I know I promised a shorter blog today and I’m REALLY gonna try but there have been some interesting developments in my side by side comparison of IndieFlix and CreateSpace.
Background: My first film Hunting Season is being released nationwide on August first via Cable Video on Demand (VOD). In conjunction with the VOD release I wanted to capitalize on the added exposure by offering DVDs for sale on-line. The best way to do this without dropping a minimum of $1,000 up front is to distribute through one of the DVD On-Demand sites, IndieFlix.com or CreateSpace.com (there are others but these seem to be the most popular). Since both sites are non-exclusive I decided to distribute through both of them simultaneously to see which one offers the “better” (in my opinion, for my needs) experience, and document it all here.
I have 2 requirements:
- I will ONLY be selling DVDs on Demand. Both of these sites offer numerous digital download options. None of what I write about here will take that into consideration.
- I want to price the DVDs as low as possible but still make an acceptable amount of revenue per disc.
Please see the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1” to catch up.
When I finished yesterday the experience was virtually EVEN with neither company getting the edge. The submission process was at a standstill for both sites due to some questions that I had about the submission process. So I sent off some e-mails to customer service and waited.
CreateSpace: The issue that I ran into during the CreateSpace submission process had to do with the formatting of Tax ID numbers.
Here’s my original question to them, submitted through the “Request for Member Support” form at the “Contact Support” section of their site:
“The Tax ID format for my state is different than the restrictive one that you have on the site. My Tax ID number is set up like this XXXXXXXX-XXX and your format is XX-XXXXXXXX. My Tax ID is from Connecticut. Any suggestions?”
The “Request for Member Support” form also has a drop-down box for “I have a question regarding…” I selected “Royalties”. There’s a field for entering the Title ID number that was assigned, a field for entering a description of the issue and the ability to upload attachments.
At 1:38pm today I received an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org . This is what the e-mail read:
“Please Note: This e-mail message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.
Thank you for contacting CreateSpace regarding your Tax ID inquiry.
Your tax identification number is your social security number, employer identification number, or individual tax identification number.
You are welcome to input your social security number in place of your Tax ID number when filling our your Royalty Payment Profile as this is equally sufficient.
I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact us regarding any further questions or concerns that you may have.“
Hmmm. But I don’t want to use my social security number. I want to use my TAX ID number. The same Tax ID number that I file for taxes on every quarter. Not my social security number. Looks like we’re at a stand still. The e-mail does have a few links to click if my issue was not resolved. I guess that’s the next step.
IndieFlix: There were a couple of issues that I ran into with IndieFlix.
Issue 1: The first issue was that the Filmmaker’s Agreement was all inclusive regarding the Format Rights. The agreement included rights to VOD, Digital download etc. I am currently only looking to use the service for DVD On-Demand and don’t want to sign away rights for the other digital services so I sent an e-mail to them inquiring about revising the Agreement.
Issue 2: The IndieFlix website and filmmakers agreement refers to royalties being paid after fees, costs and taxes. But it doesn’t explain anywhere (at this point in the process what those fees, costs or taxes are). I was going to send an e-mail regarding this but figured I would wait until I heard back regarding the Format Rights.
And hear back I did. I received an e-mail from Mike Williams, (Filmmaker Acquisitions and Relations) at 7:29pm Eastern Time. (A little background: I had contacted IndieFlix a few weeks ago with a question, prior to starting this process, through their email@example.com help e-mail address which is all over their site. The response came from Mike Williams. Since I had his e-mail already I sent all subsequent questions directly to him.)
My original e-mail stated: “I’ve filled out my Filmmaker information and am now reviewing the Filmmaker Agreement. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that in section 4 (RIGHTS) the VOD, direct download and transmission over the internet rights are all included here. I only want to have Hunting Season available on DVD. How can I adjust this agreement to reflect that?“
IndieFlix response from Mike Williams: “
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Yes, by default the Filmmaker Agreement tasks IndieFlix with finding as many revenue sources for the film as we can worldwide. However, you’re able to limit sales to only to only those outlets and territories that work for you. At the end of Section 4 (“Rights”) you can write in the outlets that you’d like IndieFlix to not pursue (for instance, you can write-in “No iTunes” or No “Amazon.com”) or be as specific as “IndieFlix.com DVD Only” in your case. In case you’re interested, attached is the full list of current revenue sources available through IndieFlix along with any associated costs, special deliverables, or commitment.
This allows filmmakers who are already offering their work through, say, Netflix to exclude that from their IndieFlix agreement or a filmmaker who’s already sold their VOD rights exclusively to another company can still offer their work on DVD through IndieFlix. We always try to be as flexible as possible to meet filmmaker needs so feel free to let me know if you have any other questions/concerns.”
And with this one e-mail Mike Williams not only specifically answered the question that I sent him, he gave me an explanation for the agreement being the way it is and an easily workable solution. He also managed to answer my question about the “fees, costs and taxes” (without me asking) by including a pricing breakdown:
1. IndieFlix.com – DVD is $4.75 per unit; 30-Day VOD Rental Stream is $1 per unit
2. Hulu.com – Free VOD, 3-year non-exclusive commitment; of the advertising revenue they take 50% with an additional ‘”ad-network” fee of up to 15%; on average Filmmakers/IndieFlix receive $7/$3 per 1,000 views
3. Joost.com – Free VOD; of the advertising revenue they take 50% with an additional ‘”ad-network” fee of up to 15%; on average Filmmakers/IndieFlix receive $7/$3 per 1,000 views
4. SnagFilms.com (Documentaries Only) – Free VOD, 3-year non-exclusive commitment; of the advertising revenue they take 50% with an additional ‘”ad-network” fee of up to 15%; on average Filmmakers/IndieFlix receive $7/$3 per 1,000 views
5. Netflix.com (feature length only)- buys Replicated DVDs $10 per disc; they start at 30 units and buy more (60, 120, etc.) for more popular Films; only cost is FedEx shipping to Netflix.
6. AmazonVOD – 3-year non-exclusive commitment, each film has a Download to Own $9.99 and 7-day VOD Rental $2.99; AmazonVOD takes 50% of revenue
7. iTunes – 3-year non-exclusive commitment, require Digibeta tape, feature Length Downloads for $9.99; iTunes and their aggregator take about 50% of revenue on top of cost for iTunes proprietary encoding
- iTunes Proprietary Encoding is based on Run Time and cost is taken out of our revenue until paid to them in full
- Encoding rates:
- § 20-44 min. $7.00/min.
- § 45-89 min. $5.00/min.
- § 90-119 min. $4.00/min.
- § 120+ min. $3.75/min.
- HD Content $11.00/min.
I’m impressed. Despite it taking just over 24 hours to get a response Mike’s response was exactly what I was looking for. That’s customer service.
The IndieFlix response to my questions changes or reinforces some of the breakdown I had on my evaluation after day 1.
Royalties and Pricing: The EDGE stays in IndieFlix corner. Their base cost ($4.75) is less than CreateSpace’s and their percentage (70/30 in the filmmaker’s favor) is better than CreateSpace’s percentage through Amazon.com (60/40) but less than CreateSpace’s e-store percentage (85/15).
Customer Service: IndieFlix’s personal, informative, comprehensive customer service blows away CreateSpace’s clunky, robotic customer service submission and response experience.
Requirements: EDGE: CreateSpace
Rights: EDGE: Even
DVD On-Demand Distribution: EDGE: CreateSpace
Mission Statement: EDGE: Even
Overall: So far the IndieFlix experience has really been better. It’s more personal and seems more empowering. CreateSpace is the cold military-industrial-complex of the DVD On-Demand world. But they do keep that Amazon.com DVD On-Demand carrot dangling in front of me. At this point in the game:
But the race is far from over.
Coming Soon in the IndieFlix vs CreateSpace saga:
- Submitting Master Copies and… Waiting. Let’s see who gets the proof done first!
- Listings Go Live. Will it be IndieFlix, CreateSpace or Amazon.com that gets “Hunting Season” up for sale first!
- Sales and Revenue! Which site wins the ultimate test?
If you are a representative of either CreateSpace or IndieFlix and have stumbled across this blog I openly welcome your input (especially if any of my statements or “facts” need fixing).
I promise (hope?) Future Blogs on this topic WILL NOT BE THIS LONG but there was a lot of ground to cover.
***A Final note. You may have noticed that Scilla Andreen, the CEO and Co-Founder of IndieFlix left a comment on the IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1 blog. I am honored and highly impressed that she took the time to address, in public, the questions and comments that I have/had about her company. Her comment was heartfelt, succinct, informative, inquisitive and friendly. She addressed some of my concerns and mentioned plans to revamp their website to better communicate information accurately and clearly. I think that a revamp is a great way to fix some of the shortfalls, I only hope that the new website doesn’t become “cold, hard information”. I would like to point out that my blog has not in any way favored any aspect of IndieFlix’s business over CreateSpace’s and that this is based solely on my experiences and the results of getting “Hunting Season” out there.
I also look at Scilla’s comment as an experience outside of what I would normally have had if I was not documenting this process. Therefore I did not include the information or impression that she left on me in my evaluation for the Day 2 blog.