Chill offers DRM-free video-on-demand from content creators

chill direct

Video aggregator and pivot-friendly startup Chill is now hinging on the DRM-free, direct-to-fans distribution model for content that is continuing to gain popularity. Starting today, Chill will start selling video content directly from content creators, and the offer isn’t just restricted to established artists. Chill invites any content creator to its “Chill Direct” program.

Because this system gives creators control over content rights, they can sell HD streams directly to fans while retaining full ownership of their content. To stir the pot in a way that Kickstarter made popular, artists can throw in extra goodies for fans called “Bundles” to sell along with the video. This can include anything, like T-shirts, bonus footage, signed merch, Skype performances, or any other items. Artists can set their own prices for these additional items.

For acting as the middleman, Chill takes a 30 percent cut from all revenue earned. That figure seems to be common across platforms and influenced by what Apple earns from selling its apps. The company is ushering in the new platform with eight shows including “The New Kind: The Ordinary World” from Peter Hyoguchi, a documentary about YouTubers called “Please Subscribe,” and comedienne Maria Bamford’s “The special special special!”

Newbusiness models are cropping up to offer additional ways for artists to profit from distributing content. Chill’s Direct is one avenue, while Vimeo’s new indie movie rental program, paywall, and rather unconventional “Tip Jar” are among the others.

Traditionally, YouTube has been the de facto platform that content creators have been turning to, but revenue is entirely supported by advertising dollars. At the same time, content ownership on YouTube hasn’t been clear cut. The video platform has taken measures to aid creators by adding its Content ID system, which identifies copyrighted videos, but too many times YouTube has misidentified content – not to mention that it’s rather simple for other users to steal and repurpose content. Still, YouTube itself is the second largest search engine after parent company Google, so the chances of content discovery on YouTube are greater than on any other platform out there.

Chill still uses a Pinterest style video curation platform, although we’re sure content involved with Direct will get better placement here. There’s evidence of this already with Maria Bamfod’s comedy special featured prominently at the top of the front page.

Even with all these new DRM-free distribution methods that cut out the middlemen, it’s up to the artists to attract a crowd that’s willing to pay for their content. Typically the platforms hosting all this are responsible for the promotion, marketing, licensing, and other business aspects that an artist doesn’t want to have to worry about – but that means losing ownership of your own work. Now there are increasing options for turning to a platform for hosting and allowing your work to speak for itself without having to fork over all the rights. 

More specifically, this marks a fairly notable pivot for Chill, which began as a social sharing and aggregated video service and has quickly spun itself into a far more diverse product. Vimeo and YouTube remain kings of this space, however, and how well Chill can challenge them remains to be seen.