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The risks of online creative success
We live in a wonderful time where you're able to turn your creative passion into a job that can support you just by using freely available online services like YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Patreon, Ebay, Paypal, Etsy, Webtoons etc. You can start with nothing more than your computer or phone and end up with a thriving business based on your passion project. It's not easy, achieving enough success where you can quit your day job still tends to take a lot of work, but once you get there it can be amazing. However, that's not the end of the story unfortunately.
The services that you use do not have too much compassion or care for their creators. They are not subjected to the same regulations or legal responsibilities as traditional businesses. They are not neutral services that you can use to build a business around and always have the same expectation of stability.
To use an analogy- it's like a business park office complex offers tenants free space and basic services if they set up their businesses there. So of course you leave your previous rented office spaces because it's pointless managing two locations. In return for the use of the space and services you help bring in multiple new customers who want to see you, but they're able to also redirect them to their other tenants and show their advertising to them as well. That system seems to work great for both of you, till they decide they want to redirect all of your regular customers to their other tenants because they don't like what you do for their image anymore; or they decide to shut down your offices which erases all the money, time and effort you've put in to making your business a success…
If that happened in the real world, you could very easily have a legal case against them. But there is zero recourse like that in the digital world. Instead they pretend that they're just providing free tools and nothing more, and so they have zero responsibility for the real world investment of money, time, and energy that people put into their work to build their audiences- Audiences which are the real capital and what Google, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Spotify and all the rest REALLY need the hard work of the creatives for. These “free” services use the effort of the creatives as a free resource to build and maintain a larger user base that they exploit in various ways; data-mining them, trading personal-information, up-selling subscription services, and selling their time to advertisers.
So they DO have a lot of ethical responsibility to their creative user-base, but not a legal one because the law hasn't caught up yet unfortunately.
There have been many thousands of instances of creators being shafted because the service they used suddenly screwed them over. Patreon, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, Tumblr, Paypal, Facebook to name a few have all carelessly harmed creators/users in various ways.
So, you can become a huge success, but you can also have that success robbed from you by the very system that you used to start yourself off. How do you combat this? You could try lobbying politicians to bring accountability to these large companies that control the internet, but more realistically there are sensible precautions you should take: Don't quit your day job- always have a real source of real world income; Don't put all your eggs in one basket- use multiple services and sites and accounts for your work if you can; Try and own your own domain name so you can point users to a new service if your old one betrays you. I'm sure there are other ways too.
Lastly, we can sort of put The Duck Webcomics in this category too since we offer a free service to creators and we benefit form the audiences those creators bring in. However, we haven't changed our rules for over a decade, the service were provide is fully stable, our entire motivation is about maintaining a good neutral place for creators to host their comics, we don't make any profit on the site, and we don't mine our site audiences in any way at all: no data-mining, no selling of information to marketers, no up-selling of subscriptions or other services. But even so you shouldn't just put all your eggs in our basket either because no site is 100% reliable in perpetuity.
This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Cribal Series - Raw, wiry electric guitar weaves in and out in an exotic tangle, threading around this tune to create a barbaric themed melange from a distant time and place.
Topics and shownotes
Black Parade - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/jul/19/featured-comic-the-black-parade/
Cribal Series - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Cribal_Series/ - by Trebuxet, rated M.
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
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