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Summary:

Dynamo’s proprietary player was one of the first to give creators the option to directly charge viewers for their content. Now, the company is closing the player to the public, instead refocusing on a white label offering for filmmakers, continuing the trend of pay-to-play services.

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Pivot alert: Dynamo, one of the first companies to make pay-to-play possible for independent creators, is taking a new approach.

Beginning in January, according to founder Rob Millis, the Dynamo player will no longer be open to any creators wishing to charge users for their content — instead, the company will be refocusing on white label services for those in need of digital distribution.

“Really, for us it’s about how the market doesn’t need a public option like Dynamo anymore — it makes more sense to go the private contract path,” Millis said via phone. “It’s been our best users and their needs who have driven this decision — our biggest users are people asking for more tailored develpment.”

Dynamo will continue to support existing projects that earn at least $100 a month — those not generating sales and continuing to use Dynamo as an archival player will have to pay a monthly fee to continue doing so. Future customers will have to contract with the company to distribute via the Dynamo player.

However, those contracts come with the options of broader services, such as iTunes distribution or custom app development. “You have professionals going to three different firms to get all these things, but we have enough expertise in these fields — we’d like to be a one stop shop,” Millis said.

Founded in 2009, Dynamo was early to the pay-to-play business model — its proprietary player, beta-launched in May 2010, let creators set the pricing and terms for their content, with a 70/30 profit split.

“Online revenue at that point was a 50 percent split with advertisers, with no real transparency,” Millis said. “Now, after being out for a few years, the market has a few options out there.”

Those options include companies such as VHX and Chill, which have both in the last few months refocused on creating marketplaces for paid content. But while Millis mentioned being intrigued by them — “VHX and Chill have interesting things they’re doing with destination sites and introducing people to content” — the company he was really interested in seeing move further into the paid content space was Vimeo.

“We’ve been waiting for them to get into this market for four years now,” he said. “If they take it seriously and move away from the tip jar beta testing approach, I’m much more confident about where Vimeo is in five years than Chill is in three years.”

When asked if there were things he’d have done differently over the course of Dynamo’s development, Millis said that while he would have made the same decisions, he might have made them faster.

He also mentioned that he “completely overestimated the foresight and innovation within Hollywood. It’s an industry and community that really wants to be more innovative but doesn’t know how to. It’s why Dynamo making changes, to help.”

“You beat piracy by making content available easily at a reasonable price,” he added. “That’s something the big media companies haven’t figured out yet.”

  1. Ha! Well, you may want to mention Yekra in this vein. To my knowledge, they’re the only digital distributor whose films actually get seen (Thrive went out for $4.99, and last I heard they’d passed 8 million viewers).

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  2. Here’s a link on that:

    http://www.screendaily.com/news/digital/digital-distribution-platform-yekra-begins-beta-launch/5046104.article

    That was a couple months back. My numbers are a bit out of date, too.

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