Skateboarding is so damn fun that it’s easy to forget it’s also an actual j-o-b that some people do to make ends meet. Just like the regular jobs you and I work, there are a lot of nuances, expectations, and obligations that the greater world doesn’t necessarily know about. We got curious about what some of those things might be, so we dug into our contact list of industry heads—who will remain unnamed—to get some insight from people who are truly in the know. If you’re a SLAP head, you might know most of this stuff already because you bastards seem to know everything. For the rest of you, hopefully, you’ll come out of this learning a thing or two, because we certainly did.
1. Pros make more money from online board sales than shop sales
Depending on the board brand or distribution, some pros can make as much as a $10 per board if you buy it directly from their sponsor’s website. The riders still make money from skate shop sales as well, but online is where they get the biggest chunk because it essentially cuts out the middleman and has a bigger profit margin.
2. Professional skateboarders don’t always own the rights to their footage
As Roger Bagley puts it, that’s “The person who hit record, or the person paying the person to hit record.” Given the buddy-buddy nature of the skate industry, this generally works, but it is far from beyond its downsides. This practice has definitely led to the occasional hostage situation where a filmer won’t give up a footage until they feel they’ve been compensated fairly. Filmer J. Strickland infamously demanded $10,000 for Kirchart’s Sight Unseen footage for instance. Sometimes an entire part just never gets released if a filmer doesn’t feel like they received their due. A way around this is for a pro to work out a deal and pay a filmer directly for their time and skills, but it is very rare for this to happen.
3. Vans was the first shoe brand to sponsor skaters
The first “pro” shoe contract was for Stacy Peralta, who became the first skateboarder to sign a paid contract with Vans for $300 a month. This deal was to promote Vans and their new shoe the Skate-Hi starting in 1973. A bare-bones shoe contract nowadays, almost 50 years later, pays roughly 10x that amount a month. But every contract is different with photo incentives, travel stipends, social media stipulations, and whatever else.
4. Mark Appleyard had the first million-dollar shoe contract in skateboarding
Back in Mark’s C1rca …….