Entertainment

09.09.13

Free Porn Is Threatening the Adult Industry. Here Are Five Ways to Save It.

The adult entertainment industry is struggling against a wave of piracy and amateur challengers. From legal action to interactivity, porn star Aurora Snow on how the business can fight back.

Free porn on the Internet is threatening to destroy the industry. There are fewer and fewer production companies, which will ultimately translate into less premium content. Still, I think the business is here to stay. The question is, how can adult companies compete with their free rivals?

1. Take legal action.

The bigger the porn company, the better able they are to pursue piracy aggressively. Smaller, independently run companies can’t afford to bear the legal costs of protecting their content, so they have to find other ways to combat free content. Lexington Steele, porn actor and owner of LexingtonSteele Productions/Mercenary Pictures, understands that all too well. “The legal costs became expensive for me as a self-funded independent operator and I wasn’t able to protect my content,” he said. Due to the cost, most companies use piracy lawsuits as a last resort and prefer to exhaust other alternatives first, including using anti-piracy companies such as Remove Your Content.

2. Don’t fight it.

There is no getting around the concept of free porn. It’s everywhere. Instead of wasting resources fighting free tube sites, some companies are joining forces with them. Vivid’s Steven Hirsch uses the sites to his advantage, working with them to generate traffic and revenue for his own company. “We gave Pornhub a 5-minute clip [of Farrah Abraham’s celeb sex tape surrounded by links back to Vivid. In the first 10 days, 12 million visitors clicked on the clip. Ultimately it generated $500,000 in sales,” he said. Vivid isn’t the only one to employ such a strategy. A quick glance at the popular tube site YouPorn reveals other major companies, such as Wicked, Nubile Films, SweetHeart Video, and Burning Angel, employing similar tactics. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

3. Be interactive.

Two years ago I worked for Evil Angel and was filmed performing in a scene also offered as a live feed online. Instead of ending up on the cutting room floor, every unflattering moment was broadcast live to paying viewers. I blush when I recall that day, but I also see why people would be willing to pay for that. It’s new, it’s real, and it’s raw. It brings home the concept of live fan interaction. Those viewers were not only watching our scene live but chiming in via a chat room monitored by another girl on set. Since then, I’ve seen several other companies use live set feeds, as well as live cam shows, to supplement their online catalogs. Joanna Angel, owner of Burning Angel, knows that consumers need to be enticed. “We have live webcam shows and a bunch of content that isn’t porn,” she said. “I try to make a membership to Burning Angel feel like a membership to a club, not just a place to watch a bunch of porn and leave.” It’s another carrot to entice viewers into paying.

4. Create unique content.

With the porn market flooded, it’s more important than ever to find a niche and create customized content. Having cornered the market on celebrity sex tapes, Vivid’s Hirsch seems to understand this concept perfectly. “You can whine all you want about free sites and pirated content,” he said. “[But] it’s all about creating unique content.” Create something people haven’t seen before and it might encourage them to open their wallets. Sam Salerni, owner of a small company called codewordsquirrel.com, bases his entire business model on this concept. He aims to provide “porn for the people. I don’t want to have 40 girls doing the same thing every shoot. If at all possible I take requests from fans on Twitter. If one fan likes it, so will others.” In the past there has been a mechanical formula to shooting porn, but as companies attempt to attract paying consumers, they are quickly learning how to provide a potpourri of scenes without the old rules.

5. Focus on quality.

Create a product that consumers feel is worth paying for and piracy might not sting as much. Some believe that if the quality of their product is superb, consumers will pay. Lexington Steele said: “There’s a difference between watching the pros do it and watching the semi-pros or amateurs do it. It’s really a noncompetitive environment, so it’s a quantitative problem, not a qualitative problem.” There is a flood of poorly filmed content out there. The idea is that consumers will appreciate the tender loving care that’s been put into a superior product and reward that hard work with cash.

Said Angel: “You really have to go above and beyond these days to make a consumer want to pay for your product. It’s the only benefit of this shitty situation we’re in! It has made everyone work a little bit harder.”