XBIZ Berlin Hosts 'State of the Industry: European Edition'

XBIZ Berlin Hosts 'State of the Industry: European Edition'
Stephen Yagielowicz

BERLIN — XBIZ Berlin continued in high-gear down the adult autobahn today, with the European Edition of its popular “State of the Industry” panels.

Presented by TrafficPartner, the XBIZ Berlin webmaster conference casts light on the cutting edge of adult entertainment with a special focus on paysites and the digital media market beyond.

All XBIZ events are renowned for their insightful State of the Industry sessions presented by top insiders who reveal the current and near-term outlook for challenges and opportunities ahead, with XBIZ Berlin putting a European emphasis on these profitable projections, in today’s highlight event.

Moderated by Matthew Mund from Mobius Payments, the panelists included Michael Fleener from Adam & Eve; FSC Executive Director Eric Leue; TrafficPimps’ Jack Avalanche; Immoral Productions’ Dan Leal; Jul Models’ Julia Grandi; and adult attorney Chad Anderson from ChadKnowsLaw.

The session commenced with Mund asking the panel their opinions about the biggest issues impacting the industry today and in the near future.

Michael pointed to the ongoing debate over Net Neutrality and brought up the possibility that internet service providers (ISPs) could add extra monthly fees for customers who want to view adult content — in essence imposing an additional paywall — or prohibit it outright.

“I focus on the longer, big picture,” Michael said, adding, “Safeguarding our revenues long-term is my biggest challenge.”

Demonstrating the leadership he is calling for, Jack raised the issue of industry accountability, describing how the actions of some adult companies fuel negative perceptions of our industry while lamenting the lack of stewardship he sees.

“The fact that we don’t act like businesses is what allows a lot of things to be put on us,” Jack explained. “There’s a lot we could accomplish if we stopped acting like children.”

Eric echoed the sentiment, calling for the industry to seek common ground upon which it can unite, and offering up several examples that companies can focus on, including GDPR.

“GDPR — those are the four letters that you should think about until next year, May — and you should make sure you are full-on compliant, because otherwise, you’re looking at 10 million Euros,” Eric said, adding, “I’m not sure how many people have 10 million Euros just lying around to pay a fine.”

“How do we work together, even though we are competitors?” Eric asked. “If we can figure that out as other mainstream industries have figured it out, I think then we have a really good future ahead of us.”

Chad emphasized the importance of the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and noted its top level fine is 20 million Euros or four percent of a company’s revenue but said compliance is relatively simple — if you start now.

“You need to start with a data map: what you’re collecting, where that data is going, who has access to it, and you have to be upfront, clear, and concise in your privacy policy,” Chad explained. “There’s so much arm twisting in this law, we need to be compliant rather than try to fight it.”

For his part, Dan detailed his personal path, with persecution and prosecution sending him from the U.S. to resume production in Europe, where he says the attitude toward adult is much friendlier — and the quality of models, superior.

“A lot of it was my own fault for being on television [and having] a high profile,” Dan said. “Honestly, I took the easy way out, which was to leave America. I’m not saying that was the right approach — but that’s what I did, and now I shoot in Europe.”

The tangible benefits for Dan include Europe’s lack of blood-borne pathogen laws covering productions — laws that in America can be used to shut down a production company’s business.

Echoing the call for adult industry unity and action, Julia said: “I just hope we can all work together to [solve the industry’s problems].”

In addition to the legal challenges, Mund steered the panel to a discussion of the latest technological developments, such as virtual reality and its promise for porn.

Eric brought the toy market into focus with a note about interactivity and its home in the cam market where “instant gratification is a given,” and also pointed to new customer service management tools that enable closer communications between companies and consumers.

Dan says his company shoots with interactivity and repurposing in mind, where some segments of a scene are targeted towards different audiences and platforms.

“The consumer does want to feel they’re not just nameless and faceless, they want to feel a part of it,” Dan says. “This is why you see social networking taking off like wildfire. People are fascinated by the adult industry.”

Jack is also a believer in social media’s influence on the industry — and the benefits it brings to paysites when performers engage fans and fuel a desire for fresh material.

“Tube sites have been running out of content,” Jack said. “Customers are looking for better, higher quality content and the only place to get that is through the paysites.”

“This is why tube sites have begun acquiring paysites,” Jack adds. “Because they’re starving for content.”

Julia brought up the need to keep models in the loop about the latest technologies — something that cam performers constantly strive to keep pace with.

“As my part of the business, I have to explain to all of my girls how to use this new technology,” Julia said. “Someone has to explain in really simple language what’s new, how to use it, and how they can make money with it.”

Chad notes that incremental increases in technology, such as going from 180- to 360-degree VR shoots, can differentiate free from paid offers, and can also help reduce losses from piracy.

Michael discussed the downside of technology and the threat that data breaches pose to the industry — especially when negative stories hit the press.

The talk turned to cryptocurrencies very briefly before moving on.

“The demographic that uses it right now isn’t really our prime customer,” Jack said.

The session concluded with the panelists offering attendees actionable advice for the coming year.

“Every market that your paying customers are from has a data protection law,” Chad said. “Every company that sells products to customers needs to find out how to comply with [those laws].”

“Be in connection with each other,” Julia said. “And don’t forget about the needs of the people creating this content.”

“I think the most important thing is to find something you really like to do and have fun doing it,” Dan said. “When you’re interacting with customers, treat each like the most important one. It’s just like any other business — if you’re having fun and taking care of people, you’ll do well.”

“Treat it like a business,” Jack said. “Take the time to invest in yourself.”

“Really look at the challenges that are out there, and stop thinking short-term of ‘How can I make the most bucks tomorrow?’” Eric offered. “Because it might prevent you from making a lot more money over the long-term.”

“Cost reduction and innovation,” Michael advised attendees to focus on, adding, “Risk mitigation is something that all regular businesses actively engage in.”

The session wrapped with an audience Q&A before attendees left for the final evening’s frolics, including a Happy Hour Networking Social sponsored by Jul Models, followed by Webmaster Karaoke courtesy of TrafficPartner, and the XBIZ-sponsored tour of Berlin’s famous television tower and scenic landmark, the Fernsehturm — the tallest structure in Germany and the second tallest in all of the EU, where attendees will make plans to gather again in January, for XBIZ’s return to Los Angeles.

Stay tuned to XBIZ for official announcements regarding XBIZ LA and other future XBIZ events!