Ricky Collins builds from parties to profit-sharing

Ricky Collins’ entrepreneurial mindset took hold when he was just 15, while growing up in Minneapolis’ Northside.

As a young rapper, he and his brother Nino were known for throwing outrageous parties, sometimes with guest lists of up to 1300 people. Nino would shoot videos of the parties as well as music videos for Ricky.

“So he would shoot my videos but he wouldn’t edit them,” said Ricky. “So I had to learn how to edit my own videos. And I’m already like a director just naturally, so then we would do video stuff for other people and I’d be directing or editing. We just kind of did that – not like a real business at first, but it was just like, we were just doing it for ourselves.”

After coming up with a routine, Ricky started his first business with his brother called Head in the Cloud Entertainment. “He shoots, I edit, I direct, he edits too, and I go out and get the clients and we just work it like that,” said Ricky.

In 2015 Ricky and his brother started a production company called The New Wave. Ricky was traveling around the country working alongside artists shooting videos and taking pictures while expanding their social media horizon. They did this for a whole year without any pay; Ricky likes to call it “self-Interning.”

At the time while managing his production company Ricky was still working a 9-5 job for a phone company. When he was fired for taking too much time off work, Ricky said it was just what he needed to jump start a full-time career in production.

Packed House Live crew.

“That was the last job I ever had, so me getting fired from the job was honestly the push that made it to where we can get to where we are now.”

Ricky is now the CEO of Packed House Live, which offers content creators majority equity in video/audio streams online, provides training that gives them the tools to build their own profitable streams and, as he puts it, “curates a movement that distributes power instead of consolidating it.”

In June of 2016 Ricky and his brother’s production company was picked up by Floyd Mayweather through a mutual acquaintance named Lil Jamez. Ricky says because of the hard work and dedication that he and his brother put in with Jamez, newly retired Floyd invited Ricky to work as lead of his documentary production team. Ricky says he never thought he would be into production the way he is now.

“I always tell people to keep an open mind – the more talent you have, the bigger or better asset you could be in different situations,” said Ricky. “It’s really changed my whole life.”

Working with someone as big as Floyd Mayweather was a huge opportunity. “We started traveling with champ all over the world, shooting his life, taking a lot of footage and archiving it for this documentary. Then he came out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor. We were overseas when that was happening, so we got to be a part of that entire process from the beginning to the end.”

Ricky watched Mayweather fight McGregor and then sell the content directly to consumers. “I’d just seen Floyd sell 4.3 million pay per views at $100 a pop. And Mayweather took home $350 million by himself. So I’d just seen him do this and I’m like man, you know, artists, creators, if they took the same concept, they can make a lot more money, because me being an artist, I know, I understand everything that goes on. We put our music on Spotify, Apple Music, we put our videos out on YouTube, Vimeo, whatever the case is, and they’re paying less than a cent per stream. So a million views on average pays $2-5,000. And it’s really hard for creators to make a real living off of their work because of the way that these business models are set up.”

After the tour, they returned to Las Vegas, where Mayweather put Ricky and Nino in charge of marketing and promotion for his club. While there, they made a deal with motivational speaker Eric Thomas, a.k.a. “the Hip Hop preacher.” “We got to travel with him for six months and work with him directly. And that was a crazy experience to travel all over the country with him, seeing how his business works and helping him do his thing.”

Ricky realized that no matter his success, he felt like he kept hitting a ceiling. He realized he just didn’t want to work under someone else his entire life. Working alongside some of America’s most influential people helped motivate him to start his own business, and to build it into something that would help other content creators in the process.

“That really inspired me to want to help other creators sell their content the same way and that’s what inspired me to want to start Packed House Live,” Ricky said.

Just a few months later, the pandemic hit; events were canceled and the need for big production teams evaporated. Again, Ricky was forced into his next chapter, this time to build Packed House Live, putting to use the lessons he learned working with Mayweather and Thomas.

“I think every creator needs exclusive space for their content. And you still want to utilize Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, all that stuff, making money on it, if you can, utilizing it for promotion,” said Ricky. “But then you want to have projects that are exclusive, so that you have equity, so that you make the most money, so that if it blows up or does well, you have leverage. Now you can take that and go and leverage that to get a better deal somewhere else or, you know, whatever you want to do with it.”

Ricky committed himself completely to his new project, working on it every single day for the next several months.

“I actually announced it on my birthday, July 29 2020. I put out a GoFundMe to raise $30,000 and I raised it in a week or two. So I started building out the architecture for the app.”

On December 11, 2021, Packed House Live launched its first streaming project. The app features local artist ciphers, virtual performances and exclusive interviews. It’s received more than 14 million impressions online.

Packed House Live’s production company just wrapped up its first major project, a movie called Switcharoo. Ricky says it’s the most profit-sharing movie in Minnesota history, with the entire cast and production team getting a percentage of the profits.

Ricky says one of his proudest accomplishments is not just being able to stream different artists all around the world, but also educating creators on how to stream and monetize their content. “Having a community of people that are all like-minded, that are all trying to build equity and generational wealth and utilizing these concepts to do it is super important,” declares Ricky.

About the author: Aaliyah Demry is a Twin Cities journalist, photographer and videographer. The host of “The Fly Subject” radio show on KRSM, Demry creates content around pop culture and entertainment.