Gumroad, a startup that helps creators sell digital goods, now allows those creators to make items available for rent, too.
It seems like an obvious addition — I’m used to renting movies from iTunes, and the Gumroad system is pretty similar (although it’s a little more generous, time-wise). But a lot of the platform’s early wins were in music and e-books, so Gumroad communications lead K Tighe told me this reflects the company’s aim to work with more filmmakers.
As of today’s announcement, Gumroad says there are 28,000 products available for rent on Gumroad, including more than 2,000 feature films. It’s up to the creator whether they want to offer something for rent at all, and if they do, they get to set the price.
Meanwhile, from a consumer perspective, when something is rent-enabled, you’ll just be presented with two buttons, one for renting and one for buying. Once you make a rental, you’ll have 30 days to start viewing, and then 72 hours to finish once you’ve started. And you can either watch on the web or on Gumroad’s mobile apps.
One of the first filmmakers to use the rental feature was Desiree Akhavan, who released her Gravitas Ventures-distributed comedy Appropriate Behavior in theaters and on Gumroad on the same day earlier this year. In Gumroad’s press materials, Akhavan noted that selling and renting through the service helped her take advantage of the audience she’d built through her webseries The Slope.
“Using a site like Gumroad is like casting a voting ballot in support of filmmakers getting their work directly to the people who want to see it,” Akhavan said.
I asked Tighe whether rentals could be enabled for other types of Gumroad content, but she answered that the feature seems “very film-specific” — most consumers are less interested in, say, accessing music for a limited period of time. Plus, having a lower cost option is particularly important with movies, where the price point tends to be higher.