Chill Pivots — Again!! — This Time To Help Creators Sell Videos Directly To Their Fans

Turntable for video, err, Pinterest for video, uhhh, video startup Chill is coming out with a new product that it hopes will provide a new channel for independent content creators to sell their videos directly to fans.

After the success of stuff like, well, basically anything digital that Louis CK has sold directly to fans over the past year, along with similar projects from folks like Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan, Chill co-founder Brian Norgard says the team sees a huge opportunity for independent creators to get into the game by selling videos directly to users. Typically, though, those creators don’t have same resources as the celebrities named above, and so don’t have the ability to roll out their own sites or marketplaces.

So it’s rolled out Chill Direct, which it hopes will provide not just a platform to quickly create direct-to-fan video sites, but also to help grow a community of video viewers who are willing to *ahem* pay for content. (More on that later…) The idea is that content creators can upload a video and through an easy on-boarding process, create an entire page that will help them sell it — including providing cover art, a video trailer, a description, etc.

Chill will handle all the encoding and distribution, so creators only have to worry about shooting, editing, and uploading. And the videos will be viewable on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows 8, PC, and Mac.

The monetization model is pretty simple as well: Creators can set their own prices for the content, and Chill takes a 30 percent cut of the proceeds. No need to worry about storage, bandwidth, encoding, or other related costs. Chill has them covered. And Chill provides creators with real-time analytics so they can see how many viewers are checking their content out, which sales channels are converting, and the like.

It’s a self-serve platform, and the idea is that anyone will be able to create these pages, and then use social sharing tools to drive audiences to them. And since Chill will have multiple projects available for sale, it will be able to act as an aggregator, essentially as a go-to for finding cool content. And it’s already seeded the Chill Direct site with eight different projects that viewers can already choose from:

  • Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special! – An hour-long comedy special written by and starring comedian Maria Bamford
  • Please Subscribe – Documentary film following several top YouTube stars, such as Hannah Hart, Mitchell Davis, Grace Helbig, MysteryGuitarMan, Dan Brown, and SeaNanners
  • Thank You For Judging – Documentary film from actor-director Michael Urie about the world of competitive high school forensic speech and debate
  • The New Kind – Anime-inspired sci-fi series set in our near future where a young couple’s psychic love holds the key to our evolutionary transformation
  • Battlefield Of The Mind – Documentary feature film about America‚Äôs homeless veterans and those suffering from PTSD
  • Ari Shaffir Comedy Special – Original hour-long comedy special by comedian Ari Shaffir
  • Julien & Claire – Narrative feature film about an American dancer who meets a French musician on the streets of Paris
  • Unknown Sender – Suspense series from writer-producer Steven de Souza with new episodes and exclusive behind-the-scenes videos

Now here’s the only issue: There’s a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to video aggregators and video discovery. And frankly, it’s a lesson that Chill probably learned in its last iteration, when it was doing social discovery and partnering up with premium producers like TMZ, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and PUMA, among others.

You can make it ultra-easy to upload content, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to discover. And if it’s not easy to discover, then good luck getting people to convert. And if people aren’t buying, then all the ease-of-upload in the world isn’t going to get creators to participate in your self-serve sales platform. Norgard understands this, and acknowledged that the startup will need some luck, and that it’ll need some hits to make Chill Direct a viable business.

While Chill Direct hopes to provide a new revenue model for content creators, it’s hardly alone. Video sharing site Vimeo, which has been around seemingly forever and already has a large number of viewers, has plans rolling out its own pay-to-view platform early next year. And there’s not much stopping YouTube, which has had a transactional business model available for movie and TV shows for a while now, from making content purchases a part of its platform.

All that said, it’s probably worth a go for Chill to experiment with a transaction-based business model in the meantime. And if it doesn’t work? Well, if we’ve learned one thing from Norgard and co-founder Daniel Gould, it’s that they’re not afraid to pivot. The company’s raised nearly $10 million in total from investors like Kleiner Perkins, Redpoint Ventures, 500 Startups, CrunchFund, Science, Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter, and Science’s Mike Jones.