Iceland-based Oz set to launch, aiming to give YouTube a chill

Oz is a new paid subscription service offering videos around premium content

The Icelandic band GusGus will offer a channel on Oz.

The Icelandic band GusGus will offer a channel on Oz.

Would you pay to watch your favorite band go on a road trip? Or shell out five dollars for a short film series, with a new installment each week?

Oz will host that content, and charge you for it. The company will launch on Thursday a new video platform to let up-and-coming artists, small businesses and even journalists publish videos online, gather metrics about their performance, and charge viewers to watch. The Iceland-based company wants to help those sorts of people make money -- ideally earn a living -- from their work at a time when practically anything can be gotten online for free. Oz videos will be accessible on the Web as well as on iOS and Android.

Premium or exclusive content will be the focus. So instead of album tracks from a band, you might get live outtakes, or exclusive interviews from the studio, or footage from a road trip.

Many of today's free, ad-supported services -- like YouTube or Spotify -- operate like a buffet, whereby users can freely pick what they want, but nothing is one-of-a-kind, said Gudjon Mar Gudjonsson, Oz's founder and CEO.

Oz, he said, is like a boutique restaurant.

He might be right. Oz's site looks polished, like a classier version of YouTube. With roughly 30 employees at launch, Oz is more than 10 years in the making; the first prototype of Oz's service was developed in 2004. And Gudjonsson is no stranger to the tech industry, having played key roles in the development of European telecommunications companies like Magnet Networks and Industria.

The questions is whether Oz can attract enough viewers for its video producers to make good money.

The site will let artists and businesses create custom channels for showcasing their videos, and set their own monthly fee for viewers to access the content. The minimum charge will be $1.99 per month, though Oz is recommending most channel creators charge around $5 per month. Oz videos can be created and accessed globally, and will support payments in 120 different currencies. The company takes a 30 percent cut of producers' revenue.

For video producers who can build a following, the payout seems enticing. By charging $5 monthly, 1,000 monthly subscribers could generate $42,000 in gross annual revenue for a channel creator, Oz says.

Oz is likely to face big challenges attracting viewers, as other online services look to provide their own exclusive entertainment content. Tidal, Jay Z's new paid music streaming service, is placing an emphasis on exclusive content, as well as its "artist-owned" status. Apple, meanwhile, is reportedly angling for rights to exclusive content for its planned Beats service.

YouTube itself is also developing its own paid subscription offering.

But Oz is not just about music. Journalists can use it to fund ongoing projects, as can teachers who want to deliver lessons online, Gudjonsson said. Fuel TV, the action sports network, will operate a channel.

It's basically for any person or group who wants to make money from digital videos online, Gudjonsson said.

Troy Wenham, an independent artist from Wales, said he has begun developing animated short films that he might publish through Oz. He said he might publish content on Oz, but if it doesn't perform well, put it on YouTube.

For now, musicians are a focus of Oz's outreach efforts. Icelandic bands like Samaris, Retro Stefson and GusGus will create channels on Oz. Gudjonsoon declined to comment on whether Bjork or Sigur Ros, two Iceland bands popular overseas, would create channels.

Creators can embed their channels onto their own websites, so viewers do not necessarily have to visit Oz's site to access the videos.

Oz videos will also include a tool to create "Moments" -- short clips that can be shared and watched for free on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Oz hopes to make its videos more discoverable this way.

The company is holding a launch party on Thursday in Los Angeles, where it is in the early stages of planning another office.

Because, while Oz's headquarters will remain in Reykjavik, Iceland, "the home of creators in the physical world," Gudjonsson said, "is Los Angeles."

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags social mediainternetsocial networkingvideoyoutubeconsumer electronicsInternet-based applications and servicesOz

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?