September 2010

International Digital Sales

The 51st State. Upper America. America’s Hat. Canada is seen as many to be “just like” the USA.

When it comes to availability of digital content, Canada can be a ghetto. Yup, it’s a #firstworldproblem as we would say on Twitter. Hulu doesn’t stream to Canada. Friend links to The Daily Show? Better go rummage around The Comedy Network. The amount of TV and movie content on the Canadian iTunes store is far less than that of the USA iTunes store. Netflix just launched in Canada, with a rather anemic catalog.

And Amazon.com doesn’t sell MP3s to you if you live in Canada.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross just released The Social Network soundtrack. For $2.99. It’s a steal; it would have been a slam-dunk purchase for me at $9.99 as well.

Trent says:

Regarding the purchase options, sorry about the “clunkiness” of not offering the full record digital download pre-sale (and having to visit Amazon). My agenda was to be able to offer this for the lowest possible price and this was the best way to achieve that. Amazon has been a great partner with past projects and I appreciate your understanding.

I’m not sure if Amazon will be the only venue for digital sales in the future; and I didn’t want any pre-order options that involved me buying physical media. The web page also says this:

Standalone digital is available for purchase EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon MP3 (US only) at a promotional rate of $2.99 for a 48 hour period. Worldwide standalone digital purchases will begin here 9/30 at 12:01am PT.

(According to Trent on Twitter, the album will be $5 from other sources when it’s available. I wish this was noted right on the main page.)

Why the wait for worldwide sales? Why the promotional price for customers in the USA only?

I didn’t want to wait. Less than 30 minutes after the album was released, I posted to Facebook asking if a friend n the USA would buy the album for me; 32 minutes later one of them had done so, downloaded it, and sent me the files.

I’m not sure who owns the rights to The Social Network soundtrack. But I know this: For anything I own the rights to, limiting its availability by geography would be stupid.

One of our most hardcore Eclipse Phase fans is Josh Boys. He lives in Perth, Australia. This year he flew over to the USA for Gen Con, ran 16 hours worth of games for us, paid to be our Dream Date at the ENnies, and was an awesome dude to hang out with. Josh isn’t just a fan; he’s now a friend.

What if we didn’t sell electronic versions of Eclipse Phase outside of the USA?

We’d be stupid.

I don’t begrudge Trent and Atticus—if they thought selling the album at $2.99 to a subset of their customers was the best thing to do. I’m sure they would understand that I worked around their system by having a friend pay them because I love their work. I wasn’t looking to save $2.01 (I didn’t know about the price difference at the time)—I was looking to support artists I love, immediately. Because the internet is immediate, and worldwide.

I want an Eclipse Phase fanzine

I want someone to start an Eclipse Phase fanzine. Over the last few years, posts on weblogs and message boards have largely replaced the fan or semipro ‘zine, and as someone who really got into gaming fandom by running a Shadowrun fanzine, I think that running a fanzine is really fun and can provide you with useful experience for future work in publishing.

By a fanzine, I mean: a publication that comes out somewhat regularly and contains a variety of articles and content (adventures, alternate rules, fiction, setting material, etc.) from different authors/artists, with an editor or team of editors that work to make the material consistent in technical quality (editing and presentation, in other words.) I prefer ‘zines that come in a single file— a PDF or maybe, now, an ePub or some other format. But there’s no reason why it couldn’t be purely web-based, which offers advantages and disadvantages that anyone somewhat knowledgable already knows.

(Edit: Blogs are fine—but I tend to think that blogs are more “fragile” than a more tangible/”single-file” publication. Problems with a web host, blogging software, or other technical hiccups can destroy the entire history of a blog. PDFs will stick around forever on people’s hard drives. In 1998 they would have stuck around on mirror sites—now they will stick around on torrents.

However, one important factor in something being a “‘zine”, in my eyes, is multiple contributors (a relatively open submission process), with an editor to tie things together.)

Why Making a Fanzine is Rewarding:

  • You get to build an audience, community, and friendships.
  • You gain experience as an editor/developer/probably jack of all trades.
  • You get to see cool stuff that other people have made, and help them make it better.

Why Making an Eclipse Phase Fanzine is even better:

  • Eclipse Phase is Creative Commons licensed. It’s easy to not step on Posthuman Studio’s toes, legally. Heck, you can even use and expand on our material, using our text and art to supplement yours!
  • The Eclipse Phase universe is wide open. There’s tons of room to build fan material that is easily usable in many people’s campaigns.
  • Doing cool fan stuff is, in hobby gaming, one of the best ways to get noticed as an up-and-coming creator.

Fame, fortune, exposure, hard work—what more could you want?