SMASH accuses Animania of monopoly

April 18, 2007

Earlier this year a blog called “Comic World Sydney” appeared, this was apparently a new Anime convention in Sydney being organised primarily by Katie Huang. Whilst this in itself could be considered good news that a new anime convention was starting in Sydney, it became clear that their primary marketing tactic (and possibly their primary goal) was to be in direct competition of the Animania Festival. Not only that, they were imploring artists and attendees to boycott the Animania Festival.

From here on in I will refer to “Comic World Sydney” as SMASH as that is the name they have adopted.

There was a prominent post on the SMASH blog publicly announcing their goals and intents. The original post was dated Feb 3 however as of late March (possibly March 29 based on various search engine caches) there has been a major rewrite of this post.

Later that month SMASH then went to post a rant about Animania on Feb 21. It exposed* the price for artist tables at Animania Sydney September event and again recommended artists should boycott Animania. This post was deleted a few days later.

*The pricing and details was publicly available on the Animania website.

Another post on Feb 21 promoted their new name “SMASH” – Sydney Manga and Anime SHow. Again SMASH promoted the entry fee would be “as cheap as Doujicon“, or in other words $5.

According to SMASH the Animania Festival is doing harm to the anime convention scene in Sydney. The crux of this reasoning is based around the prices that Animania sets for entry and Artist tables at the events. Even though the price for entry and Artist tables varies for each of Animania’s 4 events throughout the year SMASH chooses to focus on the most expensive pricings for Sydney September (a 2 or 3 day event).

What I find most interesting about SMASH’s position is the underlying impression that Animania’s prices are unjust solely based on the prices from other unrelated events in the country. It is clear that Katie feels ripped off as an artist, but on the other hand there are artists that continue to attend Animania year after year. Even 5 months from the event there are already 2 confirmed artists.

Original Quote:

I’ve attended almost every Animania from 2002 to 2006 as an artist at the artist table and found that the price of attending just gets more and more unbearable every year.

I’m going to compare the price of Animania 2006 with two other big conventions in Melbourne, Manifest and Doujicon to give you an idea of how much we’re being ripped off.

There is a strange contradiction in this reasoning, being that a) the price of attending Animania has been unbearable for several years and b) Katie continues to attend these unbearable events. Katie even attended Animania March this year.

Below is what the above quote was altered to. In contrast to SMASH’s claim, if you take a moment to look at the entry prices for all Sydney conventions (namely Animania and Supanova) you cannot find any evidence to suggest either of them are increasing their entry prices from 2006 to 2007.

Rewritten Quote:

I’ve attended almost every convention in Sydney as an artist and noticed that the price of entry in some Sydney conventions has been rapidly increasing.

Let’s compare the price of entry of some of the different anime conventions across Australia in 2006

If you include the Animania event in March, fans and artists have 3 conventions in Sydney. The entry prices start from $15, which I believe are the Pre-Paid prices for single day entry to Supanova and Animania March. This is the same as the Pre-Paid single day entry to Manifest. By focusing solely on Animania September, and not only that but on their door entry prices (not pre-paid) SMASH is able to justify that there are no affordable anime conventions in Sydney.

Original Quote:

Anime fans and artists in Sydney are being cheated and don’t have any other conventions to turn to.

Cheated: to mislead, to practice fraud.

SMASH blatantly accuses Animania of swindling the public simply because they are unhappy with the prices that are set?

In the rewrite this is update to no longer directly attack Animania, though a thinly veiled attempt.

Rewritten Quote:

As an artist and an anime fan, I personally feel that the price of some Anime conventions is no longer affordable anymore.

Next SMASH makes some pretty far-fetched promises. SMASH announced they intended to have $5 entry for the public and FREE tables for artists to sell their works. Their justification was a turnout of 500 people would cover the costs of hiring the venue. As we’ll soon see this flew out the window shortly after.

Original Quote:

To fix this problem, I’m hoping to start another convention in Sydney, in the same vein as Doujicon. The goal is to make it as cheap as possible for the fans to enter and the artists to hire a table. We intend to charge about $5 per entry(not sure, but we’ll do our best), and Free for artists to hire a table. The tentative venue set for now is UNSW Roundhouse, which costs an average of $3000. To break even, we just need a turnout of about 500 people ($2500). The remaining $500 we’re hoping to recoup by charging vending space to food and merchandise vendors at $100 per stall.

After a reality check we see the entry fee will been raised to $15 and artists will charged additional for a space, $25 all up. Now that the SMASH site has been opened the entry price has been adjusted again to $9 pre-paid and $12 door sales. Suddenly their pricing does not seem so different from the other Sydney anime conventions.

Rewritten Quote:

As a result, we are starting a new convention in Sydney, and our aim is to make both the entry price and artist table affordable. We intend to charge no more than $15 for entry, and $25 and under for artists to hire a table.

After all the talk and complaints about entry fees and pricing, SMASH insinuates that a cheaper convention is a better convention, thus by beating the entry prices of all other Sydney conventions they will automatically become a better convention.

Original Quote:

All this is still in the rough planning stages but I’m hoping this letter will impress upon you that a simple, cheap fan made convention is not only feasible, it’s necessary. Sydney Anime fans deserve a better option than Animania.

Sometimes it is useful to develop a budget before you announce your prices. I’m sure they have learnt a lesson from that. I also disbelieve SMASH’s reasoning behind charging artists extra is based on the reasons they stated. Doujicon is free for artists. Why can’t SMASH be? I suspect charging artists extra is based more on increasing their budget than “artists not turning up”.

Rewritten Quote:

We have to raise the price of entry because, after a proper budget plan, we realise that we didn’t take a lot of factors into consideration (Equipment/promotion…etc). The finance of SMASH is transparent and budget plan can be provided upon request.

The price of the artist table is no longer free because, a lot of people suggested that, by providing tables for free a lot of people will simply sign up without actually turning up. Hence we are charging a $10 fee (on top of the entry fee) for artists, which will cover equipment costs and the opportunity to promote and sell their work.

SMASH came out with guns blazing against all other Sydney conventions, but after nearly 2 months of promoting themselves and advocating a boycott of other conventions they decide to dramatically tone down their attacks.

I believe the most telling event of this whole saga was that despite all the rants, all the threats of boycotts, and all the complaints about pricing, Katie Huang attended Animania March as an artist.

Put your money where your mouth is, so to say.


One comment

  1. […] Artists and vendors will be shelling out much more to attend SMASH than previously promised. […]

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