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Author Topic: iStock commission changes, blog lists blogs  (Read 4126 times)

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Uncle Pete

  • Evidence please...

« on: October 06, 2010, 23:57 »
0
Seems like someone went and found many of the other sites that have opinions on the 2011 changes coming to iStock contributors.

I don't know if someone posted this link in one of the longer threads, but if it's a duplicate I apologize for missing it and posting the same information a second time.

With that, here's a nice collection and some interesting viewpoints. (Tyler, Sean, Todd and others who keep up with what's current)

http://www.mystockphoto.org/the-istock-newroyalty-saga/

One that stood out is the crowd sourcing turns to crowd shafting.

http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2010/09/13/istockphotos-unsustainable-business-model-from-crowd-sourcing-to-crowd-shafting-2/


« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 03:29 »
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I hadn't seen Jeremy's post before, thanks for linking it.

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 08:54 »
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Very convenient to have so many relevant blog postings referenced in one place.  Thanks for posting Pete!

« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2010, 08:53 »
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Thanks Pete for the mention :-)

« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2010, 11:54 »
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Jeremy's article is excellent, although it misses some key points.  For instance the argument that microstock itself is unsustainable was never made by Thompson.  The real argument was that the rise in commission percentages was an unsustainable model.  Someone should point that out to him, though I doubt he wants to acknowledge it.  It is a much better story for traditional photographers if the angle is that microstock itself is unsustainable.

That said the last few years, and this last month in particular, has convinced me that microstock is not worthy of my support.  Contributor rights don't exist in any meaningful form, the growth of images in microstock out-paces the ability for me to produce my own images and sustain growth, and prices remain ridiculously low across the board.  Fwiw I never felt the argument from the traditionals was wrong - that we were undercutting the industry and would all suffer for it.  But microstock was my only realistic path to stock photography at the time, and it produced a nice income for me.  I guess I hoped the industry would mature as my ability improved.

I think the time has come for many of us to simply move on.  I'm sure 99.9% won't move on, and will continue to feed an industry which abuses us with increasing frequency.  But after I reload my images from IS to the other agencies when my exclusivity expires, I will be producing for other markets.

grp_photo

« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2010, 12:04 »
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@djpadavona: cool post cool attitude!

« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2010, 14:23 »
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Thanks for posting this, RacePhoto. And Thanks Mr. Locke for this paragraph in your blog, makes me feel a bit better but confirms me in my decision to leave istock in January at the same time.

"For Getty, who basically has no production costs to speak of, to steal 85% from people who wholly own their own content is just unbelievable.  I really wouldnt blame all independents for pulling their work from iStock and concentrating on sites that pay you a fairer amount.  Because with the new collection taking up search return space and all, youd likely make less anyways in the upcoming days.  Im really sorry for my peers in this regard."

Istock's my second best agency, but the returns on Fotolia are 70 % of my income, paying me 31 % (if I were exclusive there it would be 49 % - completely different spheres compared to istock). The loss will be hard to make up for nonetheless.

« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 14:34 »
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2010, 14:49 »
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Jeremy's article is excellent, although it misses some key points.  For instance the argument that microstock itself is unsustainable was never made by Thompson.  The real argument was that the rise in commission percentages was an unsustainable model.  Someone should point that out to him, though I doubt he wants to acknowledge it.  It is a much better story for traditional photographers if the angle is that microstock itself is unsustainable.

That said the last few years, and this last month in particular, has convinced me that microstock is not worthy of my support.  Contributor rights don't exist in any meaningful form, the growth of images in microstock out-paces the ability for me to produce my own images and sustain growth, and prices remain ridiculously low across the board.  Fwiw I never felt the argument from the traditionals was wrong - that we were undercutting the industry and would all suffer for it.  But microstock was my only realistic path to stock photography at the time, and it produced a nice income for me.  I guess I hoped the industry would mature as my ability improved.

I think the time has come for many of us to simply move on.  I'm sure 99.9% won't move on, and will continue to feed an industry which abuses us with increasing frequency.  But after I reload my images from IS to the other agencies when my exclusivity expires, I will be producing for other markets.

I disagree about the argument from the trads...to me, comparing microstock to high quality, "artsy"-type stock images is like comparing apples to oranges...I always felt that microstock was fulfilling a need for small companies and individuals...those who couldn't afford to spend $200 a pop for an image for their church bulletin or their company newsletter mailout. But I am totally with you on the rest of your statement.

Even Walmart raises prices now and again. I just think that Getty/IS, being the biggest and first microstock agency, and the agency that gets the most exposure, has used their market position to boast about unsustainability and has seized the opportunity to shaft its contributors. After all, if they say it loud enough and long enough, everyone will believe it. I think big companies are going to rally around this concept as long as they possible can, as it puts more money in stockholders/owners/upper managements' pocket.

helix7

« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2010, 15:54 »
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I disagree about the argument from the trads...to me, comparing microstock to high quality, "artsy"-type stock images is like comparing apples to oranges...I always felt that microstock was fulfilling a need for small companies and individuals...those who couldn't afford to spend $200 a pop for an image for their church bulletin or their company newsletter mailout. But I am totally with you on the rest of your statement...

It's not apples to oranges. It never was. Just look at the istock HotShots newsletter. Nearly every time I look at that thing, I think "The istock images are better than the Getty images!"

That said, I do disagree that microstock is undercutting anything. It's simply fulfilling a need based on market demand, and given the proliferation of more affordable pro-sumer digital photography equipment, software, computers, etc., the value of a stock image isn't what it used to be. Not because of microstock. Just because the market has changed and expanded in many different ways.

But microstock and traditional RF stock are not operating on two different platforms. They are most certainly competing head-to-head and microstock is certainly benefiting from customers reassessing the value of stock images and what they are willing to pay for them, and moving their business accordingly.

« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2010, 16:34 »
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It's not apples to oranges. It never was. Just look at the istock HotShots newsletter. Nearly every time I look at that thing, I think "The istock images are better than the Getty images!"

That said, I do disagree that microstock is undercutting anything. It's simply fulfilling a need based on market demand, and given the proliferation of more affordable pro-sumer digital photography equipment, software, computers, etc., the value of a stock image isn't what it used to be. Not because of microstock. Just because the market has changed and expanded in many different ways.

But microstock and traditional RF stock are not operating on two different platforms. They are most certainly competing head-to-head and microstock is certainly benefiting from customers reassessing the value of stock images and what they are willing to pay for them, and moving their business accordingly.

All good points.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 18:13 by cclapper »

« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2010, 18:12 »
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Helix, though I generally am in strong agreement with you, I don't believe the existence of microstock is in any way a statement of what free markets will pay for imagery.  Actually that argument has long been a pet peeve of mine.  Perhaps the ultimate version of the free market is the stock market - a highly liquid and ever-changing opinion on the worth of individual companies and the indexes of those companies.

Microstock on the other hand is simply a take-it-or-leave-it price point, which often is the same or similar for wildly different products.  It doesn't matter if you are Joe Snapshot uploading pictures from his vacation taken on a point-and-shoot, or someone using the best digital camera known to man, multiple models, high quality lighting expertly applied, and an excellent concept.  The price to any buyer is still a few dollars.  There is no market saying, "Hey that picture from Yuri is darn good.  It's worth $200, not $2."  There is no market saying, "That $2 snap shot is probably worth 50 cents, or $2.50, or whatever."  You don't like the price the microstock agency is asking?  Then you go to the next microstock agency and find that the same image is available for a similar price, if not exactly the same price.  We can fret about iStock being several dollars more expensive than some other site, but in the end it's not really a big difference.  

To say microstock is a "market statement" about what images should cost, is like saying people sharing files on the old Napster was a statement that music should be free of charge.  If you offer excellent images for a ridiculously low price point, of course buyers will jump at the offer.  It isn't a free market so much as it is a fire sale, run by agencies which have convinced a sourced crowd to learn as much as they possibly can about photography and produce images for very small royalties.  

In my opinion microstock pricing made a lot of sense when they were accepting vacation snapshots and selling them for $1 or less.  The skill level required to produce the image was in line with the royalty.  While royalties have grown substantially since the early days, they are still microstock royalties after all.  Yet the skill level required to get images accepted, let alone have them meet success, is well beyond the original intention.  We've taught an entire generation of buyers that images of pristine quality can be bought for a few dollars.  This is why I feel we have undercut our ability to sell images in the future.  We are stuck in the vicious circle of always needing equipment upgrades, and talent upgrades, just to tread water while competing for one dollar bills.  It's not for me anymore.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 18:16 by djpadavona »

rubyroo

« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2010, 19:04 »
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Very well expressed djpadavona.

molka

    This user is banned.
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2010, 08:07 »
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I disagree about the argument from the trads...to me, comparing microstock to high quality, "artsy"-type stock images is like comparing apples to oranges...I always felt that microstock was fulfilling a need for small companies and individuals...those who couldn't afford to spend $200 a pop for an image for their church bulletin or their company newsletter mailout. But I am totally with you on the rest of your statement...

It's not apples to oranges. It never was. Just look at the istock HotShots newsletter. Nearly every time I look at that thing, I think "The istock images are better than the Getty images!"

That said, I do disagree that microstock is undercutting anything. It's simply fulfilling a need based on market demand, and given the proliferation of more affordable pro-sumer digital photography equipment, software, computers, etc., the value of a stock image isn't what it used to be. Not because of microstock. Just because the market has changed and expanded in many different ways.

But microstock and traditional RF stock are not operating on two different platforms. They are most certainly competing head-to-head and microstock is certainly benefiting from customers reassessing the value of stock images and what they are willing to pay for them, and moving their business accordingly.

Why do poeple think the market demand is an excuse for anything, and should always be served? There is a great market demand for you getting 50c an hour payment (or nothing), most company owners would love that. There is great market demand for drugs, weapons, and prostitution, do you think they should all be served just because they exist?

molka

    This user is banned.
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2010, 08:13 »
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Helix, though I generally am in strong agreement with you, I don't believe the existence of microstock is in any way a statement of what free markets will pay for imagery.  Actually that argument has long been a pet peeve of mine.  Perhaps the ultimate version of the free market is the stock market - a highly liquid and ever-changing opinion on the worth of individual companies and the indexes of those companies.

Microstock on the other hand is simply a take-it-or-leave-it price point, which often is the same or similar for wildly different products.  It doesn't matter if you are Joe Snapshot uploading pictures from his vacation taken on a point-and-shoot, or someone using the best digital camera known to man, multiple models, high quality lighting expertly applied, and an excellent concept.  The price to any buyer is still a few dollars.  There is no market saying, "Hey that picture from Yuri is darn good.  It's worth $200, not $2."  There is no market saying, "That $2 snap shot is probably worth 50 cents, or $2.50, or whatever."  You don't like the price the microstock agency is asking?  Then you go to the next microstock agency and find that the same image is available for a similar price, if not exactly the same price.  We can fret about iStock being several dollars more expensive than some other site, but in the end it's not really a big difference.  

To say microstock is a "market statement" about what images should cost, is like saying people sharing files on the old Napster was a statement that music should be free of charge.  If you offer excellent images for a ridiculously low price point, of course buyers will jump at the offer.  It isn't a free market so much as it is a fire sale, run by agencies which have convinced a sourced crowd to learn as much as they possibly can about photography and produce images for very small royalties.  

In my opinion microstock pricing made a lot of sense when they were accepting vacation snapshots and selling them for $1 or less.  The skill level required to produce the image was in line with the royalty.  While royalties have grown substantially since the early days, they are still microstock royalties after all.  Yet the skill level required to get images accepted, let alone have them meet success, is well beyond the original intention.  We've taught an entire generation of buyers that images of pristine quality can be bought for a few dollars.  This is why I feel we have undercut our ability to sell images in the future.  We are stuck in the vicious circle of always needing equipment upgrades, and talent upgrades, just to tread water while competing for one dollar bills.  It's not for me anymore.

That's why you have RM. The bigger the customer is, the more valuable they find your shot, the more money you get. But of course just about everybody abandoned that... was that a smart move, hmm? I guess many newcomers didn't even know such thing exists before they got quite deeply involved in microstock.

« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2010, 10:05 »
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Neither is that the point of RM nor has it been gotten rid of.

« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2010, 10:52 »
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here's one that came across twitter yesterday.  to be honest, I only skimmed it, but thought someone here might find something interesting with it:

http://advertising.hamarazone.com/2010/10/laugh-at-istock-me-never/

lisafx

« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2010, 11:44 »
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here's one that came across twitter yesterday.  to be honest, I only skimmed it, but thought someone here might find something interesting with it:

http://advertising.hamarazone.com/2010/10/laugh-at-istock-me-never/


Interesting article Jami. 

I think he is dead right about H&F, and what their expectations were when they bought Getty, and what their intentions are now.  Makes a lot of sense.

He does repeat the same sort of misconceptions about what microstock images are and who shoots them though, that we've heard before:

I always said, well not me but someone else with much greater knowledge, the best stock images are produced using this simple guideline, shoot your feet, your friend (we all know theres more to it than friend, dont we), then the sky anything else in between, over and over. If at first you fail to make money, try, try again

« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2010, 11:58 »
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.. and the "unsustainable" nugget:
Getty have known for some time their senior management team being one of the smartest in the industry that microstock prices and margins, at current levels, would be unsustainable without ongoing growth.

« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2010, 12:27 »
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The article implies that the game plan of current ownership is "pump and dump".  Buy a pig, put as much lipstick on her as she'll hold, and then look around for a greater fool on which to unload her.  And the author thinks that this is humorous because after all, the contributors are basically talentless snapshooters and, haw haw, a bunch of foreigners.

Leaving aside the "humor", the first part is worth considering.  Not that you can do anything about it.  In times of economic upheaval (read: inflationary bubbles and crashes), good old fashioned business practices (hard work, honesty, patience) must be thrown out the window because the environment has been stacked against them in favor of speculation and deception.  It's tough to make an honest buck when the monetary foundation of the entire economy is dishonest.

« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2010, 15:08 »
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Okay, I just stumbled across another one - someone that is "pro" iStock changes (sees them as a good thing).

http://www.vela-photo.com/blog/?p=1773

However, i dont understand this part (bolded): "Under the new rules, the better my pictures, the higher my yearly credits and the higher my commissions. Additionally, the lowering of purchase credits will also increase my sales volume (we know that from experience)."

"lowering of purchase credits" ?? is he saying that iStock is lowering prices?  what am I missing here?

« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2010, 15:23 »
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It's tough to make an honest buck when the monetary foundation of the entire economy is dishonest.
I've been saying that a while now! It's nice to see someone else sees this too. :)

« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2010, 18:47 »
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It's tough to make an honest buck when the monetary foundation of the entire economy is dishonest.
I've been saying that a while now! It's nice to see someone else sees this too. :)
After Wilson 100 yearish ago allowed that private banks can print 10x more money than they actually have, the monetary system, not based on value but on debt, was doomed. I thought everybody saw Zeitgeist by now, starring the Federal Reserve as the House of Horrors.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dmPchuXIXQ[/youtube]

« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2010, 20:17 »
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^^^
This gives me a headache.

molka

    This user is banned.
« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2010, 08:36 »
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Neither is that the point of RM nor has it been gotten rid of.

They are the points, and nobody said that they got rid of it. It's there.

PhotoDuneMicrostock Insider

 

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