People are not only starting to accept direct distribution -- they are really starting to get the hang of it. Gumroad is one of the leading tech companies in this space, distributing PSD files, music, books, and films. We caught up with Ryan Delk to talk about their model and new features for filmmakers.
NFS: What are your goals as a company? I see Magnolia is using you guys now.
Ryan: We want to be the best distribution platform for creators of all types. We wanna work with labels, managers, talent agencies, independent artists — everyone across the spectrum. Magnolia is a really cool company and we're excited to work with them, and they're excited for what the future of distribution is going to look like. There's a lot of things happening for people like Magnolia but also for independent filmmakers who are just trying to find new ways to finance their films and make money.
We found that conversion rates plummet when you ask people to create an account before the purchase.
NFS: What kind of things do you need to do to stay relevant in a shifting marketplace?
Ryan: Competition is great. More options for creators is great. Selling should be just as easy as sharing. We were focussed on the transaction moment, making that a smooth experience, and that’s what Gumroad is known for. Now we’re expanding and working on the consumption side of things, so we have in-browser streaming so you can purchase a film and watch it right away, right in your browser or mobile device.
We work with so many different types of content and so many different types of creators, not just films. So if someone purchased Eminem's last album and they already have a Gumroad account and they arrive at your film site they can make the purchase in one click. So the conversions are much higher across all these different mediums.
NFS: What's special about the Gumroad transaction process?
Ryan: We found that conversion rates plummet when you ask people to create an account before the purchase. We never want to do anything that hurts conversion rates for creators because our goal is to maximize their revenue. All we require is a credit card and an email address to make a purchase but creators can ask for additional information if they want.
NFS: What information is forwarded to the creators?
Ryan: The ability to have access to really robust analytics and data around the transactions. When you log in as a creator you have a real-time dashboard where you can see conversion rates over time from different platforms (Facebook vs YouTube vs Twitter) and you can download data — the email addresses of your buyers plus any additional information you've asked for. The goal is to give as much data as possible to the creators to use for marketing decisions, etc.
NFS: How does the Library card work?
Ryan: For buyers post-purchase we allow you to enter a password and we save your information and create what's called a Gumroad Library for you. Then going forward all the products you purchase show up in that library. So you have an aggregation point for all the content you purchase where you can easily access it.
NFS: What other devices are you compatible with? Xbox, Roku, etc?
Ryan: We don't have those applications now but we're working on it.
Our only incentive is to help creators make more money.
NFS: What are some new features specific to filmmakers?
Ryan: A lot of our user-base is international, so we've worked on better subtitle support. Subtitles can turn into a very clunky experience for the buyer or the creator. Now we have a very streamlined experience for subtitles in all the major languages and we're adding more every day. The tricky part was making it a great experience for both download and streaming across devices.
Being able to do territory restrictions is really important, especially because we're working with a lot of filmmakers or distributors who have sold rights in certain countries but still want to sell directly. Something that can happen that we wanted to avoid is a buyer getting towards the end of the purchase-flow only to discover that it's not available in their territory. We wanted to avoid that experience, but also making it simple for filmmakers to add or remove restrictions in real-time. There's no delay.
NFS: How did you decide on the 5% + 25¢ per transaction model?
Ryan: There are 3 main reasons why people choose Gumroad. One of those is the fee structure, it’s a lot less than what other platforms will take. The other is the plug n’ play nature of the platform. Literally you could upload a film and start selling it 10 minutes later. And third, a really simple user interface. Our goal is to continue to make our fee structure as creator-friendly as possible. We want to make sure that our incentives are totally aligned with the creators we work for. We intentionally don’t have signup fees or monthly fees. Our only incentive is to help creators make more money.