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Author Topic: Uniting contributors for better royalty, price control and safeguarding this industry  (Read 11847 times)

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« Reply #50 on: March 28, 2019, 17:44 »
+4
Q How do we push agencies like SS, istock, getty to offer a fair share of royalties
A We cannot

Q How do we work with the agencies to prevent the race to the bottom
A We cannot

Q What agencies are inherently unfair - low pricing, very low royalty, that should be boycotted
A We cannot

Q How can we create enough of an impact to make the agencies correct this
A We cannot

No not at all correct.

Its been mentioned above that it is entirely possible to do something i.e. dollar photo club and that other dollar outfit that closed.

It just needs a sizeable group of contributors and in the case of the biggest group it was the Russian stock forums and Russian and Ukrainian contributors that really got that traction in the matter of the Dollar Photo Club.

If Izzi or any other contributor wants to start this ball rolling then it needs to be raised with Russian and Ukrainian stock producers on their forums.

And if you really want something to happen then I would contact a group like Africa Studio  as they really are the biggest outfit bar none.


ShadySue

« Reply #51 on: March 28, 2019, 18:18 »
+5
And if you really want something to happen then I would contact a group like Africa Studio  as they really are the biggest outfit bar none.
Do we know that the big suppliers don't get special deals? If they do, your sell to them would be quite different.

UIcomments

« Reply #52 on: March 28, 2019, 18:51 »
+2

It just needs a sizeable group of contributors and in the case of the biggest group it was the Russian stock forums and Russian and Ukrainian contributors that really got that traction in the matter of the Dollar Photo Club.


Those pesky Russians got total control of our lives.

« Reply #53 on: March 28, 2019, 20:19 »
+8
Look.  It's been done.  It didn't work out. 
http://aspp.com/stock-artists-alliance-closing/


...That does not mean, however, that contributors cannot organize in a different way. Even a simple website with a blog can attract a following if it's relevant, and in turn help spread the word about agency practices and host calls to action.


There have been lots of contributor actions over the years microstock agencies have been around (or at least that I'm aware of since starting in the fall of 2004). Many in the early days had good results, largely because there were more agencies and none of them had much market power at that time. They all needed content and so the balance of power between contributors and agencies was less unequal than it is now.

If you want to effect change you need leverage. Calls to action aren't leverage and in an age of widespread gig economy abuse (such as Uber's treatment of drivers), the problems faced by microstock suppliers don't really stand out from the many simlar situations. So it's not clear to me how you get negative social media buzz of a sort and size that publicly shames any of the agencies for their actions and grabs buyers' attention.

One piece of leverage that often worked in the early days was withholding uploads - sites need a constant stream of new content to keep buyers coming back. That's great for contributors because it's leverage that doesn't hurt our income so badly. I don't think it works any more because the collections are so huge that I doubt anyone would notice.

OnePixel was trying to get off the ground without the one advantage that initially buoyed up the awful Dollar Photo Club - OnePixel had no content whereas DPC had the entire Fotolia library (contributors were not initially allowed an opt out). Refusing to supply OnePixel shut them down, thankfully. But with DPC, a lot of people deleted a lot of content from Fotolia to force  FT to offer an opt out - I believe there was a 6 million image drop at one point.

For a while, video contributors had some leverage because agencies were trying to build their video collections and needed content, but that fades as the collections grow, and with it the option to withhold new content as a way to get the agencies to behave more fairly.

If you don't understand who holds power and has leverage, you can't force changes. It is true that for the most part, all the agencies would have completely empty web sites if contributors pulled their content - there's very little wholly owned content. Without some union-like organization to wield that club, it's effectively absent from the business landscape and so can't constrain the profit grabs of the agencies.

Figure out how to create leverage from the large, global and unorganized pool of contributors and you can do what the Stock Artists Alliance could not.

« Reply #54 on: March 28, 2019, 21:27 »
0
Look.  It's been done.  It didn't work out. 
http://aspp.com/stock-artists-alliance-closing/


...That does not mean, however, that contributors cannot organize in a different way. Even a simple website with a blog can attract a following if it's relevant, and in turn help spread the word about agency practices and host calls to action.


There have been lots of contributor actions over the years microstock agencies have been around (or at least that I'm aware of since starting in the fall of 2004). Many in the early days had good results, largely because there were more agencies and none of them had much market power at that time. They all needed content and so the balance of power between contributors and agencies was less unequal than it is now.

If you want to effect change you need leverage. Calls to action aren't leverage and in an age of widespread gig economy abuse (such as Uber's treatment of drivers), the problems faced by microstock suppliers don't really stand out from the many simlar situations. So it's not clear to me how you get negative social media buzz of a sort and size that publicly shames any of the agencies for their actions and grabs buyers' attention.

One piece of leverage that often worked in the early days was withholding uploads - sites need a constant stream of new content to keep buyers coming back. That's great for contributors because it's leverage that doesn't hurt our income so badly. I don't think it works any more because the collections are so huge that I doubt anyone would notice.

OnePixel was trying to get off the ground without the one advantage that initially buoyed up the awful Dollar Photo Club - OnePixel had no content whereas DPC had the entire Fotolia library (contributors were not initially allowed an opt out). Refusing to supply OnePixel shut them down, thankfully. But with DPC, a lot of people deleted a lot of content from Fotolia to force  FT to offer an opt out - I believe there was a 6 million image drop at one point.

For a while, video contributors had some leverage because agencies were trying to build their video collections and needed content, but that fades as the collections grow, and with it the option to withhold new content as a way to get the agencies to behave more fairly.

If you don't understand who holds power and has leverage, you can't force changes. It is true that for the most part, all the agencies would have completely empty web sites if contributors pulled their content - there's very little wholly owned content. Without some union-like organization to wield that club, it's effectively absent from the business landscape and so can't constrain the profit grabs of the agencies.

Figure out how to create leverage from the large, global and unorganized pool of contributors and you can do what the Stock Artists Alliance could not.
The fact that the uber drivers case is so well known and has the people's support is what is different. The plight of contributors is barely known even among ourselves. We continue to believe that the other contributors/large houses have it better.

That's what social media is supposed to do, it'll help make the problem big and visible enough that it'll have to be addressed.

The leverage could be that buyers also choose between agencies, and this choice happens at a regular basis. Can we affect that choice through information, the pushing of better content, outright asking them? Even if the impact is small no agency wants to see buyers leave. For us it helps drive traffic and sales to the websites that treat us fairly.

I don't think a union is a solution, i think we should do something easily done by a crowd. Messages/links that can be sent out to all agencies you know. One letter a day from all of us to the CEO/Help teams. Limiting new uploads to fairer agencies.

Surprisingly after the second post i haven't heard any more things that we want. I for one would love to get more data, what keywords are working for me, what images are people seeing but not buying, seasonality of my content etc

« Reply #55 on: March 28, 2019, 22:39 »
+1
New Microstock Deal. 8)

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #56 on: March 28, 2019, 23:26 »
+6
I started in 2007 and have seen tons of these solidarity types of posts.

The challenge is unifying millions of contributors when everyone is decentralized. Is it possible? Sure. But so far, the ideas that have been proposed have had limited success. The reality is, it's everyone for themselves. We're all semi-friendly competitors. Thousands of new contributors join daily submitting millions of new images. It's classic supply and demand. Supply has been endlessly high since the beginning and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Because of this, the stock sites have leverage to do as they please. Until supply drops, or someone establishes a method of contributor leverage, little will change positively for contributors. I'd love someone to come up with disruptive innovation to drive prices back up.

« Reply #57 on: March 29, 2019, 02:06 »
+2
Kill the new suppliers then  8) I mean turn away... the new suppliers. Everybody can start blogging about how unsustainable the business is, making 0.25c per month and new contributors will turn to more lucrative options.

« Reply #58 on: March 29, 2019, 03:16 »
0
Kill the new suppliers then  8) I mean turn away... the new suppliers. Everybody can start blogging about how unsustainable the business is, making 0.25c per month and new contributors will turn to more lucrative options.
Yes basically the only sustainable way of achieving anything is to choke off supply. Either by excluding people from the market which is what happened before microstock opened the doors to "amateurs" or current contributors reducing their submissions. Both basically mean someone loses out for "the greater good" or if you are not in the self defining elite you just lose out. I do hope that many who have been encouraged into the industry by the wildly misleading claims about what they can  earn will exit. Though its not happening yet.

« Reply #59 on: March 29, 2019, 03:28 »
+3
> Make an exclusive account with whatever agency is the fairest - Pond5, Alamy, Storyblocks

Or accept only (40) 50% share at the lowest.

I have deleted my account with SS due to the image abuse via Facebook... and have stopped uploading many other micros for multitude of reasons, one being this free trial nonsense and  of course, microscopic payments. Stopping this free giveaway nonsense and protecting our work from illegal image use would be important for me.

I believe the suggested plan can be realized. This team effort should be well structured, so that everybody stays informed, knows the plan and and stays motivated, and more importantly we need the leverage of a group.






swisschocolate

  • A girl from the Alps
« Reply #60 on: March 29, 2019, 03:37 »
+1
> Make an exclusive account with whatever agency is the fairest - Pond5, Alamy, Storyblocks

Or accept only (40) 50% share at the lowest.

I have deleted my account with SS due to the image abuse via Facebook... and have stopped uploading many other micros for multitude of reasons, one being this free trial nonsense and  of course, microscopic payments.

I don't expect the answer since it's personal, but is microstock your main source of income? Do you make a normal living from "Pond5, Alamy, Storyblocks"? And do you live in a developed Western country?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 03:55 by swisschocolate »

swisschocolate

  • A girl from the Alps
« Reply #61 on: March 29, 2019, 04:22 »
+4
I believe the suggested plan can be realized. This team effort should be well structured, so that everybody stays informed, knows the plan and and stays motivated, and more importantly we need the leverage of a group.

So basically what is suggested is an organized "financial suicide", right?

Because even if your "plan" will work and agencies will change pricing (losing customers in the meantime), your portfolio won't be there anymore to reap the benefits of this "revolution". And it will never get back to the same positions. Never ever.

What can be more stupid than that, I can't imagine...

UIcomments

« Reply #62 on: March 29, 2019, 05:18 »
+3
I believe the suggested plan can be realized. This team effort should be well structured, so that everybody stays informed, knows the plan and and stays motivated, and more importantly we need the leverage of a group.


So basically what is suggested is an organized "financial suicide", right?

Because even if your "plan" will work and agencies will change pricing (losing customers in the meantime), your portfolio won't be there anymore to reap the benefits of this "revolution". And it will never get back to the same positions. Never ever.

What can be more stupid than that, I can't imagine...

This dead horse has been kicked before innumerable times. People who can't manage their own portfolio want to lead an uprising. Sure, one just has to want it enough, like in a movie, where we learn our life lessons.

« Reply #63 on: March 29, 2019, 05:57 »
+4
Trying to wrap my head around what the motivation would be for photographers to choose to come onto a forum like this and put a suspicious amount of effort into attempting to make a basic premise like this sound like a failure before it begins. What freaking harm would come from supporting the simple CONCEPT of contributor empowerment of any kind? Or at least making your point, if you feel the need, and maybe find a different use for your time than persistent knee-jerk fighting against your own best interests.

You don't think it's a good idea? You don't think it'll ever work? You think past efforts are proof it can't be done? Awesome. Now do you have any constructive help to offer or is it just gonna be endless snappy negative remarks intended to knock everyone else down to your defeated perspectives?






« Reply #64 on: March 29, 2019, 06:21 »
+1
I don't think anyone is against contributor empowerment.

However, personally I don't feel not empowered. Time and time again contributors have worked together VERY successfully to enforce changes and even closure of agencies.

If some people want to organize a new stock artist alliance let them.

But personally I wouldn't join, because I find the status quo or current level of organization very successful.

We ARE organized.You don't need an OFFICIAL body to have a community.

Again, if someone wants to try that, go ahead.

Freedom, freedom, freedom!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 06:23 by cobalt »

« Reply #65 on: March 29, 2019, 06:23 »
+2
Unfortunately this will not change by photographers banding together. I've read tenths if not hundreds of posts like this, especially in the past 10 years and it equaled to zero apart the Symbiostock experiment which did not go as expected.

In the past there was a chance by someone who had the visibility, the knowledge and even the financial capability. Plus this was a much smaller community. It did not happen.

Nowadays the only chance we've got is to have a top agency to take the lead in this process. For example, by paying an excellent commission to the exclusive artists to motivate the change. The only one left able to do this is Adobe. They have the knowledge, the reach in terms of customers, the money and above all a positive image in the eyes of contributors. But if they don't even accept editorial will they buy a war with the other agencies? I think not.

Apart from this I do not see any change. How will a photographer who lives like a king in his country with $500 risk it all to join his competition which find unsustainable to live of $2000 in their countries? The first thing the less accomplished photographer wants is to see is his competition sink so he can get some of those $2000 to earn $750 and start living like an emperor.

ShadySue

« Reply #66 on: March 29, 2019, 06:34 »
+2
In theory, it could be done.

In practice, most people are understandably most concerned about their bottom line.
E.g. https://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/20082009-image-prices/msg529645/#msg529645
iS tried to raise prices, and for a while were managing to do that, but e.g. SS were holding their super low prices. Now, I believe more factors were at play than just that SS was holding prices super low, but no-one can keep holding prices up while a sizeable competitor holds down prices.

How often have we read here people saying that although prices are higher on Alamy, they make more on Micro, so that's where they're putting their efforts. I have rejoined that camp, with reluctance, but with an eye on the bottom line. And micros are squeezing Alamy, as they have made the expectation of super low prices, so Alamy's rpd is falling, without any rise in sales volume (OK, that  statement is only based on the small number who report on their forums. And for sure, the $$$ earned from Live News is much higher, but that's not 'stock' as most of us know it.

Nowadays on this forum, the agency of choice is Adobe, iS and SS having fallen from grace. But Adobe has low prices, and I'm totally confused about them. They offer prices as low as 15c per asset on the 750 / month deal, and they say "Every time someone purchases your content, you get a 33% commission for photos and vector art and a 35% commission for videos based on the price of the image" So, even understanding that buyers don't use up all their allowance, why aren't people reporting super low sales there*? And how are they able to calculate the 33% 'in real time'** without knowing how much of their subscription they will use in the month?

* I know there's some sort of guaranteed minimum for sub sales, but how does that equate with "Every time someone purchases your content, you get a 33%/35% commission"? They don't say, "You'll get an average of 33%/35% commission"

**I assume they do, as people always complain about iS not reporting in real time.

This isn't as irrelevant to the current discussion as it seems.
Many (most?) people are only concerned about their bottom line at the end of the month. Other than that, many will put up with all sort of cr*p and unknowables from sites so long as they're getting paid each month.

Bear in mind that the people on e.g. msg only represent a tiny proportion of suppliers. (The ones who don't spend all their time shooting and uploading!) How would you get in contact with the others?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 07:26 by ShadySue »


« Reply #67 on: March 29, 2019, 06:48 »
+2

How often have we read here people saying that although prices are higher on Alamy, they make more on Micro, so that's where they're putting their efforts. I have rejoined that camp, with reluctance, but with an eye on the bottom line. And micros are squeezing Alamy, as they have made the expectation of super low prices, so Alamy's rpd is falling, without any rise in sales volume (OK, that  statement is only based on the small number who report on their forums. And for sure, the $$$ earned from Live News is much higher, but that's not 'stock' as most of us know it.


Last year on alamy I had a 60% increase in the number of images licensed compared to 2017. It was my best year in terms of sales since 2012.

Yet, the average sale value (net) dropped 25% compared to 2017. I still ended earning a bit more in 2018 than on 2017 because of the large amount in the number of sales but nothing exciting.

The average sale (net) in 2018 is about 10% of what it used to be in 2008.

« Reply #68 on: March 29, 2019, 07:00 »
0
Using Jo Ann's post, No leverage then No union.

Somehow leaving the agency that makes me the most money SS would have no effect on anything except make me lave Microstock, as there would be no income from the rest worth working for. Final suicide is another good term for what some are saying they want. I like getting those outside of the forums to join, the big contributors is the first step, and somebody get to the other language forums.

« Reply #69 on: March 29, 2019, 07:41 »
0
We need a "Let them eat cake" moment and then we can storm the Bastile.
Sadly, that moment is yet to arrive.

« Reply #70 on: March 29, 2019, 07:52 »
+1
I'd love someone to come up with disruptive innovation to drive prices back up.
Ive been reading a lot here and I would like to say that I think there is a way to shake loose the agencies.
The problem has ever been the way of piecing together and maintaining a proper website, the costs and the time. It seems that nobody thinks that this is really feasible, and that joining several websites of this kind at the same hosting place would result into a portal alternative to the agencies.
I followed at a distance the Simbiostock experiment: IMO the basic idea is still appealing, although it think that the way it was technically carried out proved not to be the best.

I'm mainly a web programmer and SEO expert (who loathes the social, sorry :-)) and secondly a photographer. As such I couldnt resist the temptation to build my own virtual shop, and eventually I was surprised myself by how little expensive my effort has been, both in terms of money and of time.

I focused on reducing the cost of the hosting by developing a fully automated OFFLINE procedure (on my computer) to prepare the data before uploading them:
-      fully automated .csv files  - including the automation of Excel - to populate the product webpages
-   ftp to upload the files to be sold and the watermarked images to be displayed
-   no manual intervention required
-   no extra costs for a special hosting.

Now after a months work my fresh new website is taking off satisfactorily. To get started, rather than my favorite shoots I chose a niche that had already proved quite profitable: illustration scanned from old books (I am an avid collector of antique dusty tomes), refurbished and processed.
My investment? All together $171.00 (hosting included) !

If you like the idea, have a look at: https://vintage-nostalgia.com
Or find more details on the subject in my blog here.

Should you feel tempted too, Ill be happy to give you a hand :-)


UIcomments

« Reply #71 on: March 29, 2019, 07:55 »
+5
Trying to wrap my head around what the motivation would be for photographers to choose to come onto a forum like this and put a suspicious amount of effort into attempting to make a basic premise like this sound like a failure before it begins. What freaking harm would come from supporting the simple CONCEPT of contributor empowerment of any kind? Or at least making your point, if you feel the need, and maybe find a different use for your time than persistent knee-jerk fighting against your own best interests.

You don't think it's a good idea? You don't think it'll ever work? You think past efforts are proof it can't be done? Awesome. Now do you have any constructive help to offer or is it just gonna be endless snappy negative remarks intended to knock everyone else down to your defeated perspectives?

Nothing that's been said on here qualifies as an idea or a concept. Let's all be rich, equal and free is not an idea, it's a proclamation. A person with an idea identifies a working mechanism that can be exploited to achieve a goal first. When someone does, I'll be all ears. Until then it's just for pure fun to post.

« Reply #72 on: March 29, 2019, 08:00 »
0
I'd love someone to come up with disruptive innovation to drive prices back up.
Ive been reading a lot here and I would like to say that I think there is a way to shake loose the agencies.
The problem has ever been the way of piecing together and maintaining a proper website, the costs and the time. It seems that nobody thinks that this is really feasible, and that joining several websites of this kind at the same hosting place would result into a portal alternative to the agencies.
I followed at a distance the Simbiostock experiment: IMO the basic idea is still appealing, although it think that the way it was technically carried out proved not to be the best.

I'm mainly a web programmer and SEO expert (who loathes the social, sorry :-)) and secondly a photographer. As such I couldnt resist the temptation to build my own virtual shop, and eventually I was surprised myself by how little expensive my effort has been, both in terms of money and of time.

I focused on reducing the cost of the hosting by developing a fully automated OFFLINE procedure (on my computer) to prepare the data before uploading them:
-      fully automated .csv files  - including the automation of Excel - to populate the product webpages
-   ftp to upload the files to be sold and the watermarked images to be displayed
-   no manual intervention required
-   no extra costs for a special hosting.

Now after a months work my fresh new website is taking off satisfactorily. To get started, rather than my favorite shoots I chose a niche that had already proved quite profitable: illustration scanned from old books (I am an avid collector of antique dusty tomes), refurbished and processed.
My investment? All together $171.00 (hosting included) !

If you like the idea, have a look at: https://vintage-nostalgia.com
Or find more details on the subject in my blog here.

Should you feel tempted too, Ill be happy to give you a hand :-)
How much time have you invested?

swisschocolate

  • A girl from the Alps
« Reply #73 on: March 29, 2019, 08:01 »
0
Now after a months work my fresh new website is taking off satisfactorily.
My investment? All together $171.00 (hosting included) !

I can show you ways to make it for even less money and without all that technical hustle that you did :)

How are the sales and customer service are going so far?

« Reply #74 on: March 29, 2019, 08:02 »
0
Q How do we push agencies like SS, istock, getty to offer a fair share of royalties
A We cannot

Q How do we work with the agencies to prevent the race to the bottom
A We cannot

Q What agencies are inherently unfair - low pricing, very low royalty, that should be boycotted
A We cannot

Q How can we create enough of an impact to make the agencies correct this
A We cannot

Amazing how self-defeating some people are, so incredibly lacking in vision. Just because something hasn't been done doesn't mean that it cannot be done. It's common sense that a large collective response will have some impact - indeed it already has in the past with the Dollar Photo Club and then recently with Storyblocks. So many losers said nothing could be done to affect Storyblocks when they cut commissions, and then days later Storyblocks doubled its sale prices. Contributors en masse told Pond5 that exclusivity shouldn't have to necessarily include existing clips, and Pond5 responded by allowing for separate accounts. Nothing is fixed in stone, it's a matter of organizational work. A huge task to be sure, but to simply say "cannot" is plain stupid and pathetic.

The point is that if yesterday it could be right (DPC is a good example), today, when every sites accept anything from anybody, it is no more possible.
Better not to be idealistic (I am) and try to be a little more realistic.

By the way, the situation will probably resolve itself: the whole system will collapse under its own pressure.
And then we may see new and exciting opportunities. But the whole system must collapse before. That is going to take time
The best we can do is help it collapse as quickly as possible ...


 

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