iTunes Finally Adds an Indie


Apple has finally let an indie video production, Forum Snowboards, get its foot in the door of the iTunes store, according to a report from Variety, “iTunes is all ‘That’ to indie producers.” That is the kind of independently produced niche sports video that’s been thriving in the pages of Thrasher magazine since my friends were buying skateboarding tapes mailorder to study the pro’s tricks and punk rock licks back in the eighties. Just the kind of hip, iPod buying demo that you’d want to foster brand loyalty amongst.

Forum Snowboard's ThatThere’s already lots of independent content on iTunes — many web video productions and vloggers use Apple’s digital store. But they are not given the option of charging for their content. And in this case, what was a $29.99 DVD is now a $1.99 download from the TV section of the store, and that price was set after ten months of negotiations.

When I asked Drew Olanoff of Pluggd and Scriggity what he though, he was unequivocal. “I still think we still have a long way to go. Apple forced the DVD into the $1.99 bucket — creators should have control over [money] decisions.”

Steve O’Hear, who had expressed his frustration with the iTunes store when I interviewed him about his distribution of In Search of the Valley using Streamburst, was even more pointed in an email response to my request for reaction:

The thing that frustrates me is that Apple could pretty much own the long tail content market. If you look at what happened when they added podcasting, they — overnight — became the default podcast directory.

O’Hear proposes Apple should allow anyone to submit video without a middleman, as is the situation with podcasts, and set the price and DRM options themselves. Apple, of course, seems intent to keep such negotiations private. But as Cory Doctorow’s recent piece in Salon makes clear, Steve Jobs’ bloviating about DRM aside, it’s not a negotiable feature, even if rightsholders ask for it to be removed. So don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for Apple to open up the most popular digital content sales platform to your project so that you can sell your wares alongside the big boys.


Brian Andrews

To steal some of Apple past marketing, “Welcome, Apple. Seriously.”

I am the owner of an online distributor focused on independent filmmakers and video producers.

We provide paid digital downloads in MPEG4, formatted for the iPod. We accept all genres and are actively looking for new content.

Content providers set their own price and earn 60% of the profits from their sales. All transacations are handled via PayPal.

Independent producers have plenty of options and we hope that we can be just one additional source of distribution.

Eddie Codel

I’d pay $2 for a killer snowboarding video. If there are 15x more people like me than those who bought the DVD, then the price point starts to make sense. Being forced to use DRM, even if you’re the rights holder and you prefer not to, is quite lame and unacceptable.

bill Streeter

At first glance (without knowing all the details) I think this is
great. This is exactly what I had hoped would happen. You are starting
to see some of the disruption in the video market that online
distribution has caused in the music distribution markets–which isn’t
all that good for the big video distributors, but a great thing for
small independent producers–and good for the consumer who will
benefit from a wider range of entertainment options. One thing that
bugs me about it is iTunes potential to be a monopoly in this space,
and the unknowns regarding DRM. Will independent producers be forced
to accept Apples DRM or will they have the option to opt out? I would
like to see Netflix or Cinema Now do something like this too.

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