Pushing Ahead

Stephen Yagielowicz
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." — Friedrich Nietzsche

I was recently contacted by a Dutch author working on an article concerning any negative economic impacts currently being faced by the adult entertainment industry: he is seeking information on the personal toll being felt by operators at all levels, in what is being seen as a struggling global economy.

This got me thinking of the broader industry and how it is faring. While my wife has seen a modest reduction in her adult income, I've thankfully persevered through much of the hysteria, and not been as badly impacted as some others within the industry and beyond.

Although the prospect of losing a major client is always ever-present, cutbacks at companies of all sizes have left many freelancers increasingly worried about their next pay check; and many industry staff members involuntarily entering a dismal job market.

It is this "worry" that is toxic and the basis for what is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, when surfers forego the luxury of a paysite membership, there is a resulting impact on program and affiliate sales — and a ripple through to the program's clients, such as traffic and hosting companies, content and advertising vendors.

Some of this process is involuntary, such as when a drying credit market puts limits on the consumer's ability to have enough funds available for a transaction — and to keep those funds available for recurring transactions in an era of bank failures and consumers cutting up their credit cards and paying down their bloated balances.

But it is the voluntary "fear" of spending that causes the economy to worsen; and the mainstream media is seemingly doing its best to drive this fear — but is it warranted?

I've just returned from the annual XBIZ Summer Forum in Las Vegas, where I had the opportunity to converse with a wide variety of operators and industry insiders and where I gathered quite a bit of anecdotal evidence about the current state of the adult market — the upshot of which I'd characterize as "cautiously optimistic."

You see, lots of people are indeed making money in adult — and while the bottom line isn't as fat as it once was there is still a very good living to be made by those who are innovative and work hard.

New paysites are being launched and making sales; adult mobile revenues are steadily climbing and showing surprising growth in some markets; and a slew of mainstream companies are bringing new technologies into the adult arena.

In fact, current XBIZ polling suggests that over the past six months, paysite subscription sales have improved for many operators, with slightly more than half reporting steady or increased sales for the first half of the year.

In short, I believe that things are not as bad as they seem and are in fact improving.

This isn't to discount the pain being felt by many in the industry, but much of that pain cannot be blamed on the wider economy and is the result of other market pressures such as piracy, the glut of free content on the Internet, antiquated business models and intense competition.

Sure, the party is over — and with it, much of the "fun," "energy," and "excitement" that attracted many of us to online adult in the first place — and in its place is the endless toiling that was always there, under the surface, but experienced by all who succeeded and awaiting all who would succeed today.

The mental image that I took from the Summer Forum was that of a scene from the cult-classic film, "Conan the Barbarian" — where young Conan was sold into slavery and chained to a great wheel; trudging along in an endless circle with his fellow captives and damned to pushing an enormous wooden bar that drove a giant grist mill. A group of smiling boys when they arrived, the ensuing years of tough times took their toll, and at the end, only Conan survived — a grown man: strong, determined, toughened by years of experience — and still endlessly turning that same gear.

Likewise, many factors have conspired to thin our ranks — and the dark harvest is not yet complete; but there will be survivors: stronger, wiser and better suited to the task at hand.

Step up and start pushing: Lets move forward together, one step at a time... And perhaps just like Conan, you'll find that someday, freedom and limitless opportunities await you.