What the Hell is Digital Distribution? Here’s 7 Core Ideas You Must Understand

What the Hell is Digital Distribution? Here’s 7 Core Ideas You Must Understand You get it: Digital distribution is the future and the future is now. What you probably don’t get is exactly what that means, because… well, no one understands it. Not entirely, not yet. Too many players, too many moving parts, too much in flux. However, there are a few ideas—seven, to be exact—that you can act on now.

1. CARVE OUT DIY DIGITAL.
Distributors and Foreign sales companies often want all rights, including all digital distribution rights.

No matter what, you must carve out the ability to do DIY digital distribution (services include EggUp, Distrify, Dynamo Player and TopSpin) whether off your own site, off your Facebook page or directly to platforms. Platforms and services can almost always geofilter, which eliminates conflict with territories where the film has been sold to a traditional distributor. Often, distributors don’t mind that a filmmaker also sells directly to fans, in any case.

2. PLATFORMS ≠ AGGREGATORS ≠ DISTRIBUTORS.

Here’s the most basic definitions: Platforms are places people go to watch or buy films; aggregators are conduits between filmmakers/distributors and platforms; distributors usually take more rights for longer terms. And some companies combine more than one of these functions.

Aggregators usually focus more on converting files for, and supplying metadata to, platforms. They usually don’t need rights for a long term and only take limited rights they need to do the job. Marketing is rarely a strong suit or focus for an aggregator.

A distributor should be skilled at marketing—otherwise, what’s the point? Sometimes distributors are direct to platforms; sometimes they go through aggregators. Know the difference; fees are taken out every time there is a middleman.

Filmmakers should want to know the fee the platform takes (it’s not the same for all content providers) and know if a distributor is direct with platforms or goes through an aggregator. Also, filmmakers should have an understanding what each middleman is doing to justify the fee. Ask for a description in writing of what activities will be performed.

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