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Author Topic: iStock changing royalty structure  (Read 154608 times)

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« Reply #225 on: September 08, 2010, 05:03 »
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I've stopped up loading to Istock unless they fix this mess.

I've stopped uploading to Istock too. There will probably be some minor retraction from this announcement, maybe an adjustment to the redeemed credit levels, but it won't be enough. I may never upload another image to Istock again.

Istock have proved themselves to be outrageously greedy corporate bast*rds and I hope that enough of us will react appropriately to seriously impact their bottom-line long-term.


« Reply #226 on: September 08, 2010, 05:04 »
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I don't like unions, never used one but I do think we could get behind the sites that pay a decent commission and have reasonable prices for the buyers.  If the vast majority of contributors and buyers abandoned sites that pay low commissions, we would all be better off.  Why is that so difficult?  I really find it hard to understand why we can't get together contributors and buyers to improve microstock for all of us.

This isn't like some other industries where the contributors have no power and have to put up with being treated unfairly, it's easy to buy and sell images and I don't see why it should cost more now than a few years ago when the costs of running a site and marketing were higher.

All we need to do is select the sites that are fair to contributors and buyers and only use them.  If the other sites want our business, they can make changes.

I don't like unions too and you are right when you say that contributors have power, but I think that abandoning istock should be the last move.
Most of us (if not all) will be damaged by this new istock's policy and I think it will be easier to convince a large number of people to stop uploading this time. Can it be worthy to try to negotiate something better before saying goodbye to istock and go elsewhere?
It looks like the commission cut comes in January 2011, I wont start deleting my portfolio before then but unless they go back to paying me 20% and start improving my sales, they have left me no option.  I don't think they will reverse this decision, as they stuck to the $0.25 subs commissions with thinkstock.  I'm not interested in a site that wants to improve their earnings by taking more of the little bit they pay me.

« Reply #227 on: September 08, 2010, 05:06 »
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Exclusives and non exclusives are equally independent. The best way of maintaining a portable portfolio is to manage your collection right. Especially keywords. Keyword generically & in detail ahead of specifically keywording for any particular site. You want to be able to quickly upload to a new site or destination if you choose to. And you want the keywords, descriptions etc to be in the IPTC data. Even exclusives.

I am 100% certain that dissatisfaction with the latest Getty announcement brings closer viable new investment which will ultimately undermine the value of IS as a business. Irrespective of the royalty numbers, the manner of the announcement undermines trust. Nearly everyone who contributes to IS would quickly move somewhere else immediately given a better offer. Getty bought a community. That was what crowd-sourcing was all about. That was why IS was such a thing. That is still where the next opportunity lies.

Reminds me of a quote that I heard from someone far better connected in the industry: "When you go exclusive, you put all your eggs in one basket, but at the end of the day you still have all your eggs to put wherever you like".

If any of us drops the crown, there are still alternatives available.

XPTO

« Reply #228 on: September 08, 2010, 05:08 »
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The only way to scare the sh*t out of Getty and IS management is for non-exclusives to start a campaign globally targeting picture buyers. Let's make an e-mail, showing how exploitive IS is, and that they can buy the same images from agencies like DT, SS, etc., and even alamy, for a lower price for them and a far higher and fairer commission for the photographers.

Also making them realize that turning this business unsustainable for the photographers will kill their content suppliers and large quantities of good quality imagery will stop.

This is THE ONLY way to pressure Getty and IS. Burn a hole in their pocket!

Threatening to stop uploading, or deleting portfolios is just a huge BS that never worked and never will. The only power we have is to influence those who put the money in the business, the picture buyers.

And it doesn't take a Union to do this, or global organization. Just a good and true e-mail, which could be translated into several languages. Then each of us could search for a series of designer companies, send the e-mail asking them to pass to their contacts and soon enough the designers would become aware of the way IS is likely to damage their quality and cheap source of images.

This is the only way. Stop uploading, deleting portfolios and unions are just BS and everyone knows it wont happen to a scale to bother the administration of these agencies.

And it will send a strong signal to all the other agencies thinking of scr*wing us.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 05:10 by XPTO »

« Reply #229 on: September 08, 2010, 05:14 »
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What happened today it is not a minor change. It's a turning point. Never thougth I would consider the idea of leaving exclusivity. Too early to say, it's difficult, but maybe there's is some backpedaling. For the moment, I'll wait.  For becoming independent; it would help being offered by other sites the possibility of swallowing all my portfolio at once.

Oh, nice! Six months ago (and long before that) the exclusives were constantly telling us that they deserve lots, lots more pay and perks because they've made a commitment and we're whoring around. Is the new mantra going to be that they deserve lots of special treatment from the other sites because their iStock marriage is going bad?

I hope the other sites respect the loyalty we independents have given them and don't make special offers to ex-exclusives that could undermine established contributers.

It's amusing to see Fotolia over at twitter pretending that it doesn't shaft its contributors "We pay 25%".  Twenty-five percent of what? "Why, 25% of some notional, variable number that we dream up of course, percentages aren't linked to prices you know."

« Reply #230 on: September 08, 2010, 05:24 »
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I don't believe anyone threatening to drop exclusivity will do it. the cost would be far greater to the contributor. and to what end? I was supposed to hit diamond this year, so I'm losing the added income in theory. my level is not dropping, I should have the 40K redeemed credits top maintain 35% royalties, but I won't get 40% for hitting diamond. I see potential for increased business. I'll take in volume what I'm losing in percentage to a certain point. I also think the marketing value of attracting more traditional pros is being overlooked. someone posted earlier that the invitation is ironic, but it's not in fact. the Agency Collection will be priced like traditional RM and RF imagery. they're just putting it all under one umbrella and bringing that traffic to iStock. why is that bad? it's already for sale elsewhere.

With all due respect: you are completely wrong. You forget that this is a numbers game. It wont happen overnight, yes (although it seems that there are already some quitters, or people that stopped uploading), but yes in the mid-term. If lower commissions, external Getty flooding, downloads fall when customers realise that it ins not not micro but, at least midstock, etc affect contributors earnings, and contributors realise that they can earn substantially more being not exclusive, many will drop the crown. Emotions don't last may time, economic reality is far stronger.
Of course, if Istock manages to get more money for they exclusives with the new scheme, that won't happen. But that seems a diffult target. Time will tell.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 05:29 by loop »

macrosaur

    This user is banned.
« Reply #231 on: September 08, 2010, 05:33 »
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I wonder what would happen if the top istock contributors (like may the top 100 that probably make up over 10-20% of istock's revenue) set up their own site with mostly exclusive content.


nothing.
because the dirty work is getting clients and making sales,
and this will cost you millions in advertising especially if starting from scratch.

the real value of IS are their loyal clients, not the millions of photos.
photos are just a commodity nowadays, that's why they rightfully
treat you guys iike crap.

XPTO

« Reply #232 on: September 08, 2010, 05:42 »
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the real value of IS are their loyal clients, not the millions of photos.
photos are just a commodity nowadays, that's why they rightfully
treat you guys iike crap.

That is why we, the photographers, must target our actions in informing Picture Buyers about the exploitive nature of IS and that there are other alternatives in the market. Show them the agencies that give us the better commissions which allow us to invest and create higher value images.

Picture buyers only hear about the marketing of agencies telling them they are the best. Maybe it's time that the content producers have a word near the buyers pointing the best alternatives to both and putting the exploitative middlemen in their places.

« Reply #233 on: September 08, 2010, 05:47 »
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I don't think I should say anything about the commission cut, since it is so well discussed. However, it is interesting to see a change in canister levels similar to that of Fotolia. This new level system is more friendly to new contributors, but still far from supporting new talents. I think the agencies who set up static levels for canisters (like previous istock, fotolia and shutterstock) are still back in 2005 when these limits seemed hard to achieve. Now several contributors reached the limits just because they are participating in MS from early on. It's not that they are so talented, its just that they have started earlier. Fotolia have already realized that the canister levels are not useful without constantly rising the bar, so only those who are talented will stay on the higher canister levels they deserve. However they have implemented this very badly because they set up the levels so high that new talents might not even start after seeing the levels set up for the ones who were with fotolia in the past five years. Istock has made a step further, and dropped the original canister system to a more democratic one, which also supports new talents on some levels. My only problem with their system that they still require you to wait a year to increase your canister level. An ideal system would use the past year as the basis for the canister level instead of using the year boundaries. I would be happy to see this level system to appear on other sites.

« Reply #234 on: September 08, 2010, 05:55 »
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Hello:

This is my first post at this forum. I have been following with interested some posts here for the last months and with the turmoil created by the latest Istock move though was a good moment to introduce myself and write my first post.

I have been a stock contributor for the last few years. Mainly in Macro agencies but 1 year ago I tried Istock to test the waters of micro distributors. I have to say that I was already used to micro pricing as many of my sales at Getty fall into the category of "Premium Access" where you get a few dollars a sale. The first months as a non exclusive contributor were quite dissapointing since I was used to much bigger revenues at Getty. With all the incentives to exclusivity I bit the bullet to push the envelope and see how far I could get my rpi there to see the potential of micro. I have to say that I was surprised at how much better my revenue improved after this move. I guess the push by Best Match and some increase in the upload quota and % share helped too.

The last move anounced yesterday has worried me in many ways. Obviously the move is very bad to 99% of all istock contributors. If the 80% non exclusives and 75-60% Exclusives share that the Getty Corporation seems is not enough for them.....will any number be ever enough. I don't think so. The Getty sale to a private equity firm meant the business is no longer for a long and sustainable run but for a short term profit.

Getty is used to the 20% for RF and paying a 40% when their business in the royalty free arena is moving so fast to Istock is not being seen with good eyes. The Thinkstock creation was a first and strong advice of what was coming, the next step has happened much quicker than I thought. The lowering of commissions and the introduction of images from outside sources ( I bet than wholly owned content with a good Best Match position is not far away ) are a nail in the coffin on any reasonable mid-term planning a contributor can do.

Non exclusives are much more affected than they might think at first. It is not only the lowering commission. The dominance of the Getty conglomerate is taking over and as time passes, the alternative sites where to place images with reasonable return are diminishing. On the other side why should the competitor sites follow another strategy that the company that has showed the most success.

The only hope is that in our connected world things change so quickly that a much better alternative for photographers might arise at any given point. The middle man is taking now the largest straw......but for how long ?

Cristian

« Reply #235 on: September 08, 2010, 06:00 »
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I don't think I should say anything about the commission cut, since it is so well discussed. However, it is interesting to see a change in canister levels similar to that of Fotolia. This new level system is more friendly to new contributors, but still far from supporting new talents. I think the agencies who set up static levels for canisters (like previous istock, fotolia and shutterstock) are still back in 2005 when these limits seemed hard to achieve. Now several contributors reached the limits just because they are participating in MS from early on. It's not that they are so talented, its just that they have started earlier. Fotolia have already realized that the canister levels are not useful without constantly rising the bar, so only those who are talented will stay on the higher canister levels they deserve. However they have implemented this very badly because they set up the levels so high that new talents might not even start after seeing the levels set up for the ones who were with fotolia in the past five years. Istock has made a step further, and dropped the original canister system to a more democratic one, which also supports new talents on some levels. My only problem with their system that they still require you to wait a year to increase your canister level. An ideal system would use the past year as the basis for the canister level instead of using the year boundaries. I would be happy to see this level system to appear on other sites.

I would generally agree that moving from lifetime achievement to achieving goals in a moving timescale is a good move to better support new talent.

The only thing is, that they coupled this move with a pay cut. If they simply had retained the old commission values as basis and offered something on top for achieving certain goals, all would be fine.

« Reply #236 on: September 08, 2010, 06:09 »
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I don't think I should say anything about the commission cut, since it is so well discussed. However, it is interesting to see a change in canister levels similar to that of Fotolia. This new level system is more friendly to new contributors,

How is is more friendly to new contributors? As I read it, for the first calendar year you will be stuck on 15% instead of 20%. In your first year, you have to build your portfolio slowly, since uploads are so limited. After one year, you are starting to take off and by the end of year two, your sales are excellent, you are well into silver level ... but your credits are tallied for the entire year, so your average still leaves you on the bottom rung thoughout year three, by which time you have hit gold level, and you maybe just scrape onto 16% (non-exclusive) as the rate to be paid in your fourth year. If you go exclusive, you might get all the way up to the 30% level as a gold canister. That's the first four years for someone who is doing well above average.

How is that friendly to newcomers?

« Reply #237 on: September 08, 2010, 06:10 »
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...Non exclusives are much more affected than they might think at first. It is not only the lowering commission. The dominance of the Getty conglomerate is taking over and as time passes, the alternative sites where to place images with reasonable return are diminishing....
This isn't what I am experiencing.  Some of the other sites are getting stronger, istock has fallen back.  They have sent some of their buyers to the other sites by raising prices too high and now they will lose a lot of their contributors by cutting commissions.  There is a real opportunity now for a rival site to become the No.1 and I hope one of them take it.

« Reply #238 on: September 08, 2010, 06:12 »
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proposal:

if nothing changes we can:

1st October: stop uploading

1st November: delete all photos from PP

1st December: leave exclusivity

1st January: delete all photos

we have to do this very "loudly" by using twitter and facebook (iStock can enter again into twitter top10).

and all of this not only for money i loose but also for the way they think that they can treat us...


what do you think?

« Reply #239 on: September 08, 2010, 06:28 »
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Let's hope those other sites don't get the same greed rush as Istock is experiencing. Whatever happens, I have to agree that having spread out the risk in as many outlets as possible is the wisest move now.

Cristian


"This isn't what I am experiencing.  Some of the other sites are getting stronger, istock has fallen back.  They have sent some of their buyers to the other sites by raising prices too high and now they will lose a lot of their contributors by cutting commissions.  There is a real opportunity now for a rival site to become the No.1 and I hope one of them take it."

« Reply #240 on: September 08, 2010, 06:29 »
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I don't think I should say anything about the commission cut, since it is so well discussed. However, it is interesting to see a change in canister levels similar to that of Fotolia. This new level system is more friendly to new contributors,

How is is more friendly to new contributors? As I read it, for the first calendar year you will be stuck on 15% instead of 20%. In your first year, you have to build your portfolio slowly, since uploads are so limited. After one year, you are starting to take off and by the end of year two, your sales are excellent, you are well into silver level ... but your credits are tallied for the entire year, so your average still leaves you on the bottom rung thoughout year three, by which time you have hit gold level, and you maybe just scrape onto 16% (non-exclusive) as the rate to be paid in your fourth year. If you go exclusive, you might get all the way up to the 30% level as a gold canister. That's the first four years for someone who is doing well above average.

How is that friendly to newcomers?

I agree, unless they take away upload limits it is worse for new contributors.

« Reply #241 on: September 08, 2010, 06:42 »
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1st January: delete all photos

I would never delete my photos from IS. I have too much time invested in uploading and keywording etc.

It would be much better to inform the clients about other sites where photographers are treated more fairly.

macrosaur

    This user is banned.
« Reply #242 on: September 08, 2010, 06:44 »
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the real value of IS are their loyal clients, not the millions of photos.
photos are just a commodity nowadays, that's why they rightfully
treat you guys iike crap.

That is why we, the photographers, must target our actions in informing Picture Buyers about the exploitive nature of IS and that there are other alternatives in the market. Show them the agencies that give us the better commissions which allow us to invest and create higher value images.

Picture buyers only hear about the marketing of agencies telling them they are the best. Maybe it's time that the content producers have a word near the buyers pointing the best alternatives to both and putting the exploitative middlemen in their places.

well, i could tell you that Hewlett Packard months ago slashed the salary of their 100.000 employees
by 20% while doubling the salaries of their top executives ... i've read in Germany the former
employess of EDS (now owned by HP) even went on strike a few days, but yet nothing changed,
her CEO has been fired recently because of a love affair and now he's VP of Oracle, running
out with 40 million $ in bonuses....

so goes this world, my friends !
and picture buyers will never give a crap ... nor they give a crap about HP and their crappy
printers, all they know is the price is fair and the product doesn't sucks so much.

20% fee ... it's a joke already, and now with just 15% it's a pittance .. better post the pics
on Flickr and see if some buyer sends an email ... or make a photo blog infested by
ads ....

macrosaur

    This user is banned.
« Reply #243 on: September 08, 2010, 06:47 »
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I agree, unless they take away upload limits it is worse for new contributors.

indeed.
and that's why i've quit microstock in disgust.

15 uploads a week ? it's  a joke !
on macros i can upload 100 pics a day if my connection allows.

« Reply #244 on: September 08, 2010, 06:48 »
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SO, as far as I understand there has not been an official response from IS on this... after the 90 plus pages on IS forum?

bittersweet

« Reply #245 on: September 08, 2010, 07:01 »
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Okay so I'm only on page 7 of the 10 pages, but nobody has mentioned the fact that the levels for illustrators are nearly double! what is up with that???

« Reply #246 on: September 08, 2010, 07:08 »
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How is that friendly to newcomers?

Newcomers can see more perspective with this system, since the bars does not seem to be so high. I believe there could be talented people who give up on becoming a stock photographer because they see that the bars are favoring the old contributors. So instead they leave their talents unexploited...

Anyway I have also said that I don't like the way they have implemented the system right now. But I don't think a talented photographer would need 4 years to reach the gold canister level. Let's take the example of black diamond contributors: they have all achieved at least 25000 downloads/year (e.g. if they registered in istock's early ages). If we calculate with my average 6.1 (which I am sure they oversell) redeemed credits per download that would mean they would receive more than 150000 redeemed credits per year. Thus if they would start today they would be on at least gold level by next year anyway, and they would have started after more than half a year has already passed. If they would always use the past year (the year between today and the same date last year) instead of the calendar years they are proposing right now then this system would be even more fair.

« Reply #247 on: September 08, 2010, 07:15 »
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They doing that because they can, less money for contributors mean more money in their pockets...
I saw it before with stock brokers, some of them didn't want to trade with less liquid stocks and bonds, they wanted only "blue chips"... Now in crisis, they are struggle for every transaction they can get...

Also, they saw big mess with "Fotolia percentage problem", now is everything calm about that, Fotolia makes more money for itself and still has lot of contributors..They expect the "same course of events"...
Lots of noise in the beigning  and at the end of whole this ,all will be again as before, difference is only more money in their pocket...
85% of price for OUR work is too much... They are not producers , they are only distribution center...
So , we can only search for others for a better deal, because nothing will change...

« Reply #248 on: September 08, 2010, 07:15 »
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Just wait for a few days for their old and verified tactics. They will offer something that is just slightly less awful than this and people will start saying "Thanks istock".
so true   :-[

« Reply #249 on: September 08, 2010, 07:17 »
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Each of these companies would like us to believe that if we don't sell our images through them, we miss out to "their clientele" but I don't believe that.  It is the fresh new content and the best of the best old content that determines where people buy images.  These companies flaunt their content numbers and their quality to the buying population in order to grow their clientele.  And it works.  iStock CANNOT do that if we all take a stand.  Don't pull ports, just let iStock fall behind in the race to represent the best images out there.  Not a PAYCUT but a PAYSHIFT.  Moving those iStock dollars to another company. It won't be instant, but it will happen.  No buyer is loyal enough to any company to sacrifice quality of work to stay with a sinking ship.  I think what we could find in 2011, if we do this, is that as our iStock income decreases, the income at the others will grow. 

January 2011 may be a good time for the other micro companies to pick up disgruntled iStock exclusives and take advantage of the images they represent that iStock customers will never see.  I am curious... if Fotolia, Shutterstock or Dreamstime suddenly came up with an incentive for the exclusives to jump ship, or for us to pull our iStock ports down... would you take it?  I would.  We have more control over this situation than you realize.  I agree with those calling out for no more new uploads in 2011 but if you want to see results early in 2011, start now.  Start building a payshift before the paycuts hit.


 

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