Rollerblading’s Financial Identity Crisis
If you are a participant in the rollerblading community then you are well aware of the newest trend in the blading world: VOD edits. Beginning with Valo selling digital copies of it’s fourth video release, Valo4Life, on iTunes, and then, a few years later, the concept was refreshed with Sean Kelso’s release of KCMO on Sellfy, focusing on selling strictly digital, non physical copies of the video. It seems, though, that the way in which we value a skate video has been totally rewritten thanks to the internet (fucking obviously), with an accessibility to a plethora of content we never thought imaginable (re: Blade Archives). This has left a lot of people dumbfounded as to how to actual value content; what was once free, though, is now suddenly coming with price tags. Promos (as in, promoting a product, aka, an advertisement) are now something being paid for, and the question really is, why?
How do you value skating? Literally, how do you come up with a price to watch someone rollerblade for 3-4 minutes? Adam Johnson, a legendary blade videographer responsible for classics such as KFC 3 and Razor’s Ego, talked a bit about it on the Be-Mag message board, going into a ridiculous amount of math to justify the pricing. And Johnson makes a good point, stating that between the costs of travel and equipment alone, as well as the costs to host an edit (Sellfy does take a percentage from the sale, as does Vimeo plus or whatever it’s called), really makes that price tag that they put up dwindle into tiny fractions.
So what is the solution to all of this, though? I think the problem here, is that, the quality of skating being produced isn’t matched in the way that it should be presented. The issue I see, is that these works are easily disposable due to their format, therefore, how is one suppose to place a value? The loss of the physical makes this whole thing very complicated.
Rollerblading has always had its money issues, so this new idea of pricing an individual section, well, it doesn’t seem too out of place (in that it being a stupid fucking idea). It does, though, seem to put a lot of rollerbladers on a crude pedestal of their financial worth. Where Franky Morales is worth $8.99 or so, Alex Broskow is a mere $3.99, Brian Shima values his body at $6, and Jeff Dalnas just hits $1.99. What does that really mean though? What price tag would you put for Dustin Latimer’s Coup de Tat section? Or Farmer’s VG19 section? When you place the concept on older works, it now starts to seem even more absurd, and the reality is, is that there is no value. There is no price tag (cliche bullshit moment) to the impact that these sections have, and there shouldn’t be. You bought a video, you got something that you could physically hold on to, share with friends, there is an experience there that these V.O.D edits can’t provide.
Alex Broskow has mentioned recently that we should start making VHS tapes again. And while this sounds so absurdly ass backwards and “hipster” of him, as VHS technology is pretty much fucking useless, the idea of going back to the physical entity isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, it is a very smart one. You see, if rollerbladers decided to suddenly cut down on how much content they produced, and took months, maybe even years (ASTONISHING!), to film a project, and focused on producing only physical entities, well, wouldn’t that be of more interest to you than seeing a new edit every two months asking you for $4?
The problem with single edits, is that they are similar to short films, that being, little effort is put into it. You write your shit short script, hire a few randoms, film for a month or so, and that’s that. Aside from Lonnie Gallego’s F33T and SSM’s endeavor with the 666 series , which acts as more of a video series than one off edits, no one seems to be putting in a ridiculous amount of effort in terms of how long they’re filming for things. It just seems to be less about the time invested, and more about the views and revenue that can be pulled, and that, that my friends, is the flaw that will continue to rid any of these works of the true value that they actually possess.