Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We can all learn from what MediaStorm is doing

How much would you pay to read a well written, informative news story?

For most people it's zero. "Why would I pay for this if I can get something similar on the web for free," they ask?

But what if the piece was excellent? Award winning even. Wouldn't you feel that the content provider should be paid something? Of course you would feel that way, it's a question of whether you would actually pony up and pay.

What about paying to watch a video? I don't mean one of those youtube pieces with out-of-focus images, lousy audio and no editing, but an Award Winning video, produced by a staff of creative artists who are leading the industry. Would you be willing to pay two bucks to watch this?

Newspapers have been exploring paid subscriptions and pay-per-view for a number of years with varying success. In Toronto I can read much of the Globe and Mail on the website for free, but I can get much more if I subscribe for a buck a month.

A collection of photographers and creative artists are also working in this pay-per-view arena. At MediaStorm.com, you can watch award winning documentary videos. Some of them are free while the company is exploring small fees for others.

It's a revenue stream that many people are keeping an eye on. "There's a pay option to watch some of the publications," says Lisa Jamhoury from MediaStorm. "You just click on the video and enter credit card info to watch the video. Now we did see a significant reduction in viewership between the free content and the pay-per-view as you would expect but we did make more money off those then we did on free content."

There's more to MediaStorm than great video, in fact they have their act together better than other creative types I've talked with. They're not missing a trick. Not only are they pushing in the pay-per-view direction, they also built the technology that keeps it working. A technology that other companies are looking at as well. You can purchase it for your own website here.

If you consider this piece by MediaStorm you'll notice a couple different revenue streams in place.

The story, "A darkness Visible: Afghanistan" is based on 14 trips to Afghanistan between 1994 and 2010. "A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan" is the work of photojournalist Seamus Murphy. His work chronicles a people caught time and again in political turmoil, struggling to find their way," the opening says.

Now you can watch the video on the website for free, but MediaStorm has a couple items for purchase in their store, including a "Personal Use DVD" for $25 or a DVD with unlimited classroom use for teaching professionals for $195. There's also a link to Amazon for the book at $36.50, you can buy prints directly from Murphy or if you want to license the images contact his agency, VII Photo

Let's look at a second example, "A Shadow Remains". Phillip Toledano is an artist who lives in New York City with his wife Carla and little girl, Loulou. His life has been marked by the passing of family. Each death diverting the river slightly. "A Shadow Remains" explores Toledano's personal history as he considered the impact that love and loss has had on his life, and the life of his family."

You can find the trailer here. To watch the full 30 minute video has a small cost of $1.99. There's a DVD available as well. The cost is minimal for the quality of the work and we all know that it takes money to put together work of this level.

All the work at MediaStorm is at a very high level, and with high level work comes awards, including four Emmys and five Webby Awards. With awards, come the opportunity to teach others how to do great work, so MediaStorm has a training stream as well.

There are Online Training Videos to help you learn new skills as well as simple Field Guides you can buy from iTunes. If learning from a website doesn't work for you, then the Multimedia Workshops are hugely successful and available a number of times each year.

"We offer several different workshops including Storytelling, Methodology and Post-Production," says Jamhoury. "Two teams of professionals work for the week, going out into the field, taking stills, video and audio, then they come back and work on the piece. These stories are of amazing quality and we're even winning awards with projects from the workshops."

Now before this blog becomes an ad for MediaStorm, let's do a quick review of the new revenue streams in place; they create great documentary videos, some for clients while others get licensed to websites, they win awards with the videos, they sell the videos through pay-per-view, they sell DVD's and books of the videos, they train others how to do it either on-line or through workshops, they win awards with the videos the workshops produce, and they even use Kickstarter to generate a bit of money for some projects but mostly for the buzz it creates about the projects. 

I think it's time photographers stopped complaining about fewer opportunities than the good old days. If you can't find something that works for you out of a list of new revenue streams like this, maybe you should start selling T-shirts on the street. Oh, did I mention you can get a MediaStorm T-shirt as well.

-Rob Skeoch 

Although I've worked as a photography all my life, I'm currently back at school trying to finish my Masters of Fine Arts Degree at the Maine Media Workshops. Jan Rosenbaum is one of my mentors for this semester and the project I'm working on is a paper on social media and the future revenue streams for photography. 

My retail store for rangefinder gear and Zeiss lenses is www.rangefinderstore.com 
 My retail store for large format photo supplies is www.bigcameraworkshops.com

No comments:

Post a Comment