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Author Topic: my recent Interview to Stocksy CEO Bruce Livingstone  (Read 6867 times)

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« on: May 07, 2013, 07:56 »
+9


« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 08:21 »
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it's online now, and it will be translated into Chinese by a volunteer

« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 08:59 »
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Interesting questions and interesting answers. Thanks very much for posting.

Funny how Bruce nowadays insists that photographers should be paid a minimum of 50% royalty. He wasn't saying that in 2004 when I joined Istock. Back then he thought we should be grateful for the 20% that Istock paid to all contributors.

« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 09:12 »
+1
Funny how Bruce nowadays insists that photographers should be paid a minimum of 50% royalty. He wasn't saying that in 2004 when I joined Istock. Back then he thought we should be grateful for the 20% that Istock paid to all contributors.

That was coming from a different perspective, having started as a free exchange platform, right?

And then again, while Bruce was there I don't remember iStock having cut any royalties, only risen over time, isn't it?

« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2013, 09:14 »
+3
Funny how Bruce nowadays insists that photographers should be paid a minimum of 50% royalty. He wasn't saying that in 2004 when I joined Istock. Back then he thought we should be grateful for the 20% that Istock paid to all contributors.

I'm not sure I remember being told I should be grateful, although that's certainly the impression you get nowadays for the 15%.  I guess perspective changes over time, and with experience and knowledge.

Hey, I got a mention! lol...

mlwinphoto

« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2013, 09:21 »
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Should be required reading by TPTB at iStock, in particular.

Interesting that he suggests contributors spread their portfolios over many outlets until such time as royalty rates rise. 

« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2013, 09:43 »
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This was a great read... Thank You

« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2013, 09:59 »
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Nice interview. He is very negative on the industry, but I can't say that I disagree. There's a lot to be negative about. I thought him saying that artists need to be paid more but that most of them suck (paraphrased) was kind of funny. I also was wondering if he purposefully didn't mention artists opening personal sites or that he just hasn't thought about it. It just seemed noticeably absent to me.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 10:05 by cthoman »

« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2013, 10:09 »
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:09 by Audi 5000 »

mlwinphoto

« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2013, 11:16 »
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Should be required reading by TPTB at iStock, in particular.

Interesting that he suggests contributors spread their portfolios over many outlets until such time as royalty rates rise.
Doesn't make sense to me.  Spread your work to low paying and low royalty sites until they pay more?  What incentive do they have to pay more if they already have the contributor's images?

Maybe he wasn't talking about micro sites.  Which ones aren't 'low paying and low royalty sites'?  And, please, don't tell me that iStock isn't one of them.  It may be better than the other micro sites (in that regard) but it's still low on both counts.

Poncke v2

« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2013, 11:21 »
+1
Should be required reading by TPTB at iStock, in particular.

Interesting that he suggests contributors spread their portfolios over many outlets until such time as royalty rates rise.
Why is he running an image exclusive agency then?

« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2013, 11:28 »
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:09 by Audi 5000 »

mlwinphoto

« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2013, 11:36 »
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Should be required reading by TPTB at iStock, in particular.

Interesting that he suggests contributors spread their portfolios over many outlets until such time as royalty rates rise.
Why is he running an image exclusive agency then?

He said to spread yourself out until such time as royalty rates rise.  Perhaps he feels that he is paying a fair rate......it's certainly better than some/many others I can think of.

« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2013, 11:43 »
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:09 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2013, 11:48 »
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I'm not sure I remember being told I should be grateful, although that's certainly the impression you get nowadays for the 15%.  I guess perspective changes over time, and with experience and knowledge.

I certainly remember being told to be grateful as previously no royalties were paid at all. It was also pointed out to me that the Members' Agreement at the time didn't legally oblige Istock to actually pay any royalties __ in effect they were a 'gift' paid out at Istock's discretion.

Somewhat ironically if Bruce had been a tad more generous in his previous life, when he introduced exclusivity, then he could have stopped the competition in it's tracks. Istock might then have enjoyed a virtual monopoly of microstock and be worth $B's now. Had he not sold out then Istock could quite conceivably be worth more than Getty by now.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2013, 12:14 »
0
Should be required reading by TPTB at iStock, in particular.

Interesting that he suggests contributors spread their portfolios over many outlets until such time as royalty rates rise.
Why is he running an image exclusive agency then?
He said to spread yourself out until such time as royalty rates rise.  Perhaps he feels that he is paying a fair rate......it's certainly better than some/many others I can think of.
Hard to spread your portfolio out when it's image exclusive.  So by spreading out your portfolio you think he meant taking some images that would be spread across ten different microstock sites and instead putting those images on one site, Stocksy?  That doesn't seem like the most likely interpretation of what he's saying.

Well, since he said to spread it out until royalty rates rise he may have meant to do so until you find an agency that pays 'fairly' and then put the majority of your effort there.  That may be Stocksy for those that get in there, too early to tell.

Or, maybe he's saying to spread yourself thin in an effort to force agencies that value exclusive material to pay a higher rate, thus keeping the exclusives they have and attracting more in the process; rather than what's happening at iStock where a number of exclusives are leaving.

I don't know, guess we would have to ask him.

As far as I'm concerned just do what you are comfortable and happy with.  If that's SS with subscription rates or Getty RM who cares as long as it works for you.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 12:23 by mlwinphoto »

Poncke v2

« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2013, 12:18 »
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I think your comment needs editing as I cant make anything of it as is

mlwinphoto

« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2013, 12:24 »
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I think your comment needs editing as I cant make anything of it as is

Just did.  Thanks.  Guess it helps to preview first.

« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2013, 12:28 »
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:10 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 12:33 »
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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2013, 12:48 »
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the spread out as broad as possible part doesn't make much sense (at least thinking of Stocksy's exclusivity) unless Bruce is so honest telling contributors that they aren't ready in terms of amount buyers

or is he talking about all the persons not interested/outside Stocksy?

« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2013, 13:00 »
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the spread out as broad as possible part doesn't make much sense (at least thinking of Stocksy's exclusivity) unless Bruce is so honest telling contributors that they aren't ready in terms of amount buyers

or is he talking about all the persons not interested/outside Stocksy?

Apparently he has a different perspective now. He was the one who invented the concept of agency exclusivity if I am not mistaken. Before iStock, my understanding was some agencies asked only for image exclusivity.

It was an interesting interview.  Would be more interesting if he was asked how Stocksy is doing since its launch.

Poncke v2

« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2013, 13:02 »
+3
Good interview, Bruce was fairly open to the questions asked about IS and why and how he sold it. Fair play.

I just didnt understand the comment on 'stocksy being the first agency without upload limits'. As far as I know only IS and GL have that and PD is someway. SS, CanStockPhoto, FT, DP, 123 all have unlimited uploads.

Also, about Stocksy having special images, there is a fair amount of your plain stock images on Stocksy, so I dont think that argument is just. Dont make it sound more special then it is.

I do understand now why I am rejected. Still didnt get an email telling me so  ;)

Poncke v2

« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2013, 13:05 »
+1

It was an interesting interview.  Would be more interesting if he was asked how Stocksy is doing since its launch.

I dont know what is agreed on the inside, between them, on what is shared on the outside, but if Stocksy had taken off like a rocket, we would have heard about it in the forum.

« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2013, 14:00 »
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I just didnt understand the comment on 'stocksy being the first agency without upload limits'. As far as I know only IS and GL have that and PD is someway. SS, CanStockPhoto, FT, DP, 123 all have unlimited uploads.

I didn't get that either. Didn't he (or the site) say something like that when Stocksy opened about being the first to pay 50%?

« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2013, 14:04 »
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:09 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2013, 14:09 »
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http://www.stocksy.com/service/about
"We also pay the highest royalty rates in the industry."


Ah, that was it. I think that one may be arguably "true" with the 100% EL licenses. The first with no upload limits... not so much.

Poncke v2

« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2013, 14:10 »
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Well, again, CanStockPhoto pays 50% http://www.canstockphoto.com/payout_schedule.php and they claim the same as Stocksy only in a different wording

"We're proud pay some of the absolute highest rates in the industry. Check for yourself! "

And there are more agencies paying 50% or higher and I am not sure but when they were working on Stocksy, Alamy paid 60% at that time.

EDIT: Indeed, if you add the 100% EL and the profit payout at the end of the year, they might have indeed the highest royalties.

« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2013, 15:02 »
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My problem is he gives credit to getty for the growth!   What did getty do besides reduce the market share from 70% to what is now 25%.  How does he call that growth.  Allowing the other sites to thrive and now SS has replace IS in yearly revenue.  It had to be painful see the 2 billion dollars left on the table in the 3 years after the sale.  How many people had a chance to be a billionaire and passed.  I can think of a few like Bill Gates early partner that sold his 50% of microsoft for $500,000.   I do understand the getty threat but it wouldn't have been succesful because of the dislike of getty.

« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2013, 08:47 »
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it's online now, and it will be translated into Chinese by a volunteer

Chinese translation is online now, please refer to the end of the Chinese translation to see original English version.

« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2013, 15:45 »
+2
Good interview,  I love the candid explanation of why he had to sell to Getty and how it became to big to handle. Probably the first real answer we have on the subject. 

I wish him and the Stocksy contributors good luck going forward.   Fair payment for the artist is something that should be a cornerstone in this industry.

« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2013, 18:29 »
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A refreshingly honest and frank interview that was packed with relevant information for our industry.

A few of the points Bruce made stuck out in regard to all of the sites and our position in the industry in general.  I think some of the sites have outgrown their initial site infrastructure and instead of replacing it they apply fixes that are temporary at best and ineffective in general. We see more bugs popping up every day because the sites choose to pour money into searches that bring them more revenue and bring down cost per sale; while they leave us to struggle with serious bugs caused by underlying technology which is old and outdated.

http://www.tukusheying.com/info/es_t_20130506102659.html

(Q stands for Question, B stands for Bruce. All photos are provided by Bruce)


Q: Why you sell iStockPhoto then?  If we can go back and you have a second chance, what will you do?  Sell it or keep it?

B: I sold iStockphoto for a number of reasons. I had been struggling with the loss of my two brothers and my father. I had some partners in iStockphoto that I didn't want to work with anymore and wasn't able to buy them out or move them away from the company without having a lot of money. I needed to grow the company very quickly in order keep our lead in the industry and to do that I needed quite a bit of capital. The combination of those things weighed very heavily in my decision to sell iStockhoto. I was able to stay with iStockphoto and Getty for three years after I sold it. It grew very rapidly with Getty backing me. It was what happened after I left iStockphoto that eventually made me want to get back into the industry. I don't regret selling it. It was at the size that it had become unmanageable

Q: I read in forum that people missed you.  Why you leave iStock?

B: I was asked by Jonathan Klein to take a back seat, step down as CEO and become a chairman with no real control. I didn't want to sit idly by while Getty cut photographer's pay while raising the prices. As a result, I had to leave.

Q: Someone said if Bruce was controlling iStock now, iStock surely will be different from what it is today.  Do you agree?  Can I have your comments on todays iStockPhoto?

B: If I were controlling iStockphoto, I would be investing in a long term strategy, not managing the budget by the quarter.

I would firstly work on the underlying technology as it's old and outdated. It was never designed to be as big as it has become.

The "best match" needs a lot of work, or could be removed entirely. The most important thing I would be doing is giving a larger share of the royalties to photographers. They should be fairly paid.

Q: When did you have the idea to start a co-op stock agency?  And why?


Q: From what you stated in stocksy website -- 50% on regular sales and 100% of extended licenses, pays out all profits to artists... It looks like you dont want to make money on it?  Is it a just a hobby for you, or a charity thing? Otherwise, in what perspective shall people understand this?  We all know iStockPhoto is a revolution to traditional stock photo industry, are you doing a new one to microstock industry now?

B: It is Stocksy's goal to distribute the wealth and profits among its photographer-owners, rather than hoard a reserve of cash.

With a 50% cut, there is plenty of money for good salaries and to properly market a product. Every photographer should know this and understand that if they get anything less than 50%, they're not being fairly paid.

I hope that photographers will demand more for their work.

I hope that big agencies will wake up and realize they're lost without their artists and they need to do treat people better. I hope they focus on making a good product, not a good profit. The reality is that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Photographers will earn less and continue to compete in a sea of competition as the big stock houses load more and more bad stock images.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 01:49 by gbalex »

« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2013, 19:04 »
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Thanks William, it's a good interview.

« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2013, 20:43 »
+2
So cats are not allowed there?!

Bruce Ill promise that Ill apply all kind of crappy instagram filters on my cats even you are alergic to cats fur  ;D


shudderstok

« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2013, 21:55 »
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With a 50% cut, there is plenty of money for good salaries and to properly market a product. Every photographer should know this and understand that if they get anything less than 50%, they're not being fairly paid.


yes, i remember clearly when all istock photographers got 50% and we were all being fairly paid before getty bought you out for millions and reduced our rates. too funny. a true messiah.


 

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