Originally from Liverpool, England, Tony Rockliff is a videographer, music producer, web designer and Internet marketing consultant whose passion is to inspire and help artists and entrepreneurs do better. Rockliff is a true creative who enjoys collaborating with clients to generate ideas and bring those visions to life. His story emphasizes how one's journey, and not necessarily the final destination, truly dictates and shapes how we spend our time, what are passions are and where we end up in life.
"My journey started as a young kid when I decided I wasn't the nine to five office guy and I made the decision to start a band," Rockliff said. "Much of what we did was heavily influenced by the Beatles after seeing their first ever TV appearance. Long story short, the band didn't last long when I decided to 'break out' of boarding school. I ended up hitching a ride to London and, after voluntarily spending the night in a detention facility for free room and board, I gave a bit of a sob story to the warden who took pity on me and sent me to a hostel in Earl's Court. After a few months, I formed another band, this time with my roommates, who turned out to be members of Scottish and Irish street gangs. We found a manager who booked us a gig in Beirut, Lebanon. The flight that was supposed to be five hours took four days and, after six months of adventures, including confiscated equipment and passports, a bombed airport, a midnight raid on a police station, bribes and finding ourselves in the center of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, we were ready to come home."
Upon returning to London, the band's manager booked a session in a local studio for them to create a record. Rockliff remembers walking into the studio for the first time and feeling like the proverbial kid in a candy store.
"I knew I was home," he said. "This is what I wanted to do. After the session, I spoke with the studio manager and asked if I could hang around and just watch and learn for the next few months. I also asked if I picked up enough within one month if he would hire me. He thought I was nuts, but I asked again. He finally agreed and, after a month of quietly watching and learning, I did my first session. Everything went well and thus I started my career as a recording engineer. A few months later, a couple of very successful record producers came into the studio and heard a song I'd been working on. I was in the middle of editing it and they asked if they could have a copy. A few weeks later I had my first record deal and my first international hit record as a record producer."
Rockliff spent the next ten years producing music in London. In 1978, he got invited to speak at a conference in Los Angeles. On the way to LA, he landed in New York for a layover and remembers having an "overwhelming sensation of coming home." After the conference, Rockliff flew home and immediately put the wheels in motion to move to the United States.
"After I moved to LA, I got into video production and around the same time started building websites, in addition to still doing music production work and giving seminars. Almost everything I learned was self-taught. I also learned about Internet marketing and how to promote businesses on the web. In 1995, I created an online social networking community called Cybertown. Over the next seven years, we grew that community to 1.3 million members from 155 different countries. At one point, we were one of the top 2,500 websites in the world, in terms of traffic. I eventually sold Cybertown in 2002 and relocated to Clearwater. It was the right time for a change."
Throughout his career, Rockliff has maintained steady growth and success by emphasizing quality delivery and innovation. As Rockliff shared, sometimes doing something different from what everyone else is doing is the key to standing out.
"When I first came to the states, I visited with a bunch of record companies," he said. "In most every office, I noticed stacks of brown envelopes that were submissions from different artists. In order to have my submission stand out, I hired a cartoonist to create large multi-colored envelopes with riddles. In order to solve the riddles, you had to open the package. I also utilized guerilla marketing techniques and piggyback marketing whenever possible."
In 2014, Google started to change the SEO landscape. Getting found was much more about content and back-links than just key words. Rockliff shifted gears a bit and started to focus more on videos. After conversations with clients regarding the exposure of their videos, he became very interested in YouTube optimization. He found that very few people were providing that as a service, and most people were just guessing at which videos to make. So he started analyzing his client's YouTube channels and creating recommended strategies for maximum exposure.
Looking ahead, Rockliff is not slowing down any time soon. He still offers an array of media-related services at his 4 studios, but is currently focused on video production and promotion through YouTube.
What advice does Rockliff have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Choose the people you work with very wisely," he said. "Stay connected with those that bring you up and remove those that don't. Also, believe in yourself and ignore the negatives voices in your own head and those of the naysayers. I'd like to leave off with one of my favorite quotes by William Hutchison Murray, a Scottish mountaineer and writer: 'Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!'"
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