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Author Topic: 3 years in the future. What are you seeing?  (Read 17328 times)

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« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2014, 15:05 »
+14
At some point we'll see significant decline in earnings - the tsunami of microstock submitters has not reached it's crest yet. Most of us already notice some decline in earnings because our images are getting lost in a see of similar content.  You can imagine what will happen when SS will be accepting a million images a week. I think unavoidably there will be a phase when most photographers decide that this kind of activity is just not worth it anymore. For full-timers like me it will be a pretty low point. However... I do believe that after passing that point the industry will not be dead completely - it will evolve and will probably take a different shape, and hopefully those of us who decide to stay with this business can evolve with it. I don't see a need for images disappearing, and I don't see people providing high quality content for free. 


« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2014, 15:19 »
+3
At some point we'll see significant decline in earnings - the tsunami of microstock submitters has not reached it's crest yet. Most of us already notice some decline in earnings because our images are getting lost in a see of similar content.  You can imagine what will happen when SS will be accepting a million images a week. I think unavoidably there will be a phase when most photographers decide that this kind of activity is just not worth it anymore. For full-timers like me it will be a pretty low point. However... I do believe that after passing that point the industry will not be dead completely - it will evolve and will probably take a different shape, and hopefully those of us who decide to stay with this business can evolve with it. I don't see a need for images disappearing, and I don't see people providing high quality content for free.

In order to preserve a pipeline of usable content, agencies need to keep things just above that point - I think we're pretty close to it now.

jbarber873

« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2014, 15:24 »
+1
  Video. Everywhere. Shoot video. Now.

« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2014, 15:24 »
+3
I think there will always be opportunities to make a living at this, but not in the same ways we've been able to historically. Can I even use the word "historically" in microstock? Doesn't seem old enough yet.

Looking ahead, the writing is on the wall for some companies. There are a few you can count out already. Crestock should be gone in 3 years. Maybe Cutcaster as well.

DPC is kind of a wild card in all of this. Succeed or fail, either way it changes things. I think it will succeed, for Fotolia anyway. Maybe at the cost of Fotolia itself but I've always suspected that DPC was a bet on "nanostock" as the future of the business. They just wanted to be first to market.

However I don't think DPC still being around in 3 years means that very many other places won't be. Shutterstock is almost too big to fail at this point. iStock pulled all kinds of shenanigans with buyers and contributors over the years and they're still around. Shutterstock will be at least as resilient, even if DPC becomes wildly successful and poaches customers from SS. They might falter, but SS will be around for a long time, even if not always as the market leader.

I think in less than 3 years we'll see a lot more growth in premium agencies with higher standards and niche collections. I hear Stocksy is doing well. Offset, I'm not so sure but there have been rumors of artists seeing some good sales. There are some interesting companies emerging that sell some non-traditional stock products, graphics, fonts, texture packs, etc. Some are doing pretty well. GraphicRiver (Envato) could have been this kind of company but they price things too low and they aren't seen as a premium content provider. They got too caught up in gimmicky stuff like nightclub flyer templates.

I think there is a real market for these smaller premium-quality collections. I expect to see more of these kinds of companies emerge. I look at companies like these as being the means by which I might survive this very uncertain time. I keep hoping that Stocksy will offer some sort of premium vector/illustration option. I'm not totally thrilled with the idea of image exclusivity, but I like the possibilities of what Stocksy might offer. Bruce indicated that vectors were something they'd offer eventually. Hope that's still the plan.

In 3 years I expect to still be doing this. But I think a lot will change in those 3 years. I don't think that an individual company will represent more than 30% of my monthly stock income by then. And I think that will be the result of expansion into other areas and types of stock marketplaces, emphasis on places that pay better, and possibly due to Shutterstock losing some of their market to places like DPC.

« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2014, 16:01 »
0
Well thought through Mike - it amazes me how the smaller sites hang around so long.

I'm not sure about "premium quality" as I'm not surely its definable.

« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2014, 16:58 »
+2
I as well think "niche", i.e. Stocksy, Offset, players will continue create a good upper end secondary market, but overall microstock will consolidate and level out at a lower level than the current one, which may not be sustainable for many contributors. I also think there may be an uptick in RM, as companies look for unique content, but that RM agencies may charge for image placement the way Getty is now. Then again, I've been wrong about everything else in my life .....

« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2014, 17:03 »
+3
Exclusivity might be the next big thing.  If all the FOTOLIA DPC's of the world keep cheapening the market further, it might force other agencies like SS to offer a more lucrative system for its contributors, its exclusive contributors.  The grand assumption is that they can lure in those who could hurt the quality of the collections for the cheap seat agencies like FOTOLIA (DPC).  Lots of gaps to fill here, but I can see exclusivity being more heavily pushed if they can show it provides a competitive collection edge. Finally, I say exclusive because if the core of the MS industry just gives up and pulls content that can be more destructive to the agencies. I bet the photo mills would jump on a lucrative exclusive agreement if commissions start yielding consistent 10 cent returns.  There will be an "adjustment" somehow.

« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2014, 17:27 »
+3
Exclusivity might be the next big thing.  If all the FOTOLIA DPC's of the world keep cheapening the market further, it might force other agencies like SS to offer a more lucrative system for its contributors, its exclusive contributors.  The grand assumption is that they can lure in those who could hurt the quality of the collections for the cheap seat agencies like FOTOLIA (DPC).  Lots of gaps to fill here, but I can see exclusivity being more heavily pushed if they can show it provides a competitive collection edge. Finally, I say exclusive because if the core of the MS industry just gives up and pulls content that can be more destructive to the agencies. I bet the photo mills would jump on a lucrative exclusive agreement if commissions start yielding consistent 10 cent returns.  There will be an "adjustment" somehow.

I agree with what Mike said and that sets up a strong likelihood for "voluntary exclusivity". Basically, no formal agreement, but contributors feel it is in their best interest to submit to some places because they have such a higher RPD and earnings potential. I do this now, and if more lucrative places come online, I could see more contributors going this route.

« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2014, 17:53 »
0
Exclusivity might be the next big thing.  If all the FOTOLIA DPC's of the world keep cheapening the market further, it might force other agencies like SS to offer a more lucrative system for its contributors, its exclusive contributors.  The grand assumption is that they can lure in those who could hurt the quality of the collections for the cheap seat agencies like FOTOLIA (DPC).  Lots of gaps to fill here, but I can see exclusivity being more heavily pushed if they can show it provides a competitive collection edge. Finally, I say exclusive because if the core of the MS industry just gives up and pulls content that can be more destructive to the agencies. I bet the photo mills would jump on a lucrative exclusive agreement if commissions start yielding consistent 10 cent returns.  There will be an "adjustment" somehow.

I agree with what Mike said and that sets up a strong likelihood for "voluntary exclusivity". Basically, no formal agreement, but contributors feel it is in their best interest to submit to some places because they have such a higher RPD and earnings potential. I do this now, and if more lucrative places come online, I could see more contributors going this route.

I guess I should have read his post more thoroughly. I agree with him that image exclusivity is important. The one thing I struggle with though is giving away basic images that would not qualify on a site like stocky.  Like isolations.  If agencies consider these commodity content then many of us with large ports of this kind of content won't have anywhere to go but down.  So this also means that those of us who want to succeed will likely have to change what we shoot in order to survive. Unless sites that offer image exclusivity leave the decision up to the artist as to what they want to submit as exclusive content.  But niche sites.......that's a different beast if the industry does move heavily in that direction.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 17:55 by Mantis »

« Reply #34 on: June 11, 2014, 18:52 »
+2
A wild guess. Agencies continue to import other agencies collections to the point all agencies have almost identical content. Buyers go only to the agencies with the best prices and buying experience. Some of the fringe agencies die as the market consolidates. Photogs quit uploading because the agency percentages are all split to nearly exclude the photog. A couple of new agencies start with niche "fresh" not shared images but the competition is tough against the big world collections. A couple of the new agencies are overwhelmed with photogs attempting to get in and the agencies start getting very picky in selecting contributors. We find we have gone just about full circle around and back to the days before microstock and when small time photogs could not get into the desired agencies. However, at this time the micro agencies now exist with millions of images where it is difficult for any photog to join and make an income.

Video footage takes off.

« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2014, 19:02 »
0
I agree with what Mike said and that sets up a strong likelihood for "voluntary exclusivity". Basically, no formal agreement, but contributors feel it is in their best interest to submit to some places because they have such a higher RPD and earnings potential. I do this now, and if more lucrative places come online, I could see more contributors going this route.

Voluntary exclusivity is a strong possibility for some of my stuff. Especially as some of these niche companies start to really move. I feel pretty good about a couple of small companies. If things really pick up, I could easily justify focusing significant amounts of my time and effort on just those few companies and leave the random other images for the lower-paying places.

It's almost impossible for me to believe that I'm actually talking about exclusivity in some form for myself as a real possibility. A year ago I would have laughed at the idea. Now, with it being harder to keep up and "feed the beast", and especially with the new "nanostock" DPC type stuff around, voluntary (or even formal) image exclusivity might be the answer. Heck it might be the only thing that pulls some of us out of the fire as we try to differentiate ourselves from these new stock image dollar stores.

« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2014, 21:22 »
+1
In three years, I will be turning 70 and will have Alzheimers. In fact, I already forgot what I was going to say.

Oh yeah, I remember. I saw three or four posts predict the death of small sites like Cutcaster. I doubt it. Put yourself in John's place. The bulk of your cost was building the site, probably. Even if it starts to make less and less revenue, why close it? Just stop investing in promotion and cut back on reviewing new images (as Kelly at GL did for a while as I recall). Even if you are only bringing in say $1000 per day from your current inventory, why shut down if that pays your expenses and leaves you some profit? Even a bit of StockXpert is still running.  So I wouldn't be surprised if the little guys are with us 3 yrs from now.

« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2014, 22:52 »
0
So are we all saying "it's essentially dead" ? :)

I could see anything happening, but I think it has to get worse before it gets better. Like I said in another thread, SS seems to be tenuously propping up most people's earnings. If they falter, then the panic button will start to get pressed.

Yes, we're all hoping and praying SS doesn't pull an IS or FT and accelerate this industry's decline.  But the fact is, they don't have to... we're still f'ed.  It's the increased competition that will kill us all.  SS could even increase our commissions by a few cents a download, and the swelling ranks of new contributors uploading millions of new images will drown us. 

SS can't save us, unless they close their doors to new contributors, and they will not do that (I don't even think they should... it wouldn't be fair... but I don't have to like it when these new contributors run my earnings into the ground and force me out of this.)

Uncle Pete

« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2014, 23:23 »
+1
Photo population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by requiring the death of every image reaching a particular age. (Sorry, pure theft from Logan's Run)

Images will be removed after their time and replaced by newer images. Since there will be 100 million images to choose from, there's no loss for buyers or artists in the recycling. Only room for the new.

Actually, what if agencies finally decide that an image that hasn't sold in two years, gets deleted? Not an unfair time for someone to see and DL it?

Also the other prediction that most agencies will have mostly identical content is already true, except the ones that have a distinctive identity and look for diversity and exclusive content. Not the SOS.

Third point is... I'm turning 70 in three years and I also forgot, just like michaeldb. LOL

« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2014, 00:43 »
+1
In three years, I will be turning 70 and will have Alzheimers. In fact, I already forgot what I was going to say.

Oh yeah, I remember. I saw three or four posts predict the death of small sites like Cutcaster. I doubt it. Put yourself in John's place. The bulk of your cost was building the site, probably. Even if it starts to make less and less revenue, why close it? Just stop investing in promotion and cut back on reviewing new images (as Kelly at GL did for a while as I recall). Even if you are only bringing in say $1000 per day from your current inventory, why shut down if that pays your expenses and leaves you some profit? Even a bit of StockXpert is still running.  So I wouldn't be surprised if the little guys are with us 3 yrs from now.

Agreed. The trick is for the small sites not to bother investing in anything so their sole costs are for image hosting. If they do that then the owner can live fairly  comfortably off the proceeds, even if turnover is as little as $300-400 a day.  At that sort of level they hardly even need to worry about artists reaching a payout, it will happen so rarely, but the owner still picks up $100k-plus a year from something that pretty much runs itself.

BoBoBolinski

« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2014, 01:15 »
+3
"The quality of images will continue to rise as will the volume available"

All I see at iStock is the quality of images declining. Looking at the latest vectors is just embarrassing.

MxR

« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2014, 02:00 »
+1
I,m learning music composition. I,m learning video editing.


« Reply #42 on: June 12, 2014, 02:39 »
+1
In three years, I will be turning 70 and will have Alzheimers. In fact, I already forgot what I was going to say.

Oh yeah, I remember. I saw three or four posts predict the death of small sites like Cutcaster. I doubt it. Put yourself in John's place. The bulk of your cost was building the site, probably. Even if it starts to make less and less revenue, why close it? Just stop investing in promotion and cut back on reviewing new images (as Kelly at GL did for a while as I recall). Even if you are only bringing in say $1000 per day from your current inventory, why shut down if that pays your expenses and leaves you some profit? Even a bit of StockXpert is still running.  So I wouldn't be surprised if the little guys are with us 3 yrs from now.

Yes, good point.  If anyone closes (or rather gets purchased by someone else) it will probably be one of the top 6 sites that have considerable expenses and a large staff.

On the flip side however, there is still a lot of customer support and work to keep the site alive and healthy, not to mention reviews and answering contributor emails :).  If a site has minimal income I think it would be most profitable to close the doors.

« Reply #43 on: June 12, 2014, 11:12 »
+6
Experts on the SS critique forum will continue to teach and nurture newbies who don't know an F stop from a bus stop. The newbies go on to become experts competing with them and flooding the market even more. Hobbyists and part-timers thrilled to see their work on the cover of a book don't mind that they were paid 38 cents for it. People who one year ago were posting OOF photos with purple fringing in the critique forum have now become Sage Oracles because they have a Wordpress blog with the word "Photography" in it. The unfortunate term "royalty-free" is increasingly confused in the minds of the public with the term "FREE" not to mention "Copyright-Free.' The art licensing world will be in ruins due to all the seamless vector patterns on micro, not to mention all these people willing to give up their layered files. I am old enough to remember a time when no designer would ever have dreamed of giving up a layered file, and if a client asked for one they were laughed at.

For me, the crowdsourcing aspect of micro is more destructive to my living than the micro prices. Because if it weren't for the sheer numbers of amateurs contributing, the agencies would never get away with half of what they're doing, DPC included. I'll probably get some incoming from saying this, but it is the way I feel.

« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2014, 11:23 »
+2
Thanks to microstock I have some nice equipment. Maybe I'll trade it for an M3 or 500CM and have fun with film, if there is any.

Shelma1

« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2014, 11:35 »
+1
Quote from: alison1414

For me, the crowdsourcing aspect of micro is more destructive to my living than the micro prices. Because if it weren't for the sheer numbers of amateurs contributing, the agencies would never get away with half of what they're doing, DPC included. I'll probably get some incoming from saying this, but it is the way I feel.

I see it the opposite way. There were two tiers, one for pros and one for amateurs (I'm an amateur). Macro used to be for pros, micro for amateurs. Then the pros saw they could make good money by outshooting and outdrawing the amateurs in micro, which led to a flood of pro images that were sitting on hard drives, increasing the quality of inexpensive images.

I think the market will eventually go back in that direction, with the pros heading more towards sites like Stocksy as they become disgusted with the low prices their work sells for, leaving the amateurs in micro.

And hopefully by then I'll have increased my skills enough to be considered a pro. ;)

« Reply #46 on: June 12, 2014, 12:20 »
+2
Quote from: alison1414

For me, the crowdsourcing aspect of micro is more destructive to my living than the micro prices. Because if it weren't for the sheer numbers of amateurs contributing, the agencies would never get away with half of what they're doing, DPC included. I'll probably get some incoming from saying this, but it is the way I feel.

I see it the opposite way. There were two tiers, one for pros and one for amateurs (I'm an amateur). Macro used to be for pros, micro for amateurs. Then the pros saw they could make good money by outshooting and outdrawing the amateurs in micro, which led to a flood of pro images that were sitting on hard drives, increasing the quality of inexpensive images.

I think the market will eventually go back in that direction, with the pros heading more towards sites like Stocksy as they become disgusted with the low prices their work sells for, leaving the amateurs in micro.

And hopefully by then I'll have increased my skills enough to be considered a pro. ;)

You are not an amateur haha. I hope you're right, but I'm already shocked at the high quality I see on micro, and I'm not sure we can put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Ed

« Reply #47 on: June 12, 2014, 13:29 »
+2
Shutterstock currently has a price to earnings ratio of 107.39 and they are sitting on a $155 million in cash - their cash balances on their balance sheet has been increasing year over year.  They are going to have to do something to increase earnings and live up to the stock price (perhaps use that cash to acquire other agencies). 

iStock (and Getty) has a note due to investors within the next two years.  Fotolia continues to refinance its debt.  We know very little about Dreamstime's financials.

Not only do I see industry consolidation on the horizon but prices are going to have to increase at some point (that doesn't necessarily mean contributor royalties will increase).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 13:33 by Ed »

« Reply #48 on: June 12, 2014, 14:03 »
+2
I'm surprized there are not more cross platform agencies like the Envato Marketplace.  I don't buy many photos so don't visit Photodune, but I buy Wordpress themes there and often wander over to Code Canyon or Graphic River for design elements - while using the same account.   They have very frustrating licenses though from a buyer's POV, and I haven't investigated for a couple years, but they didn't pay the greatest royalties. 

« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2014, 16:51 »
+3
Experts on the SS critique forum will continue to teach and nurture newbies who don't know an F stop from a bus stop. The newbies go on to become experts competing with them and flooding the market even more...

Who says that any of them are experts?

If they can be outdone by some newbies who pick up shooting tips on an internet forum, then they deserve to be outdone and surely they're not experts.



 

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