Constantin Bjerke about online video culture
Right back from the Art Basel Miami Beach
Is there a new definition of publishing? For Constantin Bjerke it’s definitely video based: He is the founder of Crane.tv, an online video magazine for contemporary culture. Providing digital entertainment, an authoritative editorial team selects inspiring developments of urban lifestyle, young talents and provocative thinkers for culturally curious, global citizens. 2010lab.tv meets him at the Arts Club in Mayfair, a thriving social hot-spot for those in the creative and design industry.
When I had the idea – not really. Now there are a few other websites, but we’re entirely unique in our dedication to purely creating video. I don’t think there is another publication on the web with 100% video content, curated and created by the site itself, with a distinct editorial voice and opinion.
Where did the idea for an online video magazine come from?
The idea came in 2008, very much from a personal desire. I was always frustrated with paper magazines, because they are never really up-to-date. I travel a lot and wanted to get off the plane in New York, just take my iPhone and watch some really current and contemporary videos. Ideally, they’re recommended for me to be relevant to my interests. I wanted them to give a unique experience. For me it’s a step further towards democratising culture.
Democracy needs participation.
Providing access is what makes Crane.tv successful. The level of creativity is the important thing – for us it is much more important to get the content right than to hype the content, or to make it expensive or exclusive. Crane.tv is free and accessible to anyone anywhere.
We receive half a million visitors per month to our website and our mobile application has reached 240 000 downloads, and counting. And bear in mind Crane.tv launched only a year ago: we don’t advertise and participate in very little marketing. It’s important to us to have the right first million people for an organic growth. With some little tricks it would be easy to get a higher number of users, but we want people who believe in the same things we believe in.
Who creates the content of Crane.tv?
There is an international team of 20 people, including our in-house editorial and production teams creating the content, and the marketing & business side who go out and try to make some money!
How do they do that?
We have a business-to-business proposition, where we work with global premium brands including American Express, Ralph Lauren, Swarowski, Adidas and BMW to tell their stories in videos and engage their desired audiences. It’s about video storytelling.
What’s the interest of the brands?
It’s the combination of creating something that is of lasting value to them and a shared belief that we want to make culture more accessible – and it has global relevance in a time where the internet is breaking down regional and national borders.
We have three revenue streams: branded content production, sponsorship of our website and selling licenses to use our content to third parties. We are always delighted to see how globally relevant and desirable good cultural content is. Recently we sold a video licence to use a video of the graphic artist Rob Ryan to a department store in Japan for an exhibition. And the commerce piece is something that is going to happen in the future via the hotspot technology that makes some of our videos interactive
Do you focus on urban topics?
We are slightly more focussed on cities and people with a shared mind set than countries – although we receive visitors from 150 countries. The interesting thing is that, on our website, most of the traffic is from US, the UK and Europe, on the mobile platform it’s mostly emerging markets – our top download country is India. Although editorially it’s about cool and creative topics, no matter where they are.
The trends clearly point in the digital direction. We’ll see a consolidation of the print market – I think print needs to re-think its value proposition, and what exactly it is offering and how it's different and innovative. Delivering news is not where they’re strong anymore. The news now come from the Internet: Twitter, for example, delivers it fast and direct in bite-size chunks. Quality video is the future of storytelling albeit with more personalisation and localisation but regardless of the medium - a screen is a screen is a screen.
What are the next big things?
We have an exhibition in January at the Front Room at St Martin’s Lane Hotel, where Crane.tv will be showcasing its voice and curating our favourite artists and designers including Terence Conran and Kate MccGwire.
At the end a few words that sum up London?
It’s inspirational, home, cosmopolitan, diverse and personal at the same time. It’s not as intimidating as New York can sometimes be because you still have this very personal Britishness – the bus driver or cab driver who says "Morning love."