Posts Tagged ‘videos’

Paul and Stephanie got back Wednesday evening from Nashville, where they made progress on several fronts for FargoTube. As you may know, FargoTube is F3’s revolutionary platform for profitable online distribution of videos (and now music and hi-def photos).

I was especially gratified to hear that country musician Coles Whalen, one of our first partners in the industry, plans to have an August 6 gig in Denver filmed and uploaded to FargoTube. This is the sort of content that we believe FargoTube helps to bring into existence. Musicians won’t necessarily hire a videographer and video editor without an outlet for distribution and a way to cover the costs, but FargoTube is both: Artists can direct their fans to FargoTube by mentioning it at a concert, as Coles plans to do, or by integrating it into an existing fan site. Fans can pay a few dollars for access to a single video or sign up for a monthly subscription.

Another country musician with Nashville ties, Nik Wyllie, told us he plans to begin uploading content as soon as next week, when FargoTube takes on a set of new features. Nik is set to release an album both through iTunes and through FargoTube; he plans to add video content to his FargoTube tube in the next few months.

While we don’t know whether FargoTube will take the place of iTunes, we do think our service is advantageous for Nik and other artists in several ways that Apple’s isn’t: FargoTube is a social network built around video and other content, so it keeps fans in contact with the tube owner’s content for longer and also provides owners with quicker and more complete feedback on fans’ buying habits. And FargoTube offers music in the universal mp3 format that plays on devices other than the iPod.

Paul also met with a couple of potential clients who themselves serve the country-music industry. One of them, a public-relations representative, is considering FargoTube as a way to distribute the four-minute video tutorials he makes for fellow musicians. The other is a video-production company that F3 may enlist to make a promotional video for FargoTube. We hope that company, too, could become a source of content partners for FargoTube.

(This post has been updated with details of Coles Whalen’s concert)

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Our developers are making the last few tweaks to FargoTube Version 2.2 in time for an updated version to go live next week. The update will include several significant usability enhancements and a couple of major new features. We’ll also be launching a broader online advertising and marketing campaign, for example through Google, MySpace and Facebook, once the update is available at http://www.fargotube.com.  This will be our first time marketing the FargoTube platform on a mass scale.  Accordingly, we expect an influx of digital content added in coming weeks and months.

An especially important update is the new technology that F3 developed to prevent illegal copying of videos that content owners upload to FargoTube. Most streaming videos on the internet can be easily downloaded as digital files, through third-party capture programs such as RealPlayer with a plug-in. FargoTube prevents such copying, in keeping with our mission of putting creators back in control of their works. “The content owners and artists can rest, knowing their content is secure,” CEO Frank Connor said.

The owners of “tubes” — the social networks built around video and other entertainment — will still be able to offer their videos and other media in the form of downloadable files. We plan to make them able to prevent illegal sharing of those files by the end of the year. We expect this protection to be crucial for attracting new partners because fear of copyright infringement has kept many content owners from fully embracing the Internet.

As we’ve promised in a couple of recent press releases and blog posts, artists will now be able to upload music files and high resolution still photos to their tubes, and offer that content free or for a charge. Music will be streamed in mp4 format and offered for download in the mp3 and mp4 formats that are compatible with the vast majority of digital music players. We believe FargoTube’s music capability will complement the core video service and allow it to compete more effectively against the likes of iTunes and MySpace Music

Here’s a screen shot of the new page from our staging server: 

The music files are especially important for FargoTube as our sales team continues to make inroads in “Music City USA” — Nashville. FargoTube recently signed its first major partner, Strange Celebrity Entertainment, LLC, a country music label (Click here for more information on our sales trip to Nashville this week).

The other major feature to debut next week is FargoTube’s fourth revenue model, the “Contributor Tube,” which is aimed partly at film and art schools. This model allows instructors to sign up their students for the tube, where they can upload films, graphic designs, photos and other artwork. Students will typically pay for this access along with their tuition. In turn, they’ll be able to promote and sell their creations from the tube, much as other content owners sell their videos and video access through FargoTube.

Other new features include:

  • buttons that allow users to post their favorite videos to their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We expect this to make FargoTube more fun for users and to introduce FargoTube to potential new user;
  • as many as 20 new themes that owners can use to customize their tubes;
  • a categorization system for tubes. Though a substantial number of FargoTube users will come to the service as fans of a particular video instructor, musician, or other entertainer, the categories will help both new and existing FargoTube users to find their favorite content on our site.
  • Tube owners can now categorize their content — their music, for example, by artist and album.
  • Tube owners can manage multiple tubes more easily, thanks to new buttons that let them click from one tube directly to another
  • Hulu LLC announced the imminent launch of a subscriber version earlier this month and has started accepting requests for a preview version of the service, Hulu Plus. “Plus” is a $10/month service that adds older television content to the new episodes already available at hulu.com. The large television conglomerates that co-own Hulu have hinted at such a move since October, without giving a specific timetable for its launch.

    We at F3 Technologies see Hulu’s move as confirmation of the general viability of fee-based online video, including our own FargoTube platform. Americans are spending more and more of their time on the internet, and content owners should treat the internet as a source of revenue to take the place of dwindling television viewership and album sales. Hulu, YouTube, musicians, newspapers and countless other media companies have been giving away their creations free of charge for years, and Hulu Plus is an acknowledgement that the free model isn’t sustainable, at least not by itself.

    Several aspects of Hulu Plus underscore FargoTube’s advantages for television studios and especially for other content owners.

    For one, FargoTube allows content owners to post their videos without advertising, an important choice for owners who believe an ad-free environment facilitates stronger connection with fans. Content owners who do allow advertising typically reap half or more of the ad revenue that FargoTube collects. That’s comparable to what Hulu now collects, based on an estimate by the New York Times in March. Hulu hasn’t said how much of the subscription fees it will share with content owners (Hulu LLC itself is 90 percent-owned by three television companies: NBC-Universal, ABC-Disney and News Corporation, owner of the FX Channel and Fox News Channel). FargoTube shares more than half of subscription revenue with content owners.

    Although navigating Hulu may be a bit easier than a DVR/television combo, and though picture quality may be somewhat inferior (Hulu Plus is supposed to feature higher definition), it’s basically the same as TV: a one-way medium that the viewer sits back and watches.

    FargoTube is interactive, with video as the center of a social network that we call a “tube”: Viewers can e-mail each other and post comments while watching. They can create networks of online friends with similar entertainmnent interests. They can subscribe to one tube or more than one, or pay a one-time fee for a single video, depending on how the tube owner wants to integrate FargoTube with the rest of his or her online presence. Unlike Hulu and YouTube, FargoTube is primarily a behind-the-scenes solution for owners to monetize their content while maintaining direct contact with viewers and fans. The direct contact allows tube owners to better understand their fans’ buying habits, and to promote other business lines, such as concerts, in-theater premiers, and online sales of merchandise like t-shirts and car accessories.

    Financial analysts and tech bloggers have been mostly positive about Hulu Plus.

    “They are offering a hybrid approach which I think leverages the Web — some content is free and supported by ads and some content will be paid,” consultant Michael Vorhaus, who has studied online pay models for networks and newspapers, told the New York Times.

    Bruce Leichtman of the Leichtman Research Group told the newspaper that he sees “not a lot of interest in paying for Hulu.”

    At ITWorld, Peter Smith theorized that Hulu might come up with a Hulu Plus Plus with a higher subscription fee and no advertising at all. The company told him it’s not ruling out such an option.

    If people don’t end up being willing to pay for either new option, it may be because they can already get the same or similar television programs free of charge — both on television and online. FargoTube’s situation is a bit different, however: Most of our clients and potential clients are smaller than the giant TV studios. They’ve built up fan bases outside the mass media, and we believe those fans are willing and eager to pay for access to new and original content.