In case you hadn’t noticed, nearly every video we share on Motionographer is hosted on Vimeo. A lot of the work we show is created by individuals and small teams working without funding on passion projects and short films in their spare time.
Other than love from the community and a possible job offer or two, these valiant content creators have never expected any remuneration for their blood, sweat and tears.
Vimeo wants to change that.
Today, Vimeo is announcing two features that, they hope, will allow filmmakers to get financial reward for their work. The first feature, launching today, is Tip Jar.
What is Tip Jar?
Tip Jar allows viewers to quickly tip the creator of any video, provider the creator has a Vimeo Plus account. It’s available today. Just go to the Advanced Settings for any of your videos and activate Tip Jar.
To keep the service afloat, Vimeo will take 15% of tips.
The other feature Vimeo is announcing today is also focused on monetization — or “crowdfunding,” as Vimeo likes to say.
Over the next few months, Vimeo will roll out a pay-to-view service for Vimeo Pro members that will give creators customizable options to sell their films and video content directly to their audiences and provide control over pricing, rental duration distribution location and other settings.
There are several existing video sharing services that provide monetization options, including revenue sharing and tip jar-like options, but the key difference between all the other players in the space and Vimeo is Vimeo’s massive community.
In addition to being a video hosting platform, Vimeo is a vibrant social network. With hundreds of thousands of Plus and Pro members and millions of active users, Vimeo itself is a distribution platform. With Tip Jar and the forthcoming pay-to-view service, the company is simply embracing this fact.
“Creators have asked us for quite some time to help them monetize their work, but we think it needed an approach that put the controls back into the hands of the creators themselves,” said Dae Mellencamp, President of Vimeo.
Kickstarter, on its head?
Unlike Kickstarter, Tip Jar allows viewers to contribute money after a film has already been made. I’m always hesitant to fund animation projects on Kickstarter, especially those proposed by younger filmmakers, because there are so many things that can go wrong during production, derailing a project completely.
Vimeo is proposing an alternative that’s based in reality: The film is done. If you like it, toss the creator a buck. If not, move on.
Worst case scenario
Of course, this is all experimental. At the very worst, these services simply won’t catch on, and Vimeo will continue marching on as before.
I’m reminded of a famous social experiment for which world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell posed as a busker in a Washington DC subway station. He performed six classical pieces for over a 1,000 passersby.
His take home pay? About $32.
Best case scenario
The optimist in me sees great potential for these new monetization systems, though. With the pay-to-view service, Vimeo could potentially take on existing video-on-demand services and cut out the complex channels of network distribution. The main challenge will be marketing the content.
The hope is that Vimeo can do for video what Amazon has done for ebooks. Amazon recently revealed that 27 of its top 100 Kindle books were self-published. That success is based largely on the omnipresence of the Kindle reader — a ubiquity that Vimeo hopes to achieve by being on all devices everywhere.
I asked Vimeo if they would be forming partnerships with larger distributors in order to kick-start the effort. They’re strategy is more in line with their grassroots past. Let the community of filmmakers create a movement. If other deals come later, fine — but that won’t be the initial focus.
What’s your take?
Since many of you are Vimeo Plus members already, I’m curious what you think about Vimeo’s new developments. Are they going to change the way you share your work?
Let me know in the comments. (I’m genuinely curious about this, so please be thoughtful.)