Los Angeles-based Chill.com launched a DRM-free content marketplace for independent creators on Thursday, letting content owners sell streams and HD downloads of their movies, live comedy recordings and other types of videos directly to consumers.
The site’s approach mimcs an idea first pioneered by Louis CK a year ago, when the comedian sold a DRM-free download of one of his live sets for $5 online
The new offering, dubbed Chill Direct, is a self-serve marketplace, meaning that anyone can sign up within minutes. The site offers creators the option to determine their own price for their videos, and charge anywhere from $1.99 to $49.99. Seventy percent of that revenue is handed to the creator, and Chill retains 30 percent, which cover the fees for payment services as well as hosting.
Chill is launching its new offering with eight titles including the documentary film Thank you for judging by Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie as well as a previously-unreleased comedy special by Maria Bamford.
Louis CK was one of the first prominent entertainers to try his luck with digital direct-to-fan sales late last year, and fans rewarded him with $1 million in revenue in just 12 days. Since then, others have joined in as well: Comedian Aziz Ansari, known for his role in the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation, started selling a standup special of his own in March. Ansari’s online efforts were powered by VHX.tv, which also has been moving from video curation to direct-to-fan distribution. VHX has since also powered digital sales of Indie Game: The Movie, and this week started distributing the grindhouse classic Miami Connection.
However, there are some differences between VHX’s and Chill’s approach: VHX has been a lot more selective about the creators it powers with, and is also putting an emphasis on selling goods on artist’s own sites. Chill, on the other hand, wants to use its own website as a central hub, and is giving everyone the ability to sign up from the very beginning. “I believe in the idea of self-service,” said Norgard.
This isn’t the first time Chill has tried something new: The company launched in August 2011 as a kind of Turntable.fm for video. It refocused on social experiences around live streams shortly after, and tried to provide group viewing for content from sites like Hulu.com by the end of 2011. In January, it finally moved to its social video curation model. Norgard told me that social video curation won’t go away any time soon, and that both offerings might be more closely integrated in the future.
Check out an interview I did with Norgard a few months ago: