Commentary

VideoBlocks Has A Better Stock Idea


Reprinted from April 14, 2015

Since 2011, VideoBlocks has been selling the rights to stock video clips, and doing it a little differently. For one price, $99 a year, users can download as many clips as they want and  use them any way want, for as long as they want.

That’s different but not so radical as the newest wrinkle:

VideoBlocks invited stock video clip makers who usually sell through competitors, to put their clips on VideoBlocks--the same clips they have on Shutterstock and Getty.  VideoBlocks would charge members extra to use each one of those clips, but give all of that back to the video artist.

“We are always going to be a membership organization,”  says Joel Holland, the founder. “Our thing is charge members $99 a year and give them value. If that’s the case. we thought, what if we told videographers, if they come to us, they can keep 100% of the commission? Sell your stuff on Video Blocks and you keep can keep it all. That’s a pretty aggressive offer! And we will discount  that content to our member by 40% so instead of paying $79 [what that clip would cost from Shutterstock, he says] they’ll be paying $49.  

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"But because we are giving all of that $49 to the contributor, they’re going to be making twice as much money, which is crazy.”

We’ll see about that. (But YouTube creators, who are looking for a better percentage break, must be drooling.)

VideoBlocks, unveiled the new wrinkle at the NAB convention on Monday and to spur customers to use it, it created “49-dollar bills” so users could try it out.

I don’t think about stock video clips much at all--I’d say, ‘why should I?’ but 30% of VideoBlock’s subscribers are newbies, too. 

It has the big networks and agencies as customers, but “99% of the people who use us are freelancers and what we call the creative class,” Holland says. “They’re a very budget-conscious group of people.”  .

With close to 100,000 members and 115,000 video clips--skylines, seashores...explosions--VideoBlocks still has neither the customer base or library of footage, which is how the $49 offshoot came around.

“One of the things we started hearing is that when there is something very specific they need, they told us they had to jump over to Shutterstock or Getty to buy it. It’s very expensive.”

Membership has its advantages, as the ad slogan goes. Holland claims that though it’s smaller in revenue that by far, it distributes more video clips than anybody. Those members download an average of 140 clips a year each, which Holland says would cost them $12,000 if they did that on some other site. It also operates a membership based service for audio and graphics clips.

YouTube-inspired inexpensive video is growing, and as it does, stock video demands from a whole new class of creators should increase too.. “We are creating a new market,” Holland claims. “The competitors are really fighting over that established frontier. We’re coming in saying, look, there is an explosion in the creative class of  video creation. A large part of what we do is sell to people who never did this before and we put our model in front of them.”

In fact, VideoBlocks gives away limited memberships to new video creators who work out of YouTube’s Spaces studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sao Paolo and Tokyo, and it has the same kind of arrangement creators who work for Maker Studios. 

“Fast forward a few years,” Holland says, “and it will be, ‘I’m a creator, so of course, I’m a VideoBlocks member’ “ He notes, hopefully, that Adobe’s Creative Cloud services have four million subscribers. So there’s room to grow.  Jokingly, Holland says his goal is “utter, complete world domination.” But I think he’s kidding.

 


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