Today I Will Launch My Infant Son Into Orbit


Sixteen Tons

So there's that. Workers need to organize as workers!

Twitch Statement

Posted by decay on Wednesday, April 27th 2022 at 8:32 pm PDT
Last updated by decay on Tuesday, July 18th 2023 at 9:12 pm PDT


Lock and Load

Accidentally kill your family on purpose

Posted by decay on Sunday, April 17th 2022 at 2:09 pm PDT
Last updated by decay on Tuesday, July 18th 2023 at 9:12 pm PDT


Never Forget

We must preserve the culture for the younger generations.

Posted by decay on Saturday, April 16th 2022 at 10:31 pm PDT
Last updated by decay on Tuesday, July 18th 2023 at 9:12 pm PDT


L + Ratio + You Died + Maidenless + Touch Grace

Elden Ring is like 80% unbelievably good and 20% the absolutely most intolerable Soulsborne Fromsoft has cranked out.

Anyway we're not talking about that today (I'm not doing NG+), instead I'm talking more bullshit about streaming. We talk about "means of production" but what does that actually mean, and what are the "means of production" for online performers?

At the base of it, means of production are all capital goods and infrastructure needed to produce and distribute goods and services. For a restaurant, for instance, that would be the cookware, capital to buy ingredients and hire staff, the kitchen, tables and the restaurant itself as real estate. A person's class position is mainly dictated by their relationship to the means of production; the working class are the large majority of people who don't have access to means of production on their own and have to sell their labor to capitalists. The capitalist class, in turn, are the small minority who do have control of means of production and gain the benefit of the labor of the working class. There's other complexities, especially in the modern world, but this is mainly how it breaks down.

So that makes sense, but how does that relate to eg streamers? What are the means of production for an online performer? Don't they (usually) control their own means of production?

Well, no.

Think about what's required for a streamer. Again at the base of it, they need a computer, an internet connection, and something to capture the content they want to stream: That could be a headset, a camera, a capture card and a console, some combination thereof, and/or other tools, eg musical instruments for a musician. All of these are available to many people. Are they not then independent?

This is where things get interesting and sticky. The means of production controlled by capitalists for "independent" performers are not the traditional physical tools but rather the platforms. How does a streamer get a big (or any) audience without using Youtube or Twitch or Tiktok (or Niconico, Bilibili and so on)? It's not really possible! And it becomes very clear what the relationship of most performers is to the means of production: They're workers, and the profit accrues to the capitalists that control the platforms.

This is obvious when you look at who controls everything from S&P to advertiser relationships: Google (YouTube), Amazon (Twitch), Kadokawa (Niconico), and so on. The performers have little or no say in anything and regularly have monetization revoked, videos taken down for DMCA claims, chats hate-raided with no recourse or mechanism to stop it. Control and profit all accrues to the large controlling capitalists. The few truly wealthy streamers (viz. Ninja) are not getting rich from streaming but from promotional deals and licensing, much like other rich performers like athletes or rock stars, and by and large are still at the mercy of those same large capitalists.

What are the implications here? Well, simply this: Without production cooperatives or unionization, online performers have very little power or control of their own conditions. Companies like Cover Corp don't really help, they simply serve to shift some of that control to one capitalist to another in the hopes that their competing interests will in some way support the talent (they usually don't).

The only real power any individual talent holds, as in any other performing arts industry, is the value of their performance itself and their ability to change venues or companies. In this case, this means the ability of streamers to jump from Twitch to Youtube or to any other site. It should be obvious, given capital concentration and the way much of the Internet has been turned into a group of walled gardens, that this is meaningless for most purposes! There's no useful way for a single performer to escape the increasingly Disneyfied S&P inflicted in fairly identical ways on all the major platforms or even to negotiate higher ad rates. The only real negotiating position is getting hired on by competing capitalists (for vtubers that would be Cover Corp, ANYCOLOR, Vshojo and the like) that can support diversification and help with advertising or other performance opportunities off the big platforms.

And that means: In the medium and long term, organize! And in the short term, claim your credits!

Posted by decay on Saturday, April 9th 2022 at 10:30 pm PDT
Last updated by decay on Tuesday, July 18th 2023 at 9:12 pm PDT