Vodo is a free peer-to-peer social media network that allows its users to download and watch films, music and books by independent artists 100% legally and at no cost.
In addition Vodo provides independent filmmakers, musicians and authors with a platform to publish their work and potentially get both exposure and a compensation.
Peer-to-peer networks have been around for a while.
The basic concept is that many computers are connected to a central server system that manages connections between two or more individual computers, so that users can share and essentially distribute files at higher speeds than would be available otherwise.
Originally, one of the biggest draws of p2p networks was the level of anonymity they offered users, to share and exchange data without being ‘seen’ to do so on any obvious global grid. With that anonymity, of course, came a huge flood of pirate activity.
No, not the kind of pirates that say “Arrr”, have peg legs and are constantly at war with Ninjas and their memes, but the kind of pirates that steal the works of artists and either sell them illegally as ‘bootlegs’ or just distribute them freely, thereby reducing the income of the artists and other involved parties who helped create the movies, music, books, etc. To many, this was known as the golden age of piracy, but it was fairly short-lived in any grand time sense. Over time, the networks that had the most pirate activity were either shut down or became monitored and so heavily mainstream that most pirates began to avoid them like the plague.
Then came bit torrents. I won’t go into a huge history here, but torrents became the modern standard for peer to peer transfers, simply because they draw data from a high number of multiple sources at one time, thereby offering even higher transfer speeds than before. Torrents have also been notoriously abused by pirates, but sites like Vodo are becoming much more popular recently. Vodo offers a free and legal way to enjoy media like movies and music, with the advantage of peer to peer transfers. This fact alone makes Vodo something of a pioneer in the realm of social media networks, ever since its beginning in 2009. Vodo dos have tons of other things to recommend it, however, to the average freeware genius.
The basic way that VODO operates is this: Every month, they release a new movie that is free to distribute (not sell!) through their online partners. That means that every month they have one new film on offer as well as the ones they have added in previous months. Since they began in 2009 they have seen a growth of audiences for these free movies from somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter million people to almost a million. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the relatively brief time they have been around. In order to accomplish distribution and promotion of these films, they work with partners like uTorrent, Vuze, and BitTorrent. This means they have a potential audience of millions upon millions of viewers, and if history is any indication, that many potential viewers leads to successful promotion, if not distribution of any media form.
Now, bearing in mind that Vodo offers all this for free, they do allow people to make ‘donations’ and become ‘sponsors’ of the works on their network, in exchange for things like a credit mention in a film or exclusive downloadable soundtracks. These donations are just that, however, and are not in any way mandatory. I have spoken many times about how I feel that donations for intellectual works is, in my opinion, the way of the future for media, as opposed to the way it has been for so long: Corporate sponsorship through product placement, as well as individual supporters that get a percentage. Additionally, the distribution of these works through social media networking as opposed to stationary limited venues like movie theaters or video stores means that the overall costs are lower for the people creating the works. That, in turn, leads to a higher percentage of the donations going to the actual creators of the work, instead of being spread out to multiple people who are little more than middle men. In essence, Vodo could be thought of as an outlet store for independent media works. Vodo itself reports that this has allowed the creators of some of these works to get close to the same amount of compensation for their work as some of the corporately sponsored network creators get. In the neighborhood of 25 to 30 thousand dollars in some cases, that’s not pocket change to most of us. Bear in mind that this compensation was received through voluntary sponsorship of their creations, not by ‘selling’ their work in the traditional sense.
What excites me about Vodo and other sites like this that don’t charge any mandatory fees, but they do accept donations, is that I believe it will lead to a wider dissemination of independent media, which has always proven to be a boon to the world of Arts. For example, Vodo works with more and more creators every day, as more of them are beginning to see the viability of Vodo for distributing their works. That means there will be more and more creators coming to this type of venue to share their work for free. Those who want to support them with donations (and are able to do so) get to, and those who do not want to or are not able to fork out their hard earned cash are still able to enjoy the movies, books or music.
One friend of mine likened Vodo to a global street corner for artists. Imagine a man playing guitar in front of a subway station, with his case open, taking whatever donations of change or small bills people decide to drop into his case, in appreciation for his work. While this sort of humble work might seem less than star-like to some, bear in mind that many of the greatest artists ever have started out this way. Now, the amount of money an artist can make performing on the corner like that depends largely on the amount of people that pass by and hear the music playing. Of course, only a percentage of those people give a donation, but that still means that the larger the overall audience base, the larger that end percentage of givers. So, imagine a street corner where everyone in the world passes by on a daily basis, and you’re getting an idea of how huge sites like Vodo are to an artist that is trying to get his or her work out there to the public.
Also, as a final point, I want to mention that having a system like this of sponsorship and donations from people who enjoy the works means that the actual audience decides what they like and what is good. That’s as opposed to the record companies or the movie companies telling us who the next big star is. With systems like Vodo, we not only decide who the next big star is, we are the stars, ourselves.
Vodo has a lot to offer the media world, so go check it out and form your own opinion. As for me, I have some free movies to watch. Until next time, my friends!
Check out Vodo here.