It’s hard to make money with porn these days: there’s a glut of it online and even if you succeed in cornering a niche, it’s hard to cash in. But Nick Stone wants to change that and he’s taking a page from Scott Bedbury to do it. His new venture, SnapGirlz, is a portal that enables a limited number of people to sign up to receive private media daily from porn stars and other women in the adult industry. Basically, SnapGirlz is reshaping commodity into experience.
Unlike social media, which unfolds in public, SnapGirlz is limited both in terms of people and availability of content. The service uses SnapChat, a photo messaging app that enables users to send media to a list of recipients to be viewed for a specified amount of time, after which it is removed from the recipient’s device and deleted from the app’s servers. SnapGirlz caps the number of people that can sign up per performer (what Stone calls the “theater”) at 3,000, adding a sense of exclusivity to the already ephemeral product.
Initially, SnapGirlz considered using Vine as well, but given Twitter’s recent porn ban on its video clip-sharing service, it looks like SnapGirlz will be limited to SnapChat use only. According to SnapChat’s community guidelines, which ban “Nudity or sexually suggestive content involving minors (people under the age of 18),” the 18 and over SnapGirlz is within bounds and free to operate. That said, not all snaps sent by performers using SnapGirlz are adult in nature — the service is about giving fans an inside look at performers’ lives, so the snaps range widely from XXX to G-ratings.
“Some like to sit home and bake in the nude while others spend their evenings tearing up the club,” Stone told me in an e-mail. “You are just as likely to see an adult star at the airport jet-setting off to her next adventure as you are at a red carpet event on the arm of a celebrity. What makes this so exciting is that as a fan you get to come along for the ride. You never know what to expect so it keeps things fresh and exciting.”
On average, performers working with SnapGirlz post two items on SnapChat for their “theaters” every weekday. That’s their minimum requirement, but performers are free to post more — and often do, in order to encourage retention. Likewise, engagement isn’t mandatory of performers using the service, but many — already active users of other social networks — are well aware that engagement is everything.
“As their theater starts to fill up with fans, the girls are finding it an incentive to want to create new and more risque content,” said Stone. “There is definitely a symbiotic relationship developing between girls and their fans, as well as a greater degree of interactivity than even we’d originally envisioned. Most of the talent enjoy looking at the inbound snaps that they get from their members and often snap a message back when they can. Ultimately, it’s completely up to the talent and not unheard of if they respond back (as long as it’s an appropriate snap to begin with). At the end of the day, we encourage the idea of interactivity between the clients and the girls, which is part of the reason we wanted to have limited seating for each theater. We want this to be as inclusive and special for fans as possible.”
I told Stone I understood why performers who are not yet established might use this service, but admitted I didn’t know why a porn star with a large following who could set this up on her own would be interested in working through a middleman.
“We manage and run the entire service for them,” Stone explained. “All the billing and merchant processing, fan management and tracking. The only thing the talent needs to do is post their vids and tell their fans where to sign up! Nice and easy.”
Many of them are doing it already — for free. As the SnapGirlz sign-up form for performers says, “Has Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Facebook ever paid you?”
Currently, access to the exclusive content on SnapGirlz costs $13 per month, but Stone has stated that they plan to lower that amount to $5.99 in the coming weeks to enable access for a wider range of consumers. Performers using the service get an even split of the net revenue — that means that if they fill their “theaters” completely, they stand to make off with $6,000 per month, before taxes. If performers and SnapGirlz are splitting net fifty-fifty, that leaves some $5,970 unaccounted for — suggesting that, perhaps, SnapGirlz is using one of those “adult friendly” payment processors that take 30-some percent of the cut. Stone danced around questions about payment processing issues in the industry saying he’d gotten around them by communicating clearly about the service SnapGirlz offers and ensuring high levels of costumer satisfaction.
SnapGirlz donates a percentage of every subscription to Children of the Night, an organization that works to improve the circumstances of vulnerable teens in order to disincentivize them to participate in sex work. I asked Stone if he knew whether the organization supports sex workers in any way, pointing out that many rescue projects conflate sex work and sex trafficking and increase harm for vulnerable populations instead of helping them. Stone pointed out that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner also champions this organization, and added that he hopes to raise $100,000 in the next year for Children of the Night through SnapGirlz. He later specified that the donation was taken from SnapGirlz after they split proceeds with performers.
“We’re more than happy to entertain other organizations down the road,” he said about SnapGirlz’s philanthropy, adding that he was open to discussing options with performers using the service.