DailyMotion teams up with Flattr for crowdfunded video

Video portal DailyMotion is hoping to woo more original content creators to its platform — by offering them the chance to raise funds directly through the site.

Thanks to a just-announced partnership with micropayment service Flattr, video producers using DailyMotion will now be able to tap into crowdfunding at the click of a button. It’s a move that the two companies think could change the game for online video producers.

“We’re always looking for interesting ways of monetization,” said Roland Hamilton, the U.S. managing director of Paris-based DailyMotion, which is the second largest video portal after YouTube (s GOOG).

“We’ve been really successful with our digital directors program, Motionmakers, but so far we’ve allowed people to monetize video through advertising — now we’re giving them another way to earn money for their work.”

Those who join the program can incorporate Flattr buttons on their pages, which allows users who are signed up to donate cash with a simple click. The Swedish startup — which likes to position itself as “the Like button that means something” — operates a hybrid donation-subscription model that allows users to put a stash of money aside each month, which is then divided equally between the various pieces of online content that they’ve liked over the course of the month.

“We hope this will change the way audiences think about online video,” said Flattr co-founder Linus Olsson. His hope? That people’s relationship with video producers will change if they can to easily donate money direct to creators of things they like.

Mutually beneficial

This move is tapping into an already-rising swell of activity around video and crowdfunding. This is already a big deal in the industry, particularly since the rise of Kickstarter, where film projects are proving massively popular.

But as well as giving video makers the chance to earn a little cash, the two companies hope it’s a mutually beneficial agreement for both of them as they strive for success.

For example the deal gives DailyMotion, which has long trailed YouTube, a chance to gain some ground in an important area. While YouTube has become a significant platform for video creators to make money, and the company has been aggressively pursuing online talent through its Partner program and the purchase of Next New Networks, its money is largely made through advertising.

Hamilton says it’s important to give some producers a different option — and of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s something YouTube doesn’t offer partners.

“You’re always trying to find the right balance of what you want,” he told me. “Some Motionmakers don’t want to have any ads at all, and some want to do custom ad campaigns in their videos. But this is a good alternative from having that ad pressure, if you don’t want it.”

“One reason we’re excited is that we have such a big audience — 123 million people each month, and 20 million of those in the U.S. — and allowing that audience to pay creators is very exciting.”

For Flattr, meanwhile, this is the biggest validation of its model so far — and that’s vitally important, because the service which has so far struggled to tap into the public consciousness. While the Swedish startup, which counts The Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde as a co-founder, has found some traction in local markets like Germany, it has found it hard to secure major distribution deals to make its buttons ubiquitous online.

Olsson admitted that the deal with DailyMotion had been in the works for a long time — “To be honest, DailyMotion was one of the first companies that approached us, nearly two years ago,” he told me — but said that it may now be the right time for ordinary web users to switch on to the idea of micro-patronage as a parallel funding source to advertising.

“Kickstarter is for bigger projects that haven’t been done yet, but there are millions of pieces of content that are already in existence,” he said. “The important thing to remember is that ads require a big audience, but you can make money through Flattr with a small, dedicated audience.”

While he said it was impossible to know precisely how much partners could make because it’s entirely dependent on existing fanbase, virality, and so on.

“It’s extremely hard to say anything about what people might earn, the most traction has been with people who are very up front about it and say in their videos why you should use Flattr, and those who are showing transparency. There’s one German podcaster, Tim Pritlove, who has quit his day job and is living on Flattr donations.”

Right now the move only applies to creator-owned content on DailyMotion — and not those pieces of video that come through the company’s deals with copyright holders like EMI and Fox Sports — but it could expand to other copyright holders if there was enough demand, said Hamilton.