Why I started my own OTT platform, AK Online, for Independent Films ?

As an Independent Music Composer, I had to go to a lot of radio stations to showcase my song for playback. None of the radio stations even listen to indie music and they reject right away when approached or they don't reply. Unfortunately here, they need a video and a star cast to play an audio on the radio. Sounds absurd ! When did the ears get eyes ? This was the inspiration to make my first indie feature film Goko Mako, which transformed me from a music composer to an Indie Filmmaker.

Later when i approached the radio stations again after making a movie and the video songs, even with a reputed record label, like ZEE Music which bought my music outright at a good cost as they were unique, these radio stations wouldn't play my songs. Now they need star cast ! or Star Composers ? How does an audio heard on the radio via ears receive the star cast info ? - Sounds Absurd again.

That's when I realised that I need to start my own Internet radio to play my own songs and songs of other Indie Music Composers who face the same situation. The same issue with TV channels, no encourage for indie content. So I started my own Live TV Channel to play independent content. I also realised that even on Independence day none of them play independent content. As an Indie artist, I feel I do not have enough reasons to celebrate Independence Day till now. But no more worry ! Read on.

After making feature films also, without starcast nobody supports our content in any of the Cinema Theatres or OTT platforms to get space. No matter how good they are, here the players are least interested to view them. So Instead of cribbing, i went ahead and published my own official website with my own LIVE TV, Internet Radio, Magazine, and I also sold my movies tickets 3 months prior to release at zero rupees online booking convenience fee and proved to Cinema Theatres that I can bring in Box Office Numbers they expect and I eventually got the support and Prime Time Shows, and PVR group was such a great support in my Artistic Entrepreneurial Journey. They became multiplex partners for my indie film. First time a partnership with an indie film i guess. The same is with Zee Music ! They bought my songs outright at a good price because the songs were unique and my approach was genuine. This mostly never happens to debut music composers as 99% of Music sales in the country / globally does not exist for such composers except for a handful of few Top composers. Such is the condition of Indie Music in our country.

The OTT platforms are no Different from Cinema Theatres except for the size of the screen and sound quality. Most OTT platforms expect the same starcast and most of them don't even care for viewing the full movie before judging the content. I actually like some of the mainstream films myself. But what about other offbeat content and new upcoming talents and indie film makers? That's the topic here. Sometimes Netflix could be excused and exempted from this scenario as they give a slightly better thought process in professionally acquiring off beat innovative content when compared to other players. But I can't take that as a thumb rule and make content for Netflix.

Suddenly Hungama recognised my indie film out of the blue. But can it happen to all indie film makers... I doubt. As an entrepreneur, more of a Solopreneur , I would always have a thought process of creating a self-sustaining system. Even a mixie-Grinder seller acquires his customer database and when he launches a new model he sends notifications and offers. For decades, the cinema industry is running without a customer database, that is the reason why crores or money is being wasted in the name of promotions and this process is repeated for every single movie from ground zero. Filmmakers lack a customer database, which they do not realise is the biggest asset. Money saved is money earned. I wish to cut the publicity and promotions to almost zero. Usually upcoming film makers and newcomers will have to go through the revenue share model as no one buys their movies outright. But the filmmakers have to spend on promos and the platforms never even reciprocate, not even a single tweet. Eventually filmmakers realise that they only end up promoting only the Platform which plays their content and not their content. They become tired competing with the promotions of big players to reach the top position of the content library which they can never do. That is the reason the platforms have the library sorting based on no. of views and they do not give the users ability to sort it themselves by recently added movies under each categories / genres. If a user watches a movie which was sourced by the platform on revenue share, the platform has to start paying the content provider. Hence they have designed a system to make sure such movies are difficult to find. Its time to have our own platforms.

I gave a loud and clear voice through my awareness videos and a huge call for producers coming up with their own Pay and Watch Platforms, during the early 2020. These videos went viral among the mainstream filmmaker / producer community here. Some woke up and got into the action and built their own platforms which people witness in the mid 2020.

I created my own app named "AK Online" during mid 2019 with my live TV channel and Radio. It's been over a year and i was waiting for this Independence day to create a self-sustaining system for indie filmmakers and on 15th Aug 2020. This makes AK Online - an exclusive OTT platform for Indie content creators. A revolutionary one ! I strongly feel the features below of my app would kickstart a change in the current system and change the way the business happens for indie content. Oh, was there a business before ??? No worries. From now there is a source of revenue for the Indie. AK Online's uniqueness.

~ You have a unique offbeat content that cuts cliche, we support you !
~ Are you a new kid on the block with such content, we welcome you with a red carpet !
~ You decide your price for your movie and you decide the validity to watch your movie as well. You can run any offers you wish any time just like any other industry in this world.
~ We Promote all content equally. No Bias.
~ Initially as we are also a startup , we publish 1 Feature Film, 3 Short Films, 3 Music Videos, Few Trailers, on our app Every month and we would like to do justice to the content providers with our full effort to promote them.
~ We supply the content creator with information of the user who watched his/her movie. Let the filmmakers have their customer database. (Revolution). This is mentioned on the privacy policy and terms of use of the app as well.
~ Our payments are settled to the content creators every 24 to 48 hours unlike 3 months or threshold limits which other apps have.
~ The percentage sharing is 80% to the content provider after the taxes and generic fees. ~ It's a TVOD platform (Transaction based video on demand). The most genuine method of doing business which creates the habit of spending and watching among the public like a decade earlier. Do you remember (people paid for a CD for a particular movie a few years ago). Most were pirated but still people had the habit to pay for each individual content. Let's bring that habit back. The SVOD (The Subscription Video on Demand) and AVOD (Ad driven Video on Demand) are good for people but dangerous to film makers and future of Art. (A separate essay can be given to justify this).
~ All language content is welcome. (Thanks to subtitles) Not a great concept from my view - but good enough to communicate to the global audience.
~ We do not have Psycho Killer / Horror Genres at all. Pl. excuse us. We feel it is an overload of unnecessary info for the soft organ called Brain. We wish to be a platform for welcoming positive content consumption. That does not mean we won't source movies with villains ! So don't take this comment literally on this guys. Ok. Take it literally, i am not bothered.
~ We do not host content with too much negativity, too much smoking / drinking / drug usage praising.
~ Guess what, Music Videos also can be sold here, and the content providers can give a longer validity to watch it repeatedly if they wish.
~ We plan to produce Original Documentaries in the near future. We welcome such content as well.
~ We are even planning a section called "ShowReel" - Artists can showcase their talents / Portfolios and they can even sell them if they wish. ~ Every video be it a minute long or few hours, it is still a product and it needs a platform to be sold. If content comes our way which meets our policy (good policies we believe) , we are open to create more categories.
~ We do not judge your story content - We see only the making quality and presentation quality that meets the minimum standards of current playback. We do not wish to be the judge of any story because WE or NO ONE is capable of judging another person's imagination, because a movie is a filmmaker's imagination and not the user's imagination. So we request users to come to watch the maker's take. Let us get that straight. We believe movies need not move fast. They are not mumbai electric trains or airforce planes. Every movie has its pace and we respect it.
~ A Movie is made for leisure. I always say "If you are a busy person, pl. take care of your busy work and come back when you are at leisure, that's when you are a true prospective film audience.
~ Our interface is simple / user loving with powerful technology and ideas built beneath it.
~ It is based on a points system. Load your account with points as you wish. 1 Point is 1 Rupee. Movies are priced from Rs.5 points and above. We give price recommendations to our content creators from our public survey and its only a guidance to price fixations and not compulsory.
~ We load a few points upfront for new users signing up to give them a feel of the app and let them experience it.
~ In the next few months, we have scheduled to introduce a Kids section for positive artistic entertainment and we have already started sourcing good content for this category.
~ We shall not host mainstream Cinema / Content that has been already recognised by the mainstream Televisions / Platforms. We make sure that every cake is not eaten by the same cat !
~ If we think you have made a Cliche content (Example : Half the movie is a Hero removing the Sunglasses and wearing it again) - Sorry there are other apps ! Better luck there ! Maybe removing the sunglasses is allowed Once per movie on our platform.. LOL !
~ Our Live TV channel which is a part of the OTT app, will promote the Trailers and the FilmMakers who are a part of our community for Free. So there is always some entertainment for users without the need to take their wallet. Our TV channel is 24x7 with interesting content.
~ We do not acquire any rights of the intellectual property of the content creator. All we ask is the playback rights and the same can be revoked with a simple email and the movie can be removed within 48 hours so that new purchases can be kept on hold as per the filmmakers wish. So we don't stop your great business prospects elsewhere. We are totally Non-Exclusive and we do not have Agreements that cannot be easily read or understood. It's just a 2 page informative straight forward deal.
~ There is a facility to Premier your content world over by taking advanced booking as well on the app.
~ If your content is already released elsewhere like Youtube and you feel there is more scope to reach your content and monetize the same, do not worry, you have not missed our bus. Come over, let us try to make more people watch. As long as there is someone who is yet to watch you film, your film is a new film. So that makes every film a new film and a life long asset as the untapped population is always the extreme majority. So do not worry.
~ The user's email ID is watermarked on the player and it scrolls like a marquee. But it does not disturb the viewing experience as it's too tiny to notice. We cannot assure you that your content will be protected from piracy, but we are confident of exposing the culprit and we can take actions. We can even track users with fake email id because he/she can only use an original payment method. Moreover, users who watch piracy content are never genuine customers who pay and watch. So there is a good enough population where we can still market our products. So do not worry. How are we able to do all this ? Will these be profitable ? I do not worry! We do not see our scoreboards ! We focus on the Game ! The scoreboard should increase eventually !

What if a user does not like a movie ? Try another one ! Don't like any movies we host ? Try another app or attend meditation classes and come back to our app, you may like it ! LOL ! Just Kidding.

We believe, Life is to experiment & experience ! We believe Enjoying our work is called "SUCCESS" ! Regards, Arunkanth

My Work :
~ 1st Indie Feature "Goko Mako" released in cinemas on 14th Feb 2019
~ 2nd Indie Feature "Indha Nilai Maarum" released in cinemas on 6th March 2020
~ My 3rd Indie Feature is a Bi-Lingual (English & Tamil|) titled "Operation JuJuPi" starring Chaams - A Political Fantasy on a Documentary Fictiion.