STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM, STILL HERE? – The Lack of Financial Support in the Black/Latino Gay Community 2
This experienced interviewer (who’s hobnobbed with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Iyanla Vanzant and just about everyone else of note in the Black gay community), can be seen doing interviews with other gay men while they both sit shirtless in a king sized bed for his “Pillow Talk” series. This is a gimmick that even Derrick L. Briggs used to some extent in his ADTV series. Is this what it takes to hold the gay audience?
In my admittedly short research, it was hard to find any of the many 3LWTV YouTube videos that didn’t feature at least one photo or clip of an oiled up model or guest. This is no slight on Lonnell Williams, he’s a smart entrepreneur creatively giving the short-attention-span gay audience something to look at while he asks substantive questions and reports entertainment news on the community. With over 2 million YouTube views and thousands of fans, he’s obviously doing something right. But why does our “Gay Male Oprah Winfrey” have to take off his clothes just to keep our people engaged on video interviews with already interesting topics being discussed?I say all that to say, a possible reason for the lack of financial support in the community for some may be that not every gay endeavor goes the direction of the flesh. By going the more “clean” route, they risk being not as interesting to the Black/Latino gay consumers out there.
So that brings us back to the very popular adult social-networking sex site BGCLive, the website that conveniently lets you list your penis length, girth and foreskin status right there on your profile. After their unsuccessful attempt to get rid of all porn advertising, in February of this year a site administrator made this statement:
[A previously mentioned] point about increasing revenues by simply increasing [membership fees] is flawed. A new user does not mean more revenue. In fact, it can get to the point where one new user actually increases [our] costs more than it increases revenue.
We understand that not everyone can pay to use certain features of the site and we would prefer not to have to charge new users to view messages but running a site this big is difficult to keep profitable on porn ads, club ads and health ads.
Nearly six in ten (58%) gay and lesbian consumers are more likely to purchase everyday household products and services from companies that market directly to gays and lesbians. Around one in five (19%) say they are “much more likely” to do so.
If this data is correct, does it only apply to Caucasians? Black consumers have notoriously been stereotyped to NOT be very loyal when it comes to their money. They will drive 20 miles further to save .10¢ on a gallon of gas rather than support the station in their own neighborhood. It seems to be a buyers market when it comes down to it. The Black/Latino gay consumer determines the price and the price they will always choose is “Free.”
So that now brings me to:
In simpler terms, I can’t imagine a club promoter with a party targeted specifically for Latin Americans that didn’t play any music actually made by Latin Americans. Or does the responsibility fall back to the fans? If a DJ did play the music from independent openly gay artists to generate a buzz, would the gay crowd complain that the Top 40 radio hits weren’t being blasted instead?
As the math in Part One of this article showed us, these gay entertainers and content creators apparently already have thousands of fans, it should be easy to get at least half of them to pay $5.00 one-time for quality content. But there’s the rub. That one word I just mentioned: Quality.
Another possible explanation is that these “apparent fans” are only fans because the work is free and they just want to stay updated on the actions of the artist. They never had any intention on purchasing anything in the first place. Once the artist begins asking for money, they just move on to another artist who’s not.
Why should they pay to see one gay web series, when there are 10 other gay web series available for free? Not to mention bootlegs, torrents and file sharing sites that let many people circumvent financially supporting the “starving gay artist.” As previously stated, the consumer determines the price and it appears that they will always choose “free.”
[Side Note: That’s the beauty of the current business model for Cell Phone companies and Internet Service Providers in this day and age. Not many people can get out of paying for these services. If a person wants to get all the free content in the world that they can get, legally or illegally, they likely still have to pay their cell phone bill or Internet bill.]
Seriously, as a content creator, composing this article was kind of depressing in many ways. Whether some gay people like it or not, Cypher Avenue (and the upcoming new incarnation) fulfills a niche that no one else does. From a business standpoint, that’s financial gold. However when one looks at the data, in regards to the Black/Latino audience, it’s hard to get real substantial revenue.
We may all be a part of that $743 Billion in Gay Buying Power mentioned in Part One, but it appears that we’re not spending that money back into the Black/Latino gay community.
The Black/Latino Gay community doesn’t have any website as large or revenue generating as Out.com or The Advocate (that doesn’t feature splashy ads for porn). Nor do we have any current network television shows or well-funded web series with crisp camera work, clean, sharp audio and precise editing. The quality gay musicians that actually cater to the community don’t seem to get the same type of support as the popular gay artists who ignore them. It’s all very disheartening.
One possible solution: Improve the quality of the work. As many excuses I hear from Black gay content creators about why things can’t be done at a certain level of quality, I see just as many examples from heterosexuals or Caucasians with FEWER resources who manage to make it happen.
Take pride in your work. If something is bad, admit to yourself that it is and work your hardest to improve. If you’re going to put something out there with your name on it, even if it’s a pseudonym, make sure it represents you well. If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board.
As successful as the First Season of Freefall was, filmmaker Lamont Pierre was not happy with the content so he retooled the entire show for the new “Season One” (He disliked the first batch of episodes so much that he refuses to call them an official season. Hashtag = #StepChild). But as a result, many fans are very eager to see the new episodes and the quality of the show appears to have greatly improved.
Content creators, bloggers and event planners should focus more on the quality of the work and less on just being famous. A crossover effect happens when the work is quality, you become viable to a larger non-Black/Latino audience. Also, each new project really represents us all because there’s so little of it out there. A very poorly made web series was featured TWICE on The Huffington Post, a website with very high traffic. Some people may see that and think its the best we’re capable of as a group. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.
Understand that you vote with your dollars. If Caucasian Heterosexuals see that there is a viable financial market for Black/Latino gay themed work, we will see more of it sponsored and financed outside of the confines of our own community. But if we could get it to start here, imagine the force of nature we could be. We all have much more power than we realize.
– Nick D
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