Starting about three years ago I began brainstorming ideas for an internet-centric way of distributing independent films (as opposed to festivals, theaters, and DVDs). However, given I already run one web site, instead of pursuing these ideas in earnest I've spent the ensuing years working on getting a transmedia project and/or first feature off the ground (more on the latter soon -- depending on your definition of "soon"). A year ago when taking a look at Dynamo Player, we saw the beginnings of what an independent video distribution widget would look like, and now newcomer Distrify has launched what looks to be a more feature-rich player. Several ideas I've kicked around (including an affiliate program) are implemented in Distrify:
We created Distrify so that whenever someone shares a movie, they are also sharing the online-shop where you can buy it. When someone watches a film trailer in the Distrify video player they can also pay to watch the full movie immediately, order a DVD, buy a download, or find out when they can see it in their local cinema. And if they really love the film, they can share the trailer - and the entire online shopping experience - with their friends. And everyone who shares with Distrify earns a cut of the profits.
Here's the player in action:
And here's a look at how the interface works for filmmakers (click "preview"):
Distrify is a two-man UK-based startup that seems to "get" it. Some features are more mature than others -- I almost don't want to mention the affiliate program because that was going to be the focus of my own distrify/distribber/diswhatever -- but Distrify has some very nice features already built-in at launch. If you click "later" in the first video, for example, you can see that associated product purchases can be included right in the embed.
From what I can tell, Distrify currently takes 30% of every sale, which is roughly equivalent to iTunes and Amazon. ((iTunes keeps 30%, while if you use CreateSpace to get your film on Amazon VOD, it's a 50/50 split. If you are selling through another middle man/label/distributor, the percentage that you keep through either of these stores can be lower. But in terms of direct content sales, 30% seems to be the going rate.)) For an independent service, this seems a tad high -- with Apple, for example, you're giving up a 30% cut in order to gain access to millions of potential customers already accustomed to purchasing media in iTunes. With an independent player/store like Distrify, however, the onus is on the filmmaker to direct the fanbase to (and convince them to use) the Distrify player, which will be new and unfamiliar to many. As the founders say on the site, "Distrify is for the new generation of filmmakers and distributors who are actively engaging with their audience using social media." Well, if we've done all the work to convince someone to buy/rent our film, why cough up 30% for delivery of 1s and 0s, which costs next to nothing (correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Paypal is taking a transaction fee on top of this)? At least on curated stores like iTunes you're theoretically benefitting from discovery mechanisms -- even something as simple as a "new releases" page is trafficked by thousands.
Nitpicks about the pricing structure aside, Distrify has a lot of nice features and is definitely a startup to keep an eye on. Over the next several years this space will grow and hopefully flourish...
[via Chris Jones]