fan economy

Fans, Social Media, and Creators

Nancy Baym shared a really good presentation she delivered at by:Larm on Online Fandom (download it here).  While her talk was directed at musicians, I think any kind of Entertainment Designer can benefit from it.  This PDF went right into my EverNote.

She made a couple points I would like to expand on:

Fan Culture is Gift Culture

The most important thing to understand about fan culture is that it is

based on gifts, not money.


That doesn’t mean there’s no money involved, but it does mean that

even when there is money involved, money tends to function as a gift

rather than a payment. This is in dirapproach to audiences as a market.

I have hammered away on this topic for quite some time.  I love how simply she puts it. 

Too many entertainment designers think of their audience as customers who are chomping at the bit to hand them fist full of cash...  and they wonder why we are loosing interest in them.

Fandom is a two way street.  Content Creators need to ask themselves, "Am I giving my audience enough?"

Now that is not enough product, although that is important, it is also about giving your fans gifts.  One of my favorite bands, Queensryche, often writes new music while touring, and will post live tracks to their site to gage fan reaction.  That is a good example of a gift.

Fans like stuff

Fans like stuff. They collect, they give each other things, they show

their things off to one another. In the digital realm, goods include

sound files, images, videos and so on.

How true is that?  My house is a veritable shrine to the franchises and bands I love.  I have a 3 foot Millennium Falcon in my office.  But there is a difference between merchandise and collectables.

The compact that exists between fans and entertainment designers is that the stuff they have for sale will be the best quality they can afford to produce, and that they are not just trying to fleece money from their fans.

Whenever I think of merchandise gone wrong, I think of the Kiss Potato Heads.  What the hell is that all about?  When I think about Kiss, potatoes don't really come into the picture.  Most cringe worthy merch ever.

Fans value creativity

Artists tend to focus on their own creativity, and that is the locus

around which fans organize, but they also use others’ art as an

opportunity to flex their own creative muscles and they enjoy seeing

and hearing one another’s creative works.


Some of the things fans make are art, remixes, cover versions, fiction.

I have talked about this topic a lot.  I just wanted to bring attention to it again.

Entertainment Designers and Fans

We need to spread the word, and I hope the folk Nancy spoke to were actually listening.  The creative world has changed, and if we don't change with it, none of us are going to make it.

Do you think she missed something in her presentation?  What do you think Entertainment Designers should do to make fandom and interaction easier?

Vidding is Free Speech

By jonathan mcintoshVidding is the art and craft of remixing video and music to produce an original work.  I keep getting asked, is this free speech or not?

I am not a lawyer

Legality is (unfortunately) in the eye of the copyright holders.  Some rights holders would rather maintain a stranglehold on their properties than allow free promotion of their works.  I think a better question than "are vids legal" is "should vids be legal?"

They paved paradise...

Vidding to me is a natural expression of fandom and  a proper use of a fan's fair use rights.

Copyright is intended to maintain the profitability of a creative work for those who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into making it.  I have no problem with a creative person making money off the fruit of their labors, but entertainment designers need to think about how and why they make money, and if the answer is licensing fees, they need to find a new job.

Fan Love = Money

Let me take a moment to talk directly to my fellow entertainment designers.

Hey guys and gals, I know some of you already know this but we need to bring some peer pressure on those who don't.  If you want to make money, you need people to like you, even better if you can make them fall in love.

I know, love a scary thing, and relationships are hard.  You have to develop listening skills, and actually care how your actions affect others.  The risk is worth the rewards. 

As your relationship with your fans grows, they will start participating in the media.  They will make art, filk, and fanfiction.  If they really love you, they will take the time to make a vid.  I know it is scary to have someone other than you edit your work, but they will then share it with others who have never heard of you.

Love is risky.  It is hard to put yourself out there, without risk, there are no rewards.  If you make it hard for people to love you, they will walk away, leaving you cold and alone and eventually walking the streets wondering why no one dares to care for you anymore.  You will end up spending all you time and money on ad agencies who, let's face it, are little more than the dating sites for media.

Don't make it hard to love you.  Relax, take it easy, and you'll find your relationships worth wild.

Vidding as fair use

If you are not making money off your vids, or reproducing copyrighted content verbatim, they no one should be able to argue that you have made a copy.

A copy is an identical, frame by frame reproduction of a work without alteration.  A derivative is reproducing a work with alterations, and so not as you are not reproducing a work in its entirety, I cannot see how anyone could see that new work as a product that violates copyright.

If I make a 5 minute video from a 90 minute movie, how is that a copy of the movie?

But what about the music?

I am not sure I want to go down this rabbit hole at this moment in time, but I think music is something very different from video.

If no one ever hears a song, it will never be heard.  That may be the dumbest sentence I have ever typed, but I think it makes an important point.

While I believe musicians should make money off their work, I am not convinced that a musician has a right to a fee for non-comercial uses of their music.  If I use music in a product I am making money from, then, if that music is fundamental to the enjoyment of the work, like a film score, then yes, the musician deserves a fee.  However, if I use music in a non-comercial, commentary, or introductory way, then... well... that play is fair use.

I suppose I would apply these rules:

  1. If I make money from your music, you should too.
  2. If I am not making money off your music, I owe you nothing.

The best way I can see vidders making money off their vids is to affiliate link to the original music or video content.  Then everyone wins!!