Create a marketplace module, share profits with an artists content instead of commissioning new art?

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Hi. I'm very interested in making a module or adventure for content in the marketplace. But looking around, I see a lot of modules with very poor, homemade looking artwork and it turns me off from buying one. Some of these that I've bought anyways still have a great story or adventure. In my time GM'ing and with my own game design, I think I could make some good quality adventures to share on the marketplace. However, I'd like to not be limited by my own personal artwork skill or time needed to make such maps. But I also don't have the money at the time to up front commission artwork for the module without knowing how much a module could make. So I have a few questions for either Roll20 moderators or artists on the marketplace. Is it possible to share a percentage of profit, instead of a flat fee, for artwork used in a marketplace module?  This could be done with new commissioned artwork (probably would have an upfront cost for that), but what I was thinking was if for example, I bought a marketplace content add on for some maps and tokens. I use their tiles to make my maps, and their tokens for my monsters. I talk to the artists. Since the artwork has already been made, I wouldn't be paying commission. I would be using it for commercial use, but not exclusively in my product, the artwork is also available for others to buy. Is there a way to negotiate in such a way that the artist gets royalties or a percentage of the module profit for use of their artwork? I think this could lead to some drastically improved modules. I'm a musician in real life, and many songwriters, music artists, etc. use their music in such a way. They might make money from radio play, or from licensing for their song to be in a movie, or spotify streams, etc. So is that business approach a possibility using roll20??? It could be looked at as a partnership. The module could be advertised as... written by 'Joe Frank', using 'x artwork pack from Heroic Maps' (for example), and tokens from 'Devin Heroes 3' or something like that. "Just one of the things you can do using our tiles!" / featuring this artist, etc. My interest would be in promoting the artists artwork, getting them money, and also be partnering with them, creating better content by splitting up the division of labor on this. I just don't know if this sort of thing is possible, or how I would negotiate something like that with an artist.  Thanks for any info!
1523673925
B Simon Smith
Marketplace Creator
In the art community this is often referred to as "backend pay", royalty split, or potentially a collaboration. It's also often shied away from, as artists are regularly burned on such deals, as they put in a bunch of work for essentially "free", and then the other party never comes through on their end. To my knowledge, there's no way to split royalties on Roll20, it's all directed at a single account. As a Marketplace Creator, I can view my current earnings and up to 2 months in the past. Another method you could use is a "deferred payment" system, wherein you commission art, pay a deposit, and then pay smaller amounts over time for an arranged number of payments. As an artist that works in the RPG industry, I've taken this deal a few times, and I charge slightly more over the long run, but it's more affordable for the client.
I agree; this sort of thing would make me VERY happy. I have a lot of great ideas, and a lot of tools and procedures, which would make some amazing campaigns and materials for the marketplace. What I do not have is any artistic talent whatsoever. A few years ago, I wanted to produce something for the marketplace that didn't even require any visual assets whatsoever. I was told I couldn't put it on the marketplace without artwork, and so never did. A short time later, another person created the exact same product I wanted to produce, only they included some artwork. Their product is in the marketplace; I've joined games using it. The artwork is completely irrelevant to the actual use of the product. Approximately the same time, I entered into a collaboration with a person with decent artistic talents, to design and produce a marketplace product. At the time, Roll20 had no character sheets. My part of the project was to create a method to utilize the system without requiring detailed character sheets like we have now. Mechanical stuff, macros and the like. His part was to provide the art assets. We both worked together to create the story for the module. He has now produced TWO marketplace assets using my system and his artwork. Of course I have no way of knowing whether or not these were successful, as he immediately stopped communication with me. There's nothing I can do about it, either. He is the owner of the product, and Roll20 has no reason to intervene on my behalf. So, while this would be a great idea, it's not something that's likely to be easy to implement. Good luck to you! And if there are any artists out there who aren't lying cheating scumbags, please contact me and maybe we can work something out! (You know who you are.) -Phnord
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Thanks for the info! B Simon Smith said: To my knowledge, there's no way to split royalties on Roll20, it's all directed at a single account. As a Marketplace Creator, I can view my current earnings and up to 2 months in the past. Well then I guess my question would be to the roll20 team. Is there any possibility of splitting royalties on marketplace in the content in the future for this very reason? To facilitate more collaboration between storytellers, adventure makers, etc. and artists, since art is required for marketplace content. B Simon Smith said: Another method you could use is a "deferred payment" system, wherein you commission art, pay a deposit, and then pay smaller amounts over time for an arranged number of payments. As an artist that works in the RPG industry, I've taken this deal a few times, and I charge slightly more over the long run, but it's more affordable for the client. That sounds potentially interesting. I would certainly be willing to get the artist more money over time for a deferred payment system, but wouldn't know of any guarantees from module earnings, and wouldn't want to short change the artist by any means, or end up not making profit. Perhaps then I'm much more interested in using non-commissioned artwork such as pre-existing tokens, map packs, etc., and sharing profit somehow. Then the artist doesn't have to do any more work, it's an extra potential other source of income for them if the module creator purchased their art on the marketplace and then used it in another product which provides an additional stream for them. Wondering what sort of ways that might be doable. Aside from simply purchasing a commercial license for the already existing artwork and the complex legalese that might result from that. That might then make the artwork exclusive for the module creator? Phnord Prephect said: -Phnord Sorry to hear you got burned! But something to keep in mind with potential collaborations. Find a way to share earnings or legally define collaboration somehow so one person can't easily take advantage of another.
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B Simon Smith
Marketplace Creator
Perhaps then I'm much more interested in using non-commissioned artwork such as pre-existing tokens, map packs, etc., and sharing profit somehow. Then the artist doesn't have to do any more work, it's an extra potential other source of income for them if the module creator purchased their art on the marketplace and then used it in another product which provides an additional stream for them. Wondering what sort of ways that might be doable. Aside from simply purchasing a commercial license for the already existing artwork and the complex legalese that might result from that. That might then make the artwork exclusive for the module creator? Potentially something like a "non-exclusive rights" type deal to include existing artwork? I did something similar with some work on the DMs Guild by releasing a pack of maps for sale and allowing their use commercially to those that purchased the maps. Alternatively, you could also allow them to sell the maps/artwork independently of the complete module.
Yeah, both of those sound good, that's more what I'd be looking for. That way no one gets burned. As it's non-exclusive it would be little to no risk on the artist's behalf if someone included their artwork in a module when the artwork was already for sale. I'd be curious to know the logistics of how one would go about setting something like that up, or if you'd have to reach out to an artist individually?
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B Simon Smith
Marketplace Creator
Daniel S. said: Yeah, both of those sound good, that's more what I'd be looking for. That way no one gets burned. As it's non-exclusive it would be little to no risk on the artist's behalf if someone included their artwork in a module when the artwork was already for sale. I'd be curious to know the logistics of how one would go about setting something like that up, or if you'd have to reach out to an artist individually? A non-exclusive deal would probably require you to reach out to the specific artist, and have a contract ready. As for the current method of sharing profits, there would have to be a modicum of trust, and maybe monthly screenshots of the profit report.