September 20th, 2012

Hallelujah! Vimeo To Offer New Services For Filmmakers Who Want To Earn Money For Their Video Content

Posted By Neil Matsumoto

A screen shot of a film page using Vimeo's new Tip Jar feature.

Way back – oh, let’s say the ’90s – the way to make money from your indie film was not only complicated but also like winning the lottery. After you spent your life savings, as well as accumulated vast amounts of credit card debt, your only hope of ever making a profit from your film was to get it accepted into a major film festival (probably Sundance), get picked up for theatrical distribution, receive a DVD deal and then into cable TV markets. Even with all of that luck, most indie filmmakers were still fortunate to eek out a small profit from their blood, sweat and tears.

In 2012, digital filmmaking has vastly changed the production landscape but in terms of distribution, video sharing sites and social media has had an even bigger effect. Perhaps the biggest game changer in the space has been Vimeo. Founded in 2004 and based in New York City, Vimeo reaches a global audience of more than 75 million each month and has a creative network of over 13 million registered users. Obviously these numbers are dwarfed by Google-owned YouTube, in which 4 billion hours of video are watched each month but the big difference is that Vimeo functions more like a creative community in which content providers and content viewers give constructive feedback on the filmmaker’s work. (It’s not about watching cat videos.)

Vimeo’s ability to screen videos 24/7 to a global audience has also torpedoed the viability of film festivals. But still, since online viewing is usually the ‘end-all’ of a film’s distribution chain, one of the biggest questions for indie filmmakers still is, “How am I going to make money?”

It’s time to rejoice. Vimeo has just announced two new features to their service that I think will be a great model for filmmakers making money on their film projects. What’s great about the new services is that they are not ad-based models. Viewers will not be innundated with ads like YouTube’s AdSense service.

Here’s how it works.

Tip Jar allows a viewer to show their appreciation to a filmmaker by voluntarily contributing money to support their work. Taking a cue from crowdsource websites like, in which individuals support deserving artists, Tip Jar will allow anyone to give tips before, during or after watching a video through a PayPal or credit card account. Vimeo will then pay 85-percent of the gross revenue to the creator. Vimeo Plus or Pro members can activate Tip Jar now.

Vimeo will pay 85% of the gross revenue to the filmmaker using Tip Jar.

In the next few months, Vimeo will also release an open pay-to-view service that will allow filmmakers to sell their work behind a paywall. The pay-to-view service expands on traditional rental and Video On Demand services by giving filmmakers customizable options to sell their films directly to their audiences and provide control over pricing, rental duration, distribution location and other settings. The new service will be released in beta preview this fall with a series of curated films. All Vimeo Pro subscribers will have access in early 2013.

“Empowering creators to make money from their videos is a logical next step for Vimeo as a service and an opportunity to expand the overall marketplace for video creators and viewers,” said Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor. “Established creators and emerging talent alike can connect directly with their audiences without the need to conform to industry standards around video format, price or timing releases.”

For more information about Vimeo’s new creator monetization tools, please visit

You can also watch the following video to learn more.

Introducing Vimeo Tip Jar and more Creator Services from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.


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