How To Sell Your Movie On iTunes (In Three Steps!)

If you are wondering how to sell your movie on iTunes, there have never been a better time. Gone are the days when you need to ask for permission to access iTunes. If you’re ready to sell your movie on iTunes, I have detailed three steps below. Ready to get started?

itunes

How To Sell Your Movie On iTunes (In Three Steps!)

Step 1 – Watch Out For These Distributor Shenanigans

If you’ve spent time in the festival circuit, invariably some acquisitions executive has approached you offering to “pick up” your feature. If this is your first feature, congratulations. You just heard the exact same pitch 99% of every filmmaker (with a solid movie) hears.

Why is this happening? I mean, why are more filmmakers getting offers?

Simple. Video on demand is not a physical product. Nobody has to invest money for manufacturing, shipping or physical inventory. As a result, video on demand represents almost no inherent risk for a distributor or an aggregator. (There are encoding and closed caption fees, which I’ll discuss later. But most times these are simply passed to the filmmaker too.)

Also, I want to make it very clear. There are some especially good distributors out there – But odds are good they are focused on grabbing star driven, studio content. So that means you’re going to spend a lot of time chatting with mid-level distributors who promise  you “special placement” on iTunes.


[More from How To Sell Your Movie]

The problem is, there is no guarantee that any aggregator can get you special placement on iTunes. It’s a limited web page. And most BIG titles take up all the space. So my suggestion is this. Evaluate every offer. But look for the similar pitch. I guarantee you’ll hear the words “special placement” over and over…

Step 2 – Prep Your Movie For iTunes

If you decide to sell your movie on iTunes without the assistance of a traditional aggregator, you will still need to utilize the services of an iTunes approved aggregator (or a sub aggregagor who works with an iTunes approved aggregator) and an iTunes approved encoding house. There is simply no way around this. iTunes will not do business with individual filmmakers.

But just because you are forced to utilize a middle-man does not mean you need to sign over a percentage of your movie. A few years ago I worked as the director of operations for Distribber and I loved it. (Note: Distribber pays me to promote, so I’m biased. But if you follow the links on this page, you’ll also get a discount on the service.)

Distribber serves a distribution consulting company. They hold your hand through the process of getting your movie from your hard drive into iTunes. And thankfully so. Here are the current iTunes deliverables (as referenced by the Distribber website.)

For a High Definition iTunes Delivery:

  • Closed Captions
  • File: Pro Res 422 HQ
  • 1920 × 1080
  • Native Frame Rate
  • Film: 23.98
  • Video:29.97i
  • Audio: Must have 8 channels of audio, or if not shot with 5.1 then you may submit in Stereo:
  • 5.1 – L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track Ch. 7 stereo left, Ch. 8 stereo right / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track

Distribber operates on an upfront payment model. They either get your movie onto iTunes or they refund your money minus a servicing charge. You can find out more about the Distribber service here.

Step 3 – Promote Your Movie (Build a List)

Getting your movie on iTunes does not guarantee sales. And unless you take time to plan out a marketing and distribution strategy that makes sense for your movie, your odds of a marketing miracle happening are diminished. So the first step of marketing your movie involves defining your hook.

After that, do a Google search for blogs and websites that cater to your target audience. From there, your next step is reach out to 50 blogs and websites that cater to your target audience. Make an introduction. See if the website editors would be interested in reviewing your movie.

sell your movieNext Steps

The bottom line is, you shouldn’t wait for some sort of middle-man sales agent to give you permission to sell your movie on iTunes.  If you’d like more detailed info on how to market and sell your movie, check out my resource at How To Sell Your Movie.

 

How To Profit From Other Filmmaker’s Mailing List

Hollywood spends a gazillion dollars on movie marketing each year. But most independent filmmakers don’t have Hollywood marketing money to toss around. And if you’re like most filmmakers, by the time you read this article, odds are good that you spent all your money in production.

If you’ve ever attended one of my speaking events, you know how much I emphasize the importance of audience list building. Long before you even make your movie, you need to start thinking about your audience. You need to start thinking about the people who actually want to watch your movie. And you need to start thinking about how to source your audience.

The reason for this is simple – You can no longer base your movie business on selling a few thousand DVDs to retail outlets. The DVD market is dying. You need to source your movie audience.

How To Profit From Other Filmmaker’s Mailing List

In my Sell Your Movie system, I provide fundamental marketing strategies that you can employ in your movie making business. One such strategy involves marketing directly to your audience through the use of email. But what do you do if you only have a few people subscribed to your audience list?

One of the easiest ways to save money and market inexpensively is called a list swap. There are a few ways to execute this strategy which may help you spread word of mouth about your movie.

1. Utilize Another Filmmaker’s List

If you are ready to sell your movie, reach out to other filmmakers with a similar genre specific movies and find out if the filmmaker would be interested in promoting your title to his or her list. In exchange for doing this, the other filmmaker would then receive a percentage of any movie sales resulting from the email blast. It is important to remember that any filmmaker who values their list will not do a blind email blast. These filmmakers will want to screen your movie and make sure it is a fit for their audience.

In making your pitch to the list owner, you may want to provide them with a link to your movie website.

2. Advertise In Filmmaker’s Newsletter

In addition to getting a dedicated email blast, you may benefit from filmmakers who send frequent newsletters to their fans. With this strategy, you simply request the filmmaker reserves advertising space to promote your movie in their next newsletter. You could then opt to pay a percentage of the sales or simply pay an advertising fee.

This is a straight forward strategy. However, you may get less of a response due to less newsletter real estate dedicated to your movie.

3. Swap Movie Promotional Emails

Lets say you’ve done the work to build a sizable audience list. Then you go on the festival circuit and meet another cool filmmaker, marketing to a similar audience. Over a few beers you learn that he also has a sizable audience list. It is at this point you realize: You could promote each other! So a week later, you send an email to promote your friend’s movie. And at the same time, he sends out an email to promote your movie. This is win-win!

While a very easy strategy, cross promotion works best when you write your own movie promotional copy. Secondly, you will want to set up a targeted landing page set up to track and capture the influx of leads.

If you would like more professional filmmaking tips, you might want to research the filmmaking tools found here.

 

Modern Marketing For Filmmakers

Modern Marketing For Filmmakers

When it comes to marketing your movie, you need to become proficient at driving targeted traffic to your movie website. While old school filmmakers could rely on various video stores and retail outlets to sell their movies, these days the popular marketplaces are Amazon and iTunes.

Both of these markets are web based. And both are accessible through my partner distribber. But just because your movie gets into the market doesn’t mean people will find you. This means, you’ll have to drive traffic to your movie website. But before you start driving traffic, you must first figure out your filmmaker website strategy.

I suggest creating something my internet marketing friend, Fred Gleeck calls a conversion funnel. Basically it looks like this:

Filmmaker Conversion Funnel

This simple movie marketing model demonstrates that  not everybody who visits your  movie website will buy your movie. But by working to get more and more targeted prospects into the top of your funnel, you will increase your chances of making more sales at the bottom. Additionally, in the event a prospect tries to leave your movie website prematurely (abandon the funnel), you will ask these folks to “opt-in” to your audience list.

Once these prospects opt-in, they will get to know you and know more your movie. Utilizing this “lead capture” strategy, your odds of converting a prospect into customer increases.

 

Free Marketing Advice For Filmmakers

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Filmmakers need to source their target audience. Image via Wikipedia

Given the erosion of traditional movie distribution sales channels, as a filmmaker you must now find your target audience wherever they hang out and then get them to know you, know your work, and hopefully pay money to watch your movie.

In the past, filmmakers never had to worry about sourcing an audience because the entire movie industry operated like a big factory. Filmmakers made the product and the distributors sold the product through theatrical and DVD distribution. But as a result of the internet and enhancements to video on demand technology, distribution has been disrupted and the old model has been forever screwed up.

So now, if you want to succeed as a filmmaker, it is not enough to simply get you movie into iTunes. I mean, anybody can do that. What you also need to do is have a killer website, attract your target audience, and then get them to take action.

While it’s nice to believe that all website visitors will automatically buy your movie, the truth is, most visitors will not buy your movie on the first visit. For starters, they don’t know you. And they probably don’t know anything about your movie. So your job is not necessary to focus on the sale, but rather, focus on opting them into your audience list.

There are many ways to create an audience list. But unfortunately, most of the methods are crap. In my career, to save money, I have tried forgoing using a reputable email marketing company, and opted instead for one of the popular social networks. For awhile, this was awesome – even thought it took years, I had 8000 “friends” and one one of the sites… But then that site went out of vogue. As a result, my sourced audience was useless.

To avoid the same fate, I HIGHLY recommend that you use a reputable 3rd party email marketing company to manage your audience list. While there are some great companies out there, over the past three years, I have utilized a service called Aweber. This is a reputable email marketing company… [and yes, they DO pay me to promote – so conduct your own due-diligence.]

But the reason I promote this service over other services is this: Aweber adheres to Spam Laws and requires “double-opt-in.”  This means, after your visitor opts-in, they get an email asking if they’re sure they really want to hear from you.  And because of their business practices, Aweber is respected by email service provides – like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail- which helps avoid spam filters. Additionally, as part of the service, you are able to set up something called a sequential email auto-responder. An auto-responder allows you to pre-write and create multiple emails for your audience.

So let’s say you were trying to sell your Zombie movie. After the opt-in, your first email could tell your audience more about your movie. And over the following weeks, your subsequent emails could then provide more and more value to your prospective customer – the result of which compels your fan to BUY NOW.

Once your prospect makes a purchase, you could automatically migrate this person to your customer list. And once this fan is in your customer list, you could then promote another zombie movie (from another friendly filmmaker). And because you “sourced a zombie audience member,” the odds of getting a second sale are greater.

Most filmmakers don’t get excited about the wonders of sourcing an audience. But again, most filmmakers do not realize we are in a new era of independent filmmaking. The good news is for you is, with a website, some creativity and an email marketing mechanism, you can start sourcing your audience TODAY.

If you would like to find out more about email marketing and how this can help you with your own independent movie business, you can get some FREE information below:

“The Money Is In The List



AWeber proves it to thousands of businesses every day.

Learn how email marketing software
can get you more sales, too.

 

Happy Filmmaking!

Streaming Movies is OK If…

The other week I went on a minor rant about filmmakers hellbent on streaming movies from their movie website. And after some very thoughtful feedback, the truth is (as much as I hate admitting this) I realized I may have made an error.

In my article, I mentioned that most customers will feel more comfortable watching movies on established platforms, such as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and NetFlix. At the same time, I totally discounted filmmakers presently testing ways to stream from their sites. And as any great marketer knows, ALL marketing decisions (assuming they make financial sense) have to be tested.

What works with one movie, may not work with every movie.

With that said, a lot of filmmakers (who do not have website traffic) are being fed the idea that “content enablers” will magically source an audience. They will not. So if your website does not have a lot of visitors, before you worry about where to stream your movie, I suggest you work on increasing your traffic as well as building your audience list. Then later, when you reach mass, you can focus on directing folks into your sales funnel.

The other tip is this: DO NOT stream a movie from your own hosting company server. That is silly. Let someone else handle the bandwidth and content delivery issues. Here are two resources for selling your movie (both of which are affiliates and pay me to promote – so research each before you make any purchase):

Distribber. They help you get your movie onto iTunes and other popular marketplaces.

Again – while both of these companies provide great services for filmmakers, it is important that you remember the major, key aspect of the brave new world of modern moviemaking – Regardless of platform – YOU are responsible for sourcing your own audience. Don’t forget that!

To help you out, I have created a step-by-step guide called the independent producer’s guide to digital distribution. If you need help driving targeted traffic to your website and selling your movie through VOD marketplaces, the guide offers some tips.