Effects of Forum Participation in Con Guest Pulls

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I guess if the saying goes that American “anime fans” attend conventions, that there are a lot of conventions (anime or not) throughout the US and Canada, all year round, and attending these things cost a lot of money, then it pays (in more ways than one) to think about it. Given that I go to these things regularly nowadays, I think about them naturally.

One aspect of this is that many conventions are run by fans. They may or may not be for profit (eg., making money is the bottom line of the operation) but in general people typically don’t get into this business just to make a buck. More over, the cons that have a real draw (eg., guests and special events) tend to have a need to build up beyond just the usual convention alley-exhibit-screening complex. After all I think the tendency in convention attendance is that the big cons only get bigger, and attendees typically don’t go to more cons per year on average. Of course, the cost of having oversea or big-name guests means having a big enough presence in terms of size to afford it, and thus those cons are more feature-rich and better value for more attendees. It’s like a rolling snowball.

TL;DR, I wanted to know why this tweet is relevant:

The angle I want to take is to compare this with that and that.

Here are the 16 North American anime cons last year that went over 10,000 attendees, in order of total attendance:

  1. Anime Expo – 61,000 estimated total attendance
  2. Otakon – 34,892 paid attendees
  3. Anime Central – 28,692 total attendance
  4. Anime North – 23,952 paid attendees
  5. FanimeCon – 25,542 total attendance (23,430 paid)
  6. A-Kon – 22,366 total attendance
  7. Anime Boston – 21825 total attendance (21,200 paid)
  8. Sakura-Con – 21,000 estimated paid attendees
  9. Anime Weekend Atlanta – 18,363 total attendance
  10. Anime Matsuri – 14,989 total attendance
  11. Youmacon (14,496 total attendance)
  12. Otakuthon (13,357 total attendance)
  13. MomoCon (12,200 total attendance)
  14. San Japan (11,077 total attendance)
  15. Katsucon (10,686 total attendance)
  16. AnimeNEXT (10,283 paid attendance)

I italicized the 3 cons whose forum threads I linked to just above. They are the guest request threads. Give it a scan.

So some background: voice actress and talent Hara Yumi has been announced as a guest for Anime North 2014. Last year, voice actress and talent Nakamura Eriko has been announced as a guest for Anime North 2013. The pattern is that what kind of con invite people like these unless they are on an Arts Vision kick or someone on their GR team really loves IM@S?

I think the answer is obvious.

Rather just stopping there, I looked in the guest forums for a few of these cons (this is just how I roll, actually) and I didn’t realize after “ErikoNorth” (aka., AN 2013) the Arts Vision thing is … a thing. And if you didn’t know both Nakamura and Hara are represented by Arts Vision. The differences in the three forum threads I linked might not be obvious at a glance, and I’m too pressed for time to do any kind of request analysis, but let’s just say as someone who reads this regularly, the differences are there. It’s like AN’s offering is very min-maxed, where as the other two are balanced in contrast of their forum reuqests. As far as guest powers go, the top 16 biggest NA cons all do pretty well. Sakura Con, AB, and Otakon are all solid as far as forum-to-reality representation. AX is trickier because there’s a lot more industry influence, not that it isn’t a regular factor, but we can probably remove it as an outlier. Anime Central is actually a good example of what the average big con forum thread for guest requests look like. Once you hit below AWA, though, things are different. It’s like California and Texas cons just do things differently, so feel free to use them as a different sort of “norm.”

Because they look kind of like cons that are much smaller:  What forums? Facebook!

Maybe that’s just because most of the big cons today have been around for a long time (10+ years for pretty much most of that list, Anime Matsuri being the biggest <10yr con), but that sort of community, I think, reflect on the type of con they become in certain details. A-Kon being one of the oldest anime cons in America but no forums…another exception I guess.

It just goes back to say, when cons say “by fans for fans” sometimes it does actually mean that. And you don’t even need to staff to make a difference, just speak up.

PS. That all said and done, I think AnimeNEXT forum request is ripe for astroturfing. Of course I mean that by if that’s a con you will attend if the right guest shows up, go ahead and request it. Vince is a nice guy on the internets and he demonstrates that, at least, will listen.

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