It starts with porn.

In the sixties and seventies, porn was controlled by a small cabal of producers and distributors. With the advent of the videocassette in the late seventies and early eighties profits went through the roof as a limited number of old and new players controlled the business utilizing professional actors. There began to be cracks in the system as the cost of production sank with the availably of cheap recording equipment but distribution was always a snag. And then came the internet.

People used to talk about this a lot. In the early days of the web. How porn creeped into every nook and cranny, how it happened in porn first. But as the net was built, as it became more profitable with Amazon and Facebook, porn went back to its naughty newshole and got little coverage…but it was ravaging the web. But this time, the story was the amateurs.

At first amateurs had their own brands. Distributing their product on their own websites. You could do it yourself, but the back end was not sophisticated. And people were reluctant to give up their credit card numbers.

Then the big boys went free. In other words, intermediaries like Brazzers and PornHub became clearing houses for porn and the value of the majors and their product went down and the amateurs got little monetary reward but major distribution. Meanwhile, porn stars were still trying to eke out a living with their own websites. But now came the beginning of clips. Yes, once everybody had broadband, it was about video, and you could record yourself on your phone and sell clips on Clips4sale or ManyVids, but there was no sense of community. Meanwhile, cam girls was now a thing. But it had a dirty imprimatur. You could Chaturbate, you could buy your time, but it had the appearance of a sleazy transaction. But all these cam sites were filled with amateurs, they ruled.

So, let’s recap. As a result of the cost of production and distribution coming down, the usual suspect content creators and distributors lost power as new players entered the marketplace, and then the scene overflowed with amateurs. Not everyone made a buck. Or they made a little buck. Or some bucks for a very short time. But there was money in it, however it was divided.

Then came Patreon. Built on the concept of Kickstarter, you could subscribe for a month and get a varying amount of porn product depending upon how much you laid down. Like Kickstarter, it was all about moving people up the tiers. And, it was peopled by amateurs.

Meanwhile, the straight distribution outlets wanted to go clean. Tumblr was built on porn, but now it excised it and promptly fell of the radar screen, eclipsed by Pinterest, which came later, even though it was not the same thing, a pinboard/scrapbook for women as opposed to an edgier smorgasbord with video like Tumblr.

But there was Instagram. But facing blowback, Instagram kicked off anybody who was verging on porn. And it was hard to get back on. But, Instagram was how you advertised. This many people don’t understand, in the amateur economy, in the bubbling-up economy, Instagram is where you get noticed. People think it’s YouTube, but much less so these days.

But then came OnlyFans.

OnlyFans was for porn. Do what you want, charge what you want, we do not screen content, drive everybody to our site, this is your home. OnlyFans was ruled by amateurs, gave nothing away for free, and was all about hooking customers into subscriptions, paying a low monthly fee hopefully forever. And, it was about fans. People had their favorite porn stars that they’d discovered elsewhere over the years, and they were all driven to OnlyFans, a hassle-free environment, by the purveyors.

And now non-porn people have grasped the wisdom of OnlyFans and are embracing it to make bucks.

Cardi B. You’ve got to give the rappers credit. While the old farts sit around and complain, it’s the youngsters who embrace the new tools and test the limits and broaden their reach and fatten their wallets. You pay Cardi B $4.99 a month on OnlyFans. And you’ve got to subscribe to see the content. It’s incumbent on Cardi B to satiate her acolytes, but these fans also know they’re part of a limited club, not everybody is a member, and this makes them feel good, like an insider, in a world where everybody is alienated yet looking for collegiality.

Now, Bella Thorne has made $2 million in a week on OnlyFans.

Do you have a fan base? Then OnlyFans is a giant opportunity, assuming you broaden your horizons. Come on, for $4.99 you show video of recording, of your home life, you answer questions, it’s up to you, how do you intrigue your audience? Or, ironically, if you’re a smaller act charge even more. And people want to give it to you! That’s part of being a fan, keeping the act alive. This is not tip jars, a flawed concept. And this is not music only. This is your own little playpen. It’s al about creativity. And the only middleman is OnlyFans itself, which is really just a layout and payment system. It’s up to you. You’re either successful or not based on your work.

And it was never solely about the music. There was merch. There were fan clubs. It’s just that now it’s easier to distribute that stuff and make bank.

In other words, if you’re complaining about streaming income, you’ve got to embrace new ways of making money.

Once again, this is not about Kickstarter and Patreon and levels of membership and tchotchkes. There’s no product shipped, everybody is in it together, the superfans with the casual fans. The goal is to get everybody to continue to pay.

And since it’s all behind a paywall, you’ll get little ink. But most ink today is worthless anyway. PR people get stories in newspapers that are ignored and forgotten within twenty four hours, if not instantly. Today it’s all about word of mouth. And you want to belong.

So, this is an opportunity for all acts. It’s not a pool of money that’s broken down on streams. Your fans subscribe, you get the money, minus administrative fees, which are far from gigantic.

Think about it.

P.S. Of course some of this OnlyFans content leaks to the general web. But content creators police this. And finding it is oftentimes a chore. This is how Spotify got people to pay when file-trading was free, it was convenient! Some people will never pay, but you’d be surprised how many people will pay if it’s easy and not too expensive relative to desirability.

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