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It's been (mostly) fun...

chris

Legend!
I want to begin this by saying I have the most respect for FAS and everyone involved with their products. It is the best guitar modeler etc. ever designed, and the passion Cliff has for it is amazing. He has always been completely generous with updating it, making it better, and giving so much for free to the end user. If more people/companies had that mentality, the world would truly be a better place.

That passion and generosity sort of inspired me a few years ago to start helping people on the forum as well as to make tutorial videos here and there for common questions and new features of the Axe-Fx. Any computer/digital device can be confusing or complicated to those coming from an analog world, and I tend to understand these things pretty easily, so I thought wow, this guy is giving away these updates, I’ll help people a little bit since this is the best device ever.

I didn’t really think too much of it at first, but as I started making more videos, the response was inspiring. People started telling me that the way I showed and explained things was very clear, and for the first time they understood whatever concept I was showing, compared to other similar content available. Video was the way to go, as people liked to watch, pause, rewind and learn visually, rather than reading a ton of text in the manual or on the forum. The Axe-Fx II came out and I knew I wanted to help people more.

I started to make some more videos and quickly realized how much time it took to make something accurate yet not too technical, in-depth yet concise, and useful but not too specific. On average, a 20 minute video takes

2-6 hours to research
2 hours to write a loose script
2-4 hours to shoot all content
4-10 hours to edit, render, upload, blog
2x XA10 HD cameras ~$1500 each
Wireless Mics, guitar, Axe-Fx, MFC, computer items ~$5000+

I made 8 or so videos in 2011-2012, mostly covering basics like setting up the MFC-101, Global Blocks, etc.

In 2013, I wanted to start a series called “Out of the Box, Onto the Stage” and started with a very in-depth video on how to connect to various PA systems. I had a lot of ideas, but just didn’t have the time to do much and only made another 8 videos including Setting Input levels and Preventing Output Clipping.

Since I didn’t have much time to make the videos I wanted, I tried to help out on the forum as much as possible. I helped a ton of people and solved many problems that others couldn’t solve. I received a ton of emails, YouTube messages and Forum PMs and tried to answer them all.

The beginning of 2014 was tough for me, so I really didn’t have time for videos. But around the announcement of the FX8, I decided I wanted to get back into it. I spent a long time working on my website and created an FAQ page that intended to answer all the most asked questions on the forum. These were text-based explanations in my own words - the way I’d explain it in a video - and not just copy/pastes of the manual. Lots of pictures and screenshots to aid understanding. Again, people commented that it was the first time they actually understood things due to the way I explained it.

In August of this year, after a month of researching and testing services, I implemented a live text chat on my website via IRC. For a long time, I wanted to create a place for people to have more instant communication for troubleshooting, as well as a place to hang out. A forum is great, but sometimes there are days between questions and replies, which leads to confusion and mis-information. I also setup a live video stream with HD video and high quality stereo audio where I could take questions and show the Axe and MFC with multiple cameras as well as my desktop for Axe-Edit and other software. There was a core group of people who would stop in all the time to hang out and help others and I would have many people come in with questions and I’d answer them, solving their problems with just the chat or with the video as well.

Around the same time, I created an in-depth video showing how to use the Looper block and also showed how to use the latest Axe-Manage features in Axe-Edit.

At this point, I wanted to do this “full time”: help out with the forum, do my live chat and make videos to help out as many people as I could. To allow me to take up all this time for this, I needed to somehow monetize this.

Up until this point, I hosted my videos on YouTube and used ads on my website. I strongly believed in PASSIVE income for this venture; I did NOT want Axe users to have to pay for my content out of pocket. It’s the best device, but it is very complicated for many people. They shouldn’t have to pay more money to learn how to use it.

However, with the views on my videos over the years and the ads on my site, I would make $100 every 4-5 months. I have received some PayPal donations over the years as well, much appreciated, but $5 here or there didn’t add up to much either. Definitely not gonna sustain me at all. I had no choice but to try out “premium” services and start selling my video content.

I started doing paid consultations with my video chat and had a few clients. I charged $35 per hour, but my clients were generous and saw the value of what I was offering and usually thought I didn’t charge enough and added a bit more on there. If I had about 3-5 clients a week, I could make it work. One of my clients never touched any settings on the MFC or update it for over 2 years because he didn’t want to break anything. In a ~3 hour session, we updated from 0.xx to the current FW, I re-did his IA layout and settings since it was wiped, and we explored some new effects and settings on the Axe. He was stoked. I’m guessing though that people didn’t want to pay for this service, because I didn’t get any clients after that.

I then made my first “Premium” tutorial that explained the difference between Presets, XY Switching and Scenes - a very, very common question for beginners with the Axe, especially if they started after Scenes was introduced. The response to this video was great. Again, many people said they never understood many things I elucidated in the video until they saw it. The video was about an hour long and the downloaded version included Titles and Chapters like a DVD so you could skip quickly to the section you wanted.

If I sold 10 copies of that video a week at $10, that would be enough to keep me going - fund me to have the time to continue making videos, stay on my live chat, and help out on the forum. I sold about 20 in the first week.

A staff member of G66, the EU distributor for FAS, frequented my chat and really liked the overall concepts of everything I was doing. He posted my chat links on their Social Media etc, as well as the videos I put out during that time, including links to my Premium videos and online store for all my content.

As expected, the sales of that Premium video slowed down and I only sold about 10 more copies over the next 2 weeks. At this point, I started AdWords to try and get the my content out there to more users and began working on my next premium video, Stereo vs Mono Inputs and Outputs. Did I expect to get rich or anything off of this? No way. I just wanted to be able to sustain myself so I could make more content for sharing.

Honestly, I did NOT like that I was charging people for my content for another company’s products. It just felt wrong. I really, really wanted the live chat and FAQ to thrive so the Ad revenue on my website would increase, so no one paid me out of pocket.

But then people started questioning why I was making my own website content when there was a FAS Forum, Wiki, etc. all official. They liked my content, but wondered why I “didn’t just put my chat on the FAS forum” and/or why FAS doesn’t doesn’t do official tutorials or have a chat. One of my clients also asked, “So… FAS is hooking you up right? For doing all this? I mean I’ve learned so much from your videos and you’ve done so much work supporting them, they’re taking care of you right?” I kinda shrugged it off… But I kept thinking about the way he phrased that question, and to answer it straight, no, FAS has never “taken care of me” - nor have I expected that to happen.

But this all led me to a realization: After all this time, does FAS even know I’ve been doing all this? Yeah, they know I’m on the forum, but I’ve done all these tutorials and helped out so many people over the years, and I don’t think FAS had ever backed anything I’ve ever done.

With that statement, it’s easy to jump to “he’s a poor sport, poor baby, butt-hurt, etc.” and if you take it that way, fine. But honestly, only now realizing it, it’s kinda rough to have spent so much time helping to support a product for 3+ years without any sort of nod like “hey, FYI i see you’re doing tutorials and people like them, keep going” - I’m not even talking about a thank you, just “i saw that and i’m not saying stop.”

Actually, when I launched my live chat and just before Axe-Edit 3.1.0 came out, Matt out of the blue contacted me, invited me to a webinar for a preview of the Axe-Manage features and talked to me like I was a beta tester (i’m not, never was). This interaction inspired me to make my Axe-Manage video after the public version was released as a “thanks for noticing me FAS” and to do the in-depth Scenes video.

(I was also invited to an Axe-Fest, I think 2012, by a forum member, but I couldn’t go.)

But this also made me realize - woah, I’ve NEVER been contacted by anyone all these years. Did they just realize I’ve been doing this stuff?

I’ve had this asked many times, so lemme clear it up now: I don’t work for FAS, I’m not a beta tester, I don’t get early releases, I don’t get paid by FAS, I don’t get free anything from FAS, I don’t know anyone from FAS.

(The people I mention next, I have a lot of respect for and appreciate everything they’ve done. There is no animosity towards any of these guys at all.)

That said, I don’t think I’ve ever had a video linked to on Facebook or Twitter or anything “official." I know Yek put my stuff in the Wiki all the time, thanks. But you look out and see guys like Sean Ashe, Mark Day, Scott Peterson, Cooper Carter, Fremen, etc. being reposted, shared, etc. all the time, it is a bit like “hey guys, what about me?” I could be wrong, but honestly I’ve never seen anything. And sure, there’s a ton of Axe stuff out there to be shared. But for 3 years making popular tutorials and hardly a mention...

Much of their shared content was more like play throughs and performances. Yes, that sells the Axe since they are phenomenal players and make it sound really good. And of course working with touring pros and guitar gods, yeah, definitely post that stuff, that’s so awesome for FAS! I’m definitely not a phenomenal player, no question about that. But so many people told me they were about to return or sell their Axe until I helped them; maybe support and tutorials weren’t/aren’t that important to share. Or maybe I was supposed to ask them to share it? I don’t know. FAS is a small company, with tons of work to accomplish and of course I never expected them to have time to notice or share everything I did.

I guess I’ve just never been in the circle. I’ve always felt like the underdog when it came to my content. I’d spend hours putting together a video with research I did myself, then someone on the beta team posts a quick tip with inside info on a similar topic and I get left in the dust. I see these other guys being backed by FAS and each other, and it’s just disheartening to put in all this work and feel left out. Then recent G66 official tutorials… dang man.

So I’m sorry to say, I quit. I deleted my videos, except for those commissioned by Mission Engineering, available on their product pages for the SP-1 and TT Pro. Please do not re-upload any of my content that you may have downloaded or purchased. Yes, I am “taking my ball and going home.” But it seems that “ball” wasn’t too important, and there are others here that can help and official tutorials being released these days. I’m not asking for anything, I don’t want anything. I’m just done.

Honestly, not helping out on the forum for the past month or so has been very relieving - it is stressful to make sure you’re saying the right things and solving problems. You really have to keep up with everything to be able to support any product correctly. Having all the latest updates and features and bug fixes on my mind takes work. Then getting attacked for asking the OP questions to clarify their question or, god forbid, asking for a video showing the problem… it’s too much.

My favorite ones were like this: “Help, I’m not getting any sound from Output 2.” “In the I/O Menu, what is Copy/Echo set to? Or are you using an FX Loop Block in the preset?” “WTF I”M ASKING ABOUT OUTPUT 2 NOT THE I/O MENU OR A BLOCK!!! YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!”

:)

I’ll be around to see about bugs and new firmware etc., but I won’t be posting for sure. Again, FAS is the best company out there with the best guitar-based product ever produced. This forum has so many knowledgeable people, and I really did enjoy helping people. But the stress involved with making videos, supporting those videos and helping people while feeling unsupported myself has just been too much.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years, with views, donations, mentions on the forums, referrals, and those who purchased my videos when I sold them. I definitely appreciate it all, and it did help keep me going. If I’m wrong about anything I said above, or if I perceived things incorrectly, I apologize and stand corrected. But it’s just how I feel and as this year comes to a close, it seems like a good time to stop so I can start the new year fresh.

Be nice to each other. Bye.
 

Bojangles

Experienced
Woah, this indeed is a sad day for FAS and the community, i must admit your videos did help me, and i've re-posted the links several times for newbs

Before just throwing in the towel, maybe contact Cliff and see if you can do some official videos for them, its a long shot, however you have the cred and your videos always come over well

Ie maybe an official video section on the site, many more hits then
 

Fabio KTG

Fractal Fanatic
It saddens me deeply that such a valued member of our community has been made to feel so undervalued. I think I speak for all, probably even the big man himself, when I say that we appreciated your invaluable knowledge and easy to digest videos' I had no idea of the effort required to stay ahead of the curve, learn new features and create your videos that you describe. Perhaps I am guilty of taking you for granted and for this, you have my sincerest apologies, Chris.

I wish you the very best in your future endeavours and I wish you the merriest Christmas.

- Fabio
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
Well that's unfortunate. I'm not generally one to go to video tutorials but I did see one or two of yours, on gain staging I think it was. Really good stuff. I appreciate your work and enthusiasm. It's not a good thing to see you stop, but I can understand.
 

biskitboy

Power User
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. I’ve learned a lot about this little black box from reading your forum posts and watching your videos. You will definitely be missed!
 

BreadTooth

Experienced
Continuing the same sentiment as the replies above, I appreciate the efforts to create the tutorials and support you've given to the community. I've learned a great deal from your vids, as well as your forum posts.

Matter of fact, your instructions on expression pedals was my first experience of setup and calibration with ANY expression pedals.

I was able to get up to speed with figuring out my ideal MFC configuration and how I wanted to use expression pedals from your vids.

I learned different ways to approach setting up the AxeFx to work with small PA's, which really helped me out with our live appearances at spiritual centers.

Thank you!

Actually, I've learned a great deal about many topics from this forum, from all of the contributors.
Instructional & performance vids, support posts, forum fights & lover quarrels, random guitar or lounge posts, etcetera.

Chris, there is a lot of love and appreciation for you here.
Hope to see you posting about anything, just to keep in touch.
May you & yours have a great holiday,
Uncle Tooth.

PS. Next time Mrs Tooth and I are on the big island, I hope to catch one of your live shows. Would love to say hi, hear your music and shake your hand
 

Noriuky73

Power User
I wish You the best Chris
Sad not meeting you this days in the forum .
All your work and effort always very appreciated by me is part of this story or maybe my story with this wonderful black box .

Thanks again ... And again ... And again

Peace [emoji111]️
 

BigD1977

Power User
I can understand your sentiments. It's so easy to feel undervalued in such a widely populated industry.

For myself, I am a guitar teacher and I would like to share my perspective. It's in a related field for sure, and is not meant in any way to devalue what you do.

I used to be more prolific here, would get into discussions regarding subjects that I thought I knew more about (and sometimes did..... sometimes....) until I learned that the golden rule of living in a capitalist society is that if you are good at something, NEVER do it for free. (Thanks, Heath. ;) )

This means that I never give free lessons unless someone is going to pay me, at least in some quid pro quo fashion. In this regard, the expanding nature of the FAS universe seems the be the payoff for the free updates and the lack of discount for units for prolific artists, combined with the many free updates contributes to that.... in essence, we are all on the same level, high profile artists and ground level users. However, high profile artists can bring their expanded audience to the fold. This includes those artists who are actively seeking to expand their audience. In this regard, it's understandable why FAS would highlight reputable players. After all these are the people that new users will gravitate to. Guthrie Govan does not thrive on his technical knowledge of negative feedback after all. ;)

So where does that leave things? It means that we have to expand the palette on which we survive. Apply your knowledge to other platforms. For myself, I have applied mine from the electric guitar to the acoustic, jazz and classical styles and find myself in the curious position of being contacted by a world renowned body to become an examiner.

FWIW, I have not needed to use your videos but I can see the regard in which you are held on this forum. It even prompted Cliff to comment on your absence, implying your withdrawal was due to 'mean people'. Withdraw by all means, but not totally. Withdrawal will feel worse than intermittent interaction.
 

mrstrat

Experienced
Chris, I absolutely understand where you're coming from. One of the things companies (including FAS) need to learn in this age of social media is how to take care of, and encourage their power users/cheerleaders. This is something any company who uses social media must learn, sometimes the hard way. :( No telling how many users kept or bought their units because of your work. This contribution is above and beyond the typical forum member, and should be recognized and rewarded by the company in some way. It improves their sales and their bottom line. You mentioned a few of the power users here (Yek, Fremen, Scott, Mark, Cooper, etc.) and all of them have contributed to FASs success. I'm glad to see a few of them beginning to at least reap some benefit for their work.

I'm sorry to see your videos go. I have and will continue to thank you publicly for the quality of your videos, and the help it has provided to myself and many, many others in this community. Your work is appreciated by this community.

Best wishes, and much success!
 

sam

Experienced
Chris, I used to help support other users more than I do these days. I never dedicated myself to it like you did. I often used to wonder how you were able to dedicate so much time and energy to helping the Fractal community.

Thanks for all of your efforts, and thanks for coming back to share your experience and explain your position. Best wishes to you. Please stop by once in a while and don't be a stranger. You will be missed!

Peace,
Sam
 
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