About seven years ago I came across an online music service that, instead of charging fixed fees for the digital files (there was no streaming back then), instead used a formula based on demand where the price changed over time. For example, a song initially would cost $0, thus appealing to the trend setters who want to discover something first, and be incentivized to download and share. Later the price would rise as demand increased, to $0.99 or more. And, finally, even further down the road, the prices could decrease as demand waned.
This service was called “Amie St” and I titled the blog post Amie Street Is The Future. But I was badly, badly off in my profuse praise and prediction (Ugh – I wrote: Amie St “is the future of music distribution.”). For Amie St’s model and business did not really survive. My incorrect praise and predictions, however, do survive.
I was reminded of this of a few weeks ago when Songza, which arose out of Amie St and by the same team, was sold to Google. Reminded of how misguided I was, but also that sometimes maybe in one’s errors of judgement there exist some pieces that make sense.
VHX is a company we have invested in that empowers artists to sell their work directly. It is platform with a number of components that connect various artists together. Very different from Amie St. Maybe.
Yesterday, a bunch of disparate filmmakers who have used VHX before joined together to sell their films collectively, as a bundle. These artists don’t necessarily have to have any relationship with each other – VHX allows these bundles to occur on the fly if they desire.
The bundle is called The Creativity Bundle because each of the films deals with the creative process of different kinds of artists – video game makers, font designers, sign painters. Two interesting things about the bundle are the bundle itself (allowing different filmmakers to become, in real time and on the fly, digital distributors – studio like, if you will), and that the price is “set your own.” You can pay as little as $1 for the bundle.
VHX and the filmmakers are publishing the results, on the bundle page itself, right below the “buy” button. As of this morning at 6am ET, the average price paid was $7 for the bundle, with 25% paying $15 or more, 15% paying $1, and people from Germany and Italy being the most generous, on average, in paying for the bundle.
This is an experiment of sorts: about giving artists more control (and money) distribution of their films and how they are sold; about looking at the role of a media distributor in a different, and more fluid and digital, way; about not assuming that one price fits all. Some of those principles may not work. But also all of them may be right.
I’ll hardly make the mistake again of making an out-loud proclamation that something is the “future” of anything. But I woke up this morning with a little less despair about my past incorrect public predictions. I wasn’t right, but maybe also I wasn’t totally wrong.