VIMBY Shows Off Your ‘Hood

For all of their bluster about destroying old media, new media startups sure are quick to describe themselves as “like MTV used to be.” Regional video site VIMBY is no exception. VIMBY actively targets young people, ages 18 through 24, by creating original content around hot youth topics like music, cars, action sports, and sex.

While it covers much of the same ground as the other new boob tubes, VIMBY sets itself apart by enlisting local filmmakers in different cities to showcase local luminaries. VIMBY currently features content from 17 cities, with the 18th (Seattle) opening soon. Check out surfing from San Diego, or an upcoming band on tour in Austin, or a hot club in Miami — all produced by people from those neighborhoods.

But VIMBY is not just another UGC site. Videomakers must apply to become one of the site’s “preditors,” and are asked to include both a sample of their work and the reasons they want to create content. The good news is that if a videomaker is selected by VIMBY, they will earn real money. The bad news is how much. A full segment will get the preditor $500. That’s it. No royalties on their work ever, and once bought, VIMBY owns that work outright, which it will turn around and syndicate and sell ads against. If you’re a first-time content producer, this might not seem so bad, but otherwise, this is a pretty raw deal.

And that could be a reason why VIMBY is having will have such a hard time retaining these videomakers. I spoke with its managing producer, Adam Reno, who told me that VIMBY has had as many as 70 content creators signed up at one time. That number has since dwindled to 25. (Update: Reno called to clarify that it’s 25 filmmakers who produce content more than once a week, and insists that not one filmmaker has walked from VIMBY. My point was aimed more at how actively people will produce the content, not whether they would leave VIMBY. Filmmakers could choose to take longer breaks between submitting videos because they can get a better deal elsewhere.) Reno disagrees with my assertion, however. “People are not unsatisfied with the payment,” he said. “It’s just a matter of finding the right people. A lot of people who fell off weren’t right for us.”

VIMBY, which is privately-funded, officially launched in October. According to the company, traffic since then has hit between 1,000 and 1,200 unique visitors a day, with roughly 10,000 content streams a day served through its site and the embeddable player.

It’s eyeing a number of syndication deals with the usual suspects: Joost, Akimbo, MySpace and Crackle, though no deals have been signed yet.

The competition is fierce for the young eyeballs VIMBY is after. While their approach is fresher than just slapping a blond in a bikini up on the homepage, if they don’t offer more incentive to creators, VIMBY can forget its MTV dreams.