Long the preferred streaming service for filmmakers thanks to its high quality and clean interface, Vimeo seriously upped its game this spring by announcing Vimeo On Demand, a service allowing all Vimeo Pro members to rent or sell their videos, setting their own prices and geographic regions of availability. The 90/10 revenue split in favor of the creators made it a potentially major new force in self-distribution, a step forward that CEO Kerry Trainor has been overseeing since joining the company in March of last year.
Since its founding by Jake Lodwick and Zach Klein in 2004, Vimeo's had a clear identity as the high-end alternative to the broad platform that is YouTube. "Because of its deep focus on providing quality tools and an uncluttered environment, Vimeo has become the platform of choice for independent filmmakers," said Trainor. He added that the company's approach has been to develop its business model around that fact, rather than work in the other direction.
In that way, Trainor said, Vimeo On Demand has been a natural extension of Vimeo's existing platform, going from empowering filmmakers and other video creators to sharing their work to empowering them to monetize it. And it's come at a key time of growing interest in self-distribution and maintaining ownership of films.
An easy one -- the launch of Vimeo On Demand, which was announced at an event at SXSW in March, accompanied by a screening of acclaimed Oscar-nominated indie animator Don Hertzfeldt's first feature, "It's Such a Beautiful Day," available via the new initiative.
While Trainor didn't cite specifics, he pointed out the difficulties in balancing the need to grow with staying true to Vimeo's core identity.
Expanding without compromising. "Even as we look to grow, we need to stay true to what's made Vimeo special," Trainor said. "It's exactly the challenge that you'd hope to have. If we're true [to that], there are incredible opportunities to build a company for the long term."
Leeden Media will be releasing the Neil LaBute-scripted "Some Girl(s)," starring Adam Brody, Kristen Bell and Jennifer Morrison, on Vimeo On Demand on June 28, the same day the film is getting a limited theatrical release. It'll be another first for the company, and one that should serve as an interesting test case for how viable eschewing a deal with a small-scale distributor in favor of holding onto the rights with this type of DIY approach can be for an indie of that size.