We spoke to Chill recently at Vidcon. Chill is a social video-discovery site where people share videos, and as a user you can "follow" someone who shares particularly good videos. It all comes down to who you trust, as you are more likely to watch a video suggested by your friends or a trusted source than you are from a random person or website. Today, Chill is getting some buzz for their DRM-free direct-sale service, or what will likely be known as the "Louis CK Model" in years to come. It's another way to generate revenue, but the rules of the game are still the same whether you use YouTube, Vimeo, or any other site.
Chill's Direct, Allows Content Creators to Sell Directly to Fans
The idea is that content creators can sell their content directly to fans, to own and use as they please. This is different from the "pay-to-view" model as is currently being tested by Vimeo, where literally you are paying to see the video once. Louis CK made a bunch of money from trying this, but of course, he's Louis CK.
Chill will take 30% of the money earned for doing all the hosting and worrying about encoding, bandwidth, and things that in general content creators hate doing. They have kicked this service off with 8 different productions, one an unreleased Maria Bamford comedy special, previewed here:
Here's the list:
- Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special!
- Please Subscribe. Documentary about YouTubers.
- Thank You For Judging. Documentary about high school speech/debate competitions.
- The New Kind. Sci-Fi series with a psychic couple at the core.
- Battlefield Of The Mind. Documentary about homeless veterans and battles with Post Traumatic Stress.
- Ari Shaffir Comedy Special
- Julien & Claire. Feature film about an American dancer and French musician who meet in Paris.
- Unknown Sender. Suspense series from Steven de Souza, who was a screenwriter on Die Hard and tons of other action films.
Here's the thing about any kind of content that you decide to watch, and especially pay for. You still have to build an audience somehow. You still have to have perceived value from potential buyers/viewers. The reason why Louis CK was able to make a ton of money on his special is that the guy has been building an audience through his stand-up, TV appearances, and TV show for years. It was only recently he started getting the reputation as one of the best stand-up comics around, and he released a comedy special by announcing it on his website and getting a ton of other media outlets to pick up on the idea.
So I think it's a great thing that there are so many options for creators out there: the YouTube ads model, the Vimeo "Tip Jar" and "Pay-to-View" models, the Chill DRM-free model, and the countless other sites out there that provide a way to monetize videos. But in the end, the rules are still the same. The ideas put forth by the YouTube Creator Playbook, (which by the way, has been updated yet again), still apply for any video discovery. When you set up a video behind some sort of paywall, then I'm assuming you have proven value to viewers in the past so that they are more likely to pay for it. Or you're offering a preview of that video and making people want to see it, and you're embedding that preview on social media and getting other blogs, websites, and media outlets to talk about it.
We like to uphold those great stories of Kickstarter successes where people have raised hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars, but those success stories would be nothing without the same theme: something in which people have been made aware and something in which they believe provides value.