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Author Topic: Selling the Same Stock Photos at Different Prices  (Read 23823 times)

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« on: January 26, 2009, 19:20 »
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I found this an  interesting read on microstock diaries.  A few differing opinions from some of the big names in the microstock business.

http://www.microstockdiaries.com/selling-the-same-stock-photos-at-different-prices.html

I don't have a problem with the difference in prices between the various microstock sites and the lower range midstock sites but so far I have resisted uploading my microstock photos to alamy.  They don't seem concerned but I am wary of losing buyers if they see the same images being sold at a fraction of the price.  Perhaps I need to think again.


« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 19:37 »
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I found this an  interesting read on microstock diaries.  A few differing opinions from some of the big names in the microstock business.

http://www.microstockdiaries.com/selling-the-same-stock-photos-at-different-prices.html

I don't have a problem with the difference in prices between the various microstock sites and the lower range midstock sites but so far I have resisted uploading my microstock photos to alamy.  They don't seem concerned but I am wary of losing buyers if they see the same images being sold at a fraction of the price.  Perhaps I need to think again.


Prices for the same item at different business is nothing new or disturbing. Case in point Wal Mart sells an item for $ 3.88 and the little store down the street sells the same item for $ 7.50. Buyers must learn to shop as we do everyday.

-Larry

« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 19:44 »
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I don't see a big problem with a 100% difference in price but what if it is 1000% ?

« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 19:51 »
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Definitely one of the more interesting posts on that site ... kudos, Lee!

« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 19:52 »
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Lcjtripod has a very good point. This is a buyers market. Some will flock to Wal-Mart to get the same thing for cheap, while others will still go to that little store because that's what they've been doing for the last 20 or so years. Old habits die hard. I could definitely see Alamy losing business with buyers opting to purchase the same picture for a cheaper price. The photographers themselves shouldn't lose business though, just their revenue would take a cut because their photos wouldn't be purchased at high prices anymore.

« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 20:09 »
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The important thing to recognise is all of the opinions are just that ... opinions.

You say, I say, he says ... all just opinions. While it is not illegal, sellers have every right to do this. And unless there is a Code of Conduct somewhere that we all have voluntarily signed, it is not unethical or immoral.

« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 20:19 »
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Very often I've seen the same image of mine sold on two different sites just a few minutes or hours apart -- always different sizes. I'm thinking one site might be cheaper on one size or another and the buyer hops around using the contributor search to find the same image cheaper. Just a guess on my part but it really is eerie to see the same image downloaded on different sites so often.

« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 20:23 »
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I think it's different when we're talking about $5 vs $10 and $5 vs $100 or more.  If you see the same image in many agencies at the same price and license terms, prices will vary in a certain range, but not like microstock vs macrostock.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 20:35 »
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Well it definitely makes sense, louoates. I mean, I'm sure most of us here are working with multiple agencies. And I'm sure buyers that are aware of one agency realize that there are multiple agencies that have their own benefits. We are diversifying and so are they. That's why most agencies are offering more incentives for exclusivity, because they're trying to earn buyer loyalty..

« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 21:22 »
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Prices for the same item at different business is nothing new or disturbing. Case in point Wal Mart sells an item for $ 3.88 and the little store down the street sells the same item for $ 7.50. Buyers must learn to shop as we do everyday.

I don't buy that argument, even though I've heard it a dozen times.  There is a difference between a folding chair at Target for $15 and Walmart for $20, and the exact same image for $.20 on SS and $300 on Getty or Alamy.  You're preying on the ignorance of the buyer, and that's all.  There's no added value from the %1000 percent difference that would make it 1000 times better.

avava

« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2009, 21:42 »
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  There must be a value for all three markets or they wouldn't still co-exist. I can say that Micro has hurt Macro RF but it surely hasn't stopped it yet by any means. I make far more money on my Macro RF than my Micro and the shelf life I will bet is a lot longer. I have lots of images in Macro RF that are making great returns still after 7-8 years I don't know if you'll be able to say that about Micro, not yet. The average price per image was actually 118 dollars at Getty before Micro hit I don't know what it is now but it has dropped considerably so I don't think the average has risen to 300 dollars per sale probably more like 70 dollars a sale. Unless I am missing something.

Just my two cents,
AVAVA

« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2009, 22:50 »
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There's two different discussions going on here:
1. Selling the exact same image at hugely different price points
2. Selling different images at hugely different price points

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the latter.  If you own content, sell it at the price point you value it at. 

But trying to pass off selling exactly the same at wildly differing prices as "buyer value" or something, is just silly, imo.  That's not diversification.  That's just hoping the buyer can't find your stuff at the best price.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2009, 23:14 »
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Very interesting hearing the different points of view. I agree with a lot of both views. I'd like to hear what buyers this of this.

If everything other than price is equal (service, policies, search, etc) I could see buyers feeling ripped off. But, like everything, it's up to the buyer to price shop if they choose to.

But, if the higher priced places offer something the lower priced places don't (like account managers to do the legwork for finding images, buyer incentive programs, etc) then the premium may be justifed.

Ultimately it's the median price at which buyers are willing to pay and sellers are willing to sell.

helix7

« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 23:28 »
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...That's just hoping the buyer can't find your stuff at the best price.

Some buyers refuse to buy from microstock, even if they know they can get the same images for much less. It's not my problem if they have hang-ups about using microstock, and they make the choice to pay more for images that can be had elsewhere for less.

I have no problem with selling images at radically different prices, and I do so myself.



« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 00:16 »
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Although I kind of understand sjlocke's point of view, how it could be a bit dishonest to provide the same image for $3 to one set of customers and $300 to others, I think if I was a buyer, I'd be aware of the fact that the same photo may be sold at a lower price on microstock. Especially given the fact that nothing is really stopping a photographer from making it available in both places.

I guess it depends on each individual photographer and whether they feel ok about it.

Just out of curiosity, has anybody ever have to deal with a pissed off buyer complaining that they bought your photo for 100x more than they could've at microstock?

« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2009, 04:33 »
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Yes very interesting post Lee. The interesting thing is, that the person who might be most negatively affected, James West with Alamy, is amongst the one who is the most open to that option to sell images at different price points. While I naturally see the problem if someone buys an image for $300+ and then sees it for $3 at microstock, I am still undecided but tend to have the opinion it is ok to sell images at hugely different price points. As Yuri pointed out, also the service can be vastly different. The Rf license at Alamy is e.g. also not similar to the Rf license on the micros. I think it is the buyers duty to research what he gets for what price.

I remember reading about one guy who made $800 or something, because he provided a public domain photo to a company or a person who needed exactly that image. In this case however he was not selling that image, but it was kind of a payment for finding that image. That might be a little bit streched, but might this not be applied in the case of Alamy. They have the biggest online library as far as I know. While maybe you cannot find the best images there, you probably certainly have the most variety on Alamy. If you search something, you are most likely to find it there. This I think is definitely something which might be worth a higher price, maybe not 1000%, but as said, the buyer should do his research. I am sure some of the buyers know about micros, why do they still choose images from Alamy?

Another thing, on Getty, Alamy and Corbis are heaps of images which are by far not as good as those on the micros. Take business images for example. It seems for me it can be argued similarly that it is unethical to provide a inferior product at such a high price point if you can get a similar product of higher quality so much cheaper on istock. Would it be so bad if a buyer can also find the higher quality image on Macrostock, even if it is sold at Microstock as well? (Apart from that it can be found cheaper elsewhere the image might be more valueable for the buyer for his project, than the lower quality image which is exclusive). Some customers obviously prefer to know that the image can only be found exclusively on Macrostock and is not sold on microstock. But then again in the end it is the buyers responsibility to research the options he has. I do not think that sellers who sell images at micro and Alamy deliberately want to cheat buyers with a higher price, they just use all options they have.

Just some random thoughts to this.

RT


« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2009, 05:01 »
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The interesting thing is, that the person who might be most negatively affected, James West with Alamy, is amongst the one who is the most open to that option to sell images at different price points.

That's because James West unlike many people is aware of what we sell, and it isn't images it is a licenese to use an image, when people understand what it is they're selling they might be able to understand the different price points.


« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2009, 06:36 »
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Very interesting post. My personal observation is that while there are still some people opposed to selling the same image at different price points (me included), this practise has become more acceptable in recent times than what it was a year ago. 

I think a lot of this is got to do with the fact that micro is gaining more acceptance among serious buyers and photographers alike, resulting in a narrowing of the gap between micro and macro. Micro prices are rising and macro prices are declining. In recent times the difference in AVERAGE prices of micro and macro images are much smaller than some of the examples quoted in this post. My prediction is that this difference will narrow even more in the near future.

Gone are the days that a buyer will have to use a macro agency if he/she is in need of quality images. RT, you are 100% correct. In the end the difference in price will be reflected in the conditions and restrictions of the usage licence and not so much the image itself. The RF licence of a macro agency is quite different than the RF licence of most microstock agencies. The most important domain of the macro agencies will continue to be RM editorial images.

« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2009, 06:55 »
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Another point is, do not forget that the agencies, and not the photographers, are selling the same photo and same license at different prices, even within the same agency.

Some users at Alamy were saying that they got 10% of what it should be, because the buyers are Alamy's preferred or "key" customers. Photographers merely make their photos available and do not set the prices. The prices are set through the negotiation between a agency and a buyer.

« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2009, 07:12 »
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Another point is, do not forget that the agencies, and not the photographers, are selling the same photo and same license at different prices, even within the same agency.

Photographers merely make their photos available and do not set the prices. The prices are set through the negotiation between a agency and a buyer.

Exactly. If anyone is 'guilty' then it can only be the agency who over-prices for their goods or services.

Clearly the 'value' of an image, or any other commodity for that matter, is what it is worth to the buyer. Caveat emptor.

The exponential growth of microstock was only possible because the actual costs of production and distribution (for the vast majority of images) bore no relationship whatsoever to the prices being charged. Eventually it will.

« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2009, 07:23 »
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I don't sell same images with different price tags, I just don't think that it's fair for the customers and it also dilutes the macro market. The photographers "fishing" for some bigger buck RF sales with micro images are shooting themselves in their foot and hurting the whole business.

Thank god we still have RM...

Micro prices are rising and macro prices are declining.

This is the thing that is really bad for the photographers. The total sum of money spent on stock photos is declining and the number of photographers is increasing. That's less money for all of us.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:30 by Perry »

« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2009, 07:28 »
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Ok, let's take a look at the Alamy usage guidelines for RF:
Quote
Alamy grants to you a non-exclusive and non-assignable right to Reproduce the Image(s) on a worldwide and perpetual basis solely as part of the following (or as otherwise agreed in writing by Alamy):
   1. advertising and promotional materials (including packaging);
   2. online or other electronic distribution systems (including web page design, but subject to clause 3.8) up to a maximum resolution of 72 dpi;
   3. broadcasts or theatrical exhibition;
   4. any products (including for-sale products) or publications (electronic or print), subject to clause 3.8; and/or
   5. materials for personal, non-commercial use and test or sample use, including comps and layouts. Please note, not all of Alamys Images have Releases. It is your responsibility to check that all necessary Releases have been secured (see clause 8.3 below).

The Image(s) may be shared by creating an image library, network configuration or other similar arrangement so long as no more than ten (10) individuals employed by the same entity have access to the Image(s) This is not a "simultaneous users licence", in other words you may not have more than ten (10) specific people access the Image(s) even if only ten (10) people are accessing the Image(s) at any particular time. For the Image(s) to be used by more than ten (10) individuals you must first contact Alamy to negotiate an extension of the Licence.

Ok, this includes the ability to make products (ie. tshirts and such), to use in unlimited runs, and a multi-seat license.  These are things that, at iStock, would cost you an EL, or several.  So, ok, if these are services you need, then I can see comparing those options to make a sound judgement on price.  If you don't need them, you should buy the regular license at the much cheaper price.

So, in the end, these are not licensing the exact same image at the same terms at different price points, but licensing them at nearly equivalent price points.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:38 by sjlocke »

« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2009, 07:46 »
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You still most likely get LESS money from a micro EL sale than from a regular sale at Alamy.
And what percentage of sold licences are EL? Under 1%? I think the whole question EL vs. Alamy RF is so mariginal it's almost irrelevant.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:51 by Perry »

« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2009, 07:51 »
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You still most likely get LESS money from a micro EL sale than from a regular sale at Alamy.
And what percentage of sold licences are EL? Under 1%?

Irrelevant.  We're talking about the buyer, not the terms the seller agreed to.

I would assume the percentage of licenses sold are the percentage that actually need it.  So, if you buy the exact same image on Alamy, and don't need what the license offers, you're overpaying for services you don't need.

« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2009, 07:53 »
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I would assume the percentage of licenses sold are the percentage that actually need it.  So, if you buy the exact same image on Alamy, and don't need what the license offers, you're overpaying for services you don't need.

Sounds almost like you are more into RM ;)


 

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