Will Zivity Become the HBO of the Internet? Cyan Banister, Zivity (+ invites here)

8 juillet 2008

The ad-based revenue-sharing distribution model of most social networking sites comes with a few restrictions for online content producers: even tens of thousands of views or visits do not generate a decent revenue, and since advertisers rule the casa, they refuse to see their ads appear next to explicit content. The free distribution model has its limits – low pay and censorship – which consequently pushes producers of explicit content to look for alternatives.

Zivity, a royalties-distributed social platform, is stepping in the online content distribution arena to tackle this frustrating situation. The company was founded by successful tech entrepreneur Scott Banister, Cyan Banister and Jeffrey Wescott. Officially launched during the 2007 Techrunch 40, Zivity got a buzz at a very early stage because of the pre-launch funding it received, and mostly because the site showcases artistic nude female pictures.

zivity

Right now, Zivity is a platform for models and photographers to create and monetize photosets through the royalties-distributed platform. Zivity is entirely ad-free, and content producers earn money every time a user likes a set and votes for it. The site’s philosophy is that users will pay for quality content they cannot find anywhere else on the Web. On Zivity, users buy votes (1$ a vote), and wander around the site voting for the stuff they dig. Voting on Zivity resembles following on Twitter: Once a user votes for a model+photographer, he automatically subscribes to the artists’ activity updates that will appear in his Zivity newsfeed. This way, voting becomes a way to create a tie between the artists and their fan base.

Cyan Banister is the Editor-in-Chief at Zivity and in charge of the company’s global strategy. As she explains in the video, Zivity’s beta evolves around glamour female photography, for the simple reason that there is a high demand online for this type of media. In the long-run, Zivity thrives to become a premier destination site for multimedia producers frustrated by the traditional free distribution sites. However, things are not all that loose on Zivity. As the Editor-in-Chief, Cyan controls the content submitted to the site and makes sure that the photos are in sync with Zivity’s vision: Glamour, Pinup, focused on the woman. Photos must show skin, not sexual intercourse.

So far, Zivity is still in private beta: Efforts are directed towards developing a vibrant community of photography lovers. Investments are positive, the executive team is seriously building up, so there is no pressure to launch the public site prematurely. However, for those who want to see what Zivity is all about, I have a few invites to distribute: just send an email to interview@hyveup.com with your email address and I will get you in.

As a user of the private beta, there are two things I really liked about with Zivity. The first thing is the distribution model and how the social voting feature is also the artists’ revenue stream. That’s a really creative way to make paying for content more psychologically acceptable (CTO Jordan Ritter, also Co-Founder of Napster, got us used to free stuff, so making the shift is hard). The second thing is the look&feel of Zivity: intimate and playful, very similar to the experience of a French cabaret. So far, my favorite photographer on Zivity is Addictedimage for the photoset Geisha, and my favorite model is Jetta for the photoset Playful.

Learn more about Zivity:
Zivity – A Social Network Promoting Beauty 2.0! – Describes the rev share model of Zivity
Shel Israel Has A Naked Conversation With Zivity CEO – Video interview with Cyan Banister
Zivity publishes my first set – Blog of enthusiast model on Zivity
Site Review Zivity – TechWag’s review focused on the benefits for models and photographers