Written: June 2022 -TPR
The Memberships/Subscription Types
Membership 1.0 and 2.0 etc, is just my way of describing the types of memberships that exist.
Memberships/subscriptions and buying individual content has always existed in the world of adult content making, before Clips4sale, ManyVids etc, there were companies selling DVD’s and even further back, tapes were sold to consumers in specialised shops or sent by mail. With subscriptions being mainly something that happened in the 80's, with adult magazines and cable channels.
Today in the internet world, subscriptions and content buying is obviously easier and more instant. Membership 1.0, refers to the original online porn subscription, which would be the traditional porn sites where you paid a price to view their entire catalogue. Examples would be major sites like Brazzers but more specifically to me, sites from individual porn creators who either built their own sites or used companies like ModelCentro to house their individual sites. Some of these sites downloading is also included, or only at a slightly higher subscription price.
When it comes to solely buying individual content, there was and still is a bunch of sites that cater to that, including those who sell it independently. One that has been around for a while would be something like, Clips4Sale.
Membership 1.5, is a site like ManyVids, the only site that I can currently think of, that facilitates talent (or studios) to have videos for individual sale as well as a membership to view all, or selected videos on their page.
I remember ManyVids then adding something else around 2018, initially called MV Crush, that was set up to be more of an intimate experience between the fan and creator. You signed up for this membership to receive extra clips, teasers to up and coming content as well as being able to communicate in the DMs - basically anything the creator wanted to post. The previously mentioned ways to purchase content co-existed, in a separate space, with this additional fanclub model.
This was an added incentive for a super fan, who wanted more than just the content their favourite creator made. No different to super fans of a musical artist, subscribing to that artist's fanclub, in return they’d receive ‘free’ stickers/posters, priority and discounts on concert tickets, behind the scenes footage, first to see details on album releases etc.
A natural thing happens within any industry where someone introduces something to kind of disrupt or maybe streamline a process. Fan sites instead of being something solely extra for a superfan to consume additional content, started to become the de facto thing for creators to use, including those without an initial fanbase… Membership 2.0.
From my perspective, this type of membership in an attempt to merge the two existing models, instead blurred it in a negative way, which was heightened during the lockdown with the popularity of OnlyFans. And has since spurned a lot of copycat sites, and even made existing fan sites change the way they looked and operated, to be seen in the same light as OF.
This membership 2.0 model, specifically OnlyFans, had a few aspects of it that rubbed me the wrong way and put me off using it, when the masses seemingly flocked to it.
Like I said, there was a sort of blurring, with it being classed and structured like a fan site (which I previously described as being an extra incentive for fans to see more) but operating like a site that primarily sells content. It was clearly marketed to those with an initial fanbase, because that would obviously bring about easier conversations than a newbie, who didn't have that and would be starting at zero. That's why, celebrities and influencers/those with a strong Internet presence did very well and were heavily promoted on the OF's front page, and others just managed to get by.
I feel like ManyVids had/has a clear distinction between a fan club and the regular model, that worked.
Why I’m not a fan of 2.0
The main reason is probably the secretive and vague manner in which they allow creators to operate, as they've built a structure that is open for scammers with ill intentions or agencies to exploit. This ranges from the nature in which selling content is presented (PTV/PPV), the option to hide an entire feed, to even the way bio’s are written. Its pretty much unregulated, in terms of protection for consumers - but super regulated in terms of content and practices they allow, to not get shut down or get their banking platform removed.
Having content for sale is cool, I’ve bought tons of videos individually, in different ways and on different platforms but in this 2.0 version, a popularised element that I find weird is the blacked out and non transparent pay to view (PTV) feature. I don’t know why most of these types of sites created the option to have it completely blacked out and not show previews, they might as well have removed the time stamp that shows the length of the video too.
The major clip/video sites that sell individual content, for the most part have accurate descriptions with some kind of preview - a fair compromise - but this model has allowed scammers to conceal the video plus add vague or misleading descriptions. It is something that I don’t think would have been so widely tolerated pre lockdown, when folks could go outside to touch grass and real cheeks.
The fan sites that have a no refund policy, also contribute to this culture. i understand they have to dissuade scamming ‘fans’ who buy content just to request a refund, but taking the time to review a case where a member has a complaint, like FanCentro does, will be the remedy to that - or simply just ensure correct content descriptions AND previews are added from the offset. Again, clear checkboxes would be a good feature to add.
(e.g. is full nudity shown, is your face shown in the video/picture, is it a complete scene (cumshot/climax etc)
Continuing on from PTV's is the other issue I have, you not ‘owning’ a physical copy of the content. With the current way, buying content that you can’t technically even physically ‘own’ doesn’t make sense. On most of these platforms, any video purchased is kept on the site, they don’t provide the digital file, that you can have with sites like ManyVids and some others. That’s always been an important factor to me, because what happens when a site decides or is forced to cease being a thing, similar to the way OF almost abandoned explicit material, what would happen to content you’ve paid for.
That’s why I use sites like MV, if I really like something that I’ve paid to stream I can then buy the individual video too. The same on a premium snapchat, if I like a show that a model posted, I can always ask to buy a copy of it, a copy which I can watch in my own time offline, without having to log into an external site to see.
I feel that part of the reason that some creators are cool with the customer not having a copy is due to piracy, which I get but its still not a valid reason. Site rips and leaks is always going to happen, you can only have measures put in place that somewhat help, after the fact, watermarking, using companies to take down stolen content, putting out enough ‘free’ content online to dissuade people from filling the void, etc. As a consumer, buying a copy of a model’s content makes me more connected with them, as a fan, in the same way buying an artists discography makes me more connected to them than just streaming it online.
It makes sense that any actual content on the feed/timeline of a fan site is partially obscured, prior to subscribing, but giving people the ability to hide their entire timeline is a poor decision from the developers of these platforms. Again, this is something used by non -creative scammers to hide the fact that the last 10 posts on their feed are ads. Most fan sites, (eg Patreon or FanCentro) apart from OF, don’t seem to have this function for creators to enable.
From watching this landscape, I've noticed that the popular independent creators, who are the most proud of their work and love what they do, tend to be the most transparent and less covert in their operations. They love and are proud of what they do and create, and like any true creative, want as many people to see it as possible. Their feeds (not the content) is open and their PTV's are descriptive and have previews, as they have no desire to shield their content.
Creators shouldn’t be allowed to have vague or misleading descriptions about what they offer, in their bio’s. A platform with this type of membership model, especially OnlyFans, should have standardised checkboxes in the bios that list exactly what type of content one will expect to see on there, including if the videos that are on the feed are teasers, full length or locked. The media section showing the amount of videos on the page is misleading, as a 2 second GIF loop is considered a video, a locked video also shows up in the tally of videos on the page.
There are models who are very upfront and honest but there are lots more who are not, and take advantage of the current way that it’s operating.
Even something like talking with a creator (not sexting), something that should be the most basic incentive given to a member, often times has another monetary barrier, with tipping being the only way that you could maybe get a reply. Even in that though, the promise of talking to the person you are subscribed to, in recent years, has even been shown to be a fallacy. With some models (mainstream or not) signing with agencies who even handle that aspect of it, again with OF seemingly turning a blind eye to this, even though it’s supposedly something that’s against their terms of service.
This seemingly short lived, new way of consuming content birthed from the lockdown has influenced a generation of newer 'creators' into thinking this is the norm and everything, even if its trash, can and should be sold - and that people, no longer in lockdown will pay a silly amount for a generic 30 second clip.
I think a lot of this kind of sellers culture, from OF opportunists, also furthered and strengthened the culture of the non buyer - validating their boring talking point of, "Why pay for porn, if I can watch it for free?" Some of the actions listed above strengthen they argument, I personally received DM's of people either in submitted reviews or when informing me of OF scammers. One actually made me aware of the whole phenomenon of not actually communicating with the person you subscribed to.
I’ve seen some IG models turned OF ‘creators’ boasting in interviews of essentially scamming people on their accounts in the ways I’ve mentioned.
My Preference of Membership/Subscription
The original subscription model that I’m used to and is my preferred way, has always been ones where you pay for access to view all the content, sometimes allowing for downloading too, at the same price or sometimes for more money. Memberships in it’s current form don’t really interest me as much, as I’m in a space where the allure of speaking with a creator regularly is not really a desire anymore - especially with the added notion that you can’t even be certain it’s actually them that you’re talking to. I’m much more into just seeing quality content.
ManyVids and independent individual sites are great for this type of consuming of content and where I look to. In my opinion, fan memberships should provide a different experience and be somewhat separate from the other membership model.
There are some creators that I see trying to readdress the headache of this current model, by having a higher priced OF subscription with everything available to see on the feed - essentially creating a membership 1.0 model, but also allowing fans the ability to communicate and pay extra for customs or whatever else is on offer. But they also have an account that is an open subscription, where PTV’s are the only option, so you only buy what you want to see, equivalent to the traditional sites where it’s solely content that is sold. Sometimes trying to change the wheel is not always necessary, the original and separate models worked for a reason.
I think the bubble that the pandemic brought is already starting to normalise, and creators who received the benefit of that inflated time are having to readjust knowing it was one of those moments that won’t happen again, unless another lockdown is imposed. There is no way I could personally justify subscribing to a majority PTV creator’s fan site where they have a subscription fee that is similar or higher than what I would pay to view another creator or studio’s entire catalogue, including the future content that they will drop during my subscription.
No amount of weird memes comparing subscription sites, the viewing of digital content, to the real interaction of a strip club will ever change my mind.
The perfect scenario for someone like me would be a fan membership site that integrated all the various membership models in a transparent and straightforward way. A subscription that showed all of the full content as soon as you subscribe, as well as the random/normal clips that you would expect to see on a fan based membership. Videos that I like, can still be bought, with an additional link provided for download… a membership 3.0.... or I'll just stick wih ManyVids.