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Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?

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Anthony Popolo
Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Sep 26, 2018 at 6:38:24 pm

Hi,
I've been filming school shows and dance recitals for over ten years and have been selling them and distributing to students via DVDs. Some kids bought them, some didn't. No problem.
I hate that I shoot the shows in HD and have to dumb it down for DVD. Additionally, as DVD demand in general is going away, there is a growing demand for HD digital file versions.
Of course the problem is if someone buys an mp4, it's easily shared with everyone who didn't buy one. Pretty soon, only one person will buy it and share it with everyone. Not exactly the business model I was hoping for. In addition to digital files, I still want to be able provide DVDs for a hands-on keepsake.
Does anyone have ideas on navigating this landscape? I've considered the following:
- Video On Demand. I can set up a VimeoPro account where people could "rent" or "buy" on-demand (similar to Amazon video). Technically the videos would be open to public for purchase (no password option within Vimeo), which I'd prefer not to do for school privacy and copyright issues. I've considered code-naming the videos so they're hard to search for publicly and providing a passworded link from my webpage to the on-demand page.
- I've considered providing an mp4 to EVERYONE in the recital cast, as long as everyone got a DVD. Of course, not everyone would agree to purchase a DVD, so I would have to convince the school to provide everyone with a DVD from their end. That obviously would require a change in the school's monetary process (for example, paying out of the student activity fees). I could charge a lower price per DVD since the quantity would be higher. However, right now, the school pays me nothing. All the income is from the parents. So this option would be a challenge.
Any other ideas?
Thanks!

Anthony Popolo
Sunnyside Entertainment


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Mark Suszko
Re: Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Sep 27, 2018 at 3:23:16 pm

You could change from DVD to BluRay if it was only an issue of high def quality. Every Xbox is also a BluRay player. But I'm going to suggest that your entire business model might need to change.

I've had this conversation before. There is no bulletproof technological fix to thwart a dedicated pirate. People are too clever and enjoy the challenge of defeating copy protection schemes for fun as well as profit.

Instead, I suggest you leverage the power of human nature, which is highly reliable. There are two kinds of pirate: fans that simply want to altruistically share the material as much as they can, (without paying, if possible) and mercenaries, who are in it to make a profit. You can leverage one and defeat the other by going one of two routes.

They are both based on a key strategy: give the product away.

By that, I mean, charge an up-front price to even begin the project, based on a figure that takes into account your costs and your profit margin.

Version A of this model is, you take a small token fee ("consideration" is the term of art) up front, to make it a binding contract, then shoot and edit it, but with the written agreement you will never release *any* copies to *anyone*, until you hit a minimum target number of advance pre-sales. You thus get ALL your money up front, by day of show, so the piracy won't matter. You also have to be comfortable with the all-or-nothing nature of this deal, and the fact there will be few if any follow-on sales. But it's a question of a certainty for receiving one amount, versus the risk of not making enough the other way. A feature of this approach of a minimum buy up-front is, it recruits all the stage moms into becoming your sales force, to make sure the payment is secured. They are also self-policing. This is a model that worked for me in my early recital shooting days.

Version B of this model is, you get a sponsor or group of sponsors to underwrite the costs of production and your minimum profit margin. Same as a high school or college yearbook, or weekly church bulletin. This is more work for somebody, probably you. You use the underwriting to pay your expenses and most of your profit margin, while reducing the price to free or maybe five bucks a throw. Typical underwriters would be the local soda distributor, restaurants, Military recruiters, prom/formals rental boutiques, youth fashion stores, car dealerships, any business that targets that demographic. In exchange you put advertising breaks in the product, and you give it away. You actually encourage copying to widen the distribution. The fans who want to share the material will now become your free distribution army. And the mercenary pirates won't waste time and energy pirating something that's free or that they only make two bucks on.

I suppose another variation would be to put it on YouTube with full monetization, get paid by YouTube instead of the moms. Again, that model gets better, the wider you make the viewership. There however, you will have to be scrupulous about having all the various rights and permissions properly obtained for the play, the music in it, etc.

And you hinted at this one: get the school district to pay you and they get it back thru activity fees or tuition or whatever. There the issue again becomes complicated by the legalities of proper copyright procedure and school district lawyers will be very risk-averse.

I'd like to hear what you finally decide to do, and how it went. Best of luck.


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Anthony Popolo
Re: Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Sep 27, 2018 at 6:45:21 pm

Thanks so much for your thorough input Mark! I probably won't go down the Blu-ray path since that will only delay the inevitable when Blu-ray becomes less desirable. The ultimate goal is to meet the growing expectation of on-line or computer based distribution. Ironically, it will probably be a while before I discontinue DVD since there is still a feeling of "ownership" with a physical product (and kids like to see their tiny thumbnail on the back cover of the case!)
I agree a business model change is in order. Fortunately, I have a good relationship with all of my clients, so my plan is to structure in a way that benefits all, and I feel they will work with me. Most of my clients are private institutions, and I already have agreements in place that they assume the risk. I most certainly will have to revisit that and probably update that understanding to reflect the new format. I know there are a lot of small companies like mine that are facing the same issue. Your input will give me a great start in moving forward. I will be sure to share my process when it becomes one!
Thanks again

Anthony Popolo
Sunnyside Entertainment


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Mark Suszko
Re: Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Sep 27, 2018 at 6:59:26 pm

You *could* add to the existing DVDs you make, a "Bonus material" folder containing the High-def version of the show in MPEG4 or h.264 or h.265 format, or just burn the files to DVD with a note on the disc that this will only play in a computer. Of course, you just made it easier for a pirate to copy your high-def product as well.

I wonder if you could do something where you stream it thru their phones without it being able to be archived locally. You'd basically rent a live viewing each time. Split the charges with the provider/provisioner. Still can be defeated by a determined pirate, but maybe too much work for the casual viewer.


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Steve Weng
Re: Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Nov 21, 2018 at 6:02:26 pm

in my city, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There is a large company that would send out videographers & photographers for recital events, dance performances, sports competition and etc.

They would send clients a proof for photos and orders for print and believe it or not, they are still selling dvds to this day.

However, seeing how trends are and with so many people with a decent cellphone now, I would say is best to consider an alternative revenue source.

event streaming is pretty good, broadcasting events online is not difficult if you can figure out the internet source, some events will pay a decent money for a professional to do it right.

Toronto Wedding Videographer | Toronto Photobooth Rentals


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Will Muratov
Re: Moving away from DVD for Recital type events. Any advice on digital file delivery that won't leave me broke?
on Dec 29, 2018 at 3:48:01 am

I just stopped doing that for schools. Not profitable and too much hussle.

Real estate video services in Vancouver. http://angelsivdeo.ca


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