A little over a month ago I started noticing changes at Artist Rising. First, my main contact at AR simply vanished. Fired, I was told by another Art.com rep.
Next, I saw that the Artist Rising blog wasn’t being updated. Its final post was dated May 9th, and it currently appears abandoned.
Add to that the general discontent seen on the Artist Rising forums, and I began to wonder. . . Is Artist Rising dead? Did all the artists who paid a full year’s subscription just get stuck with a really lame deal?
If so, I’m sorry that I wrote such a glowing report about Artist Rising and Sistino back in January.
Of course, right now the official word is that Artist Rising is simply “restructuring” and that the Artist Rising management team has been “rolled into Art.com.”
But that’s simply corporate-speak. According to several confidential sources close to AR, the bulk of the Artist Rising management team was fired right around May 9th and all their projects and plans got thrown out the window.
Do you remember how Artist Rising / Sistino promised a major marketing and promotional push? Well, there’s been no sign of it so far and now I doubt it‘ll ever happen. After all, everyone who promised that has been fired.
From a financial standpoint, if Art.com isn’t willing to pay a few people’s salaries to make this thing work, how likely are they going to invest a big chunk of money in advertising?
I was curious to know more, so I asked for artists to email me last Sunday if they had extra information. I ended up hearing from several individuals whose names I won’t disclose according to their wishes.
Apparently there have been problems with payments not being made to artists, issues with censorship of the Artist Rising forum, even several references to people on the forum who appear to be deliberate AR plants—writing glowing praise about Artist Rising in order to raise morale.
I’ve also heard that most of the sales being made by Artist Rising members are still coming from the main Art.com site, NOT from Artist Rising or Sistino.
Now, whether all these stories are completely true I can‘t be a hundred percent sure. Rumors spread through the internet faster than wildfire—but so far I haven’t heard the same accusations about other websites.
In any event, it’s all too obvious that things are going downhill at Artist Rising and personally I think that’s because Art.com took a very corporate, very financially driven approach to the whole thing.
Their original idea was to increase profits by separating original artists from the main Art.com site. Like any big company it was all about margins and overhead, and they must have figured that a division would help.
Unfortunately it seems like once they saw Artist Rising’s first quarter losses, they chose to just cut and run rather than spend time and money to make it work.