trends

Camming Issue: An Evolving Business

Stephen Yagielowicz

One of the most visual examples of the growing maturity and success of today’s live webcam industry is found in the emergence of professional cam studios. These facilities evolved from simple locations that offered high-performance cams, computers, and internet connections, to now provide a broad range of essential services that are building and guiding webcamming’s future.

XBIZ wanted to share an insider’s view of how studios are both influencing and supporting performers in their quest to better serve clients, and so sought the expert opinions of today’s top studio operators as to what they see as the current trends in cam modeling.

This starts with the streaming quality and goes deeper, to where camming is a way of life for many models and members, for many people, camming is a new form of entertainment. -Dragos, Charm Studios

Anthony from Colombian-based AJ Studio told XBIZ that from both a model’s and studio’s perspective, today’s cam industry is becoming ever more competitive.

“Models need to come up with new types of shows and experiences to offer their members,” Anthony explains. “This requires them to be more professional and invest more time and money to [stay ahead] of the competition.”

Anthony also notes that the sex component of camming is becoming ever less important over time.

“Models need to engage members by sparking new areas of interest and interaction — for example coming up with games or musical and theatrical performances, etc.,” Anthony says. “Something that will help a lot in this, is the development of new technologies and product innovations that can be used in the live cam space for greater interaction with customers, helping models [better reach] members.”

Anthony, along with other studio heads, points to virtual reality, interactive sex toys, smart accessories, clothing and cameras, as ways that technology can improve camming and the overall user experience.

“At the end,” Anthony says, “Consumers will be getting a [larger] variety of models and interactions.”

Studio 20 owner Mugur Frunzetti told XBIZ that the webcamming biz is one that is getting more brand-oriented, and that those types of companies will see the most success.

“I think the next year will bring out the power of brands. Camsites, studios and models — the game will be more about who you are, how powerful your brand is, how much the customer wants you,” Frunzetti said.

Diego from MGroup tells XBIZ that one trend in cams is that models tend to have more “real relations” with their customers, and are playing an increasingly important role in the business of camming.

“Technology is improving the quality of transmission and that could make the clients more demanding,” Diego says, adding that “Models are also going to have more participation in the industry’s decisions to improve the business.” Based in Geneva, Switzerland, and part of online marketing firm DAgency, Xmodels has made significant investment in technology and resources for its adult webcam platform; offer high payouts to models; and is active across all European countries, boasting a roster of more than 25,000 registered models.

Maarten from Xmodels told XBIZ that currently the most trendy thing that is most used and enjoyed by both patrons and performers is the OhMiBod.

“This small gadget is able to bring a lot of income via tips and interaction between users and models,” Maarten says. “The interactive toys seem to gain more attention and they are used widely by models.”

“Due to the fact that they offer an even more personal ‘touch,’” he adds, “users are excited, and they are willing to pay more to get closer to their favorite models.”

Maarten says that live streaming from a mobile device is another great trend that is in full expansion — and that other useful technologies are on the horizon.

“The great thing about offering models the ability to stream live from their mobile phones is that it creates an ever-stronger relation between models and users, which ultimately makes camming an even more amazing experience,” Maarten adds. “Another hot topic that is getting more traction is VR cams, which even though they are now are not so widespread, [will become amazing] in the near future.”

Dragos from Charm Studios told XBIZ that he agrees today’s cam industry has evolved exponentially.

“This starts with the streaming quality and goes deeper, to where camming is a way of life for many models and members,” Dragos says. “For many people, camming is a new form of entertainment.”

AW Summit’s Alexandru Gheorghe is also the owner of NightProwl Studios, and confident that he doesn’t see many specific trends in cam modeling, other than the quest to cash in.

“On the model side, there is a lot of searching for new ways of making money,” Gheorghe told XBIZ. “For many simple reasons, the models are not making the same amount of money they used to make a few years back, so everybody is trying to monetize other resources, such as their social media traffic, building personal sites using tools such as ModelCentro or selling content on platforms such Clips4Sale.”

Gheorghe says that he would love to see a website investing time and energy in developing tools that will help models and members interact and connect better.

“[For example,] online games, better contests, mobile apps optimizing the communication between models and their members, maybe some kind of social media approach,” Gheorghe explains. “There are thousands of ideas, maybe not all of them are innovative or applicable , but I would love to see some of them being functional.”

Gheorghe also advises cam sites to invest more into unique content and to have a better relationship with models working exclusively on their platforms, as these performers can provide many benefits.

“[One trend is for] new cam models to do a little bit of everything: affiliate, content producer, social media expert, webmaster. [A model] who spends time and energy on developing her online (when live on cam) and offline portfolio, and knowledge about the internet and adult business in general, will make the most money,” Gheorghe explains. “However, being just a cam model, and by this I mean broadcast live on one or more cam sites and doing nothing else (social media, personal site, etc.) still works, but I don’t see a bright future in that.”

Gabor Szafner from CamAdvise told XBIZ that studios are gaining more influence when it comes to their collaboration with cam sites.

“Big studio franchises are built, trademarks, events, brands are created by content providers. Until a few years ago it was simply models working on sites, but nowadays there is more conversation, the scale is becoming more balanced, as large studio chains or a group of united studios move around thousands of cam models,” Szafner says. “It is great to see that content providers start to work together better, but at the same time, this can become something that cam sites need to calculate — to not only give the best possibilities to models individually — but to groups which can bring thousands of models to them at the same time.”

Bulgarian Stripchat model Ashline Katte (www. stripchat.com/cams/AshlineKatte), who works with Live and OK Studios, told XBIZ the cam industry is growing and maturing, especially over the past three years.

“The cam modeling industry is always on the move, with new and exciting features,” Katte explains. “Simple porn is turning into a real social relationship between the model and the visitor. People do feel more comfortable meeting entertaining cam models, and develop a daily routine with their presence.”

Another Live and OK studio performer, Colombian Stripchat model EmiilySweet (@EmiilySweet_ www.stripchat.com/cams/EmiilySweet) says that she is also fascinated by the new haptic toys that have come out that allow members to “interact” with models from a distance.

“It’s interaction in a new, more personal level,” Sweet says, underscoring one of camming’s primary consumer appeals. “I’d love to get my hands on a 4K-quality webcam . I think it would definitely be a novelty for the camming sites.”

Beyond the novelty appeal of new technology, studios offer the bandwidth to support 4K and VR cams, but they, along with other service providers, benefit performers by providing a competitive advantage and a more structured alternative to working from home.

“I love to work from my studio,” Sweet says. “They provide the highest technology and beautiful rooms for me to work from. I always have a constant support group around me — photography, coaching, financial guidance. etc. It would be very hard for me to do on my own.”

Diego says that studios not only provide professional tools for models, but also feedback on their job.

“It doesn’t mean that many independent models are not doing a great job, they are very successful, but not all models are capable of being independent,” Diego explains. “Some of them have hard time trying to concentrate in their job working from home, and that they will find [that ability] in a studio.”

“Studios and other companies provide models with services and tools in several areas to help develop their careers,” Diego adds. “Training is one of them, but also other services to make their lives easier, such as contact with other professionals, including accountants, plastic surgeons, gyms, and lawyers, etc. that help the models focus on their jobs and perform better.”

Anthony says that AJ Studio offers models a professional training program to become better performers, including professional, specialized support staff to help models; such as photographers, web designers, tech help and community managers, broadcast assistants, lawyers, and a psychologist.

The company also provides a professional work environment and legalization of a model’s work status and earnings, along with top-notch equipment and facilities — as well as top amenities such as in-house restaurants at the studios. Weekly and advanced payments, weekly contests, incentives and prizes, plus benefits from participating cam sites due to their relationship with the studio add to the reasons models choose to work with AJ Studio.

Xmodels’ Maarten says that there is a high level of professionalism when it comes to working with cam models that are cooperating and working with studios.

“Over the past few years the majority of studio owners understood that their business model is unique and very important at the same time for cam companies. By investing more in high-quality equipment, investing more time in model development, and specialized model trainers etc. studios raised the stakes and became real business partners,” Maarten says. “Compared to years ago, this is a great achievement when it comes to business development for any live cam company.”

Maarten notes that the higher level of professionalism, better quality of models and shows, the amazing content, and deeper cooperation between studio owners and cam representatives, has a positive impact on the overall sales and user retention on the Xcams platform.

“On the other hand, when it comes to independent models, we also see a very nice improvement in regards to quality and perseverance,” Maarten says. “Independent models that understand and treat cam modeling as a real business and enjoy what they do are usually the ones that have great results from a financial perspective. Some of them also become trusted business partners after quitting cam modeling.”

“Cam modeling and cam sites have improved a lot and they still are,” Maarten adds. “It is a continuous process that always needs to adapt to trends and to the market’s and its users needs.”

Alexandru of Live and OK Studios told XBIZ that the big studio players are actively developing models.

“There’s always room for better, but some of the studios are already doing their best in order to grow a successful cam presence, not just a model,” Alexandru says. “The offered services include professional training by high-earning models, instant technical support, in-house webmasters, foreign language classes, and personal development courses, for team building and friendship development in groups where being a cam model is a privilege.”

“There is a point where you can actually see that the models a studio is hosting are real people with real needs and emotions, not just ‘cam girls,’” Alexandru adds. “They all have a story similar to ours: the cam site personnel, the studio workers, the visitors.”

Gheorghe says that first of all, one need to understand that not every 18-25 (or so) year-old-girl can cam from home — even if she wants to.

“They live with friends, parents, a boyfriend, people who often do not even know about her job in the first place. So one of the main functions and benefits of a studio is to provide a safe, relaxing place to do camming,” Gheorghe explains. “On the other hand, services range from studio to studio, with the bare minimum being a location and the technical background, but of course most studios, especially serious ones, offer far more.”

Gheorghe cites services such as training on how to perform online — which includes body language tips and make up lessons, to hairdresser training, language courses, field trips, and more, as separating one studio from another.

“Then of course a staff that assists them 24/7 while online, does maintenance for them, etc., so it can be a really deep infrastructure built around the models, making them feel safe, educating, training them,” Gheorghe says. “Besides this, photo and video shootings are also the responsibility of a studio.”

Gheorghe told XBIZ that another important aspect of studio life is providing the feeling of a workplace.

“While camming’s big advantage for models is that it allows them flexible work time, if they want to reach real results, they have to work it as a normal job, eight-10 hours a day,” Gheorghe adds. “A studio gives girls a schedule, regularity — but once they work alone from home, they tend to become sloppy, working less and less, or only when it suits them.”

Dragos told XBIZ that it is almost impossible for an individual performer to do the same things and at the same level of quality as when they have a team of people supporting and working for them.

“I’m talking about marketing, administering their own website, experience, photo/video accessibility, providing traffic, advice, faster internet speeds and high performance computers, etc. — and all of this is happening while the model is both online and offline (even sleeping),” Dragos explains. “Above all, we have a much better relationship with the camming sites and we are able to leverage resources that an individual performer doesn’t have.”

Another example is that tech forward models will find that as VR camming takes off, its higher technical demands could make studios even more necessary.

“VR will take off, and studios will be a main part of the puzzle in order for this technology to spread out,” Anthony says. “VR cam sites will need to work very close with cam studios to implement this technology [because] independent models won’t invest the money and time in learning how to use it.”

For his part, Diego told XBIZ that it is really hard to predict the market.

“Customers have the last word,” Diego says. “It is possible that a portion of the industry will move into VR soon, but that [depends on adoption] of the devices (glasses) by customers.”

Diego also notes that studios will find it easier than independent models to embrace VR and acquire the necessary infrastructure, hardware and expertise.

“Models need studios because they provide a professional environment to work in. Technology today is not a challenge anymore — all the new devices are available for everybody — but if the bandwidth is an issue, that could be a topic for independents to be aware of.”

Maarten believes that VR and VR cams are a hot topic at the moment, and a technological breakthrough that will slowly increase in demand.

“Studios have the leverage on this topic due to the fact that are able to make higher investments easier than individual models and also have stronger technical knowledge through the people they employ,” Maarten explains. “Each model is important, regardless if the model is coming from a studio or she is an individual model. However, from a business point of view, when it comes to testing or cooperating on projects with higher technical needs, a studio might be a better choice to go for.”

Maarten told XBIZ that VR cams are something that most if not all of the cam companies will offer — including Xcams, which is also working on a solution.

“The question is not if VR cams will take off. This is already happening,” Maarten says. “The question is when will it become something big — and this might take some time.”

Many models agree that VR and other technologies that surpass traditional camming may require the services of a professional studio environment.

“A VR room requires high technology which comes at a very high price,” Sweet offers. “I doubt it’s in the reach of the majority of models.”

It is a reality that causes studio owners to see VR as a profitable pursuit.

“VR cams will probably get a good chunk of the actual market. It is still early in its development and introduction, but as more electronic device manufacturers turn their attention towards developing VR, it will definitely take VR to a new global level,” Alexandru explains. “As long as the VR projection devices [are adopted], the VR cam offers will also build up; until one day when a visitor can actually have a Holomodel sitting next to him, chatting and interacting, as they would do it in real life.”

a cam model and I believe that it was fantastic — absolutely incredible — it is a totally different angle, a much better one,” Dragos told XBIZ, underscoring the technological hurdles involved in the process. “[But] I believe that the first individual model who could stream in VR is at least a year away.”

“This may be one of the biggest advantages for studios, which are lately more and more needed for achieving better results,” Dragos adds, noting that Charm Group is set to test and implement VR cams over the next few months.

Gheorghe told XBIZ that VR is still far away from becoming commonplace — and may be a profit-killing distraction in the meantime.

“In the cam business models are paid, in general, per minute. So waiting for VR for one or more years to become a trend in the world (and implicit in cams) is a lot of wasted per-minute time,” Gheorghe says. “Models should focus more on the present and less on what the future will come up with. When cam sites develop the platform and the market for VR, I’m confident that models and studios will instantly start broadcasting that way.”

He also takes exception with the notion that cam studios have value only because of the technology that they provide.

“This concept is wrong as many studios are broadcasting with a Logitech cam [that cost less] than $100,” Gheorghe notes. “Many studios invest even more in technology, but that cheap camera is sufficient and affordable.”

Gheorghe says studios should provide more than a glamorous setup, a camera, and internet connection.

“A model should go to a studio only for its knowledge, for its experience in the cam business, for its trainers, for things that they can learn and really benefit from, and help them make money and develop into a great model,” Gheorghe says. “In most cases that is the difference between a model working from home and the ones from quality studios — a lack of know-how and experience.”

As for what else models should know about what it takes to succeed today, the advice from studio execs and many models’ performer peers is commonsense and consistent.

“Models need to take it as a job and be consistent and disciplined,” Anthony says. “To put the time and energy into learning and growing in their profession (English and acting skills, performance techniques, etc.) and invest more money on their appearance and tools (clothing, toys, accessories, decorations).”

While many models might opine that they are camming in order to make money, not spend it, Anthony points out that in Colombia a good model could make more money than a doctor, lawyer, or someone else that went to school for years, noting that AJ Studio has models making more than $40K per month.

“The perfect cam model is around 60 percent personality and 40 percent physical,” Anthony explains. “This is a relationship service, so charming and creative personalities are a must. The rest is secondary.”

Diego agrees, saying that successful models are those that consider the activity a profession, as a career.

“What a model needs to succeed is to work properly. Schedule the time and stick to it (respect clients). Be aware of the new trends, and be prepared for changes (just like any other professional has to do),” Diego explains. “Decide the role [you are] going to have in the site, and then work hard for recognition.”

“Models need to brand themselves and let the users know them and remember that they are in the site for them,” Diego adds. “Users are their friends [and] you grow friendships with respect and kindness.”

Maarten told XBIZ that there is no secret formula for camming success — or something that works for everyone in exactly the same way.

“There is not an ‘out of the box’ kit that once opened will help you become successful,” Maarten says. “In order to become a successful cam model, first of all you need to want it, have a clear strategy, and work hard — very hard — to achieve it.”

“For any model that feels comfortable with what they do, takes their job seriously, enjoys what they do, respects their schedule and users, the horizon is open to become successful,” Maarten explains. “Taking cam modeling as a real job and business is what usually turns average models to successful and top cam models. and top cam models. There is no secret, it is only a lot of work, perseverance and will.”

“Besides this,” Maarten adds, “being on top of the game and up to date with technological trends helps a great deal to make your fan community happy and maintain the financial benefits [of camming].”

“I don’t think there is a key to success in webcam modeling,” Sweet says. “I think it’s a couple of things that lead us to succeed in this business, but my biggest tip is to be yourself and enjoy your time online.”

“The cam market has definitely evolved every year and it will never stop as long as we keep it provocative and entertaining,” Katte explains. “New technologies such as interactive toys, VR and social integration will always help build up the future. You always have to be the first that shows the new idea — the one who will do that will enjoy the benefits of success.”

“To have success, models should reach as many potential clients as possible, while selling their image as best as they can,” Dragos says, advising cam models to “Keep your clients close to you as long as you can and analyze and treat everything as if it is your own company.”

Sorin from NightProwl Studio told XBIZ that the next big trend in the live cam business is tricky to predict with any accuracy.

“First off you will need a trendsetter who will put a lot of effort into it, and, most importantly, will have to take some risks in order to become successful,” Sorin says. “It can be either a cam site, studio, model or any of them combined.”

“When we talk about success it is in terms of popularity, and of course, moneywise,” Sorin says. “In my opinion, the next big trend in the live cam business will be a mix between fulfilling customer’s need for diversity and innovation, focusing on the personal touch (mostly from the model’s side), and combining it with the latest technologies available on the market, while keeping in mind that high quality for all the above is a must.”

For his part, Gheorghe once developed training methods based on direct daily contact with his roster of models, providing him with some valuable insights.

“I always encouraged [models] to be themselves, because that’s the easiest way to be original. Trying to play a role, no matter what that role is, in most cases will not bring any kind of results. Models should be themselves, be original, do and talk about things they enjoy,” Gheorghe advises. “There is an audience, smaller or bigger, for everybody. Being original lets models create their own niche and audience. It’s way easier to make yourself noticed and to make money this way.”

Gheorghe also points to the importance of music and body language as details that make a difference, noting that “All you do as a model should be perfectly combined with your outfit, your environment, background music, and so on.”

“I’ll give you another example. The model types ‘I’m so glad to see you again,’ but nothing in her facial expression or body language is confirming that. It’s because this is acting and not real, and this is why, again, I’m telling everybody to be original, to be themselves, and to pay a lot of attention to the little details,” Gheorghe explains. “That’s the difference between earning $1,000 and $10,000 per week.”

It seems like a lot for a model to stay on top of — and it is — ensuring the future success of the studios that employ and empower them.

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