Vimeo’s New Features Aim to Put Money in Your Pocket

In case you hadn’t noticed, nearly every video we share on Motionographer is hosted on Vimeo. A lot of the work we show is created by individuals and small teams working without funding on passion projects and short films in their spare time.

Other than love from the community and a possible job offer or two, these valiant content creators have never expected any remuneration for their blood, sweat and tears.

Vimeo wants to change that.

Today, Vimeo is announcing two features that, they hope, will allow filmmakers to get financial reward for their work. The first feature, launching today, is Tip Jar.

What is Tip Jar?

Tip Jar allows viewers to quickly tip the creator of any video, provider the creator has a Vimeo Plus account. It’s available today. Just go to the Advanced Settings for any of your videos and activate Tip Jar.

To keep the service afloat, Vimeo will take 15% of tips.

Pay-to-view service

The other feature Vimeo is announcing today is also focused on monetization — or “crowdfunding,” as Vimeo likes to say.

Over the next few months, Vimeo will roll out a pay-to-view service for Vimeo Pro members that will give creators customizable options to sell their films and video content directly to their audiences and provide control over pricing, rental duration distribution location and other settings.

So what?

There are several existing video sharing services that provide monetization options, including revenue sharing and tip jar-like options, but the key difference between all the other players in the space and Vimeo is Vimeo’s massive community.

In addition to being a video hosting platform, Vimeo is a vibrant social network. With hundreds of thousands of Plus and Pro members and millions of active users, Vimeo itself is a distribution platform. With Tip Jar and the forthcoming pay-to-view service, the company is simply embracing this fact.

 “Creators have asked us for quite some time to help them monetize their work, but we think it needed an approach that put the controls back into the hands of the creators themselves,” said Dae Mellencamp, President of Vimeo.

Kickstarter, on its head?

Unlike Kickstarter, Tip Jar allows viewers to contribute money after a film has already been made. I’m always hesitant to fund animation projects on Kickstarter, especially those proposed by younger filmmakers, because there are so many things that can go wrong during production, derailing a project completely.

Vimeo is proposing an alternative that’s based in reality: The film is done. If you like it, toss the creator a buck. If not, move on.

Worst case scenario

Of course, this is all experimental. At the very worst, these services simply won’t catch on, and Vimeo will continue marching on as before.

I’m reminded of a famous social experiment for which world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell posed as a busker in a Washington DC subway station. He performed six classical pieces for over a 1,000 passersby.

His take home pay? About $32.

Best case scenario

The optimist in me sees great potential for these new monetization systems, though. With the pay-to-view service, Vimeo could potentially take on existing video-on-demand services and cut out the complex channels of network distribution. The main challenge will be marketing the content.

The hope is that Vimeo can do for video what Amazon has done for ebooks. Amazon recently revealed that 27 of its top 100 Kindle books were self-published. That success is based largely on the omnipresence of the Kindle reader — a ubiquity that Vimeo hopes to achieve by being on all devices everywhere.

I asked Vimeo if they would be forming partnerships with larger distributors in order to kick-start the effort. They’re strategy is more in line with their grassroots past. Let the community of filmmakers create a movement. If other deals come later, fine — but that won’t be the initial focus.

What’s your take?

Since many of you are Vimeo Plus members already, I’m curious what you think about Vimeo’s new developments. Are they going to change the way you share your work?

Let me know in the comments. (I’m genuinely curious about this, so please be thoughtful.)


About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.


Andre Ferezini

Very interesting initiative. I believe this is the beginning of something…
Let’s see how Vimeo users embrace that.

Daniel Savage (@somethingsavage)

I think this is great, especially the pay per view. For one example: I am always hesitant to buy short films on iTunes, I would rather have streaming access to it. Plus the 15% fee is much better for the film maker.


I like it. Louis CK proved that people will pay en-masse on their own accord for something they like. I think this will be a test of the broad appeal of the theory though. NPR any any donor supported broadcaster already use a variant of this model as well: If you like it, support it – on the honor system.

This flies in the face of piracy and calls BS on people’s “right” to consume free of charge. Sure, you can take and watch something for free but do you respect the artist’s work enough to support the work and their future endeavors?

I’m an optimist. I think this will see some success, but only the upper 1%-5% of content will benefit in a substantial way.

Worried Freelancer

When most projects have more than one author or owner, who do you tip? The production company, the agency, the director, the designer(s), the animators? The famous rock star designers, even though they may not be the director or the main player? This could cause a lot of problems for freelancers and employees alike.

Justin Cone (@justincone)

Vimeo might find themselves in the awkward position of policing an awful lot of content.

For instance, it’s often not legal to receive tips on work owned by other people (commercials, music videos, etc.). Are they going to attempt to crack down on infringing users?

And in cases where teams worked on projects, can each person receive tips on their hosted version of the project?

Worried Freelancer

It seems these days (in the locale where I work, at least) that every dude and their dog uploads a version of the final piece for their reel. I’ve seen Vimeo and Behance pages belonging to producers, for pete’s sake. Producers! I’ve seen amazing pieces go up on a Sound Design company’s Vimeo account before the Director or the VFX house got it on theirs. So who does get the tips? The first to upload it, hoping that their version makes Staff Pick before someone else? Junior designer getting more clicks and tips than the director? Bad move, junior! (not that we need Directors claiming any more than they already do)

Perhaps a better way of doing this would be to “admire” (ie, tip) a person, not a particular video. If you could only tip on a user’s profile page, there’s no way to tell which Video you’re tipping them for – hence no legal dramas. You may have seen the latest great work from Psyop on the Art Director’s page, but you go to the user’s profile and tip them there. And pay-per-view could still function as normal.
Still doesn’t solve the problem of diluted credit / clicks / views though. Until Vimeo accounts can co-own a project like on Behance it’s difficult to get proper credit sometimes.

Daniel Savage (@somethingsavage)

“You cannot accept tips on commercial or political videos, nor can you use Tip Jar to solicit or accept donations for a political cause or payment for goods or services.”

Justin Cone

Well, there you go! Thanks, Daniel. Hopefully, they’ll be able to enforce that rule.


sorry to dissapoint you, but most users are not retards and may be able to judge whom to tip and whom not – and we are speaking of vimeo here, not youtube – the bunch of wannabees on vimeo won`t tip anyone anyways and to the rest of the crowd my above assumption may fit to.

Caroline Bottomley

I don’t suppose labels will be at all happy for directors to take tips on music videos – or at least they won’t be if eg the video is selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. Though I expect it’ll take a while for labels to catch on.


I think it would work best for short movies or stuff like that. Maybe this way:
this videos have trailers on vimeo, whant to see the full movie? pay $2 or $5 and you can watch the full movie…
this way MAYBE it will work… naturally this could be one more option


So you have to pay 10$ a month + 15% of your tips to Vimeo? I´m sorry but it seems rather expensive for “individuals and small teams working without funding on passion projects and short films in their spare time”. If anything I fear this will only benefit those who already gained some massive success and probably don´t really need those tips.

Justin Cone (@justincone)

I understand the spirit of your comment, but your logic is a bit off. You’re only paying 15% of the money you earn. Putting it another way, you’re gaining an extra 85% in tips. It’s not costing you in the same sense that your monthly membership costs you.

(And, if you buy the annual plan for $60, Vimeo Plus is only $5 a month. It’s silly to go month to month for a service that’s primary value is long-term.)


That is, assuming you actually earn any money. You are paying 5$ a month for the possibility of earning something. Will you make back your 60$ after a year? It´s quite a gamble. Why would you do this if you can simply link to your website pointing to a paypal “donate” button?

Brian Barber

I think many will continue to pay the $60 a year not for the tips, but for the added features and embedding options. I know I do, and the features are definitely worth the cost to me. The tips would just be an added benefit. Also Vimeo has (so far) cultivated a collaborative and supportive community. If there’s a service where this could work, I think it’s Vimeo.

Justin Cone

“Why would you do this if you can simply link to your website pointing to a paypal “donate” button?”

Good point!

Jesse Bray

I’m glad to hear Vimeo is adding to the perks for those with Plus and Pro accounts looks like it’s giving me more reason to just make it part of my budget. Also I’m so glad they aren’t doing that obnoxious ad crap you see on YouTube! Seriously every time I post something on YouTube I feel like need to apologize for the lameness.


So, you pay for your premium account, and then ON TOP OF THAT, Vimeo takes a cut of your tips… Somethings wrong with that.

pcajero (@pcajero1)

You need to pay for a Plus account, and then they take a cut of your tips? Can’t say I’ll be signing up any time soon.

Elliot Blanchard

I think this is great. I’ll definitely be using it.

James Griggs

Does the tip jar work on mobile?


awesome… What was it? connecting your twitter account to your credit card?
“The more you interact with the community by liking and commenting on their videos, the more inclined they’ll be to return the favor.”
social-media activity = tipjar money?

and what is a “Vimeo PRO member in good standing?”


The only complain on my side (being a Plus user) is that personally I find Vimeo streaming service quite poor. Sadly, I’m used to get the “Sorry, there has been an error” message every day from Vimeo, even from different connections (when I rarely have had playback errors form YouTube). That is bearable if I’m watching a video for free, but assuming I’m paying to see a video, getting the same error message again and again would be quite upsetting.

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