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Monday, March 12, 2007

A few tidbits about iTunes and indie content creators, from SXSW

At one of my panels at SXSW last weekend, I asked the panelists who the new power players are, when it comes to distributing movies on the Internet. The consensus: iTunes, definitely. Movielink could be a contender, depending on how much money Blockbuster will put into enhancing and marketing the site. And I think CustomFlix, owned by Amazon, is an interesting dark horse candidate.

But iTunes has sold 50 million TV shows, and 1.3 million feature-length films. That ain't bad.

The problem is, it's just about impossible right now for an independent content producer to get their stuff sold on iTunes.

In some conversations at SXSW, though, one DVD distributor I talked to said that one of his movies, a documentary with a Net-oriented theme, could show up soon, and he said that IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance, is in the midst of doing a deal with iTunes. (IODA already helps indie musicians get their stuff sold on iTunes, so that makes sense.)

I also had a chat with a senior exec at Film Baby, which distributes indie movies on DVD. He said that iTunes was more focused on getting more big studios signed up than working with indie distributors, but that things could change as soon as this summer. He said the revenue split would likely be the same as it is on the music side, 70/30 in favor of the producer, but that producers would likely have to pay a third-party digitizing firm to have their content digitized to iTunes' specs. That could cost about $150. This person also said that anything under 60 minutes would be priced like a TV show ($1.99), and anything longer than 60 minutes would be considered a movie (with a price of $9.99 or up.)

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