Thunderflix is the perfect value streaming service for metalheads
Here’s the story behind Samuel Douek’s new heavy-metal streaming service — and its smart price.
Get your devil horns up, we’ve got the perfect new streaming service for metalheads. For as little as $6.66 a month, Thunderflix is perfectexpensive new streaming service.
The brainchild of Samuel Douek, founder and director of the Hola Mexico Film Festival, a former film distributor, Thunderflix it’s available from pretty much anywhere (though not in Russia, Douek tells IndieWire that he blocked them because of the Ukrainian invasion) from any mobile device or TV with streaming access. The ad-free streamer brings live shows, documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage to classic heavy metal, as well as death metal and black metal – the latter two seeming very different subgenres.
Thunderflix (the name is a knockoff of “Netflix” of course, but at least not with a plus sign) is considered the world’s first streaming platform completely dedicated to heavy metal. We haven’t checked Douek’s facts, our journalistic instincts suggest we probably don’t need to.
“Film has always been my life’s work, but heavy metal has been in my soul since I was 6 years old,” Douek told IndieWire in Mexico City via Zoom. With Thunderflix, you combine your professional and personal passions.
Douek’s metal mania started with Guns N’ Roses, which he manages, which is actually “hard rock”, but adds that “the metal community welcomes them”. Nowadays he mostly likes symphonic metal, progressive metal (like Dream Theater), death metal, black metal and typical heavy metal (Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica).
If GnR makes Douek’s “metal” cut, exactly how far is Douek willing to stretch the Thunderflix genre? He says Eagles of Death Metal is the softest of the streamer’s curation: “It’s a band that’s not metal, but they’re very respected in the metal community,” Douek said. “Some musicians played with metal bands there and worked hard enough to carve out a piece of themselves in the metal universe.”
Thunderflix has dropped Velvet Revolver, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and even Aerosmith. According to Douek, Pearl Jam is a “maybe yes, maybe no.” He offered up his own tough “sex” during our conversation: “You won’t see Taylor Swift there,” Douek promised. “My daughter likes Taylor Swift, I enjoy Taylor Swift every once in a while, but you’ll never see that there.”
We don’t think you got a bunch of Swifty anyway, Sam, let alone the rights. Alternatively, this reporter made the case for ’90s grunge rockers Bush and got a solid “maybe.” Van Halen would definitely fit the bill, thank goodness, says Douek.
Courtesy of Thunderflix
Douek’s critics question whether there is enough content to fill and justify Thunderflix. “There is a ton of content, and content is still being created every year,” he says.
Thunderflix curates this content from film distributors (Douek does a lot of the work himself), record labels, and even the bands themselves. “During the pandemic, a lot of bands made great streaming shows because they couldn’t go out and play,” he said.
In some cases, the rights to concert DVDs released in the 90s were returned to the bands, but the masters were lost along the way. Thunderflix not only happily takes these, but cleans them up frame by frame and converts them to HD. “People will see things that were lost as DVDs, and now they’re coming back to life,” Douek said.
The most popular videos on Thunderflix so far, in order, are: “Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story” (pictured above), “Day of the Gusano – Live in Mexico,” “Death by Metal ” trailer, “Death – Death by Metal” itself (in Spanish), “Adam the Apostate/Nergal the Heretic” trailer and “Megdeath – A Night in Buenos Aires”.
For physical media, Douek has a very good window idea that could apply beyond Thunderflix – maybe even into the feature film world, so keep an eye out. Continue to make and sell such (in this case concert) DVDs and Blu-rays, Douek demos, and license them to Thunderflix after three or four months. According to Douek, artists should do the same with their physical albums and Spotify.
When it comes to paying, Thunderflix “works a little bit like Spotify, a little bit like Netflix,” Douek said. It pays rights holders a monthly license fee and shares subscription revenue with them based on views. “I want the guys to promote it (on social media) like Spotify,” he reasoned.
Setting up Thunderflix, which opened as an invite-only beta, wasn’t cheap or easy. There are these rights costs, technology costs and marketing costs. “Everything from scratch is expensive,” Douek said. Currently, his angel investors are family and friends; Douek says he has venture capitalists who are “very interested,” but both sides are taking a wait-and-see approach.
There is still a long way to go here; Thunderflix is really in its infancy. Douek says he’s “very happy” with his current signup numbers and is “well above his month 1 metric.” “I thought it would take a year to get to 1,000, but we’re well on our way,” he said Thursday.
If that sounds small, it is. Douek says he only needs 5,000 subscribers to “be profitable for now.” As every streamer learns these days, it all comes down to cost. With 100,000 subscribers, Douek says he will start creating original content.
That is very, very far. At a price of $6.66/month per thousand subscribers ($66.60 for an entire year can be paid in advance, but let’s not overcomplicate the math), Thunderflix’s annual revenue would be under $80,000; $400,000 for 5,000 signups; At 100,000 it would be $8 million.
The smart price is certainly a marketing ploy that “felt very natural” to Douek. That’s actually more money than Paramount+ and Peacock’s ad-supported tiers; It’s 33 cents cheaper than the most basic (ad-free) Apple TV+ and (ad-supported) Netflix plans.
“I’ve paid for a lot of streaming platforms, it could be $5, $6, $7 a month. “I want something in my bill that says ‘6-6-6’ every month,” Douek explained. “We’re metalheads, we know what we want, and this song unites us. It’s the perfect number.”
You metalheads can get a 7-day free trial of Thunderflix here.
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