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Author Topic: Contributors' Collective  (Read 39809 times)

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« Reply #275 on: May 07, 2009, 23:46 »
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One of the biggest obstacles which will need to be overcome, and which surprisingly has been mentioned here only in passing (and I think as an aside by just one person), is customer confidence. By this I mean that if you wish to attract corporate buyers, beyond bloggers, they will want to feel very secure about the legality of what they are purchasing in terms of copyright and necessary releases.

I avoided that issue intentionally in my first post for brevity. There are imho two solutions to the legality problem. The keyword is of course "trust". The accumulated trust of the established agencies only rests on the trust they put themselves in the contributors. In my thoughts, the Collective would only be open to contributors that are established themselves, and who reveal their name and business address/info to registered buyers. That would make them legally responsible for the availability of Releases (with protection of course against multimillion fantasy lawsuits).

The second idea is to entrust an independent  third party Release Clearing House with the releases. Each release would receive an ID number and the photo of the model/property would be available on the Clearing House site, together with a statement that the facsimile of the release and of the passport/ID of the contributor were received and conform to the legal requirements. The Clearing House would embody the trust and serve as a buffer for the privacy of the model/property.

Expanding on the confidence, is the issue of payment processing. How will payments be handled? If they wish to purchase two images from two separate artists, will they need to complete a separate transaction for each image? What forms of payment will be accepted, and will everyone offer the same options? A common shopping cart makes the most sense here, but that comes with splitting up payment processing fees, currency exchange, etc. etc.

Paypal offers some pretty good APIs. There are payment gateways that could handle it cheaper than an in-house secretary. Problems are CC fraud, POCs. It would be good to listen to buyers what is the most convenient way to pay.

Finally, there have been some suggestions that there be no inspectionthat each photographer promises to upload only their best work, or something to that affect.

Reviewers fees are the most significant cost of any startup. They represent an investment before any income. The original idea of Rinder 2-3 years ago was to abolish that cost by only taking in established contributors into the Collective, and let them be responsible for QC, based on their reputation. The idea isn't that odd. Do you get rejects for technical issues/framing after years in stock? I don't: it's all about LCV and too much of the same. Quite of a few of those contributors are reviewers themselves. A Collective site should have a way to zoom in 100% on all parts of the image, like Mostphotos has, so if real crap slipped in, it could be wiki-ed out.

The wiki-idea (or flagging) is an essential part of a Collective. That's why it's called a collective. It should also extend to keywording and technical issues. A couple of established sites like DT and IS do it already.

If you want to reduce startup costs drastically, you will have to outsource as much as you can, like payment and a clearing house for releases, since those costs are predictable, fixed, and can't spiral out of control. Once again, reviewer fees are what kills most startups, and they should be avoided at any price. An outsider startup like Fotomina has no other choice than rely on external reviewers. A contributors collective doesn't. Entry into the collective should be reserved to contributors that are not-anonymous and that have a portfolio of at least 500-1000 on the established big 6.

These all might lean toward the idea of adopting an existing agency to model into your vision, as opposed to starting from scratch.

An important element in this discussion is that our established agents are not enemies but partners. If the Collective would end up defining some benchmarks for existing agents, that would be a major accomplishment already. A limited example is the handling of releases. Some sites still require upload with every photo. Others have a very elaborate release library with batch-attach, like 123RF. The benchmark could issue scores to every agency in regard to release handling, from 5 to 0.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 23:54 by FlemishDreams »


« Reply #276 on: May 08, 2009, 00:06 »
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An alternate business model - each photographer has their own portfolio online, and independent brokers provide marketing and search and transactions (forwarded to photographer - cut). Brokers could be specialist or general, and provide the 'reliability' by representing only trusted contributors (content-wise). Happens in other industries - accommodation, care hire, insurance, etc.

Agree 100% already thinking along those lines and this thread has me doing some research

The problem with stocksites is they are a retail business and in the present model they want the stock as sale or return, and do not want to pay for it, what the real model should be is as a merchant that sits between the vendor and customer and runs thier business at a fixed percentage and minimal costs.

Lets look at how to maximise our revenue by the use of a merchant, and what is already out there, first thing is the photographer holds the fullsize images until a sale is made, when a sale is made the transaction is between the vendor (photographer) and the buyer and the full size image goes to the merchant to broker for the licence duration, the merchant then invoices the photographer for a transaction fee, if the business is just an online one then overheads are small so the fee could be set at around 10% - 12%

How could this be done, here is my idea, each photographer signs up to "Amazon S3" and create a file bucket of thier own and uploads thier images via an applet supplied free by the website, Amazon S3 charges a small fee to the photographer for storage and bandwidth usage, this cuts down the bandwidth  and storage costs for the main sales website, the photographer manages thier images on the main website, the website will retrieve 170px longest side thumbnails from the Photographers Bucket and only store them for searches, the main site will run on the thumbnail images only, and only registered buyers will be able to view and download a watermarked comp at 450px longest again this will be retrived in realtime from the photographers bucket, pricing would be global and banded and the buyer would be able to filter on price bands, buyer could have discounts based on purchase value with a maximum of 20%, image licences RF, RM, Commercial and Editorial, and Exclusive would affect the prices.

How does that sound?

David  ???        

« Reply #277 on: May 08, 2009, 00:07 »
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welcome Monsieur Griffin,  your dialogue has been conspicuosly absent ! 8)

Come on Batman, nobody bought your crap of failing servers. We all know that your are monsieur Griffin. I won't mention your side business in snake oil but I'm quite sure you took 2 days off to read the Ego-Rythm handbook, and to streamline your adult sites.  ;D

« Reply #278 on: May 08, 2009, 00:11 »
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How does that sound

Great and feasable. I had another idea of loosely linked personal sites, but with a common IT framework to safeguard the unique look and feel of the different personal sites.

My USP (unique selling proposition) still holds, that is offer all our content exclusively for a period of one month (period debatable). Buyers keen on fresh images would be attracted that way.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 00:14 by FlemishDreams »

« Reply #279 on: May 08, 2009, 00:17 »
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Sounds good, but I think we need to get away from having only a SINGLE agent. Several independent agents/brokers (maybe specialist) would be competing with each other, maybe provide specialist search and representation), and avoid the agent monopoly situation we could well be headed for.

« Reply #280 on: May 08, 2009, 00:53 »
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1. The rise of rejection rates by most of the established agencies. An explanation for this would go a long way toward easing the hostility that this problem causes.

It's understandable, but I don't think it has to do with the server or bandwidth costs, but with the relevance problem flawed by design when starting with an equivalent keyword system that must break down after 5M images. With one million or ten million images, there still is one single front page for search results. How many girls with headset does one need? 100, 1000, 100,000? Looking at my sales at DT, I see less and less keywords used to find my images. Buyers obviously are resorting to visual search more and more.

2. Decreasing income % from sales. This is due to subs and changes in pricing structures by the agencies.

Buyers still need subs, for realistic comps. The main issue is that if they use one of these comps for real-world production, they can use the 1$ full size without limits. My proposal would be to allow downloading comps full size, and allow use for sidebars and blogs up to 250px, but recharge the full license for anything else. You would have best of both worlds then. In fact, subs would fall under a separate licensing scheme, just as templates and print runs do now.

3. No control over the pricing structures for our images other than to complain and stop uploading.
4. Irrational reviewers giving unclear or inaccurate reasons for rejections.

Those are major points and they can easily be solved. The rejection screen of the reviewer often contains too few choices. The agents should think of extending that backend screen.

5. Lack of policing or cleaning out of the databases for older substandard images. It would be nice to believe that we can police our own images, but how many of us have any objectivity about our own work?

The main thing that keeps us from doing that is its repercussions on the ranking. For instance, I heard that on BigStock your ranking goes down when you delete images. In the "duplicates" thread in DT, I asked for a way to replace older images with a newly better edited version without losing the image level, but got no reply yet.

Dreamstime is my favorite of the stock sites, but I just wish that they'd said that they needed to change and tighten their standards and given us an explanation before the rejections started. It's their company, but it's our images. They have the right to make any changes that they want to their corporate policy, but as a contributor I want a detailed explanation.

Dreamstime is pretty good at it. I always felt respect from them. There are other sites that are much worsolia  8)

Whatever direction we go if we decide to organize formally, it is probably the best idea not to make our headquarters in the US, but I don't know enough about business in the world outside the US to say what country would be the best.

A US-based site still generates the most trust. Dreamstime realized that very early. The only issue against the US is the ridiculous out of control litigation system, but since most buyers are still in the US, it's imperative that you have at least a US presence. Nobody will trust a site in Elbonia.

Many of us are creative, but business novices. We're going to need a ton of input from the more business savvy among us.

Some have both talents, like Arcurs. Achilles is a pretty good photographer too, although he hasn't volume studio work in his port.

Maybe the most we can hope for is to influence the established agencies to listen and respond to our issues with the way things are currently run. Maybe we can open up a dialogue. This might be the least time consuming and cheapest way to go.

That would be a major accomplishment. I heard rumors that this topic is followed with vivid interest by the sites. I don't like the sound of a "union". It reminds me of socialism, picket lines, force, boycotts. It won't work any ways in a global market. We could influence though some policies about subs, like my proposal above. Right now, sites are only relying on their site forums for contributor feedback, but those forums are too tightly policed for mere rants of individuals. A wiki-ed set of suggestions here on MSG would have more effect and certainly it would be more representative.

« Reply #281 on: May 08, 2009, 01:06 »
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Even If I have the greatest idea, I am not going to come here and post it on this public forum so all the microstock representatives can read the plan and prevent it.

I have some ideas too I don't post here. That's what PM is for. The idea is not competitive to existing microstock, since it addresses the long tail and the so-called LCV. But I can't come in the open until the IT framework is finished. And I won't make the mistake of Fotomina being exposed prematurely when their framework was still in the making. I also don't like the associated pressure at a moment I'm on call for News video and might disappear suddenly for 1-2 weeks.

« Reply #282 on: May 08, 2009, 01:14 »
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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. 

Makes perfect sense to me!!!

« Reply #283 on: May 08, 2009, 01:17 »
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I agree. many rely on that income from the big 6 and it would be hard for them to stop uploading, but on the other hand if they would start uploading fresh images that are available on one site and that site only, then I think alot of the buyers would come.

That was the idea in my first post when somebody asked for a USP. A premiere site would get a lot of free attention from buyers that are keen on fresh images before they became promiscuous on many ms sites. You would have the best of both worlds.

It should also be possible to have an exclusive buyout (compare this license at DT) at the premiere site. It would be much easier to manage since you don't have to remove the still exclusive image from the other sites yet (not mentioning their lock-in periods). As such, it's the best of three worlds, RM included, and all this in a microstock RF model.

Existing sites (except IS with its exclusives) can't beat this scheme since they can only control themselves, not others. The only one that has full control is at the source: the contributor. If an image doesn't sell or bought out at the premiere site, it will still be uploaded to the Big-whatever and generate the normal RF income there.

This idea is open for established sites too. They can start a "premiere collection" under the same conditions. They just should make it easier to opt-out of the exclusivity after one month. Dreamstime for instance has exclusive images, but they are not so happy or it's a bit of a mess if you opt out of exclusivity after 30 days.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 01:22 by FlemishDreams »

« Reply #284 on: May 08, 2009, 02:26 »
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Sounds good, but I think we need to get away from having only a SINGLE agent. Several independent agents/brokers (maybe specialist) would be competing with each other, maybe provide specialist search and representation), and avoid the agent monopoly situation we could well be headed for.

The Idea I am floating is not as an agent but as a merchant and there are costs to running a site that would need to be covered, as we are talking "Fair Trade" I was thinking more in new images with mid stock pricing and along the lines of charging the transaction fee to the photographer after an image has been sold and the photographer paid in full and directly.

A Photographers share or loyalty points system would be used and a large percentage of retained earnings would be returned on a per share basis to the Photographers, the balance used for R&D etc:, when a Photographer signs on they would be awarded one share or loyalty point, then based on portfolio size and or sales more points would be awarded, Photographers involved in the development of the site would be awarded points on completion of project tasks these could be planning, design, project management, development or testing so all could be active, so the more the photographer puts in the more they would get out because maybe a 6 monthly share payout could be actioned.

I know that the big players have offices etc: and that is where a large percentage of sales revenue from our images goes, but the image licence will be brokered by the site between the Photographer and the Customer, I think medium sized company designers and AD's would buy into a Fair Trade scheme knowing that all profit from a licence sale goes to the Artist enabling the artist to invest in thier art at a higher level

I would be willing to setup a proof of concept project site, if other are willing to help develop and test the end to end solution, once we have proof of concept it could be rolled out.


David  ;D  (What makes you think I work in software development?)   
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 02:31 by Adeptris »

« Reply #285 on: May 08, 2009, 16:07 »
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Entry into the collective should be reserved to contributors that are not-anonymous and that have a portfolio of at least 500-1000 on the established big 6.

That would keep me out as I'm still a relative newbie. I'll probably never have a large portfolio. It depends on which way we decide to organize......if we organize. It is certainly the right of any group of contributors to form their own organization and set the standards for membership. I do feel that it would be a mistake to ignore new talent. There's a lot of it out there. Lisa's example of the electrician's union is an example of what could happen if they're excluded. There's power in many small contributors banding together. It depends on whether a bargaining collective is formed or a new commercial group that somehow sells the images. They're totally different concepts, and it's still early days.

Maybe through this forum some of the problems can be solved by a dialogue with the agencies. I'd really rather go this route than take on the huge job of forming any sort of an organization. Am I wrong about this one?






OM

« Reply #286 on: May 08, 2009, 17:31 »
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Dunno if already mentioned:

http://www.snapixel.com/

Own site, their bandwidth, 60/40 split...60 to contributor and basic credit is one Euro/$1.34US.

Anyone know about them?

Milinz

« Reply #287 on: May 08, 2009, 17:34 »
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Can someone PLEASE tell to FlemishDreams that idea about 1 month exclusivity will never work!

He have me ignored because of cevapcici, some his crap image as well because he thinks he is so smart and that I am dumb ;-)

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 17:39 by Milinz »

batman

« Reply #288 on: May 08, 2009, 17:54 »
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Can someone PLEASE tell to FlemishDreams that idea about 1 month exclusivity will never work!

He have me ignored because of cevapcici, some his crap image as well because he thinks he is so smart and that I am dumb ;-)

Thanks!


woa milinz friend,
this is a think tank, we shouldn't censor anything, or else we become no better than an IS forum.
all ideas are valid as they will morph into something workable.  let's leave our past differences at the door. we have to think as one FOR NOW. after the brainstorm , then we can start throwing cevapcici
at Flemish, if you like, i will help you throw the first. but l8 !

m@m

« Reply #289 on: May 08, 2009, 18:32 »
0
Dunno if already mentioned:

http://www.snapixel.com/

Own site, their bandwidth, 60/40 split...60 to contributor and basic credit is one Euro/$1.34US.

Anyone know about them?


Yes we have!...do a search on a previous thread on them.
"Please don't bring them back, unles they've something new to show and offer"  ;)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 19:07 by m@m »

Milinz

« Reply #290 on: May 08, 2009, 19:44 »
0
Can someone PLEASE tell to FlemishDreams that idea about 1 month exclusivity will never work!

He have me ignored because of cevapcici, some his crap image as well because he thinks he is so smart and that I am dumb ;-)

Thanks!


woa milinz friend,
this is a think tank, we shouldn't censor anything, or else we become no better than an IS forum.
all ideas are valid as they will morph into something workable.  let's leave our past differences at the door. we have to think as one FOR NOW. after the brainstorm , then we can start throwing cevapcici
at Flemish, if you like, i will help you throw the first. but l8 !

AS the matter of fact we always may differ in our approach to microstock and stock photography, but final goal is always the same - to earn money! So, I believe that we all are on the right track here. Let the cevapcici image I sell be. It is something some people can't understand. Also, they may look like poo to some people but, they are specialty as Lobster in USA or French Wine or pizza....  When some people realise that knowledge and brain instead of ego makes sellable picture we'll all get along.
[EDIT] I am trying to find the best match for all in my plan which is to be introduced soon... I am sure it will make excellent results!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 19:48 by Milinz »

OM

« Reply #291 on: May 08, 2009, 19:56 »
0
Dunno if already mentioned:

http://www.snapixel.com/

Own site, their bandwidth, 60/40 split...60 to contributor and basic credit is one Euro/$1.34US.

Anyone know about them?


Yes we have!...do a search on a previous thread on them.
"Please don't bring them back, unles they've something new to show and offer"  ;)


OM

« Reply #292 on: May 08, 2009, 19:56 »
0
deleted
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 19:59 by OM »

OM

« Reply #293 on: May 08, 2009, 19:57 »
0
Dunno if already mentioned:

http://www.snapixel.com/

Own site, their bandwidth, 60/40 split...60 to contributor and basic credit is one Euro/$1.34US.

Anyone know about them?


Yes we have!...do a search on a previous thread on them.
"Please don't bring them back, unles they've something new to show and offer"  ;)



Oh well.

batman

« Reply #294 on: May 08, 2009, 20:06 »
0
AS the matter of fact we always may differ in our approach to microstock and stock photography, but final goal is always the same - to earn money! So, I believe that we all are on the right track here. Let the cevapcici image I sell be. It is something some people can't understand. Also, they may look like poo to some people but, they are specialty as Lobster in USA or French Wine or pizza....  When some people realise that knowledge and brain instead of ego makes sellable picture we'll all get along.
[EDIT] I am trying to find the best match for all in my plan which is to be introduced soon... I am sure it will make excellent results!

not to worry Milinz, i understand what you say about cevapcici. as an intrepid traveller, i've tried literally everything that to the typical North American or British taster would gag if they ate anything other than spud or beef. but really, on the other side of the coin, i find the same displeasure displayed from those with more exotic palate when i mention what the average North Am or Brit eat.
poutine, cervice, acaraje, kebab, satay, chicharron, gado gado,risotto with scampi or peach bellini...
like valentino and his ladies, some love them all, while some others just love one  ;)   that's life !

« Reply #295 on: May 12, 2009, 13:11 »
0
I'm so new at microstock that I feel guilty even responding to this discussion.  Be that as it may the links below are to two articles written by Dan Heller.  These articles are very thought provoking and may touch upon some of the issues that are being discussed here.

newbielink:http://www.danheller.com/blog/posts/meta-stock-agency.html [nonactive]
newbielink:http://www.danheller.com/blog/posts/virtual-stock-agency.html [nonactive]

Just my 2 cents!

Gary


 

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