The Amazon Direct Rate Change

February 28, 2018

Okay, I finally had some time to study the Amazon Video Direct fee rate change and the affect it is having on independent filmmakers.  If you are unaware, Amazon Direct was seen as a savor by thousands of independent content creators with their simple broadcasting and pay process. The fees per time spent viewing this independent content was cut by more than half this month.

Here is my take. (Don’t ‘flame me’, as I don’t like the fee change either–I’m just trying to understand it). First, late in the reports and articles it talks about how films that get picked up by Amazon’s Film Festival deal are not subject to these fee rate rules. That’s a big piece of evidence, I’ll explain later.

The accounting doesn’t make sense; I originally thought this was an easy way to show more profits to their investors. I can’t see that as the reason because this independent content is such a small part of the entire Amazon Direct revenue stream. Then I remembered hearing how Netflix was changing its buying strategy on ‘established teams’ – known above the line talent.  I started to associate that decision with this change by Amazon Direct.

Finally, we can’t forget that we are in the era of everybody and their brother can make a film these days; the cell phone film is already a thing. So, I hate to say this, but I feel like Amazon is using this change to drive out material that can’t survive on its owe; material that can’t find an audience through word of mouth and build up the numbers. (Don’t flame, I’m on your side)  I think their support for content that gets through the traditional ‘gatekeepers’, film festivals, as well as the similar attitude taken by Netflix supports this conclusion.

On top of that, other services that are more indie friendly, like ‘Speed and Spark’, don’t have the audience and brand awareness like Amazon. The logical solution for independent filmmakers would be to band together and build up these other platforms, but that feels like too much work and everyone wants the reach of Amazon Direct (total chicken and egg thing) This is how Amazon Direct is justifying their reduction in fees based on their growth and market share.  They know they are the dominant player.

I do think there is a way to change this action.  It will need to be organized by all the talented filmmakers affected by this issue.  They should produce some tight slick videos talking about the weak reasoning Amazon Direct has put forth and highlight how this is putting community / individual art in a suppressed spot. Highlight how this simple rate change is preventing quality art from being made. I think if everyone harnesses social network activism, like we see in other causes, you can get a change from Amazon.

All these companies want to be seen as the ‘good guys’ on social issues. It feels like a simple organized campaign by a talented group of filmmakers and their friends/audiences could spread the word and make the switch easy for Amazon Direct.  It’s a good press / bad press numbers game.   The campaign can’t be half-assed and needs to focus on how their deal hurts talented artist.  It needs to build up Amazon Direct as a ‘lifeline’ for these artists if they reverse course.  This should not be a hard thing to support, as that was the case before the change happened – don’t kill the sinner when he can return to sainthood.

Just my ideas, I can help with a video or two but I’m not making any monies this way so I’m not leading the charge.  Rus