Risks: A Combative Stance
Taking a positive stance is a great coping mechanism that can keep you on track and moving forward. However, competition within the online adult entertainment industry is simmering past the boiling point and combining with forces beyond a website owner’s control — such as unexpected regulatory changes, malicious computer viruses, free porn and piracy, and economic malaise, complicating matters further — and driving an increasingly negative business outlook on the part of many operators and observers.
It is enough to take the wind out of any entrepreneur’s sails, but in spite of (or as a result of) these huge challenges, some firms are moving past negativity to adopt a combative stance, in order to stay afloat. This is not a matter of being belligerent — but of fighting back against the forces that seek to subdue us, attempting to “do something” about our situation, rather than just giving up.
According to Steven Daris, Red Apple Media CEO and co-founder, it is important to run your business with a balance of proactiveness and reactiveness.
“There are some surprises you just cannot plan for — like the Heartbleed bug — but there are myriad ways to bulk up your security so that if something like that does happen again, you’re less at risk for a detrimental business disruption,” Daris told XBIZ. “The same goes for loss of data or files. Always have a way to get back online quickly from a DDOS, server meltdown or code issues.”
“By now, most websites have (or at least should have) replaced any vulnerable SSL certificates and cryptographic protocols with those that have been patched to protect from vulnerabilities like Heartbleed,” Daris stated. “The bright side of that debacle was that it forced us all to take a look at our existing security strength and give it a serious upgrade — now that we know the cyber criminals’ habits, we can be proactive against future hacking attempts.”
Daris says that there are automated software solutions that detect and reveal all sorts of potential vulnerabilities and bugs, and once installed, website owners do not have to think about these issues.
“SafeGuard by Codenomicon Defensics is a good one, and we recommend coupling these kinds of tools with a strong hosting relationship with a provider that is staffed with professionals trained in handling these kinds of tasks and technique — so you don’t have to,” Daris explains. “These kinds of things can feel quite daunting and it helps immensely to work with a web hosting company that can provide solid security options on the server level — including robust firewalls, intruder detection services, and traffic and bandwidth tracking — while offering assistance, advice and general peace of mind.”
Overcoming technological hurdles and blatant traps set in our paths by malicious hackers is one thing, but what about coping with business conditions that present less obvious obstacles and opportunities, such as tube sites — does their current popularity make them an unassailable foe, as many may believe?
Recently, Sophie Saint Thomas interviewed Vivid’s charismatic leader, Steven Hirsch. The topic of tubes came up, with Hirsch likening their use to launching a trailer for a Hollywood movie; where a short taste of the film encourages viewers to watch the entire movie — a controversial view among many operators who have seen their companies decimated by free porn and piracy — or at least it’s the excuse they use.
“The industry continues to evolve, and there are two ways you can look at it: You can either complain and whine about why things aren’t the way they were two years ago, or you can continue to evolve and produce content that people want to see,” Hirsch stated. “Most companies don’t make it 30 years — certainly not in the adult industry. You have to be flexible, and you have to be willing to take chances and not be set in your ways if you want to survive for a long period of time.”
“The tube sites are only the most recent incarnation of what is ‘the big threat’ to the business. At one point it was piracy, and we saw VHS tapes being pirated and DVDs being pirated,” Hirsch says, adding, “You’ve got to work through that stuff.”
This attitude is a great example of taking a combative stance: where some producers throw up their hands in despair, believing that nothing can slay the piracy dragon that is devouring their profits, others find ways of harnessing and then riding that dragon.
Hirsch pointed to another example of the “adapt or die” mentality when asked about concerns on the part of performers who say that tube sites have decreased the amount of available work. He explains that lackluster productions, rather than the tubes themselves, are to blame:
“I understand that as a result of the tube sites, there are fewer movies being produced, because if you’re going to produce just run-of-the-mill porn that’s not really different, there’s no real reason for anyone to pay for it because they could get something similar for free,” Hirsch offers. “So there are fewer companies producing, and therefore fewer jobs for the performers.”
Hirsch is quick to add, however, that as a result, performers are now taking control of their careers by moving into the live cam arena and producing their own porn.
“They’re shooting their own unique content, and they do content trades [with] other girls,” Hirsch says. “They have their own website, and they make money being entrepreneurs in their own businesses.”
Finally, Hirsch addressed what he calls one of the biggest misconceptions about tubes — that they just steal content to use on their sites.
“That is not the case. People work with the tube sites,” Hirsch admits, adding that rights holders are able to have copyright infringing materials removed, concluding, “The point is they’re not going anywhere.”
The statement is reflective of an attitude of defiance; where rather than surrendering to what seems to be insurmountable forces beyond your control, taking a combative stance may pave the path to profits — a path I hope you will find yourself on.
Stephen Yagielowicz is XBIZ’s senior technology editor.