Liner Note #17

Cecilia here, with a bunch of things to chat with you all about today, including:
-Paypal
-T-shirts/band logo
-glow-in-the-dark-vinyl records! (not for us, just cool)
and some polls…

T-SHIRTS

So as you know the band is about to hit the road for a tour. I need a show of hands… who wants a tour T-shirt?

See, I’ve already mapped out the dates and cities and venues… a surprising number of which don’t exist anymore. So it’d be a kind of almost alternate history artifact, you know? The thing is, the band needs a logo, and I need to figure out how I’m going to do the shirts.

For example, I’m trying to decide if I should actually do a Kickstarter to do a printed omnibus book, in which case the T-shirt could be a donation gift. Or I could also just sell them if people really want. (Or both?) OK, here are two polls, one on which logo you like best and one on whether I should do a Kickstarter for a printed book or just sell the shirts separately or what.

Sample logos are below.

THE BIG BIZ
Came across a blog recently about how money works in the music biz these days. This isn’t that different from how it was in the days before MP3s, which just goes to show you how little has changed in these big companies.

http://www.theroot.com/views/how-much-do-you-musicians-really-make?page=0,1&GT1=38002

A truism from the 80s was that 80% of bands who signed a major label deal ended up in hock to the record company. What this often meant was a kind of indentured servitude, since you were still under contract, which meant you couldn’t work for anyone else as a musician. Back to washing cars and mowing lawns. People always treated getting a big contract like it was the goal, but for four out of five bands who “made it” that far, it was the end of their careers. I have the guys in the band talk about this a bit. The “income calculator” at the link above shows that probably hasn’t changed…

COOL STUFF ON THE INTERNET
In the other cool stuff I saw on the Internet category, Retro Virus Records advertised recently on DGC through Project Wonderful. I clicked through to see what they were all about and how cool is this? Punk, goth, industrial… and they came out recently with a Glow in the Dark vinyl album that is “The Worst Music Dracula Ever Heard.” (You get a CD in the package, too.) A mere $25 including shipping for the vinyl album and CD. That is just plain cool, so I had to link to it:

http://www.retrovirusrecords.com/dracula.php

PAYPAL
So, Paypal is going around telling ebook retailers that if they don’t get rid of all erotic fiction that features some perfectly legal (if potentially tasteless) erotic topics like “pseudo-incest” (fiction featuring people who aren’t actually father/daughter but are either pretending to be or are stepfather/father figure, etc…and have a relationship), then those retailers won’t be allowed to use Paypal anymore. Some very big sites, including Smashwords and All Romance eBooks, have changed their TOS to exclude some perfectly legal material under pressure from Paypal. The hysteria has gotten to the point that books that have no incest or pseudo-incest at all, but just have the word “Daddy” in the title are getting yanked in fear that sites will lose their Paypal.

So we’re just one step away from Paypal saying “we’ve don’t like legal gay content, either.” There are plenty of folks out there who find any mention of homosexuality just as abhorrent as bestiality, incest, et cetera and who will do whatever they can to try to stuff people back into the closet or shame them into going out of the mainstream.

It seems to me that Paypal is doing this NOT because of legality–it’s not that they are afraid the feds are coming after them for taking money for porn–but because of a censorious agenda. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, sent a letter to all SW authors recently saying he doesn’t agree with this, obviously, but Paypal tells HIM that it isn’t just Paypal. Pressure comes on PP from the big credit card processors pushing this agenda, he has been told. So we need to be writing not only to Paypal to tell them to knock it off, but also to Bank of America, Citibank, etc… and saying “you don’t get to decide what we can spend our money on.” Writing to congress is also an excellent idea. Let your congressperson know that credit card companies, banks, and paypal shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what retailers or consumers legally do! (Update: just saw a headline go by in my Twitter feed: VISA says Paypal policies not their doing. Huh.)

The upshot of it all is that I’d like to quit using Paypal if possible, since I feel at any moment they could freeze my account and tell me they just don’t like “my kind.” But this site runs on donations, most of which come in $5 to $25 at a time, and there seems to be no other alternative for taking online payments. I’ve got a Square, which lets me run people’s credit cards when I meet them and sell them a book or CD in person using my iPhone, but I don’t have a way of hooking that up to an online Tip Jar. I don’t think people phoning me with their cc numbers is a good idea.

Any suggestions, folks? If I dump Paypal will you still donate and if so, how? I’ve already looked at Google Checkout. Google’s TOS is just as bad, saying basically “no adult content whatsoever of any kind ever, and we get to decide for ourselves whether what you do is adult.” As I mentioned, there are plenty of people who think the word “gay” alone should get books pulled from libraries or moved into the “adults only” section. And of course one of the things I take donations for is the specifically 18+ bonus content. So yah, I worry.

One possibility is that I just stop taking regular donations on the site and instead do a Kickstarter as mentioned before, or other “annual” campaign that would be people’s one chance to donate for the year, and do that through checks and credit card processing on Square, or via Kickstarter where they handle the payments.

Anyway, poll on that below, too, or just leave comments with your thoughts on the issues.

LOGOS:

Version 1: Black and gray on white shirt

Black and gray with guitar, shown on white

Version 2: Black and gray on blue shirt

Black and gray with guitar, shown on blue

Version 3: Black and red lettering on white

Black and red, no guitar

Version 4: reverse monochrome on black shirt

white and gray on black shirt

Version 5: reverse with red on black shirt

Another possible variation would be white lettering on a black or other dark-colored shirt.

Daron’s very fond of red and maroon, though moreso for the lettering than for a shirt color.

Favorite T-shirt logo?

  • Reverse monochrome on black (39%, 9 Votes)
  • Reverse with red on black (30%, 7 Votes)
  • Black and gray on white (13%, 3 Votes)
  • I'd be happy with whichever gets picked (9%, 2 Votes)
  • Black and gray on blue (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Black and red on white (4%, 1 Votes)
  • I have another suggestion I'll leave in comments: (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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If we got rid of Paypal (or they got rid of us), what would you realistically do?

  • Buy the ebooks from Amazon/Smashwords/etc instead. (28%, 15 Votes)
  • Wait for you to do a Kickstarter or other campaign. (19%, 10 Votes)
  • Buy merch if you sold it. (Merch= t-shirts, buttons, stickers...) (17%, 9 Votes)
  • Stop making small donations but try to make one larger one per year. (11%, 6 Votes)
  • Donate via check in the mail. (9%, 5 Votes)
  • Some other option I'll explain in comments below. (6%, 3 Votes)
  • Donate via cash in the mail. (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Probably stop donating. (4%, 2 Votes)
  • I haven't donated anyway. (2%, 1 Votes)
  • I prefer to support the site other ways, like telling my friends, retweeting, voting on Top Webfiction, etc. (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Definitely stop donating. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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How do you think we should handle fundraising in the future? Check any that apply:

  • Do a Kickstarter campaign with ebook, printed book, and merch available for different levels of donation. (26%, 12 Votes)
  • Sell merch. (Merch = t-shirts, buttons, stickers, etc...) (17%, 8 Votes)
  • Dump Paypal no matter what. (13%, 6 Votes)
  • Dump Paypal unless they clean up their act. (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Encourage people to pay by check or credit card via snail mail. (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Take down the Paypal payment buttons, but ut up payment instructions whenever a "bonus scene" comes along. (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Do annual fundraising campaigns via snail mail and don't worry about donations the rest of the year. (6%, 3 Votes)
  • Some other option I'll explain in comments below. (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Try to get sponsorships some other way. (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Comments 7

  1. cayra wrote:

    I like the monochrome-on-black best. *_* It’s pretty. I’d love a printed book edition. I hope the t-shirts won’t be too expensive, cause I’m poor. Really want one, though.

    Digital means of payment would be great for overseas’ fans like me. I’m definetely NOT sending € in cash over the pond.

    As far as I know, Amazon has a payments service that is similar to the Google one. Maybe that would be more attractive, since many people use Amazon anyway.

    A webcomic artist I follow linked to this post a while ago, which has details on Paypal alternatives. http://lifehacker.com/5821634/why-you-should-ditch-paypal-and-use-these-other-services-to-send-people-money

    I hope that helps.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    MCA Hogarth mentioned the Amazon payments option in a reply over at Livejournal — I should definitely look into that. Amazon isn’t without its problems from time to time, too (like the Amazon “glitch” that de-listed thousands of gay books “accidentally” for months, so that if you typed “gay” into the Amazon search bar all you would get was the religious right’s “how to cure homosexuality” books…!! just for example…) but maybe they are the lesser of two evils. At the moment anyway.

    Thanks for the link. I’ll definitely check it out as soon as I’m done with comment replying. :-)

    [Reply]

    cayra Reply:

    Yeah, that ‘glitch’ sucked, but at least they bent to the pressure of the offended public.
    The thing I like about Amazon WebPay is that it’s completely free.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Yeah, there is that. Well, I’m signing up for it (Amazon Webpay) and so at least I’ll have an alternative!

    [Reply]

    Posted 11 Mar 2012 at 12:06 pm
  2. Walker wrote:

    I really hope you go with a shirt that is black since that’s pretty much the only color t-shirt I wear (I have a terrible tendency to spill on white shirts actually any light color shirts and yet never on dark -shrug-). Plus it looks nicer and its much more rock concert :) As for donations maybe put up an address for snail-mail donations along with the paypal for now and keep researching for an alternate digital payment method, the article cayra posted is the same my hubby said to post. I have another kinda random, when will DGC4 be coming out?

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Book four will probably encompass this whole tour, so it won’t be for a while. The tour itself is 29 dates so I am guessing it will be sixth months or so before it wraps up in the serial. Since it is 2-3 posts per city, usually (if it’s like the last tour, which I expect it will be).

    I actually do already take snail mail donations, but only a few have arrived that way, compared to digital. Then again I have always emphasized the digital tip jar over the mail so that’s probably no surprise.

    [Reply]

    Posted 11 Mar 2012 at 12:39 pm
  3. sanders wrote:

    Cecilia,
    I’m on the board of OTW and we’re running into some similar issues with Paypal being skeevy, and wanting to prepare to change processors. Our finance committee has been looking for alternatives both for US payment processors and ways to take international donations. Once we have a good list with pros and cons, I’d be happy to forward that on to you.
    ~sanders

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I would love that. I’m an OTW donor and it would be great to see some alternatives.

    [Reply]

    Posted 11 Mar 2012 at 6:16 pm
  4. Andrea wrote:

    i wish i had some useful advice on the payments. I am willing to pay via check and snail mail though. Also even though I like the black tee the best, the blue one is cool as well. Will there be a printed version of the book? I would definitely buy that.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Well, that’s what we’re figuring out. I would love to do an omnibus or series of paperbacks, depending on how long it comes out in printed pages, and if we do it as a Kickstarter there can be T-shirts and all kinds of things, too.

    [Reply]

    Posted 11 Mar 2012 at 8:07 pm
  5. Amy wrote:

    I think Regretsy’s having good luck with WePay, though they seem to be more of a shopping cart/store system. I suppose you could set up a store somewhere with $1, $3, $5 etc donations that had no physical merch, in addition to adding actual merchandise. The “$1 thank-you email” item or something. ;)

    I tickied a lot of things in the poll because usually it depends on whether I’ve got money when you’re asking for donations (*coughforporncough*). I have to admit that the convenience of sending you whatever’s lurking in my Paypal account is partially responsible for most of my donations, so I do wonder if I’d just stop without that, whether or not that’s my intention (it’s not).

    Paypal has apparently reversed their decision for now. But I won’t be surprised when their next shenanigans make waves:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-paypal-backtracks-on-ebook-policy-20120313,0,7059426.story

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Thanks! Yeah, I saw the “reversal” today. Good news… for now. I guess I’ll add the Amazon pay system also, in case that helps, keep Paypal for now, and mull over all the Kickstarter and other ideas people have been tossing me all week.

    [Reply]

    Posted 13 Mar 2012 at 6:52 pm
  6. Tracy Nagurski wrote:

    I love DGC! Are there really t-shirts, because I want them for all my friends, and my daughter and 2 for myself. That’s about…6, maybe 8.

    I would also appreciate the info for snail mail donation, because that’s more my style and I refuse to have a bank account. That’s what kids are for!

    Many, many thanks for your effort, and for the most fun I’ve had in years.

    Tracy

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    So glad you’re enjoying it!

    There really are T-shirts, or there will be on this Friday when I get to pick up a batch! I ordered a few extra to top up the order to meet their minimum, so I will have some to sell. It’ll depend on what sizes you want whether I have enough! I’ll post next week after I fulfill all the pre-orders what what quantity I’ve got. (I’ll also have lots of extra tote bags, I think!)

    And yes, donations are accepted by snail mail. The address is on the supporters page, but here ’tis:
    C. Tan/DGC
    39 Hurlbut St
    Cambridge, MA 02138
    USA

    [Reply]

    Posted 23 Oct 2012 at 4:36 am
  7. Bill Heath wrote:

    I’m very late to this party. Reverse red on black.

    A consulting client is herself a consultant to escort agencies and publishes “how to” books for setting up and running one. She was able to figure out how to bypass the anti-erotica crap to put money into her account. I’ll try to find out from her how she did it if you wish.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Paypal has mostly taken a hands off approach now to erotica, writing, and publishing, although they’re still seizing the earnings of filmed porn and other things they classify as “sex work” (including ticket sales to burlesque performances and registration fees for sex ed/spice up your sex classes). So in the end we’ve stuck with them.

    [Reply]

    Posted 11 Dec 2015 at 4:52 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Daron's Guitar Chronicles - Behind the Sun on 13 Mar 2012 at 10:02 am

    […] (If you missed the poll to vote on the band logo or whether we should dump Paypal, please go vote here: http://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/1364) […]

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