ultimately include as value-added features into our Web application, PerformerTrack!
April, 2005: ActorNation Newsletter Created
Holdon Log realized the need for an infomative and interesting newsletter for performers with a "community feel". So, the visually stunning ActorNation Newsletter (now known as the PerformerNation Newsletter) rolled-off the virtual "performer presses" in April of 2005. The monthly newsletter first focused on Holdon Log's products and has evolved into a bulletinboard of sorts, jam-packed with informative articles, free classes & coaching sessions, event listings, useful performer-related links, book & play reviews, casting director commentaries and the inspiring "User Spotlight".
The PerformerNation Newsletter today is a HUGE success with over 36,000+ readers consisting of Industry professionals; performers, agents, managers, casting directors, etc.!
2005: Logbook Product Expansion #3
Performer feedback determined that although there was a complete Booked Projects section within the ActorTrack Software customers asked that we make a "paper version" so that they could take it with them to rehearsals, table reads, fittings, call times, etc.
So in 2005 Holdon Log unveiled the Booked Projects Holdon Log! We have kept a particularly keen eye on the sales performance of this product. We are happy to report that sales of the Booked Projects Holdon Log are increasing from year-to-year ... which only goes to show that organized performers are booking more work!
Also in 2005, Holdon Log's Founder, Kristina Hughes, worked with our design team to develop a logbook specifically for pageant contestants and title holders.
Well, here's a little trivia for you ... Kristina was a woman who went through the pageant system and in fact was crowned "Miss Connecticut USA" and competed in the nationally televised "Miss USA Pageant"!
She knew that having an organizational system was needed for those involved in the the world of pageants, thus the Pageant Planner Holdon Log was born!
2006: PerformerTrack Development
Holdon Log's original plan was to continue to update the pre-existing software program, ActorTrack for both PC and MAC formats. However, at that time, it was quite apparent that there were shortfalls to software...Countless times our tech support staff had to hear the devastating news from ActorTrack users who didn't back-up their data and lost everything... Despite e-mails to the ActorTrack user base alerting them to a new update to install - many never did ... ActorTrack users wanted the flexibility to hop from one computer to another and have access to their information, but couldn't ... the list goes on and on...
From experience, Holdon Log's management learned that software was too rigid and confining to move the application forward and to implement the many new features that would enhance the program.
Looking at ActorTrack objectively and having the vision of where the Company saw the program in 5 to 10 years it was abundantly clear that software was NOT the direction to continue development in. The next evolution was "Webware". By doing so it eliminated the MANY restrictions inherent in traditional software, while gaining the power and flexibility that comes with the application going online.
The downside to switching from software to Webware was that Holdon Log had to start completely from scratch - none of the coding could be brought over from the ActorTrack program because building an application online is a completely different animal. Essentially, Holdon Log had to face the fact that they were building a brand new product. The company looked at this in a positive way! They realized that by having to rebuild the program they could re-invent ActorTrack and make sections even more dynamic and user-friendly! Nothing was sent in stone - all options when creating the Webware application were wide open!
In January 2006, Holdon Log put together a committee to explore the best way to go about going online - both in programming language and security. By late February a full blown report was submitted on the scale of the development and the process to ensure the best possible product that would eventually become PerformerTrack.
In March of 2006 development was underway with a new team of programmers who worked closely with Holdon Log's Design & Development Department.
Every bit of feedback that was received from ActorTrack users was taken into consideration and often applied. As the system was being constructed many new features were dreamed-up and implemented. In fact, we had to reign in many of the new features and put them on our "future roll-out" schedule.
It's exciting to know that PerformerTrack will continue to evolve and grow in the future weeks, months and years ahead!
2008: PerformerTrack Launch
It was late September of 2008 when PerformerTrack was officially launched to the world!
With incredible performer reviews and extraordinary Industry proclamations - PerformerTrack is the undisputed Industry leader in Performer Organization.
Watch as PerformerTrack constantly grows and improves based on the user feedback we get!
2010: Industry Deal Launch
In 2009 Groupon was fairly new to the world. For fun we decided to run our paper-based log books on Groupon to see what would happen. However, Groupon got back to us and said that the Entertainment Industry is too small - essentially a big, fat - "NO THANK YOU!".
Well, by 2009 we came to know a LOT of performer-related businesses that we had come to know, like & trust... we also got to know what businesses were scammy. And at the time we had a rather large clientele.... so we put two & two together and in 2010 we created Industry Deal; a deal-a-day site just for Entertainment Industry Professionals providing AMAZING DEALS at 50% OFF or GREATER!
We enjoy connecting the businesses we trust and like to our list of people in the Entertainment Industry!
You can get deals on Headshot Photography, Classes, Workshops, Seminars, Printing Services, Trade Publications, Equipment Purchases, Rentals, Event/Shooting Locations, and so much more! Sign-up for the e-mail list and check back often, you definitely don't want to miss this!
2013: ShowBiz Sender Launch
Through Industry Deal we talked to plenty of business owners who cater to those who work in the Entertainment Industry... and listening to our user-base of PerformerTrack Members we constantly heard the same thing over and over again... the unbelievable dissatisfaction and frustration with newsletter services like MailChimp, Constant Contact and iContact. One problem with these services is that they are bloated and confusing to use - they are built more for huge marketers with massive sales teams - not for those working in the Entertainment Industry. Also, another big problem is that these other newsletter services is that they penalize you every time you grow your e-mail list by charging you anywhere between $75 - $300 a month. This is cost-prohibitive for most people and thus they stop growing their mailing list. This is a business-killer.
In 2013 we launched "ShowBiz Sender"; a much more user-friendly newsletter service that is built specifically for those in the Entertainment Industry. Hands down, Showbiz Sender's price is UNBEATABLE - and it is way more user-friendly than any other service out there.
2015: ShowBiz Sender Acquired by MailerLite
After 2 years of providing the best platform for the Entertainment Industry to send their newsletters, ShowBiz Sender quickly grew into a success! So much so, that the ShowBiz Sender arm of our company was acquired by the great team at MailerLite!
The Future: Stay Tuned...
Lots more exciting news to share about product enhancements and new services will be coming soon. Like you... we can't wait!