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Author Topic: Contributors' Collective  (Read 39808 times)

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donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2009, 13:31 »
0
While this sounds like a great idea, it has been discussed a few times over the last few years and nothing has ever come of it.  I had actually started down the path of creating a new site that would be fair to contributors, but after a few months I realized how much effort it truly was (and there is no guarantee of success).  I'm glad that I didn't go through with it because since then there have been dozens of sites that have come out of the woodwork and none of them have ever come close to competing with the big 5 (or 6 or 7).  I hate to be a naysayer, but I don't think that anything ever will come of this idea for a few reasons:

- First, to create a new site, someone has to create the infrastructure (both hardware and software).  There is an initial cost (both monetary and time) to setup a new site, especially one that needs to be able to handle the large workloads that stock sites can receive.  You would need high bandwidth, large hard disk capacities (on the order of multiple terabytes), redundancy (for 24x7 operability), a programming staff (to create the site and maintain it), a support staff, etc, etc.  If someone is going to put in their own time and money to start a new site, then they are going to want to get a larger slice in return.  Also, if they are going to do this, then why set up a new site for others to make a profit?  Why not just keep all of the profit for themselves?

- Second, sites already exist that offer a higher return, among them FeaturePics.  Contributors could band together and put up exclusive content on FP and support that site (or any other site that offers
better royalties), but most contributors don't support FP because of the low income that they receive.

- Third, why would contributors contribute exclusive content?  If the content was worthy of sales, most contributors would want it to be placed on the top sites, not a startup that has very little traffic and little sales.

There are other reasons as well, but these alone would probably kill any real effort.

IMHO, I believe that setting up some sort of association/union would be more likely, but it would need to be done correctly.



A union would be a good idea but the problem with that is how would you get the thousands and thousands of microstock contributors to join. You proubably couldn't post on the forums because they'd delete the post then kick you out. We here are just a tiny fish in a sea of large contributor fish.

Just think if the price got to one cent per download you'd have to make 100 sales just to make 1.00. And with the big microstock's that require a $100.00 worth of sales before payout would be loving it while collecting interest off their contributors!!!


batman

« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2009, 13:35 »
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no believe me, i wouldn't touch a union with a ten foot pole. even in the 70's mick jagger told the musicians union to stick it. union is no better than the big players. the administrators get paid while you go on strike. it's in their interest you go on strike, then your employers lay the burden of your pay increase to the customer.
union? forget it!

 a co-op , run by the people, owned by the people, and given back to the people. no union.
one mention of the union, and you can kiss my ass good bye.

« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2009, 13:36 »
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Having our own sites and linking them together would be great.  We would all pay for our own hosting etc. and could put a small percentage of sales in to marketing.  I still think it need a lot of the top 100 contributors to make it work though and I haven't  seen much interest from them.

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2009, 13:38 »
0

Great idea!

A 50% commission would be fair, in my opinion

Isn't that the way some of the "not so successful" micro stock sites are now?  ??? You'd have to have some way to pull buyers to the site as well as really research what buyers are wanting these days to pull them there to make it work.

« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2009, 13:39 »
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actually it was one of my ex students who told me about it. at the u, he did a thesis on the porn industry and how individual girls (most ex showgirls, ladies of the nights,etc..) would be running their business. all without the help of their pimps or agents. when he mentioned this to the class, they all laughed at him.
by the time he finished his presentation, no one was laughing.

Believe me, none of these girls who started out in the advent of www was making 25 cents per download. and today some of them are truly enterprises with their own fashion shop, merchandising stores,etc...
It isn't a dirty thing, it's real effective marketing and a true community in the sense of the business world. A model to emulate? I should think so.

You may have hit upon a possible solution there. I was thinking down the line of Wikipedia being self administrating and staffed by volunteers, etc. If every contributor effectively had their own site, set their own prices and was self-editing ...

Wouldn't that be a bit risky? There would have to be some sort of intervention from people who knew about things such as copyright infringement, and who knew which images to reject.

I wouldn't bother donating money for the purpose of hiring a team of moderators, though. It is worth fighting for and would be a great investment for us suppressed contributors.

« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2009, 13:40 »
0
there has been discussion about this before and i think it is a great idea if it could ever work but it would sure be tough to get going... There is even a 'microstock co-op' area of the forum from about a year ago :)

A better option might be gathering 100 or so photographers and their $$ and purchasing an already existing site and turn it into a contributors collective.

batman

« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2009, 13:44 »
0
there has been discussion about this before and i think it is a great idea if it could ever work but it would sure be tough to get going... There is even a 'microstock co-op' area of the forum from about a year ago :)

A better option might be gathering 100 or so photographers and their $$ and purchasing an already existing site and turn it into a contributors collective.

Tyler, this community you have here. This is the mothership. We rant and spit and banter, but these few minutes, we have come together as one. This proves what your site has become, a think tank.
If there 's any place we need to be the mother ship, i think this is it.


stacey_newman

« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2009, 13:47 »
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maybe Bruce Livingstone is looking for an investment opportunity ;-)

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2009, 13:47 »
0
If you're considering each of us owning our own site, then linking our whole community to each other, it could well work.

I think that is a great idea!!!

actually it was one of my ex students who told me about it. at the u, he did a thesis on the porn industry and how individual girls (most ex showgirls, ladies of the nights,etc..) would be running their business. all without the help of their pimps or agents. when he mentioned this to the class, they all laughed at him.
by the time he finished his presentation, no one was laughing.

Believe me, none of these girls who started out in the advent of www was making 25 cents per download. and today some of them are truly enterprises with their own fashion shop, merchandising stores,etc...
It isn't a dirty thing, it's real effective marketing and a true community in the sense of the business world. A model to emulate? I should think so.

Does anyone here actually know how to do this? Heh I'd be willing to add a web site, but they would almost have to be exclusive images or pull from the other sites and that would be extremely risky especially those who make decent money off it. If you add the same images the buyers are going to continue to go to those old sites. Someone would have to know the pricing structure of the microsites also in order to make it work.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2009, 13:56 »
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Union, Co-op, society, association, community, collection ... what's the difference? 

There is no leadership and too many Alpha personalities.  We all are just talking.


lisafx

« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2009, 14:11 »
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I think the idea of banding together is a good one.  In fact I think it is the only one that will assure a fair and viable market for our images and our livelihood in the long run. 

Not sure if our own agency is the answer or perhaps something similar to the Stock Artists Alliance.  I know it has been discussed before, but what about approaching the SAA and seeing if they would be interested in starting a microstock branch. 

I know all the arguments why this wouldn't work - they hate us because we hurt their business, etc.  But if they are smart and pragmatic they should welcome the idea of getting active, successful microstockers on their team.  It is in their best interests as well as ours to not allow royalties to be erroded further.

My husband is a member of the IBEW (electrician's union).  Decades back when the large numbers of Cuban refugees came to Florida the Cuban electricians wanted to join the IBEW.  At the time the union had the place pretty much to themselves and didn't want to let in the competition.  The Cuban electricians started their own competing organization. 

Fast forward 20-30 years and the competition in the industry has driven electrican wages in Florida to some of the lowest in the nation and unemployment is rampant among IBEW members.  If they had welcomed in the Latin electricians they might have been able to stick together and keep wages up. 

I see that as a very similar story to what the Trad agencies did to most of us.  They didn't want us so we joined the micros and that drove down prices and royalties in the industry.  But now that we have had a taste of success we want fair pay for our hard work.  The SAA would be stupid and short sighted if they refused to help us protect our rights and raise industry pay standards. 

batman

« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2009, 14:16 »
0
Union, Co-op, society, association, community, collection ... what's the difference? 

There is no leadership and too many Alpha personalities.  We all are just talking.



What 's the difference. Do your research Warren? If you think there is no diff between a Union and a Co-op, your naivete is showing.
We are just talking? Yes. Every vision begins with talk.
But the negativity "it can't be done", "all talk", "what's the diff?", and the division , is the destruction of your vision.
If you're so intent on settling for 3 cts. C'est cool, my friend. Don't come in here and create the division. This is where it's critical that any form of negativity and division have to be left at the door.

If you don't believe it'll work, the door swings both ways...

bye !

WarrenPrice

« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2009, 14:25 »
0
If you don't believe it'll work, the door swings both ways...

bye !

Believe what will work???? Is there a proposal on the table?

I thought offering an already existing agency was a good idea.  What have we agreed on?  I repeat -- until we can agree upon a plan ... it's loose talk.  Are you offering to provide leadership?  Direction?


lisafx

« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2009, 14:27 »
0

Every vision begins with talk.
But the negativity "it can't be done", "all talk", "what's the diff?", and the division , is the destruction of your vision.


Agree with my buddy Batman on this.  If we start talking failure and defeatism before we even try then there is no hope for the future of this industry.  

to quote Ned Flanders' hippy mom:  "We've tried nothing and we're fresh out of ideas! "

« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2009, 14:31 »
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Having our own sites and linking them together would be great.  We would all pay for our own hosting etc. and could put a small percentage of sales in to marketing.  I still think it need a lot of the top 100 contributors to make it work though and I haven't  seen much interest from them.

I like that idea of course. The main problem though is how will the buyer find the images he is looking for?
While writing this it just came to my mind that maybe we can do something with smugmug. They have a search capability with keywords and almost all the infrastructure you need already running.  And they will only take 15%. You have to pay a yearly fee though. But there are a few contributors with their files online already. E.g. Cdwealthy has already a big collection of his images online with them and I have images for sale there as well.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 14:34 by Freezingpictures »

stacey_newman

« Reply #40 on: May 04, 2009, 14:32 »
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my husband is an air traffic controller. he is by default a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, CAW for short. they in turn are run by the teamsters. the tactics, red tape and mediocrity that unions promote is too much for me. I'm afraid we hate unions, or anything that smells of union with fairly unbridled passion. this smells like a union.

again in theory, a great idea. but I have no interest in being, or following the Norma Rae of microstock. the task is too daunting and I don't believe there is a good reason to go this route. yet. maybe never. nor do I believe the contributors that would need to front this would. anyone large enough to have that kind of clout is already doing well on their own.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 14:34 by stacey_newman »

« Reply #41 on: May 04, 2009, 14:41 »
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This sounds a lot like an internet version of many artists and crafts cooperatives. They are usually started by people who are tired of the usually gallery 50 to 60% cut for low sales and little marketing. Craft gallery owners often opt for lower quality to get more cheaper sales. Sound familiar? The cooperatives are usually run by a rotating board with all of the members putting in several hours of work a month at the gallery. Several of these galleries have been successful in New Mexico and North Carolina since the 60s. There are probably many more businesses like this out there. These are just the two areas of the country that I'm the most familiar with. If an artist wants to sell through the gallery but doesn't want to work there, they sometimes have the option of taking a lesser percentage of their sales. There would also be a need for a good contract similar to the ones that we agree to with the micro agencies, but it would have to take into account all of the changes in the pricing structure. With ironclad options for getting rid of those members who don't live up to the agreement. I'm not sure how this model could be adapted to the internet, but the idea is exciting.

Great idea, gostwyck. It's well worth exploring.

Pat


lisafx

« Reply #42 on: May 04, 2009, 14:58 »
0
Unions, cooperatives, trade organizations, etc. only become necessary when the people at the top get too greedy. 

Let's call it the Yertle the Turtle principle... ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yertle_the_Turtle_and_Other_Stories

batman

« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2009, 15:10 »
0
my husband is an air traffic controller. he is by default a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, CAW for short. they in turn are run by the teamsters. the tactics, red tape and mediocrity that unions promote is too much for me. I'm afraid we hate unions, or anything that smells of union with fairly unbridled passion. this smells like a union.

again in theory, a great idea. but I have no interest in being, or following the Norma Rae of microstock. the task is too daunting and I don't believe there is a good reason to go this route. yet. maybe never. nor do I believe the contributors that would need to front this would. anyone large enough to have that kind of clout is already doing well on their own.

this is not a union. i dread unions. this is a co-op .
if you've owned a condominium , you know what i mean.
ok, i'll have to spell it out for those who don't know the diff.

a union and a co-op may sound alike to you, as a union member. but not to you if you are a co-op member. the co-op member goes down when the members suffers. the union admins or the staff that runs the union does not suffer the same as the union members.
if i say to you as a union chief, screw the company, and keep striking. you get paid strike pay, a measly equivalence to a little more than subs. while i as the negotitator still gets full pay.
if tomorrow the company goes bankrupt, you will face bankruptcy , but i the union negotiator does not.
as a co-op, if i am the committee, and i am reckless, and i emptied the condo fees, for example.
i suffer the same consequence as you , my condo fees go up.
as a union man, if i f'ed things up for you union members, your union dues go up. my pay does not go down, it might even go up.

there is a big diff. every person in the co-op suffers the same consequence; not so with the union.

batman

« Reply #44 on: May 04, 2009, 15:23 »
0
This sounds a lot like an internet version of many artists and crafts cooperatives. They are usually started by people who are tired of the usually gallery 50 to 60% cut for low sales and little marketing. Craft gallery owners often opt for lower quality to get more cheaper sales. Sound familiar? The cooperatives are usually run by a rotating board with all of the members putting in several hours of work a month at the gallery. Several of these galleries have been successful in New Mexico and North Carolina since the 60s. There are probably many more businesses like this out there. These are just the two areas of the country that I'm the most familiar with. If an artist wants to sell through the gallery but doesn't want to work there, they sometimes have the option of taking a lesser percentage of their sales. There would also be a need for a good contract similar to the ones that we agree to with the micro agencies, but it would have to take into account all of the changes in the pricing structure. With ironclad options for getting rid of those members who don't live up to the agreement. I'm not sure how this model could be adapted to the internet, but the idea is exciting.

Great idea, gostwyck. It's well worth exploring.

Pat

Yes, Yes, Yes... Pat. That is the sort of model. We have a similar one here with our local, and I belong to them .
If we can adapt this globally, we got it. 

« Reply #45 on: May 04, 2009, 15:30 »
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Not sure if our own agency is the answer or perhaps something similar to the Stock Artists Alliance.  I know it has been discussed before, but what about approaching the SAA and seeing if they would be interested in starting a microstock branch. 
 

I don't really think there's anything that the SAA can do for us that we're not already able to do for ourselves.  Yes, they've gained a few concessions on behalf of their members but then so have we collectively on several occasions.

The real source of our problem is that the various agencies are competing amongst themselves for customers and using our work to do it, eroding our commissions and perks in the process. Even worse the more successful the agencies become the lower the % they want to pay out. I'd assume that when a private investment equity firm like Hellman & Friedman buys up a company like Getty then they will have their exit strategy in mind even at the point that they're negotiating the purchase. They'll be working to boost profits, fattening the cow for the market, from Day 1.

To get money into the agency we'd probably need to accept our commissions being paid as 'shares' initially, possibly for the first couple of years, in order to pay for marketing, etc, etc. I must admit it is very difficult to see how, where, who, etc from here. It's a semi-socialist idea in a capitalist market.

m@m

« Reply #46 on: May 04, 2009, 15:46 »
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I think we're all aware of how unions and association boards work, and our general dislike of them, I think that's settle...what we need are ideas on how to make "The Yertle  the Turtle Principle" work for us and our commissions, I've already heard negative, positive, union, nonunion ideas plus a couple of live stories...come on guys what we need are IDEAS, OPTIONS, give us what you think could be the solution of not letting these Big Jerks prostitute our hard work and money. BRAIN STORM PLEASE...WE'RE ALL ON THE SAME BOAT!!!

« Reply #47 on: May 04, 2009, 16:35 »
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Great idea.

And of course there would be no barriers to entry?

No matter how small your portfolio.

No matter what the quality of your work, you would still be accepted as a member of this co-op? Right?

I really do think it is a great idea, and I have been hoping for something like this, as I watch the amounts we earn dwindle.

I fear that those with a higher standard of work and higher output might become a little fussy about who gets to join this co-op, especially if it aims towards becoming a stock site in itself.

It must be administered in such a way that ALL stock photographers are protected, not just the top sellers.

But, at which point does one become a stock photographer? As soon as a microstock site has accepted your image? As soon as you sell an image?

How would this co-op decide who to accept as members?

Who would make these decisions? In fact, who would decide, who should make such judgement.

A great idea. Us microstockers need it.

Sadly, whatever you call it, collective, union, co-op, whatever, there is going to an ego or two out there who sees this as an opportunity to take charge, and keep it all for the big boys and their buddies.





m@m

« Reply #48 on: May 04, 2009, 16:54 »
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Tommrock, that's why it is important we keep objective and leave our ego at the front step.
 realising we are all in this together.
no one is going to win, if one thinks for his her own self interest.
then we all go back to being "prostitute".
but i wish we were prostitutes, they made more than 30cents a shot.

Now we've heard your opinion, how about an idea which is actually what we're looking for.

Best regards.

alias

« Reply #49 on: May 04, 2009, 17:12 »
0
oops - i got the edit and quote function muddled. I leave the later version :)
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 17:23 by alias »


 

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