F*ck You Pay Me
Entertainers, artists, and writers are often taken advantage of and it’s unfortunately no different on this platform
Imagine a platform that preaches equality and inclusivity, being biased, judgemental, and exclusionary. One where they rope you in by dangling a carrot on a string in front of you, but you’re never quite able to reach out and grab it. Yet that very same platform has the audacity to send you emails every month informing you of all those who brought home a bag of carrots in that 30 day period — but all you were given was a bag of dirt.
You don’t have to imagine ladies and gentleman, because you are here. Welcome to Medium, where the CEO regularly finds new and innovative ways to feed off the souls of writers and has the nerve to call them Betas and improvements.
I am here to inform you all one last time, this platform will not suddenly decide to drastically change directions and start splitting the lions share of profits with writers — you know, the people who are responsible for those profits in the first place.
Sure, they’ll overpay a handful of the circus acts who make nice, play by the rules and share their overly liberal ideologies — but they will do it at the expense of the ‘little guy’ if you will. They’ll do so to the detriment of writers like you and I. I’m not even angry about it anymore, I’ve progressed into the acceptance stage of loss.
Own Your Masters
Back in the early 2000s, during the height of the battle between hip hop legends Jay-Z and Nas, I sided with Nas. It was an artistic decision. I felt his diss record ‘Ether’ outwitted both of Jay’s records dissing him.
It was only after writing a research paper on Jay-z’s business ventures and financial life for a business class my senior year of high school, that I’d go on to slowly but surely become a bigger fan of Jay’s than almost anyone else in rap — with the exceptions of the two I consider untouchable in Eminem and 2PAC.
While I became more fond of Jay’s music as I got older, it was his business ventures and acumen which truly drew me in. Both his obsession with ownership and the way he shared the importance of it with his listeners.
When he was appointed President of Def Jam, one of the first moves he made equated to him essentially selling himself his masters — the rights to his music — via the record label. It was a move as unprecedented as it was genius, as labels are notorious for not being willing to sell artists their masters back as that is where much of the profits in music lies.
Jay is notorious for preaching the importance of ownership — and for good reason. This is because artists and creative types of every kind have always been taken advantage of by rich powerful people who aren’t as talented as them, all under the guise of one day “making it big”.
Last week, comedian Dave Chappelle released a video on IGTV where he discussed his predatory contract with Comedy Central for his now-classic Chappelle’s Show and how they more or less just took it from him without ever paying him what he was owed. It is a tale as old as time.
Fortunately for Dave, he has a good working relationship with Netflix and the company agreed to take the show down, at the comedian’s request.
I can’t stress the importance of owning the rights to your work enough. Though writers here on Medium do still own the rights to their work, something tells me it’s only a matter of time before Medium sends out a mass email to all writers in the Paid Partner Program filled with legal jargon none of us understand — informing us we no longer own our work.
Even if this isn’t the case, and I’ll admit it’s a bold prediction, writers are still getting the short end of the stick.
Every time major changes are made to this platform, they are presented to us as if they are for our benefit, yet they always seem to be to our detriment and result in most writers making less money.
Make no mistake about it, except for maybe a handful of writers here on Medium, we are all being taken advantage of. A company worth roughly 400 million that is claiming it is not yet profitable is eating well off the hard work of writers like myself and letting the crumbs roll down to us as a consolation prize.
There was a time not long ago, I lived to write here. It was more than a passion, it was nearly an obsession. However, with every change made and every significant decrease in income I endured, the fire faded. It’s hard to stay motivated when you know you’re being treated unfairly. It’s to the point I’m no longer even upset about it, I’ve progressed into the acceptance stage of grieving. I just felt the need to write this to explain to readers why I hardly write here nowadays, after nearly three years of writing here more than regularly.
After years of faithfully paying my $5 membership every month, I’ve opted out and I recommend everyone else who is unhappy here do the same, as maybe then the higher-ups here will finally get the message.
While I hope things change and Medium gets serious about paying and treating writers fairly, I won’t be holding my breath. I suspect things will get worse before they get better.