Dynamo Blog


Bye Bye Amazon

Amazon has forced us to disable Amazon Payments as an option for viewers because Dynamo Player is apparently competing with, or at the least not complementing, their Marketplace strategy.

An Amazon representative suggested that the only way we can continue to work with them as a payment solution is to give Amazon control over user pricing, revenue sharing and content screening. This is simply unacceptable. Our core mission is to enable producers to distribute programs anywhere online without subjecting them to the limitations and controls of big brands like Amazon. You set the prices, you license the content, you control the parameters.

When Dynamo was the first video platform to employ Amazon Payments in this way, many suggested that Amazon would see us as competition and it might become difficult to use their service. But the Dynamo Player was quickly approved for use and we were proud to offer Amazon as an alternative to credit cards or PayPal.

Unfortunately it seems that Amazon no longer views Dynamo as an innocuous alternative to their own systems. After a recent review of our platform, Amazon locked down our account and has told us that Dynamo has to either force our users into a deal with Amazon or stop using the Amazon Payments platform altogether.

Our conclusion: remove Amazon from Dynamo. The payment option has been removed from the web site, the new player update will do without their logo next week (and add some very cool new features — more on that soon), and we’ll be revising our Terms of Use and any other agreements in which Amazon may be mentioned specifically.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that at about the same time we began having trouble with Amazon, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the double-edged sword of Amazon Marketplace (http://on.wsj.com/Nw4EzY). The frustration retailers express is that that Amazon apparently undermines them, tracking trends for popular items only for Amazon to sell those same items at lower prices, against their own clients. Though Dynamo is not in quite the same position, the article made it very difficult to trust that Amazon was handling our relationship in good faith. 

Our mission is to provide the best and most empowering path to online distribution possible. If and when Amazon wants to facilitate that, then we will happily offer their payment option again.

Power to Producers!

Don’t Sell Yourself Short (or Why 99¢ Programs Are Worthless)

The only price worth less than zero is 99¢
In the last couple of months we’ve updated a variety of features in the Dynamo platform. The video player received an overhaul, we now offer direct downloads, and we’ve been rolling out several user experience improvements that should thrill our thousands of users. But one recent update is going to frustrate some of you.

We’ve dropped the 99¢ price option entirely and the minimum will now be $1.99 for new programs.

Who does this effect? Almost nobody, because anything priced at 99¢ is not getting sales. In fact, after two years of studying the market and following sales trends, we’ve discovered that the only thing worth less than giving your film away is asking 99¢ for it.

Instead of being a bargain, films at 99¢ are priced so low that viewers see them as nearly worthless. We have seen sales immediately drop to nothing when priced at 99¢, while programs with similar web sites and audiences do well with prices up to $9.99. Even short films routinely rent for $1.99 - $2.99, and anything less just looks cheap.

Beyond viewer habits is the actual value of your work. When you tell the world that your blood, sweat and tears are only worth a pittance, you are devaluing everything you have personally invested in your work. More importantly for many independent filmmakers, bargain pricing tells distributors and investors that your work is not worth enough to audiences for them to work with you.

Filmmakers should get a good sense of who their audience is, and then strike a balance between pricing their film too high (inviting piracy) and too low (killing the value). Every film is different, and a lot of it depends on what filmmakers include in the rental (you can add as many bonus videos as you like with Dynamo). We typically recommend offering feature films at $2.99 to $6.99, and documentaries at $2.99 to $9.99.

More fundamental than setting a particular price is the issue of whether to require any payment at all. Before releasing a film online, independent filmmakers have to choose between reach or revenue.

REACH: If you want millions of people to see your work, you should post it for free everywhere you possibly can and use it to build a base of fans. If you are just starting your career, have no plans for other distribution, and no hopes of making back the money invested, then this may be the best approach.

REVENUE: If you want audiences to pay for your work, don’t devalue it. Viewers have proven that they are happy to pay a premium for the convenience and quality of on-demand viewing, consistently paying more than they would for a DVD rental. So respect your own work enough to set a price that matches equally good content.

At 99¢, nobody gets reach or revenue. So while some of you may hate us for this, we respect your work enough to raise its value.

All In: The (must see) Poker Movie

Depending on who you ask, poker is an art, a sport or simply a pastime of the damned. Regardless of how it is played or what the prevailing cultural opinions may be, poker is a uniquely American game of chance and skill.

All In: The Poker Movie presents the state of the game and the dramatic impact of online gaming with a documentary style that seamlessly incorporates history and player personalities to make this a truly great film about the game. If you have any interest in poker, this is a must-see film.

Beyond simply telling the story, the filmmakers capture the spirit of the game and its players by using extensive but very well cut interviews with poker legends. All In features celebrity players like Ira Glass and Matt Damon, but also offers insights from many of the games best players, including Chris Moneymaker, Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke and many, many more.

So this weekend, pop open a cold one, put your feet up and watch All In. No need to wait for the DVD to arrive. Just go to the All In web site to stream it now, or watch it right here: