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Author Topic: How to fight against lower and lower commissions!?  (Read 28434 times)

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Noodles

« Reply #125 on: August 20, 2011, 05:55 »
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Its like asking for a "friendly" bank manager, square thinking of profit and loss. Forget it.

All Micro agencies rely on turnover of contributors, if they loose one today they will gain ten new ones tomorrow and hopefully one will be able to supply some good material. They DONT really want established photographers simply because they cant be messed around too much but the little new guy can be bullied into oblivion and is prepared to swallow any old garbage.
As I have said before, we dont have to do anything, the Micro industry will kill off itself, not now but maybe in a few years time it will all be history, you can only squeeze an orange so much.

Yeah, something like that maybe. I was thinking the amateur photography/illustrator, even those with big ports, will soon be unable to keep up with the new breed of contributors who are highly creative, original and can demand a higher price (Vetta or whatever). Thus the average Joe's work will become less valuable (in comparison) and slowly but surely they will disappear from Microstock. So really it's just going full circle as the pros take back their industry. At least until the next big thing that happens, which is......


« Reply #126 on: August 20, 2011, 08:32 »
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I think you've slightly missunderstood at what i was trying to put forward as an idea. I wasnt talking about a union in a traditional sense, more like a representation of a collective voice and through this we could all decide to take a certain course of action and vote whether or not to do it, we have many options as well. Like i said above:

Quote
"It may not change a lot because agencies are free to do what they want to do, we have to acknowledge this but at the same time we dont have to take it. At the very least it will show that we are united and we are watching agencies which may in turn force them to rethink certain policies.

I also completely understand that most microstock contributors are not active on the forums and dont really care about the politics, but if one member sitemails another member advertising the "union" and asks him to pass it on to one other person and so on and so on, it would go a long way. Plus put the word out on sites like microstockdiaries etc.

That all also falls under the category of "don't worry, it won't happen".  Since it hasn't happened or worked numerous times before.

lisafx

« Reply #127 on: August 20, 2011, 11:26 »
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Sign me up. If we don't try and just sit on our hands, we'll never know. It can only get worse by not doing anything.

Every time this comes up I have expressed interest in joining, but five years of discussion, and three years of serious discussion, and it goes nowhere... :-\

« Reply #128 on: August 20, 2011, 12:25 »
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Unfortunately, the union idea is unlikely to ever happen. Each of us here has different ideas, interests, goals, and levels of tolerance regarding the agencies.

We are ants in an antfarm. Kill several of them, the antfarm will survive. This is just part of the crowdsourcing model, and microstock has taken this to a perfect level. Even if a big name like Yuri leaves a site, the model continues to run, those images are gone but other good ones will show up.

For those of you who depend on it, I'm sorry, but your hands are tied, and microstock will never be a good business again.

lagereek

« Reply #129 on: August 20, 2011, 13:06 »
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Dont like unions, period.  however, a union with just a conglomarate of photographers is nothing. A bona fide union needs a whole string of legal people, solicitors, lawyers, attorneys, accountants, etc, etc. and no friends of friends will do this "free of charge"  professional people cost money and who is going to pay for that?

« Reply #130 on: August 20, 2011, 16:51 »
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A union has been discussed countless times in this and other forums. For many reasons, a union isn't realistic in this business and wouldn't accomplish anything.

The most significant reason being that agencies would be under no obligation to listen to a union any more than to individual contributors.

That and a union would never gain the kind of membership you'd expect. Most microstock contributors are not active in the forums, don't really care about the politics of the business, and are largely solitary in their microstock activities.

The reality is that we're already SCABS.  So we form a union.  We strike.  Who provides content? Someone else.  Scabs.  Problem with unions with online busiunesses is that they aren't effectve.  They can't walk out, march with picket signs, and shut a business down.  Businesses ALWAYS have the option to seek help elsewhere.  That "elsewhere" will be the thousands of contributors just like us; it is us.

« Reply #131 on: August 20, 2011, 22:04 »
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Istock went from 85,000 contributors around this time last year to 110,000 contributors now. Protest all you want but the agencies don't have a supply problem. People will keep coming until the standards get so high that the average contributor feels it's not worth their time.

The top 100 or so superstars making decisions in unison about stopping uploads or pulling ports would be the only thing that an agency would worry about. Those contributors aren't likely to do it because that money would not be easily replaced doing something else and different financial situations from contributor to contributor would complicate things further.

I'm all for keeping royalties high but outside of that top 10% that makes 90% of the money, I don't see any real bargaining power.

« Reply #132 on: August 21, 2011, 04:03 »
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The sites have been clever to protect their top contributors from the worst effects of the commission cuts.  I don't see a union working.  I do think that we could form some sort of alliance.  If we all put a bit of money in to it, we could help promote sites that pay a fair commission, hopefully persuading more buyers that those sites are going to make microstock sustainable for us.

I really don't see much future with the sites that have really low commissions and are likely to cut them again.  There's also the problem of rejecting images that buyers want.  If buyers want a diverse collection of new images, they are going to have to help us out.

« Reply #133 on: August 21, 2011, 08:33 »
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We don't need Union...
We need our new exclusive microstock site, with shares of company in hands of contributor... So we don't even need a story about parts of our commissions, we just need company which will give dividend on the end of year to many share holders... So profit will be everything after marketing, various costs of business etc ...
So I have a plan!

Soon will be topic about this... ;)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 17:02 by borg »

« Reply #134 on: August 21, 2011, 10:32 »
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Istock went from 85,000 contributors around this time last year to 110,000 contributors now. Protest all you want but the agencies don't have a supply problem.

The numbers of 'contributors' quoted by agencies are incredibly misleading (deliberately so I suspect as it is intended to impress customers and makes us appear insignificant individually). They might have x thousands registered by only a tiny fraction of those can be considered active in any meaningful way.

If you were to determine that an 'average' active or serious contributor had an average portfolio of say 2000 images then an agency with 10M images would only really have about 5000 contributors. According to the Istock Contributor Charts, which lists 37K contributors, only 2000 of those have a portfolio of 1000 images or more. Fewer than 800 contributors have portfolios of 2000 images or more.

I always find it quite surprising just how few of us there are around the world taking microstock seriously. There's probably not more than 500 people genuinely earning their living through microstock.

helix7

« Reply #135 on: August 21, 2011, 10:37 »
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^^ You're essentially factoring out most illustrators with those numbers. Few illustrators have portfolios greater than 2,000 images. Most have fewer than 1,000, and yet many make a living with such small portfolios.

« Reply #136 on: August 21, 2011, 15:36 »
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^^ You're essentially factoring out most illustrators with those numbers. Few illustrators have portfolios greater than 2,000 images. Most have fewer than 1,000, and yet many make a living with such small portfolios.

No, I hadn't forgotten them however there are also illustrators with huge portfolios too. It doesn't change the fact that there really are just a few hundred contributors who matter, not tens of thousands and certainly not a hundred thousand or more.

If the top one thousand contributors of a particular agency were to remove their portfolios then it would have a huge effect on that agency's sales and future. It would set them back 5 years, a blow from which they would probably never recover. If we could act together we could be immensely strong.

RacePhoto

« Reply #137 on: August 24, 2011, 11:21 »
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We don't need Union...
We need our new exclusive microstock site, with shares of company in hands of contributor... So we don't even need a story about parts of our commissions, we just need company which will give dividend on the end of year to many share holders... So profit will be everything after marketing, various costs of business etc ...
So I have a plan!

Soon will be topic about this... ;)


This is the Answer! (see above which IS the answer...)



Shares are based on images sold, investment, or work on the site to keep it running. Just like any other co op business. Of course people are going to ask for big commissions and then, how do you pay the investors and workers? So it would still need to have a reasonable 50% and then divide the profits at the end of the year, based on the above, for SHARES and then give all contributors a bonus based on their sales. 100% return, after expenses and operating costs.

A union with no power, is a waste of time and that's what any group effort would be, a big nothing. But a self owned Co Op site would make sense and if people wanted to hurt the big agencies bottom line, while making more, they would pull their images and only sell on their own Microstock Co-Op site. (will people try to double dip and compete with themselves,? Of course and that's why a Union won't work, people are GREEDY!) Maybe the answer for the co op is require exclusive for all RF images and similar (from same shoot) and enforce it. What use is a site if all the same images are for sale everywhere else, as cheap subscriptions? (another problem with microstock and crowdsourcing, nothing has any unique value)

Go ahead people for the MS Union, tell me one thing, that would change? What bargaining power do you have with the agencies. Name one thing that a group of organized artists can actually do, that's different from right now without a "Union". Not a bunch of hypothetical things that could be done if people worked together for a common cause, because they won't. What force and power does a MS Union have over the agencies? None!

And people stop blaming the agencies for being in business and trying to make a profit for themselves and their investors, that's what business do, or they cease to exist. They can give all the profits to artists and in short time, you will have no agency, no income, because they can't stay in business, if they don't make money. There are multiple people who need to be paid, this isn't all about US! They don't exist to care about us and feed us or make us money. They are all about the agency and profit and as much as they can make from the slave labor workforce.

As someone else pointed out, I quit, no problem, there are ten more lined up. Maybe not as much as before, but lets say, we are all easily replaced by a few other people who will happily take the pennies and spare change that they can make selling microstock.  People start and quit, but there's a line at the door of people who want to get in, and some are very good and move up fast.



Over 1000 photos on IS (since the numbers are there and representative of the biggest agency, even if not the easiest to upload to) Now the hard number is 2002 people with over 1000 images on IS. The percentage of contributors?  5% They are probably making some money, which is good news.

People with UNDER 100 images on IS, hard number 24,216 and in percentages... 65% have under 100 images online.

Want sales/DLs? In rough numbers, 50% of the people on IS have under 100 DLs and may have never reached payout. 18,500 people tried MicroStock, at the highest level, (remember they had to pass a test to get accepted, not even like the small sites that are less selective) and have never had a cent deposited into their bank account. Want them to join the union? And I know the rest of us wouldn't want them in the co op either.  :D
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 11:24 by RacePhoto »

« Reply #138 on: August 26, 2011, 13:10 »
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I've always thought that a co-op microstock site would be the best thing for the industry. It would require some really motivated folks, though, and most of those folks are already building their own individual stock photo sites it seems. The closest thing to this that I've found is Photoshelter - photographers controlling their own prices and sales, but with a single portal that searches all of them.

Perhaps the way to get past the need for a group of people dedicated to organizing the thing is for everyone interested in this idea to agree to use photoshelter, and only promote photoshelter from personal sites, etc., and pull out of the other sites (at least the ones that continue be too greedy) - this last thing not likely to happen. Too many people making too much money still, and the sites tend to protect the main earners.

Alternatively, we would need to find some people dedicated to setting up a stock agency and run it a bit like a credit union or electric co-op: with 'member owners'. But it would need all of the things that other stock sites have to be successful - officers, reviewers, advertising budget, etc. It seems like anyone with the energy/time to do that would, or has already, make some form of their own stock site wherein they are the main profiteer. This level of organization and motivation is rare, but it could be done. I'll say what others have said: you build it, I will join. Hell, I'll even participate as some kind of organizer/worker/whatever in addition to being a contributor.

The third alternative to combating lower commissions (after a union or co-op), would be to go exclusive on one of the big sites and build your portfolio to thousands of images, or tens of thousands. Then, you can earn a 40-60% commission (which is fair), and have a tiny bit of negotiating power when the site tries to pull something you don't like.

But like I said, if enough people will actually get involved, we could start a co-op and see where it goes. I was secretary/treasurer of a co-op art gallery for a few years - it was interesting and fun at times, but in the end a lot of work and not very profitable (but art galleries rarely are).

Message me if you want to do the co-op. If so, we can start a new thread and use it as a home base in the beginning.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #139 on: August 26, 2011, 16:08 »
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The closest thing to this that I've found is Photoshelter - photographers controlling their own prices and sales, but with a single portal that searches all of them.

I agree on the Photoshelter part. In fact, I am building my port there. May not be as great as a co-op, but it's very easy and inexpensive considering that they manage hosting, templates, search engine, sales. And 90%+ commission is very acceptable. Basic plan is not so expensive.
If many of us upload full port there with micro prices, buyers may start to consider it as another microstock site, but from our point of view it's quite better.
I am also convinced that without stupid rejections, and having to organise our own home page within allowed space limits, we can be more selective than agencies, resulting in a better search experience for buyers.

Building a co-op or starting a stock site is less likely to happen in my opinion: it requires time, money and we could possibly be banned from existing agencies - and I am not able to renounce to their sales for now unfortunately.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2011, 16:17 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #140 on: August 26, 2011, 20:40 »
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Is Photoshelter where you share in the profits, then it's not a co-op. A user owned site would be just what is needed to fight the low comisions.

« Reply #141 on: August 28, 2011, 12:50 »
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Hi All,

 A few of us did it in Macro we built Blend Images as a co-op and we built Cultura images as a co-op. It can be done but it is very hard. To find the right 20 people or so ( the more owners the tougher it gets ) is not easy and those people have to put a lot of their revenue into running the company, they have to choose a CEO to represent the company and completely trust that person and the board that is voted in to run the daily decisions that must be made.
 There are so many levels of trust that it truly takes a real team and building a team that focuses on the companies success as apposed to their own is hard to find. How many photographers do you know that are going to share half their revenue to run the company possibly more depending on the infrastructure until it starts producing significant revenue? How much do you plan to advertise and then be able to add contributors to the co-op as 20 photographers do not a strong collection make.
 It can be done but it takes great commitment and trust, that is hard to find in a large group. Dissension is always at the door and it must be run and operated by true professionals in business management. Voting those people in and keeping the faith as you shovel money into the fire to build the company is not for everyone. But it can be done.

Best,
Jonathan
« Last Edit: August 28, 2011, 14:08 by Jonathan Ross »


Xalanx

« Reply #142 on: August 28, 2011, 15:48 »
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Hi All,

 A few of us did it in Macro we built Blend Images as a co-op and we built Cultura images as a co-op. It can be done but it is very hard. To find the right 20 people or so ( the more owners the tougher it gets ) is not easy and those people have to put a lot of their revenue into running the company, they have to choose a CEO to represent the company and completely trust that person and the board that is voted in to run the daily decisions that must be made.
 There are so many levels of trust that it truly takes a real team and building a team that focuses on the companies success as apposed to their own is hard to find. How many photographers do you know that are going to share half their revenue to run the company possibly more depending on the infrastructure until it starts producing significant revenue? How much do you plan to advertise and then be able to add contributors to the co-op as 20 photographers do not a strong collection make.
 It can be done but it takes great commitment and trust, that is hard to find in a large group. Dissension is always at the door and it must be run and operated by true professionals in business management. Voting those people in and keeping the faith as you shovel money into the fire to build the company is not for everyone. But it can be done.

Best,
Jonathan

I think this is the best post regarding this matter. Yes, THEORETICALLY it can be done, but in practice it never will, due to the facts Jonathan exposed.

« Reply #143 on: August 29, 2011, 04:03 »
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^^^I don't think the facts Jonathan exposed mean that it can't be done.  As he has managed to do it with macro, I don't really see why something similar wouldn't work for micro.

I do think it's extremely difficult but far from impossible.  Let's see how warmpicture goes.


 

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