Sunday, August 14, 2011

and I blew me a hole 'bout the size of a kickdrum

[Continued from part I.]

When we left off, James and Daniel (and, presumedly, Allison) were examining their contract with Escapist, and beginning to feel incipient dread. Also around this time, some voices came forward in this to preach to the public that the Escapist did them no wrong. Jim Sterling (who makes Jimquisition) is one of them:

A lot of people have come out and said they've not been paid by the site. I don't know if it's even necessary for me to address that at this stage. In the interests of fairness, however, I feel it should be said that The Escapist has been pleasantly straightforward with me. They have told me exactly what I am owed to date, without hiding it, even telling me my month's entitlement without being asked. They've also been very upfront about their monetary situation and that payment would take some time to reach me. I cannot say I've been misled or cheated in any way. Certainly not at this stage, in any case.

I wasn't really making money off my videos before The Escapist, so I entered into a rather riskless gamble when I signed up. Unlike some of the contributors, I wasn't relying on any money to pay bills or keep clothed. I have a very successful career outside of the show, for which I am incredibly grateful. Obviously, it'd be nice to have more money, especially as I plan to invest quite a bit of it back into The Jimquisition, in order to get better recording equipment and the like.

I can only speak for my own interactions with the site and cannot argue for or against the individual situations with anybody else. I can say that I don't want The Escapist's staff to suffer any out of this. Russ Pitts has been great to work with, and Susan Arendt is one of the coolest people in this industry. I honestly believe the people I've interacted with have no malevolent intentions and that this is more just an incredibly fucked up situation as opposed to an inherently evil one.

Then there's this bit from Gav at the Miracle of Sound:

I have only been working with the site for a short time, but in that time I am happy to say that the staff of the site have been very honest and transparent with me about the situation they are in and how it effects [sic] me. I never once felt I was lied to, mislead [sic] or treated dishonestly. I have been told exactly what I am owed at any given time, in a direct and simple way that is easy to understand.

Obviously I cannot, and do not wish to, go into detail about the internal business dealings here. I'm just here to say that I think they are good people who work here. They have done me a couple of big favours at very short notice and helped promote my songs in numerous ways (Russ Pitts even spent a great deal of his personal Vacation last week making a video for a song because I urgently needed one for Bioware at Gamescon).

My opinion on the situation in question is that neither side is inherently bad or to blame, but that there has been a massive communication breakdown somewhere down the line.

And that's pretty fair, I think, overall. Neither of them come off as sycophantic fawning minions, which is also good. There's been some fan backlash against their statements, which is sad, but that's also how net popularity seems to work.

In another forum post, Hagi had a great remark to Alexander Macris, Escapist's main publisher/producer:

Alexander, are you incompetent or just too inexperienced to handle this role? The Escapist didn't fail here, you failed. And you failed horribly. As CEO your job is to ensure that your company fulfils all it's contracts and that all these contracts are certain and complete. The fact that this situation arose in the first place means you failed disastrously, not only did you fail to uphold your contracts towards your employees by not paying them on time you also failed to ensure that whatever contract you had with EC about the donation money was certain and complete.

You should have made a formal agreement with EC in regards to the overflow donation money. If you failed to do this then you've got no rights whatsoever to any of this money, that's the price of a failure as fucking big as yours. Now I suggest you review whatever agreements you have with the EC crew and uphold these even if it ends up costing you. You don't screw others over because of your own incompetency, even if they're nice enough to bend over for you. If you're incapable of doing even that I suggest you find another job because seeing this mess here you're not even close to being competent enough to handle this.

To which Alexander replied:

You are right that I should have made a formal agreement with EC in regards to the overflow donation money. Because I did not, the result is the situation at hand. That was a huge error on my part. I don't think either party expected that overflow would even be an issue, so we both had different expectations as to what would happen when overflow did develop. As I have said repeatedly, we retracted our request that they use the overflow money on Extra Credits weeks ago when the sharp difference of opinion on this matter became clear. I do not understand why it is being brought up now other than as a straw man.

As for my inexperience, I've never disguised that I founded the company when I was 25 and have run it since. It was literally my first job out of school. Every day that we experience growth is the first day of my life running a company of this size. So, yes, I remain inexperienced in many matters. Hopefully I have done more good than harm overall in serving in my role at The Escapist, but that is ultimately for others to judge.

And from Irridium to tie everything up (to that point, anyway):

Summary of events so far from both sides:

On the Extra Credits Side:
-EC hasn't been paid for months.
-Asked for payment for Allison's surgery.
-Got payment, wasn't enough, so they set up a donation page.
-Got the $$$ for the surgery, and shitloads more.
-Decided to start indie publishing company with extra funds.
-Says Escapist believes it's entitled to 75% of the leftovers.
-Ugly stuff between the two happened, EC left.
-More and more Escapist contributors coming forward about not being payed/not being paid in a long-ass time.
-Agreed with Escapist to release emails detailing the whole thing.

On the Escapist side:
-Escapist informed EC of not being able to pay them, EC said it was fine.
-When Allison got hurt, EC asked for the money, EC did what it could, but it wasn't enough, so they helped set up the download page. Both apparently agreed to use any left over to support the show.
-Escapist included promotional T-shirts/PubClub memberships to get more people to donate.
-After it's
[sic] huge success, Escapist asked for what it felt it was owed.
-James hired a "business manager" and became increasingly obtuse, demanding their full pay and threatening to leave.
-After getting fully paid, he still left.
-Agreed with EC to release emails.

Basically the story from both sides. Until the emails are released, it's a "he said/she said" thing. More details(and original post) are below, read if you want to get a full picture of the matter. I highly recommend doing so.

And I think that's a good place to stop part II. We'll continue with part III soon.

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