Hey Joe, glad you wrote this article. I’m not sure if you remember me without my username (epocadofim), but I’ve been a long term member and contributor to hitRECord, though I’m not as active as I used to be. I am one of many members of the community who is a professional creative and artist, and who does this for living, and while I believe in the intent of your sentiments and virtue of what HR is now and its further potential, I do want to add in some thoughts:
First, for many of the professional artists in the community, we feel like we wanted to do even more with the site and community, but bottle necking, a lack of opportunities to lead or pitch projects, and limited platforms for release made that increasingly difficult, causing many of us to drift away from the site as our careers and ambitions grew. I can only speak for myself, but I’m always hoping for more opportunities to be as big a part of the community and projects as I’ve been in the past, and would love for those things to appear. I believe many others feel similarly as well.
Secondly, I feel that some of us have worried in the past that, due to limited avenues of commercialization and monetization, the opportunity for the audience and return for the community’s projects to grow has been stymied, making the promise and method of how hitRECord traditionally pays artist less useful in practice than in theory and intent. Profit sharing is fantastic, but it feels a bit like we’re being undervalued when it isn’t actively pursued for both current and previous projects. Also, as artists, we feel like it leaves our previous works and efforts buried and unseen. I know that I and others in the past and even now have voiced a desire for more community driven monetization and revenue options, not unlike some sites which are more “traditional” media platforms than hitRECord is or was/has been intended to be. I also know that you’ve had concerns with this angle in the past, and rightfully so. It is your company and you get the say of its direction. But I’d still encourage you to occasionally reconsider the angle — I think it’s potential for growing the community and ethos of HR is huge.
Lastly, I think it’s important to know that, intent aside, certain kinds of work end up by their nature feeling like unpaid spec work frequently and problematically on hitRECord. Speaking as someone who has animated on the site, and on occasion been asked to animate for a particular project only to see much of the effort unused and unpaid, I can speak to that example. Certain kinds of work require a lot of and sometimes requested iteration, and, like in the case of animation, certain script writing, and testimonials, have little to no possible use to the artists who have created them if not used in the project they were designed and requested for. Even though we own our content, if its purpose is too closely tailored to a single project or from other assets, we effectively can’t use it elsewhere. I remember a particular incident of being asked to make multiple iterations on an animation for a season 2 project only to have nothing except the timing from it used and to receive nominal pay. I feel that there can sometimes be a disconnect or lack of awareness that certain specialties and arts are so specific, so work intensive, and so difficult that they can be highly risky and kind of crushing to do in the system that HR champions without modification. Animation is definitely one of these, and I know I am not the only animator to feel that way.
I’m taking part in the conversation because, like you, I think it’s an important one, and hitRECord and the community have been a big part of my life and artistic progression, leading to heights of continuing work with artists and friends I met there, and contributing to the skills and experience which are still getting jobs for me to this day, including one which I just won my own Emmy for this past weekend, but I believe that community and its ideas and artists have room to expand and grow that is bursting at the seams, and I hope that the time for that can come soon.
Thanks for your time and what you’ve made.