Hymes: Industry on Verge of Civil War

TAMPA, Fla. - XBiz publisher Tom Hymes' sprawling keynote address Friday afternoon during Cybernet Expo covered the changing adult-industry landscape and urged industry members to join together in an epic fight against opposition.

"The power structure in this industry is changing, and we're in the middle of that right now," Hymes, who previously served as communication director for the Free Speech Coalition and editor of AVN Online, told the assembled crowd.

Power is shifting away from the old guard — video producers — and toward the online sector, Hymes said, but the old guard will not cede the field.

"We're on the verge of a sort of de facto civil war," Hymes said, noting that video companies are not going to give up their share of the market easily.

Hymes opined that most companies are struggling for control in a market that has shifted to consumer-driven consumption of digital media and away from traditional programming and distribution methods under which producers decided what people wanted and when they would get it.

Although he said he's seen a great deal of differentiation in marketing and the driving forces behind companies, Hymes also spoke of saturation and similarity in the adult world.

"The problem in this industry is that anyone can make porn," he said. "I see an incredible sameness out there in design and content."

Hymes went on to detail his personal role in defeating the dot-xxx initiative and the lessons that battle provided.

"The biggest mistake anyone can make is to look to any company out there to be a leader [in this industry]," Hymes said. "I thought that if there was any issue that would bring people together, it had to be [dot-xxx]."

As he described it, the fight to defeat dot-xxx largely was waged by a few people, and the effort was unorganized. Even so, it was successful — something that provided a glimmer of hope for those who chose to band together.

"If we could [defeat dot-xxx] with a pathetic effort like that, think about what we could do if we were organized," Hymes said.