This week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Robert Binning and James Baggett, founders of StreamSpace LLC, a young company using blockchain technology to create a novel video streaming service for independent filmmakers.
Disclosure: This is a Sponsored Press Release
Q: Why did you choose to start StreamSpace?
A: We have been passionate about blockchain for about 4 years, since we first tried to do something different with our gaming laptops and discovered an opportunity to mine bitcoins. We wanted to solve real a world problem, not just try to reinvent finance away from the traditional banking system. We spent over a year exploring different potential applications and settled on one that is strongly associated with Austin, Texas, the Live Music Capital of the World and home of SXSW – blockchain distribution of entertainment media content.
Q: Why focus initially on film instead of music or other media content?
A: The music industry is incredibly fragmented with dozens of genres and many sub-genres underneath each one, and while there are dominant studios and distributors that rule the roost in both industries, independent musicians can and do make a living as independents – performing, self-producing and publishing, and promoting their brands and products through social media and content channels that can host hundreds of thousands of songs or sell venue tickets. But the movie industry is different. Thousands of movies are launched each year, but only a few get promoted and watched outside of film festivals. It seems that the only movies you can reliably find are superhero adventure series films and projects from a handful of bankable directors and producers like Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, or the Coen Brothers. The independent filmmaker is stranded with no opportunity to capitalize on his creative vision.
Q: What do filmmakers need that they can’t do themselves or get from the big studios?
A: Filmmakers often go deep into debt to complete their projects, so any financial assistance is always greatly appreciated, and crowdfunding is one technique that has been proven viable for small-to-midscale projects, under $1 million. But most of all, independent filmmakers need to connect with an audience that is looking for unique stories and entertainment. And the top studios seldom have appetite for more than a handful of small projects. We feel there is a huge untapped opportunity to connect thousands of filmmakers with millions of film lovers that can’t get to the film festivals every year or don’t want to wait a year for the next festival.
Q: What are the advantages that blockchain technology brings to this application?
A: The three great advantages are content anti-piracy security through a decentralized storage system, a transparent payment system made possible by the blockchain ledger, and the business process advantage of being able to set and control pricing, rather than just getting a fraction based on film popularity.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
A: Like any startup, the greatest challenge is attracting the right talent capable of juggling all of the tasks that need to be completed and working as a cohesive team. We have our eye on our first business goal – being able to deliver a working platform with a business case that will attract filmmakers to sign on. Immediately after we have content to offer, we need to meet our second goal – being able to reach thousands and then tens of thousands of film lovers that are willing to work with us to find great entertainment, so we can fulfill our promise to our filmmaker partners.
Q: With all of the changing regulations happening around the globe – ICO bans in China and Korea, tough regulatory oversight in US, Singapore, UK, and other jurisdictions – how are you protecting your company and your investors as you prepare for your ICO?
A: We elected to work closely with senior counsel from Debevoise & Plimpton and White & Case, two law firms with extensive fintech and blockchain industry experience. They helped guide a number of similar US projects through Initial Token Sales or ICOs, and we feel confident that we are protecting potential buyers through our offering registration process.
Q: How do you differentiate StreamSpace from the major companies that distribute streaming video on demand content today: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Google YouTube, Apple iTunes, IBM Ustream, etc.? What can a small company do that these giants cannot?
A: Most of these large companies are pursuing a model of working hand-in-hand with the major studios to deliver the kind of content that people would have gone out to their local Blockbuster ten or twenty years ago – current or last year’s movie hits and top television series. Amazon and Netflix have taken an extra step and are funding unique movies and series just for their own services, in order to differentiate from each other and from the studio-linked streaming content aggregators. While all of these streaming giants pay lip service to indie films, they see this as a limited audience genre, like foreign films or documentaries, so independent films account for less than 2-5% of their limited catalogs. But there are more than 10,000 movies released every year, so there is a huge amount of entertainment media that they are missing.
Q: What is the biggest opportunity for this industry?
A: Amazon grew from nothing to the world’s largest bookseller by recognizing that people wanted more than just the NY Times bestseller list. They wanted access to a million-title catalog of published books. The movie industry today is at the same point that books were at in the 1990s, where people want more than just the latest Academy Award winners or billion-dollar blockbusters. Today’s filmmakers have so much to offer with powerful stories and bold, new styles. And technological innovation has made it possible for filmmakers to create and produce long form content at a tiny fraction of the price that it took 10 or 25 years ago. Today’s GoPro YouTube sensation is tomorrow’s visionary filmmaker.
Q: What advice have you received that has guided your leadership style?
A: The Boy Scouts accept everybody that applies to join the association, and no new Scout comes in with experience, just a positive attitude. The Boy Scouts give young men opportunities to develop themselves by putting them into roles of responsibility long before they have proven themselves, and the teenage leaders help the youth to develop into capable leaders and experts across a wide range of interests. We are consciously looking to grow leaders who will take StreamSpace from today’s small, hands-on team to tomorrow’s industry leader. The blockchain industry is very young – no one has more than five years experience. We want people to be unafraid to write the new rules for the industry and make something happen that has never been done before. That takes people with a can-do spirit, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that we all retain that positive attitude.
We hope that readers will view StreamSpace as the same exciting new business opportunity that we see every day when we come into the office or hold company-wide conference calls. We truly believe we are on the verge of an exciting disruption to the conventional wisdom about the relationship between filmmakers, distributors, and the fans that are passionate about great film stories. Check us out at www.stream.space and register to join our ICO or sign up to stay abreast of our progress as we develop and launch our innovative SVOD service. We want to hear your ideas on this topic: Write us at [email protected]. Thank you all.
This is a sponsored press release and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views held by any employees of The Merkle. This is not investment, trading, or gambling advice. Always conduct your own independent research.