"the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." - benjamin franklin

Someone I admire in the professional space recently posted on Twitter the comment, "Stop. PAYING. To. Work."

Others and I have talked about the effects of free and lowball work and what that does for the industry, and yet it continues to happen. After the survey about creative pay I did in the middle of last year, I had an in-depth conversation with an elite athlete because I was disappointed in the statistics and wanted their perspective and possible insight on why the data showed creators taking a loss to shoot for them. In case you need a reminder, of the over 70 respondents in the survey, 68% said that their fees to shoot DID NOT cover their travel expenses for events. 68 percent!

Friends, this isn't even working for free; this is WORKING FOR A LOSS. It's unacceptable this continues to happen.

As someone who has been a very vocal advocate in a specific space regarding creative value, it was a shock to be reached out to in the last 24 hours by various creators about a particular situation that is hard to wrap my head around. I'll be honest, I've rewritten this blog more than once because my first few times were a scathing attack on the lack of integrity of creators who align with this thinking. Although this situation has no bearing on me, I'm writing about it because I can, and I've never been one to not talk about issues that truly matter in this particular space, notwithstanding that this new template of event coverage from a media perspective could be catastrophic for creatives moving forward.

As many of you know, in the last few years, we've seen a disturbing trend in creative value, but now it's gotten to the point that people are PAYING to work.

Yes, you read that right.

PAYING to work.

That blame is due to a few factors, but ultimately, it comes down to specific creators. These creators continually lowball or work for free because they want their names associated with an event. One has to wonder, at what point will there be accountability towards protecting value in this community of creatives? At what point do you realize that your name on a photo doesn't mean anything if you aren't valuing yourself and ensuring value to those around you? There is a saying that "a rising tide lifts all boats." Creative friends, the same can be said for us both in valuing our worth, and when we don't...when you don't value yourself, you create a space that doesn't value others as well. The bottom line is that the blame is squarely on your shoulders.

However, this new example of what not to do has opened a Pandora's Box and, given the state of creative value across the board for various professional sports, will take a lot of work to close. Friends, no one wants to take the podium for lack of integrity, yet here we are. In a space that constantly idealizes the community and camaraderie component, this direction is downright degrading to every creator in this space.

When you offer to shoot an event at no charge, give the event content for commercial use, and pay a percentage of your sales, you create a problem that will only negatively affect creators moving forward.

As an event, the first thing I would question is hiring someone so quick to undercut their community intentionally, but that's neither here nor there.

The real root of this problem is that you are setting a precedent that media isn't valued. How you can justify getting content for free and being paid by those creating that content is the most demeaning thing you could have done to creators. I understand how events work. As a media director for several events, I'm very familiar with the cost of doing business models. I know margins, ROIs, and everything in between. Events, it's in your best interest to request a proposal from various creators to determine which direction is best based on your already developed budget and media plans. This is a common standard operating procedure for various professional and sports-related companies. This allows companies to hire based on their financial parameters and other vital factors such as work aptitude, abilities, personalities, and, most importantly, the integrity of those you want as part of your event. At least this way, those seeking an opportunity to contribute do it honestly and without compromising values.

Creators, in no way does paying to shoot benefit anyone. The low bar you're now setting will continually keep moving down. That is not how being creative works. This is different from how the professional space works.

I don't know what's worse at this point. The fact that you've devalued EVERY OTHER CREATOR in the space by setting this template or that this now establishes an additional issue that, in this particular space, is already struggling on various fronts.

You and I both know optics matter. An optic of this magnitude that significant events under this umbrella make creators pay to create content benefits no one. I almost hate to say it, but I've been right about the continued downfall of devaluing creatives, so it's not beyond rational thought to assume that this is just another step in the journey toward the bottom.

There's no excuse. NOT ONE DAMN EXCUSE for this direction.

I don't want anyone to fail, but you've failed with this proposal.

I hope other creators are fearless in using their voices. Events should not be compromising creators' ability to work for competitive pay. Creators should not be compromising themselves to work for less than competitive pay. so low that earning a living isn't even a possibility.

One final point that needs to be crystal clear: you can be competitive without degrading the industry. We've been doing that for years before creators like you came into the space. Your actions speak louder than your words, and this direction and step you've taken degrades every other creative who conducts themselves with integrity, respect, and honesty. But most importantly, you cannot say you value community when you've done everything that shows you don't.