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Porn By The Numbers


By the Numbers

Porn By The Numbers

by Elaine Costellano

Crowd Funding or 3 Card Monte?



 
 
 
 
 
Crowd Funding or 3 Card Monte?
 
This is the question I raise in two very different crowd funding campaigns that have been heavily circulating around the adult media outlets, and adult social media circles.
 
First, for those of you that are unfamiliar;
 
The 3 Card Monte is a Confidence trick, which is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence, used in the classical sense of trust. It is almost always done with the help of others (shills) who work with the dealer to gain the "confidence" of the mark (the person they want to take money from)
 
A confidence trick is also known as a con game, a con, a scam, a grift, a hustle, a bunko (or bunco), a swindle, a flimflam, a gaffle or a bamboozle. The intended victims are known as "marks", "suckers", or "gulls" (i.e. gullible). When accomplices are employed, they are known as shills.
 
 
 
 
There are two types of Crowdfunding:
 
*Keep it all - which is just like it sounds, the sponsor keeps all monies collected, whether a goal is reached or not. The funds are also available for immediate withdrawal. 
*All or nothing - If the goal is not reached, all monies are returned to the donors of record. 
 
With so many in mainstream society who automatically make assumptions that the adult industry is full of shady dealings, shady people and low credibility, I believe campaigns like these only add fuel to that baseless fire.
 
Besides, it just makes me crazy when the numbers just don't add up. 
 
So who am I talking about?
 
Crowdfund Campaign #1 
Indiegogo/Axel Braun's bid for $500,000 to Fight Piracy, and produce a sequel  to his first space themed offering of 2012. 
 
Type of Crowdfund - All or Nothing 
 
For me, this campaign looked so out there, I felt it best I do a little homework before anything else, about crowdfunding (indiegogo), piracy, and ABP's proposal to produce the xxx movie.
 
The following questions came to mind at first glance
 
1.What the hell does making a 500k movie and then giving it away have to do with combating/preventing piracy? 
 
2. How in the world could it possibly cost a half a million to produce a straight forward space themed movie sequel? That seems like Way to much?
 
3. Since we know by indiegogo's own reported results that 9 of 10 good campaigns will fail, and with this lofty budget, the odds of success are even less. So what's this campaign really about? 
 
4. Why didn't this movie get made when it was announced as being under way in May 2015?. 
 
5. This looks a lot like the unsuccessful pornhub event "Sexploration", a movie campaign that sought 3.4 million in a crowdfunding event, is it?
 
6. I wonder what the out of pocket cost to set up and maintain this kind of campaign is? (press releases, paid news outlets, video prep) 
 
So off I went for a little homework on Indiegogo, production costs, history of the film and so on...
 
Answers:
 
Q1- Absolutely Nothing. Giving away a product does absolutely nothing towards the prevention or combating piracy. Telling a potential pirate to "fuck off" just doesn't cut it here. 
 
Q2- As it turns out, it doesn't. To get an idea, I collected estimated budget numbers from 4 different Directors/Producers to achieve an "average" budget for a film of this size and nature. So, in sacrifice to its fans, and to combat piracy, this company will ONLY charge it's contributors 4 to 5 times (& I'm being kind) what the movie could really be made for?  (yes, high end locations, top rates paid, set decor/prep, director & prod team, well tailored costumes, post production, the whole nine)
 
Q3- If you know going in there's a 90 percent chance you are going to get a certain result, then isn't it safe to say the sponsor knows going in what the result and desired outcome is going to be? Otherwise, why do it in the first place? Oops, sorry, this is the answer section...OK let's see.... Seriously, there are only two possible outcomes, 1. The 500k goal is met, sponsor smiles all the way to the bank, movie is made., or 2. The goal is not met and all funds are returned to contributors and the movie is not made. I think only ABP knows what the true benefit of doing this event actually is.
 
Q4-  An announcement and press release said that Costumes were ordered/purchased, other technical team members were on board, full steam ahead and then.....nothing after that. I couldn't find anything on this, though Wicked is no longer listed as a partner. The only other reference was the original press release announcement from late 2014, that the film would be made. 
 
Q5-This event is nearly a blue print of the pornhub initiative in its basic components, which as it turned out, was a pure publicity play. I don't know if that was the intention with this crowdfund event, but it is a good possibility. The contributor data that is collected during an event like this is considered valuable in a number of ways, so this may too have been part of the reward in this project. 
 
Q6- I suppose only ABP knows what the campaign cost. I will say it was/is well done, all the components of "10 ways to clean up with crowdfunding", including a well shot video, lots of willing (and free) promoters(performers), incentives, perks, well timed press releases', events along the way, all the bells and whistles. 
 
In summary, I think I have a better shot at winning at 3 Card Monte than attempting to understand this "fundraiser". 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Crowdfunding Campaign #2
Fundrazr/AdultDvdTalks's bid for 30k for potential legal expenses stemming from a copyright lawsuit "keep talk alive" & "fight the trolls"
 
Type of Crowdfund - Keep it all
 
I had to go back and reread everything about this campaign, thinking surely I had to have been misunderstanding the purpose of this crowdfund completely. 
 
These are some of the questions that came to mind. 
 
1. I had no idea the company who owns this site has 501c status? Are they a non-profit organization?
 
2. Why exactly are they being sued?
 
3. What does a copyright infringement have to do with the site shutting down? Aren't those violations usually remedied by penalties/fines? 
 
4. If the money hasn't yet been spent on legal services, how do you know how much your going to need?
 
5. Aren't legal expenses just a part of the cost of doing business?
 
6. Why is it every time someone says "were just a tiny part time family business" and "we run it from a little corner in our garage" I know something isn't right, and I better take a harder look?
 
7. With so many who appear to be  "volunteer" moderators on this site, who seem to have some degree of administrative capabilities, is it possible they might even be responsible for this violation? 
(Not intentionally of course)
 
8. Is it just me or isn't adultdvdtalks global Alexa rank in the top 50k companies worldwide? Doesn't that mean they make pretty good money?
 
Answers: 
 
Q1- OK, a sarcastic question :) no adultdvdtalk is not a non-profit organization.  
 
Q2-Copyright infringement over 8 photos that were posted on their site without permission. 
 
Q3- They have nothing to do with each other. Unless this has been a repetitious behavior occurring repeatedly over several occasions, and in a certain time frame. Of the half dozen cases I reviewed that were similar to this, the resulting penalty for a single occasion of infringement(s) was a fine.  I think their meaning there is, "the legal fees are going to break us" , "leaving us unable to operate". 
  
Q4- $30k has a nice ring to it?
 
Q5- A one word answer here,-- YES!!! 
 
Q6- First, it was started in a closet in the bedroom. I think part of this is, that when someone is trying that hard to minimize the size and nature of their business, my first thought is WHY? Or, it's that real estate hustler guy who was on Late Night TV years ago, working out of his "one bedroom apartment" that put that terminology on my hit list. 
 
Q7- A very good question, one I think either the courts will decide, or more likely the two parties will agree on a certain level of liability/responsibility and to an out of court dollar amount.   
 
Q8- Yes, it is, the index changes daily, most recently the Alexa global traffic rank is #26,441 which is on the low end of their current range of 21,000 - 26,500. There are some who would read that number and within a split second, translate that into how many unique visitors/pageviews and revenue per day that is.
 
For others (like me) a quick look at the current traffic stats is needed. Traffic dictates revenue. I am not going to list a monthly/annual revenue number here, but I will say that a six figure annual revenue number suggests that if all those pennies are put aside for a few months those legal expenses are all taken care of. Knowing this was only important to me, to the extent that this is hardly a "hardship" situation. 
 
So again, I ask myself the same question, 3 card Monte or crowdfund? In this case, neither
 
The creative spin and desire to create some cost free "victim publicity"  and the "poor us"" portrayal, as well as the implication that this site has been doing everyone a favor by letting all use it for free, does seem to sell pretty well. Add to that "big bad Internet trolls"  & "shutting down your voice" and we have all the ingredients needed for crowdfunding liftoff -The dramatic pitch. 
 
This crowdfund is not based on the promise of something down the road (like #1 above), they are simply asking for you and me to pay their expenses/bills, to which I can easily say, no thanks! I have plenty of my own.
 
In conclusion, I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I know there is a certain amount of fluff or "story" to be sold in every crowdfund campaign, but couldn't  you develop the story line well enough so we can at least try to believe? It would be great to not feel like a complete sucker before even finishing your crowdfunding pitch. There's a good chance your customer/fan base does have basic math skills and some common sense too!
 
#justsaynotocrowdfunding 
 
 
Elaine Costellano 
[email protected]

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