I summed up a lot of how I felt about the recent furor around AFP’s “beer and hugs”-gate1 last week; there’s only a few things that I’m going to add here over the next few days.
First, I’m going to add my observations (and resolutions) as a publisher. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some things I observed from a sociological/economic point of view. And Friday, I’ll sum up with a personal example.
And finally, as an important side note: I’ve talked about this (online and off) with quite a few people over the last week or so. This isn’t aimed at anyone; I’m clarifying my own position publicly.
As Alliteration Ink:
- I will continue to pay percentages (and higher than normal) when I can’t pay people up front. This is one place I disagree with AFP’s (original) decision. I understand the value of gaining an audience (see the next point), but I also think it’s important to also pay content creators what I can. If I can’t pay an advance against royalties, I pay a higher percentage of royalties. But I can also think of some reasons that would work for me and not her. For example, a percentage of the gross and net take for a show in NYC is probably very different than the same percentage of the gross and net take for a show in Podunk). That said, I’m glad that AFP has decided to pay them more than beer and hugs and merch; that’s more in line with my own personal ethos.
- There needs to be a refinement to indictments against “exposure” with the existent discoverability problem. Discoverability is an issue for any independent content creator, whether a musician, author, app developer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist… the list goes on. Hell, this goes for many a “signed” artist as well. There is a point where additional “exposure” gives diminishing value. But there is a whole class of professional level content creators who are still struggling to gain sufficient audience to turn their art into a career. Consider: What else drives advertising and review sites, except the hope that it will attract new readers and fans?
- When (and maybe if, now) I run a crowdfunding campaign as a publisher, it will be quite clearly structured as pre-orders. I thought of AFP’s Kickstarter campaign that way. I paid for a digital download of the album and some cool artwork. I got what I paid for, and the transaction’s complete. But quite a few people felt that contributing to the Kickstarter gave them a voice in what happened after the album was delivered. I categorically disagree strongly with this viewpoint… and have no interest in opening myself up to back-seat driving as a publisher.
Feel free to disagree in the comments; this is all very value-laden stuff, but I think discussing it openly is more important than just getting pissy with each other.
1 Aw, c’mon. You know you wanted to call it that too.