It’s been five days since e-flux sent out their mailers giving art professionals early access to purchase .ART domains, and the registration process has been a disaster from start to finish. Many users were not able to access the .art site, which is run by UK Creative Ideas Limited (UKCI). The website described an abundance of demand for the reason, and e-flux sent out an email earlier today apologizing for the technical issues. This should not have been a problem. e-flux has a mailing list of close to 100,000 readers—a fraction of the traffic needed to pull down most websites. What happened?
No explanation was given in the mailer, but since that time, some of the bugs have been worked out. But now that users can get on the site, many have been shocked to learn that .ART domains cost $300 for the initial registration and $18.99 for the renewal—757 percent more than the comparable, .PHOTO which costs only $34.99 with a $34.99 renewal fee and 2900 percent more than .STUDIO, which costs only 9.99 with a 19.99 renewal fee. The mailer e-flux sent out two weeks ago speaks only of the importance of making the domains available to art professionals across the globe. While e-flux obviously has no control over UKCI’s pricing, the claim of accessibility reads a bit disingenuously when the pricing structure precludes access to most working artists. In fact, the whole thing reads like a scheme to fleece art professionals and institutions who believe they need the domain to do business.
[Update] In reality, the early access period simply gives professionals the ability to buy the domain at a premium. Come May 9th, the price drops and the domains become available to the public.
In the meantime, don’t buy the domain. There’s no way the pricing will remain this high. It’s too expensive for most of us, and the fact is we don’t actually need it. Art isn’t so flimsy a practice that .ART will define who participates in the field and who doesn’t. The only hope UKCI has to make that dream happen is to make their price points low enough that working artists and cultural workers can afford the registration.
[Update] A comment from John Matson, CEO of .ART.
.ART pricing reflects the art world today, allowing key high-profile art community members have first access. As such, our Preferred Access Period was established for art organizations and individuals, with the aim of discouraging domain investors and speculators. This is a three-month period where there is a premium price associated with being first. We want the right domain name to go to the right hands. In many, many cases, we have awarded names free of charge to well-recognized institutions where it is clear that only one entity is deserving of a certain name. We have foregone what might have been significant revenue of valuable names to protect important institutions. As a result, many of the world’s leading institutions have obtained a .ART name, and, more importantly, have begun to establish the .ART community. We have posted a number of exemplary videos of Early Adopters on our website www.art.art. Additionally, we are working with selected art schools under pilot programs to provide their students domain names for free. As we move into general availability later this year the pricing will be much more affordable for the broader arts community. — John Matson, CEO . ART
As it happens, the .ART support team also suggested the price will lower as well in an exchange with AFC reader Luke Murphy. Murphy, who was similarly outraged to learn of the price hikes, kindly forwarded his exchange with the company. We’re pasting that exchange below, with the additional note that we won’t be considering a TLD registration until the pricing reflects that of other domains.
Hello. How may I help you?
Hello — how can you all charge $300 for a simple TLD registration? Why isn’t it $35 like every other one? even .XXX is $35 ???? how can you do that to artists? [Editor’s note: .XXX is available for $84.99, .PHOTO for $34.99, and .SHOP and .STORE for $7.99]
Please be advised that .art is in the preferred access period
this is an exclusive period for the people that wish to be fist with a .art tld
Yes I know and I have a token – the preferred access period is meant for professionals and institutions – right?
It seems that to charge that much for a TLD is more like holding artists hostage to a very high premium.
I don’t mean to come down hard on you, but as an artist and technologist I really think this is not the way to have handled this important and much contested TLD.
Be advised that this price is set for the early access and is normally reduce during the normal launch for this extension. The “premium” price is there for industries and individuals that require first access.
Sure — but what justifies the high premium on TLD’s that go for as little as 3.99 on GoDaddy?
Exclusive, early access is not a reason
Sorry sir I can not advise you how this price was reached, but this is set by the registry for the early access period, as advised before, these prices drop normally during the regular launch.