When veteran filmmaker Larry Clark is embracing TinyPass, you know micropayments are set to go mainstream
From Dwolla, which now lets you send payments via Twitter, to Sweden’s Flattr, from which I earned a princely €1.50 last month before I even knew what it was, to other startups such as Knitd and bigger payment players such as Braintree and Stripe, the micropayments ecosystem is now gathering the momentum needed to provide a foundation for little bits of money to fly relatively freely between accounts and devices in exchange for content, gifts, or favors – or just out of pure goodwill.
TinyPass is another player in the space. The two-year-old New York-based startup sells itself by saying it takes the technology that sits behind the New York Times paywall and makes it available for everyone on the Web. Via TinyPass, content owners can accept payments at as low as 2 cents per transaction in as many as 24 different currencies.
Today, TinyPass has announced that director Larry Clark is using the service to sell his film “Marfa Girl” direct to fans solely through his personal website, larryclark.com. Perhaps taking his cue from comedian Louis CK, Clark, who is most well known for his 1995 film “Kids,” is skipping the middlemen in order to make his film available for $6. Unlike CK, however, Clark is offering only a digital “ticket” to the movie, which is good for just 24 hours. It is effectively a pay-per-stream deal. It won’t be released in theaters or on DVD.
As well as following in CK’s footsteps, and those of other comedians, including Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan, Clark is tapping into an emerging trend for micropayment-based models that have recently been made easier thanks to technology such as TinyPass. In October, for instance, we reported a story about a freelance journalist in New Zealand who, rather than solicit a publishing fee, asked for donations for a story he posted to a blog. While a magazine might have paid him about $500, the donations he earned via GiveALittle.co.nz brought him in about $5,000.
Also in October, Vimeo launched a tip jar, allowing viewers to pay whatever they want to filmmakers who choose to enable the feature. Vimeo will soon also launch a Tinypass-like pay-to-view feature.
Micropayments could also grow hand-in-hand with micropublishing, a trend that is moving beyond blogging and into self-produced digital magazines. One soon-to-be startup, The Periodical, will in the next few days launch a tool that lets individuals publish and monetize magazines across digital platforms with the same ease as starting a blog.
Larry Clark might be a bit behind Louis CK and friends, and making the movie available to rent rather than own shows he is still somewhat slave to traditional movie business models, but he is an example of the sort of guy, or business, that will soon make micropayments less a novelty and more a matter of course. Watch this space.