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Europe in Focus: Execs, Performers Weigh in on Current State of Adult

Europe in Focus: Execs, Performers Weigh in on Current State of Adult

Adult entertainment was already rapidly changing before the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year. Stars were becoming increasingly self-reliant thanks to the advent of camming, clips and premium social media platforms, while paysites consolidated under larger corporate umbrellas via licensing and acquisitions inked with a keen eye towards meeting algorithm-driven traffic.

The global shutdowns and surge in online traffic accelerated these trends exponentially, as XBIZ has explored in several cover stories over the past year and a half. Among them: our April 2020 report on major-league talent partnering with brands for mutual benefit, our May 2020 story on stars tapping into SFW opportunities spanning ecommerce and gaming, our June 2020 analysis of the ways companies were countering crisis, our November 2020 examination of feed-based subscription platforms and our February 2021 report on the trailblazing brands successfully navigating the pandemic.

Thankfully, we work roughly six months ahead of schedule, so we’ve been able to keep up with our normal release schedule of new movies.

But how did Europe fare during this time? Crossing state lines in the U.S. for a shoot is far less cumbersome than crossing national borders in the EU or from the U.K., where a tangle of varying regulations, pandemic-driven restrictions and international considerations come into play.

Now that the world has forever changed, with office employees increasingly accustomed to working from home and the creator economy hitting all-time peaks, what new opportunities have presented themselves and how are Europe’s players rising up to seize them?

XBIZ has several virtual shows under its belts by now, having hosted dozens of online panels and award ceremonies with international attendees during XBIZ Miami, XBIZ Berlin and XBIZ L.A. conferences. We have therefore been fortunate to glean valuable insights from directors, performers, producers and executives at every level, many of whom hail from across the sea.

For our annual European market report, though, we wanted to zero in specifically on the latest trends in content creation, marketing and distribution because content is king and its creators continue to rule the kingdom. And not everything needs to be filtered through the lens of the pandemic, for while we do explore its impact throughout this report, we’re also quite curious what the latest market insights are from noteworthy personalities.

Several trends came to the surface, such as the importance of performers being able to speak English along with other languages like French and German to appeal to sizable fan bases in the region. Another was budget constraints leading studios to be more selective in their casting, thus shying away from new talent with less-established fan bases.

Also, with reduced travel between countries, talent and agencies are more likely to seek out local shoots and only venture out if they plan to remain in another country for several shoots and a lengthier stay abroad.

These and many other uniquely Eurocentric observations will become apparent, as you hop aboard the XBIZ jet for a tour of the U.K. and EU adult landscape through the eyes of on-the-ground movers and shakers.

ADAPTING TO THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC

While there is no denying the negative impact that COVID-19 had on in-person businesses like restaurants and sports, online traffic had historic highs, as stay-at-home directives drove folks indoors.

Even as restrictions lifted and vaccines rolled out, a mask-wearing public was still somewhat wary of leaving their homes to mingle. Add in the Delta variant, and it seems like while some things are changing in “post-pandemic” business, just as much is staying precisely the same in our new normal.

Award-winning erotic filmmaker Erika Lust, for instance, saw an average increase of 20- 30% in viewing hours across her streaming sites XConfessions.com, LustCinema.com and ElseCinema.com since the outbreak.

“Lots of people around the world suddenly got stuck at home, many of them without a partner, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been looking for ways to entertain themselves,” she said. “Thankfully, we work roughly six months ahead of schedule, so we’ve been able to keep up with our normal release schedule of new movies.

“However, while porn views have increased, sex workers have had the hardest year in times of social distancing, as they don’t rely on a fixed income and are less likely to reap unemployment benefits when out of a job,” she noted.

In light of this, Lust explained, her company has taken measures to help the industry’s professionals, from donating to relief organizations and offering emergency funds, to employing performers for lockdown projects such as their sex doc film, “Sex & Love in the Time of Quarantine.”

“The film stars two solo performers and two couples who drive us into their homes to share how their lives have been impacted by the pandemic, before playing a sexy game that leads to a special quarantine sex adventure,” she said. “Performers shot the scenes themselves and then my team made them into a movie. I wanted to allow the public to look at what sex workers’ lives are like behind the camera too, so I decided to offer it for free.”

Another major figure in the European market is Jacquie et Michel, whose glamcore porn and dialogue-driven films attract a highly engaged audience.

Vincent Chalier, international director of Jacquie et Michel, recounted, “Following the various government announcements at the beginning of 2020, before the first confinement, we organized without delay a strict exchange protocol with our partners to ensure that all sanitary precautions would be deployed as a priority. Then, the exceptional context and the government’s decision to confine the entire French territory pushed us to stop all forms of collaboration with producers. It was obviously a question of protecting the players in the sector and more generally the stakeholders from the spread of the virus.”

As an experienced purveyor of content with a rigorous production schedule, Chalier pointed out, the company plans shoots and distribution several months in advance to stay ahead of the curve.

“We are always optimizing the flow of royalty advances granted for the licensing of scenes and films,” he added, noting their status as a broadcaster and not just a paysite. “The impact on the rhythm, dynamics and respect for the schedule has not been affected by the health measures.”

On a technical level, Chalier observed, the impact of COVID-19 was minimal, beyond server capacity problems due to a strong increase in traffic load during the first wave of lockdowns.

Similarly, service provider and founder of YourPaysitePartner, Kenny B., whose main European clients include MariskaX.com, LadySonia.com, Hitzefrei.com, Red-xxx.com, BoyNapped.com and BlakeMason.com, saw minimal impact on his operations and even found the pandemic to be a boon.

“I feel very fortunate to be in an industry that is primarily online,” he said. “We are grateful that our business has improved and our team has grown since the start of the pandemic. We made sure every team member was able to work remotely and have made sure to have regular Zoom meetings, so everyone still has the feeling of being part of a team and doesn’t feel isolated. Ensuring stability and good mental health among our team has been our top priority.”

Not everyone had the luxury of months of stored-up content, as mega-distributor Erotik. com discovered. Managing director Sascha Eierdanz explained that many producers who often hawked their wares on the popular site had to fall back on already-finished productions due to being unable to shoot new scenes, with some no longer able to deliver content at all as the months dragged on. Nonetheless, there were still plenty of benefits to the company’s bottom line to offset this.

“At the same time, we were confronted with much greater demand from our customers,” he said. “So we sat down and analyzed our existing portfolio and started looking for popular content that was missing on Erotik. com. We discovered a few gaps that we were able to close and also added a few new great productions to our portfolio.”

Eierdanz pointed out that there were also many changes on the administrative side as well, as they spent a lot of their working time in the home office.

“This has also shown that employees don’t necessarily have to come into the office every day,” he said. “Many of our employees will therefore continue to do some of their work from home after the pandemic. However, the decision to do this is up to the individual employee. Some employees are simply tired of working from home.”

Meanwhile, producer, performer and director Rocco Siffredi found himself in quite the quandary at the outset of the lockdowns.

“I had just started my biggest production of the year, which is the ‘Spanish Stallion’ series, when the main two characters of the movie tested positive,” he recalled. “The first day of the shooting! So you can imagine how catastrophic COVID’s impact was on me. But sometimes, catastrophe can turn out to be good, because while I had initially just wanted to make this a movie and not a series, not being able to use the two main characters led me to make a series instead. That way, I could use the performers later in an upcoming episode once they got better.”

Other than this initial hiccup in “Spanish Stallion” (which has gone on to receive XBIZ Europa Award nominations this year), Siffredi said that there were only a handful of COVID-19 cases this year but that work was never truly interrupted for him.

Echoing some of the above sentiments, Immoral Productions CEO Dan Leal views COVID-19 as both a blessing and a curse.

“From a business standpoint, this was the best year we have ever had online,” he said. “We scaled back on productions, as one quality model will now outsell three midrange ones; the pandemic made consumers much pickier with their purchases. However, they are spending more than ever.

“The best-selling models for myself and the vast majority of companies in mainland Europe traditionally came from countries in the former USSR, mainly Russia/Ukraine,” Leal added. “The closed borders made it very difficult for them to come here. Fortunately, we were able to get a few very good ones via Julmodels.”

Speaking of Julmodels, the agency created by reigning XBIZ Director of the Year Julia Grandi, its manager Sabina also chimed in on the state of Euro production from her unique perspective.

“The changes have been easily noticeable,” she said. “Not as many people travel to shoot for productions other than those taking place in their native country and when they do travel, they stay for as long as possible to make it worth the effort.”

She also mentioned how talent has grown accustomed to needing frequent COVID-19 tests, as well as how choosy studios are when spending money on hiring performers. Given budgetary considerations, she finds, they are less likely to take chances with new talent that haven’t achieved popularity yet, at least in terms of potential social media traffic for said shoots.

On the indie side of the fence, 2020 XBIZ Best Clip Artist Duo winners MySweetApple, whose adventures can be followed on MySweetApple.com and OnlyFans.com/mysweetapple, ran into some snags. They had just won an all-expenses-paid trip to Coachella with another couple thanks to the Valentine’s Day contest on Pornhub; unfortunately that was shortly before the lockdowns hit.

“We did a parody of ‘American Beauty’ and won first place,” they recalled. “We were supposed to travel in April 2020, make a killer video, collaborate with other models and start working with some studios, but Coachella got cancelled, all countries entered lockdown and we weren’t allowed to leave our house for months.

“We were scared, honestly, but we’ve learned to adapt over all these years traveling, so we just stayed home doing what we like doing the most: fucking,” they continued. “And everyone was home in the beginning, with OnlyFans growing more and more each day. We were busy during the whole thing, shooting content for Pornhub, ManyVids, OnlyFans, custom videos and homemade scenes for pro studios, who had to find new ways to make content because they couldn’t meet on set to shoot.”

Given that studios without a substantial backlog still needed to fill their coffers and their content catalogs, many turned to the practiced lenses of performers, most of whom had been releasing quality scenes on their own.

“So we even fulfilled some dreams of ours like shooting for Kink.com, Reality Kings and Erika Lust,” they explained, adding that they also wanted to document what was happening. That led them to do a few documentary-style shoots, as well as produce short films and creative erotic videos.

“We were offered so many new opportunities and we loved them all; we loved staying home and doing porn,” they enthused. “It felt as if we were in a world of our own. Well, that’s until we had to go to buy groceries.”

During those initial uncertain months of the pandemic, collaborating with other talent was not under consideration, given the health risks. Plus, few could travel due to restrictions in the EU, while testing supplies for COVID-19 were limited.

“But we got tired of living in the center of Barcelona pretty quick, there were controls everywhere, lots of people not using masks or disregarding the rules to protect each other, so we found a big summer house with a pool in the south of Spain in the middle of nowhere,” they recalled. “And now that lockdown is lifted in most countries, a lot of amazing models came to shoot with us; we even did our first full swap in our lives and shot really hot content with the hottest girls and couples.”

Meanwhile, U.K. producers were having their own troubles, as content creator, performer and award-winning CAM4 ambassador Estella Bathory can attest. She used the time to take a good look at what she was doing and how she could capitalize on the bigger audiences browsing the web.

“The beginning of the pandemic saw a boost in online traffic, and gave me the time to sort out my back catalog, which I am truly grateful for,” she shared. “I also benefited from the time to reevaluate my career and the direction I wanted to take myself in. Pre-pandemic, I was still trying to squeeze myself into the mainstream box to get enough traction before I could do my own thing. The pandemic coincided perfectly with my XBIZ Europas Best Lesbian Sex Scene win, as well as becoming the first U.K. ambassador for CAM4.”

Much of the indie fan base adores authenticity and intimacy above all, and this allowed Bathory to embrace her kinky and queer roots, rather than trying to appease the more traditional audience that some studios wanted.

“I have been collaborating less at times and more at others, as the U.K. goes through its constant changes of restrictions, which has made me even more selective with my shooting partners,” she explained. “I’ve met some of my favorite people to shoot with within the last year and I’m really passionate about the new queer talent which the U.K. has to offer. The main adaptation which I have gone through is settling into my regular camming schedule on CAM4. Camming is the ultimate ‘work from home’ job!”

Another entrepreneurial creator, Sabrina Night (aka Sabien DeMonia) upped her content game and also became an ambassador for new camming site Cherry.tv.

“I have to admit that, surprisingly, the pandemic has become a time of rare opportunities for me,” she said. “Due to lockdowns, big companies that usually wouldn’t be interested in me began offering scenes to someone with a pretty unique look like mine. This changed their approach and gave me a chance to prove that they’ve been missing out on my big selling potential.

“I also was able to work remotely with some U.S. companies like AltErotic from the comfort of my own studio,” she added. “As well, the pandemic pushed me to be more creative with my own content and explore unique niche markets and fetishes that I overlooked when travel and changing locations wasn’t as restricted and difficult.”

As for content creator Prince Jean Claude, he likewise took the time to revamp his business strategies and fine-tune his own professional focus.

“Due to COVID, many countries globally had to implement regionalized lockdowns,” he said. “From a production perspective, this meant no shoots. I focused on creating cosplay-themed solo content, because the boy/girl videos I usually produce were not possible during the pandemic.” Little Caprice, a studio-shot performer who also films her own scenes, said, “For my production Little Caprice Dreams, there was not a big difference during the pandemic, because I’ve always shot many updates in advance. The only difference was that I had a bit more extra costs incurred due to COVID-19 tests and more paperwork.”

INNOVATING AMID SHIFTING CONSUMER DEMAND

Having delved into the pandemic and its impact on the creation and dissemination of content, we asked producers, performers and execs what genres and styles are selling the most for them. We also inquired about how they are meeting changing consumer tastes, with an eye towards consistent output balanced against experimenting with new production, distribution and marketing strategies.

Erika Lust, who prizes the feedback from her loyal paysite subscribers, sought out their viewpoint to better assess what they truly desire.

“According to a recent survey, subscribers appreciate our platforms for the diversity, inclusivity and cinematic quality of the content we create, as well as for the ethical production process behind it,” she noted. “More than 50% of our subscribers said that they switched from free porn tube sites to XConfessions and Lust Cinema because of our ethics and high quality standards.”

She also hears from fans on social media and in response to editorial content on her Lust Zine, with the most common commentary being that they love to enjoy an erotic film without feeling conflicted about it. Elements like how natural the performers are and how relatable the sex is, as well as the characters, are things they appreciate in lieu of traditional porn tropes.

“More people than ever before are looking for alternative porn that’s made ethically,” she underscored. “They want to see themselves in the films, be inspired and become receptive to the huge range of different gender identities, sexualities and body shapes that exist out there and need to be seen. For many viewers, alternative adult cinema helps them celebrate their sexuality and encourages them to be empowered by sex in a variety of ways.”

In the realm of broadcast and video streaming, where Jacquie et Michel excels, Vincent Chalier emphasized the value of partnerships with TV channels the company has developed over the years, as well as seeking ever-greater reach for its VOD offerings.

“Knowing that we have a lot of fans who wait for our daily videos, we keep a close eye on the productions and pay attention to the quality of them,” he said. “The work process is well established, which allows us to optimize the time spent on managing the videos that make up our core business and to always be able to explore new technological, technical or marketing projects. Innovation has always been one of Jacquie et Michel’s founding values, so we don’t rest on our laurels and always look for new ways to seduce our audience. Our creativity is a strong point, which allows us to continue to develop our business while continuing to satisfy our longtime fans.”

Looking for new ways to grow and switch up tactics is indeed vital, as Kenny B. of YourPaysitePartner has witnessed via his eclectic mix of clients.

“We have many partners that focus on the variety of niches they know and love, and we are here to support their creative endeavors and ensure their success,” he said. “We haven’t seen significant demand for one type of content over another within the paysite market. However, we have seen a rise in personalized content from our performer-based sites. Those sales have mainly come from the clip and fan sites, not so much their paysites. It’s fantastic to see new avenues for content creators to monetize their hard work and social media following.”

In the domain of distribution, few have as great a reach or collection of content as Erotik.com, where Sascha Eierdanz sees a demand for professional productions. Much of the site’s large German-speaking clientele prefer German movies.

“Unfortunately, there are now only a few producers who produce high-quality content at all,” he lamented. “In order to meet the demands of our customers, we have therefore started our own productions and we also produce new content in a joint venture together with other producers.”

As far as marketing is concerned, Erotik is increasingly focused on the mainstream, given the difficulty of seeing ROI from advertising paid porn on free porn sites.

“In the last year, we have therefore concentrated more on press work and the creation of relevant content for our target group,” he said. “Currently, we are working on a blog for parents, where they can get information about youth protection on various devices (Android, iPhone, TV, router, etc.) and the whole thing is purely informative, completely free of advertising. We simply want to make a meaningful contribution to a better internet.”

Even legends like Rocco Siffredi are attuned to the evolutionary forces at play in the market, and it certainly helps that he has always had an adventurous approach to content anyhow.

“I’ve been producing since 1993 and ever since then, I’ve always been lucky,” he humbly imparted. “Because, as my distributor says, anything I do, does well with the sales. I have to say I was probably the luckiest actor and producer in the industry because of that. Nowadays, I don’t perform as I used to.”

He explained that even though he is in good health, he has slowed down some, but this has actually led him to take more risks and explore new horizons.

“This slowdown made me a lot more experimental regarding actors and methods of shooting,” he said. “I’ve become highly motivated to achieve success with my new projects. I keep my eyes and mind open to be able to keep up with the world and I’m willing to gain new experiences, as I have always been in my life.”

He underlined the value of maintaining passion in his professional life, and cites loving everything he does as the secret of his ongoing success. Enthusiasm, he says, will naturally inspire others to feel excited.

“Regarding marketing and distribution, producers have to deal with a totally new way of selling porn these days,” he added. “This is a challenge, but I look at sex with the eyes of the new generation. I don’t just stick to my way of making movies, and this is very important.”

Meanwhile, Dan Leal has found two very specific types of content to be proving quite popular among his Immoral Productions fans.

“The content that is best for us is storyline-driven in English with the top-caliber girls we can find in Europe,” he said. “The days of being able to sell basic content is long behind the adult industry. We also started monetizing our behind-the-scenes and voyeur footage by shooting it in virtual reality (VR). I highly recommend everyone do this as it reduces any potential liability issues by capturing everything that happens on set and is a great extra revenue stream.”

No matter the genre, Sabina of Julmodels opined, the ultimate driver of traffic is the talent themselves, as their brand inspires loyalty like few other factors.

“I have noticed that it’s not so much about the content, but more about who’s selling it,” she said. “Fans and followers seem to enjoy whatever their stars are giving. However, TikTok thrives these days, since the general public likes short and funny videos starring their favorite talents.”

Feeding that desire for stars is doubly impactful for MySweetApple when they collaborate with others. However, out of respect for health and safety, they have scaled back on such scenes and are meeting fan needs instead by giving them extra one-on-one love with bonus doses of their real-life personality.

“The favorite fan content is always the collaborations, but lately it’s not related to the content itself but the way we sell it, since things changed in the industry ever since OnlyFans arrived,” they shared. “People now want personalized attention, subscribing not just to watch, but also to talk with you and have fresh, unique stuff.

“We’re doing really well on OnlyFans,” they said. “At the moment, we’re at the top 0.08% and people are loving all the adventures we had this summer. For us, shooting porn is easy and natural. We’re exhibitionists and horny most of the time so we’re constantly doing new content. We’re also very lucky to have such awesome friends and other models who visited us this summer to shoot content together, so we never stopped for a second.”

Still, there is no denying the offline part of the job, which MySweetApple finds to be a bit of a chore, like editing videos and marketing them on social media.

“It can all be overwhelming for us and for the fans,” they shared. “So many times, we thought about hiring an editor or somebody to help us with the more technical parts of this job, but then our content wouldn’t feel as amateur or personal anymore, so we decided instead to relax, do what we can and enjoy the whole process.”

Back in the U.K., Estella Bathory has found that her highest-selling content is “amateur” or “lesbian/queer domination,” which she has found to be easier to shoot during the pandemic. “Having to produce with less resources than normal got me excited to experiment with the ‘home movie’ vibe,” she said. “I love long amateur videos showing negotiation, behind-the-scenes laughter, POV/gonzo, lubing up, shooting with the same partners multiple times and showing real orgasms and real kink.

“Though during the pandemic’s lesser restrictions, I have been lucky enough to set up my first self-directed production, which I am excited to release soon,” she added. “It’s a true passion project that’s raw, personal and real. Before the pandemic, I never would have had the confidence to do this and I truly feel that the last year has solidified my intentions.”

Likewise finding herself challenged throughout this uncertain period, Sabrina Night has discovered that her brand balances mainstream porn tastes with her more altniche vibes.

“I popularise my unique image by dipping my toes into the realm of bigger brands,” she explained. “Then I can funnel traffic into my own platforms, to maintain most of the power over my image. I’m also not afraid of creating challenging, and often bizarre, custom video requests. I give them a lot of attention to make them the highest quality possible, with a lot of care about specific details that are important for my clients.”

This attentive and meticulous craft, she says, leads to returning customers who end up becoming regulars — and the more passionate among her fans are often brimming with creativity themselves.

“Usually, they bring the bestselling ideas, as their fantasy is based on their excellent knowledge of their particular fetishes and how it can pair with my features,” she said. “This kind of content often caters to popular niche markets, which lack good-quality content, whereas I’m always producing this level of material and I improve with every production.”

Another risk-taker who enjoys challenging norms is Prince Jean Claude, who really tries to get into the mindset of consumers who are hungry for intimacy and truly authentic fare.

“Porn is often viewed through the hetero-normative lense of penetration and can feel very robotic,” he said. “My content focuses on female orgasms and squirting, and is never staged. There is also an increasing crossover between cosplay and traditional porn content. This has led to a rise in custom video requests. It helps marketing, too, when there is a theme. It is easier to build a narrative around that and it can work for other creators looking to diversify the way they execute their scenes.”

Keeping it simple, meanwhile, though no less diverse, is performer Little Caprice, who says she offers 10 different episodic series for one monthly price.

“The business model is to give members different styles on our website,” she said. “Most important for us is to be real; we don’t like fake porn, so the talent in our scenes must show real feelings.”

CAPITALIZING ON UNIQUE EUROPEAN OPPORTUNITIES

From jumping over pandemic-induced hurdles to exploring innovative angles in the content game, there is one thread that ties every one of these creators and businesses together: Europe.

We asked each of these market leaders to describe the challenges and opportunities that are unique to the European adult market in their experience, as well as their future plans for thriving in an ever-changing global market.

Achieving that balance between appealing to regional fans, while also keeping an eye on the greater world stage, is no small feat. Yet with an underlying commitment to producing passionate and chemistry-filled scenes, such international ambitions are far more within reach.

Erika Lust has met this challenge by building a brand-new safety protocol based on European Film Commission guidelines and adapting it to the nature of her shoots, while sticking squarely to hiring local talent.

“This ‘best practices guide’ was created according to local legislation and official recommendations put forth by government agencies and health authorities around the world in order to safeguard both talent and crew on set,” she noted. “It’s crucial for us in this first phase to select cast and crew on a local basis only, to not encourage travels between regions, or even countries.”

On another wavelength, though also with an eye towards ethical practices, Vincent Chalier of Jacquie et Michel has taken measures to protect minors, even before a law was enacted in France on that subject.

“The importance of limiting access to adult content for minors as much as possible is a constant preoccupation, which has led us to rethink our technical architecture in terms of verification,” he said.

Beyond this issue, Chalier explained, J&M has always wanted to take advantage of their creativity to explore new horizons and set up new projects, some of which provide a unique way to consume scenes.

“For example, we have created a platform for the distribution of video content based on the operation of Netflix, with content proposals and the possibility of enjoying an international and diverse catalog on all possible digital devices,” he said. “Our Swame platform has also revolutionized the market for sharing and monetizing content, with a strong focus on content creators so that they can reap the benefits of their work as much as possible, through innovative and novel technological solutions.

“Jacquie et Michel’s ambition is always to innovate and develop as many projects as possible, to meet the ever-changing demands of the adult entertainment industry,” he concluded.

Behind the scenes, Kenny B. of YourPaysitePartner has developed an expertise in the region through the various European partners and content producers he works with, while also leveraging his domestic U.S. network to maximize profits for all.

“We have been fortunate to work with them on existing European distribution deals and provide further exposure with distribution in the American market,” he said. “We hope to continue to increase our presence in both markets. The content being created by our partner Mariska has been phenomenal and keeps improving. We all look forward to what’s coming next for the rising star. Industry-wise, we are keeping a close eye on the various age verification proposals and the effects they may have on the paysite sector.”

Yet no matter the innovations, precautions and proactive measures taken, there is always the imminent threat of payment-processing related woes, as the recent OnlyFans adult content ban, suspended though it is, demonstrated — not to mention the Mastercard vs. Pornhub shockwaves of late last year.

Commenting on this phenomenon, Sascha Eierdanz of Erotik.com said, “The biggest challenge right now, in my opinion, is the ever-increasing demands of payment providers and banks. The internet is no longer the Wild West it was in the early 2000s. And that’s a good thing. Our industry needs to grow up.

I have never been a fan of allowing users to upload and distribute pornographic material unchecked on a platform.”

He pointed out, however, that websites that were gung-ho about ensuring that uploads were closely verified, monitored and moderated have still come under pressure. Even those who have taken extraordinary measures have nonetheless fallen prey to evangelical inspired campaigns pressuring politicians with moral panics.

“This pressure will certainly increase in the future as well,” Eierdanz noted. “Combined with new youth protection laws in many countries, the business model of purely ad-supported porn sites will be more difficult in the future.”

Taking a step back, he observed that Erotik. com has always committed not only to staying within the bounds of regulatory forces, but also to meeting the wishes of its customers.

“In the past, this approach has proven to be successful,” he said. “This is shown not least by our fan community, which has been growing steadily for almost 20 years. In any case, we have a lot of plans for the future — and so little time.”

On the entertainment value front, showman Rocco Siffredi continually challenges himself to raise the stakes in production value and fiery content.

“In my experience, the biggest challenge of the European adult market is to always be up to date to entertain the audience and live up to people’s expectations,” he said. “In my opinion, a great opportunity for the future is a live streaming platform, which could make a difference in live porn. I know it’s something which already exists in the live cam system, but interactive streaming could mean a new era in the studio side of the industry. For example, fans could be a part of a movie from anywhere in the world and interact with the actors about what to do next. This could be done in many different ways.”

He suggested a game-like reality show as one such scenario, and said that he is already dreaming up a way to fuse studio-quality movies with the interactivity of camming.

“This is probably a project which I’m going to set my sights on. I’d love to build up my own live-streaming platform. Actually, this is not only my point of view, but many young people’s too; one of them is my son. He really believes it could be a huge success.”

No stranger to producing live shows in the studio for ImmoralLive.com, Dan Leal is keeping a close eye on the consolidating of operations that many studio businesses are undergoing, being swallowed up by larger entities for lucrative sums or traffic-boosting partnerships.

“More and more companies in Europe have sold or turned their operations over to MindGeek, Gamma and WebGroup, as it is next to impossible for a small independent studio to compete with these powerhouses,” he said. “Not only that, but many consumers prefer to purchase content directly from the models themselves. By far, the largest adult site in Germany is MyDirtyHobby, which is basically their version of clips and camming rolled into one, and features all individual content creators.

“The preponderance of scenes in the U.K. is made by independents as well,” he continued. “These are the two largest countries in Europe and there are less than a dozen traditional studios left in the two countries combined! I also recently became an equity partner in xxxNifty which is the leading NFT marketplace in the adult industry. I will be releasing the best content from my catalog of over 3,000 scenes on their platform, as well as helping them sign up new studios, as this is going to dramatically change the way all media is distributed online.”

From high-tech NFT hijinks and hybrid studio-streaming ambitions, to more traditional trends, Sabina of Julmodels has observed that European audiences are especially animated when it comes to fake breasts and tattoos, which she says are “a way bigger deal” than in the U.S.

“I also think that the average age of talent in Europe is lower than in the U.S., which is a good opportunity for young girls to rise pretty fast,” she said. “My plans change as fast as the world around me, but the strategy is always the same: adapt to changes, adhere to Julmodels standards and break a leg.”

Taking a business-as-usual approach that focuses on consistency, while still keeping the door open to novel ideas, MySweetApple sees the stakes as no different than any other line of work.

“The challenges are the same as in every other business: competition, evolution and adaptation,” they said. “But porn is somehow different, because people never choose between only a handful of products; they want it all! So, everybody can profit. “Unfortunately, sometimes hypocrisy wins, and people who hate porn suddenly enter our arena and complain about it, wanting to get rid of it,” they added. “Sometimes, they succeed and the platform is affected, so we have to move to a new one, and that takes time, effort and knowledge, but for us it’s easy, because we are the product and we can take it to a different new trending platform and that’s it.”

MySweetApple emphasized that they do not fear change, because they are accustomed to switching up their game rapidly and bringing their same degree of enthusiasm to every project.

“We are used to changes, because porn evolves super fast, and if you are optimistic and you love what you do, these are just opportunities. New platforms mean fresh beginnings, where you learn, you grow and you improve your product,” they said. “Quarantine was a perfect example. Everybody was freaking out about it and suddenly the big studios came to us, some platforms went down, but others went up, so it’s a cycle.”

For some European stars, their primary audience is anything but European, as Estella Bathory noted.

“According to my stats, my audience is mostly in the U.S. However, in the U.K. we have a set of unique challenges relating to performers,” she said. “Since it’s free and accessible to get a full sexual health screening here and given the rise in platforms and creators (which I believe to be an excellent thing overall), we have a lot of new faces all the time.”

Along with a trend in U.K. studios moving to mainland Europe over the last few years, Bathory sees a further shift to indie platforms as driving profits, while dealing with regulatory issues related to the industry when it comes to standard practices, consent, model releases and testing.

“Regulating our industry to empower the next generation of performers is something I’m very passionate about,” she said, “and I am working towards that as a member of SNAP and a co-founder of FSC Europe.”

Another unique element of the European market vs. the U.S., is the use of numerous languages, according to Sabrina Night.

“Definitely one of the biggest challenges is the language barrier between many companies, producers and performers,” she said. “For example, I’m very popular in France but my French is almost nonexistent, which definitely cuts down on the number of possible jobs offered by French productions.”

Night is already fluent in Polish and English, communicative in German and currently working on her Spanish and French. She says that being multilingual is essential.

“I also face a lot of unexpected stigma around tattoos that is pretty common for European productions,” she said. “When I was entering the industry, I never thought my unique look would be such an obstacle in getting jobs in Europe, especially as I’ve been told in the U.S. it’s the opposite. But every obstacle becomes an advantage when overcome.

“It’s all a case of improving your skill set, having a strong work ethic, doing good marketing and believing in yourself as a brand,” Night continued. “Europe is full of niche markets that are often overlooked by big mainstream companies, because they require research, care and knowledge, but if explored, can easily become high-value marketing opportunities.”

She then shared that she is currently working on creating a new website, which will launch in September and explore all things taboo and fetish in multiple languages, with an eye towards high cinematic quality.

With as much pep in his step as the hustlers mentioned above, Prince Jean Claude circled back to his exploration of costume play and feeding the demand of geeky fans who love everything from video game characters to anime series. While such a trend may seem obvious to U.S. creators, Claude said that very few European stars are tapping into it.

“There is a huge opportunity for cosplay adult content that not many European creators or distributors cater to,” he said. “Though lockdowns in each country vary, so some shoots can’t happen for the foreseeable future.”

Last, but certainly not least, Little Caprice has set her sights on international stardom, rather than fussing much over European audiences.

“Our market is the whole world, actually, and not just Europe,” she said. “We are just in the beginning of our productions. There are a lot of opportunities online, but nothing comes from going it alone, so I’ll keep working hard every day and stay real, developing my website to give members more high-end and stylish content.”

Indeed, the whole world is the market for Europe’s greatest performers, producers, paysite operators, distributors and behind-the-scenes executives, for digital media truly knows no bounds.

While regional advantages are undeniable, serving up localized content for audiences with high-tech smoothness or amateur-infused realness, today’s adult entertainers are the savviest generation yet, catering to a diverse array of viewers whether they hail from Prague, Spain or Germany.

Now, having overcome a chaotic, market-transforming pandemic that has exponentially mutated the digital media age forevermore, the gritty artistry of the European community is alive and well, thriving with flair. They are deeply attuned to the rhythmic pulse of their fan base, and to the bells and whistles of algorithms and analytics, as well as the ceaseless tides of cultural norms that swirl and froth as they break down stony norms. Nobody knows what the future holds, no matter how much the all-seeing eye wishes to gaze into a crystal ball and pierce the fog of uncertainty, but with courage, intelligence and fierce sexuality, all things come to fruition.

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