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  • Flattr.com - can you show your love on the net?

    by Jane is K.O.

    Kliklak.net have joined the Swedish-based “micropayment” site flattr.com on Sept. 24, 2010 – and got out of this some time later.

    Read on, before you use this.

    Here’s a case study & thoughts on a company offering to send & receive love & appreciation (involving member cash) to your favourite sites.
    We hope to get flattered. Let’s evaluate.
    Nah, tell me what you found ->

    flattr.com idea
    Flattr.com web site is yet in open beta stage and estimates to momentarily approx. 40.000 registered users, judging from our own user ID.
    Using this site requires payment. You can join for free, but are required to make a deposit of at least 2 Euro/month, which you can use then to show appreciation via clicking the flattr button on a web site ( called thing ), that you liked.
    Every start of the month flattr.com counts the number of sites you liked & disperses equal shares of your monthly 2 Euro (or as much as you reserved per month) to those sites then.
    Example: You liked 4 sites in a month, flattr.com will disperse 50 cents to each site then? No, there#s a fee. Read on.
    You can set up your own things, means register and connect your own web site to benefit from this right away.
    (Kliklak.net is now also a thing for that matter.)

    Who could consider to join them at all?
    Seriously working freelance artists, musicians, bloggers, writers, creators, makers of strange, passionate things etc., who are unrecognized by mainstream or traditional media have one common issue today:
    Your internet audience seems to always want all your content for free.
    Virtuality strikes back:
    As soon as people surf the internet only very few seem to remember, that there’s oftenly very hard working physically established humanoids behind.
    Of course they need to eat, pay rents, see the doctor, take time off due to sickness, and what not, like any human being, employee, pet even.
    As realistic as it is NOT to assume, that you will convince a car mechanic to repair your car for free: Flattr.com promises to help anyone getting used to the idea of giving back to creators of wonderful things received from an internet site.
    And yeah, anyone is welcome, not just professionals.
    Is that a system, which helped proper compensation of your (hopefully) quality work?

    More detailed musician reality note
    We seem to have fans very passionate about what we do, and they do buy our handmade physical media for outrageous prices during our concerts. Not very many, but VERY loving ones.
    Those concerts then are usually underpaid or not paid. We do them primarily, because we get asked and we love to, need to. And we make sure we don’t pay to play.
    But let us tell you, that the “boom of the live concert industry” doesn’t reflect back down into the realms of non-mainstream culture: If we could play 100 shows per year we would still not make, what we need for living (which is less than what’s considered poverty level here). Think about that for a minute…

    Simple calculation
    1. We sent 16 Euro from a bank account to flattr.com. 15,38 Euro arrived, 3.875% stayed with moneybrokers.com. Hm, well, nothing we can do about this.
    2. Flattr.com takes 10% off anything you receive from others. Since every money within the flattr system shall be dispersed, flattr.com makes 10% of the gross amount every month. You’re not being told about this on the front page.
    40.000 registered users TIMES min. 2 Euro TIMES 1/10 = min. 8.000 Euro/month for flattr.com guaranteed.
    Not a bad business model, if you consider, that any registered flattr.com user will have to try to advertise the site as much as possible to make it work to your own benefit eventually.
    3. The receiving party will have to pay fees (at least another 3 point something percent) to Paypal to transfer received money to an actual bank account.

    Why only giving doesn’t seem to work here
    Little more than 80% of any real money dispersed by flattr.com for the sake of showing appreciation is being received at the other end due to fees, as shown above.
    If you’re not a creative person yourself running own things on flattr it seems, that it would have been more effective to paypal cash to the artist directly.
    But why would you do that, if you could buy a release from us at the same time? Or a shirt? Or attend a concert? This doesn’t make sense.
    If you’re not planning to run your own things you probably would want to stick to paying, when you get something for it. And that’s what we want, too.

    Okay, but what if you run your own “things”?
    As a paying user you can’t expect ANY other user to be flattered by you. If you manage to cause flattering, then some other user within the system will get less. Or the recipient you meant. Plus if you manage to make more, than you pay, then some or many other creative persons will make less, than what he or she spent. Uhm, does that sound like a pyramidal dispersal scheme? Wikipedia calls this a non/sustainable business scheme. Whatever you think: The fact remains, that roughly 20% of the gross money do not reach anyone besides money transfer services and flattr.com.

    What could still make you use this?
    The net is world wide access, but you’re a local humanoid with limited access to the rest. That’s why we got attracted to this at first.
    And making those great things you wonder how to multiply your internet message into all those receiving channels. That also attracted us.
    Now flattr.com provides multiple listings, most of all the top 5 flattering sites within your preferred language settings, the newest 5 sites, and a seemingly random selection of 5 sites, that yet no one was flattered by. That sounds nice at first. We found, though, that navigating this is too difficult to be used, when you have no time (because you want to do music for instance). So as the only remaining target audience of this service are creatives themselves, why would they take the time to find you other than randomly or by referral from outside. Those type of referrals do not have to be bound to flattr.com, do they?
    If we do a posting on Facebook or whatever to advertise ourselves, why should we send people to flattr to find us? Of course we advertise ourselves first.

    Here’s what we conclude
    What you do is your own responsibility, but WE think we kinda fooled ourselves. Actually it was bloody jayrope, who is apparently the same entity as myself.
    1. If you want to send appreciation in cash to an artist you love you should send cash to that person directly. We have a Paypal address – just ask – but recommend something else:
    As being so giving is already quite rare you could buy a product right from the artist instead, if you want to spend money on appreciation. Or go see a concert! That way you get something for yourself as well, which is not dispersing. You can show your love directly, and get loved back.
    2. If you’re an artist you might just apply the same measures, resulting into the same conclusion, as flattr.com doesn’t offer the sort of automatic networking procedures to spread your works as many truly free sites, be it Myspace or Facebook, do.
    And really, as artists we do not like to exploit other artists, or do you?
    Yeah okay, we go to fellow artists shows, too, and buy their product occasionally…
    3. If flattr.com manages to drastically increase the automatic networking for your site it could attract more users who just want to show love. But only little more than 80 % of given love/cash would arrive. Still doesn’t make sense to us, as funds seem to just disperse between A, Paypal, flattr.com, Paypal and finally B. A should reach B directly. Micropayment? Seems to mean “fees eat money up”.

    Ah well.. Should have done music today.
    Internet just costs time (and money) sometimes.

    (We’re nasty now.
    If you still want to give, use button below ;)
    Sept. 25, 2010: Our Javascript using button appears disactivated or deleted on the morning after posting this article. Using script-free button instead.
    Oct. 4, 2010: JS button still doesn’t work. We checked all used scripts again, but no go. We were not notified of a disactivation otherwise.

    Calculations wrong? More networking there, than we found?
    Happy to discuss your in-depth thoughts below.

    Jane is K.O. aka jayrope is a Berlin-based composer, producer and musician.
    More info: jayrope.com

    1. Technic    2 December 2014    #

      Good post. Thanks.

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