Concessions for social media
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Wow. 395,000 followers. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114065946/instagramfamous-australian-bow-hunter-rescued-from-west-coast-mountains I'm glad he was rescued but reading the article got me wondering about how social media influencers operate. I don't know the details of exactly how Adam Greentree operates, but social media popularity is a significant income earner these days for people who work to attract enough followers. When someone specifically photographs and films and documents their outdoor adventures for publication to attract and retain attention for their brand, and then generate income from it, how does it fit into DOC's interpretation of commercial use of the conservation estate? Is there any reason why DOC shouldn't be chasing them for concessions?
I suspect this would get point into the too-hard basket... ...but you raise an excellent point. To specifically answer your question - the main reason would be that it is too hard to quantify the extent to which the use of DOC assets has had on building and maintaining their brand, and generating revenue off it. Not to mention the overheads associated with enforcing policy. Having said that - if enough "influencers" were doing so then DOC could possibly make a financial case to publish a policy and invoice some folk.
I think the line would be "take others for personal gain" Guide someone to a nice place and accept payment that would require a concession. Go yourself alone film it and publish the film on "free" media in the hope that enough others will watch it that advertisers think your film attracted them in enough numbers to their adds so they give you a slice of the action does not
I agree with @geeves. Professional photographers/writers taking images/writing stories to sell for personal gain are in the same category, and they have not required a concession to carry out their activities previously. I see a someone recording video for their social media feeds no different in this case. Things like large scale film operations (e.g. LOTR) I believe would require concessions/prior approval to film in certain locations if simply for the number people/vehicles/helicopters they would use. On a conspiracy theory level, a storyline of "Man, this terrain/weather is so gnarly, and I nearly died, so I needed a helicopter rescue" would be likely to generate lots of clicks/views/drive traffic/raise the profile of the person involved.
He got himself into a similar predicament on a previous visit to South Westland but got out of it independently without injury but it sounded terribly risky. It involved getting stuck in gorges and vertical walls etc. so you'd have to wonder why he got himself into a similar predicament by travelling down a waterway instead of sticking to spurs.
At least He made a donation to the chopper...
It probably is in the too hard basket, but I think it highlights some of the messiness around the concession system when it comes to what's considered commercial, especially when the nature of how people earn money is changing. If Bear Grylls brings a traditional film crew to NZ to make a self-congratulatory documentary about himself that will later be sold for profit, DOC would tell his production company that it's required to pay a concession fee. If Josh James Kiwi Bushman heads onto the DOC estate to make another video for his website, I'm guessing DOC probably doesn't following him up? That's despite, I suspect, him pulling in something like US$6400/month via Patreon subscribers** who give him money by subscription for elevated access to his content, and then he's obliged to keep producing content that his subscribers like, or risk losing revenue. Other social media influencers don't necessarily have direct paying subscribers, but there's a whole industry for helping people earn substantial revenue from internet popularity from producing content that might appear to be free. Maybe it's directly from advertising through something like YouTube, or sponsorship from business that wants to be seen as supporting their content, or taking money for endorsements or product placements or reviews in front of so many people++, or any number of things. It can get to the point where the content is created specifically for driving this revenue. Does Shaun Barnett pay a DOC concession for the photos he publishes in the calendars he sells? I haven't asked but I'm guessing not, as @nzbazza notes. Maybe that's fair because he could probably argue he's mostly going tramping for himself, and happens to make calendars from the result? But it's not exactly the same as what some of these other people are doing, IMHO. ** I'm just throwing in JJ as an example of what I'm talking about. It's unclear to me how much JJ earns, but several months ago he'd noted on his website that he was aiming for a US$10k/month goal, and the site showed him as 64% of the way there from the subscriptions he had. Now he no longer advertises the total figure, but it's saying 32%, so I figure he's probably just doubled the goal. https://www.patreon.com/the_kiwi_bushman ++ Advertisers really like marketing through influencers because it's much more effective: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11973837
Maybe the line is about whether you consider what you're doing to be a business activity. For example, if Adam Greentree is classifying his flights and everything else in NZ as a business expense, and so not paying tax on those amounts to the Australian Tax Office, it'd be tough to justify that he wasn't making commercial use of the conservation estate. Also really hard for DOC to chase him down, though.
As mentioned it is probably too hard to chase a lot of these guys down and costs of enforcement may well outweigh concession revenues anyway. You also have to weigh up the value of the "free" advertising the conservation estate/NZ gets from the social media exposure. Is there more value in letting a person with hundreds of thousands of social media followers post about their great (or not so great in this case!) experiences in your country than whatever you could wring out of them from a concession. There is certainly a lot less expense involved in sitting back and letting them do it! However, of course, the business landscape will continue to change and I am sure this question will only become more pertinent over time.
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