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Author Topic: WE NEED A UNION!  (Read 22751 times)

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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2010, 07:56 »
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Tyler, could you make a stock site for us?


« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2010, 08:29 »
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First we need seed capital , then it may issue shares.
If each of us paid $ 100 it would have been a large amount to start...

I think that MSG has already brand and some kind of infrastructure for that...
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 08:32 by borg »

« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2010, 08:46 »
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I guess this have been discussed before, but isn't it time to start an International Microstock Union? An organization that could take the fight for us, try to keep royalties up and try to get buyers to think more about what the contributors get at the different microstock sites. They could also contact the media exposing the greedy microstock sites, giving them bad publicity.

I'm not a business guru, but a "union" wouldn't work.  A union has to have some sort of power - ie., the autoworkers or teachers or whatever stop working and go stand outside.  What is a stock union going to say?  Stopping a small percentage of uploads for a period of time?  The old stuff is still there.  The people who don't have a vested interest keep uploading.  No one is going to deactivate their entire portfolio for a week.

You'd only have "Bob" at the head of the group saying "We all don't like this idea!", which they (royal they) knew from the start.

mattdixon

« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2010, 09:00 »
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What we need is to become the majority shareholder of Getty, co-operatively.
That would wield some power!

« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2010, 09:15 »
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What we need is to become the majority shareholder of Getty, co-operatively.
That would wield some power!

Uh, Getty is privately owned.

mattdixon

« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2010, 09:42 »
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Bugger! Hadn't thought of that.

« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2010, 09:44 »
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Count me in...I would be up for some kind of co-op arrangement.

Here is a stock site that is for sale...we just need to re-brand it! http://flippa.com/auctions/104239/Creative-Stock-Website ;D


haha, yeah I thought about just that the first time I saw that site for sale.

I certainly think something like a stock co-op would / should still be possible.

Here is what I have been thinking about....

If it was set up so that each person wanting a share in the company had to pay $1000 then the company should be able to raise at least $100,000 in start capital if it looked to be well organized.  This would also make people commit to be serious about the project.

Photographers could then sell through the site and get their % of the sales .. something low like 20%..  to keep a heafty amount for the company to make sure it can keep running properly until it gets established.  At the end of each year, the profits (except for some operating capital retained in the company) could then be divided up amongst the owners (all the photographers who paid in their $1000) in a ratio directly related to how much they earned for the company ... so basically their % of each sale would be increased.
the people who run the site, do review, etc. would get paid regular wages

But somehow I think the people who were involved at the beginning should be rewarded more than people who come into the company 10 years later when it is successful.  Maybe a photographers initial % of a sale could be dependant on the number of years in the company, or the amount of 'extra' income they got at the end of the year could be based on how long they have been involved.  

If people were just starting out and didn't have $1000 to invest they could still submit to the site, but wouldn't get the 'profit dispersal' at the end of the year

I think the site would have an advantage because it could invest a lot in advertising because photographers may be willing to take a low cut of the sales in exchange for better future sales and photographers would market the site aggressively as they would be directly benefiting.

I think the problems are that it is a lot of work for someone to organize everything and get the ball rolling.  There would also be considerable risk if things didn't pan out.  As it would have to be run as a company, the most anyone would loose is their investment of $1000 but there would also be a lot of time lost.  

I think one problem would still be cash flow.  Even if there was $100,000 to start with, it would get used up very quickly with a years wages for a few people, office rent, advertising, reviews etc.etc. 
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 09:48 by leaf »

« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2010, 10:13 »
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thanks for posting this Leaf.
I hope some people here agrees that a co-op is not an utopian thing. It needs a lot of work but it is definitely the best solution for any microstocker:
-Higher royalties
-no risks of price/royalty cuts
-no aquisitions by third parties that may turn an agency in what istock is now

Honestly, I paid istock so much money in the past years that I'm not afraid to invest in a project like this one. I can't complain on what istock did in return but it's the getty attitude that scares me..... and I can't see a bright future now.

Microbius

« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2010, 10:25 »
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But somehow I think the people who were involved at the beginning should be rewarded more than people who come into the company 10 years later when it is successful.  Maybe a photographers initial % of a sale could be dependant on the number of years in the company, or the amount of 'extra' income they got at the end of the year could be based on how long they have been involved.  

I disagree with this part, for the model to work on an ongoing basis anyone joining would need to be equally valued in relation to their contribution. They would need to feel like partners from the outset or those who started the project would be resented by new people (as well as tempted to up their share over time).
Maybe the initial investment should be paid back at an agreed rate of interest as a percentage of profits till it's cleared.

RacePhoto

« Reply #34 on: September 08, 2010, 11:01 »
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But somehow I think the people who were involved at the beginning should be rewarded more than people who come into the company 10 years later when it is successful.  Maybe a photographers initial % of a sale could be dependant on the number of years in the company, or the amount of 'extra' income they got at the end of the year could be based on how long they have been involved.  

I disagree with this part, for the model to work on an ongoing basis anyone joining would need to be equally valued in relation to their contribution. They would need to feel like partners from the outset or those who started the project would be resented by new people (as well as tempted to up their share over time).
Maybe the initial investment should be paid back at an agreed rate of interest as a percentage of profits till it's cleared.

Limited number of shareholders (partners) and end of the year return would be based on the number of months they had been a shareholder. 9 months would be a 9/12th share for example. I suppose shares could change in value based on the value of the company, which would be more like the real world, instead of flat rate. You have the IPO and then the stock/shares fluctuate based on the value of the business. Flat rate doesn't work.

I guess this have been discussed before, but isn't it time to start an International Microstock Union? An organization that could take the fight for us, try to keep royalties up and try to get buyers to think more about what the contributors get at the different microstock sites. They could also contact the media exposing the greedy microstock sites, giving them bad publicity.

I'm not a business guru, but a "union" wouldn't work.  A union has to have some sort of power - ie., the autoworkers or teachers or whatever stop working and go stand outside.  What is a stock union going to say?  Stopping a small percentage of uploads for a period of time?  The old stuff is still there.  The people who don't have a vested interest keep uploading.  No one is going to deactivate their entire portfolio for a week.

You'd only have "Bob" at the head of the group saying "We all don't like this idea!", which they (royal they) knew from the start.

Exactly why this topic comes and goes without any change. The "union" has no teeth to bite the agencies. Going on strike (stop uploading) does almost nothing because there are too many images already online. No one is going to deactivate or remove all their images, especially it would need the top contributors to join and do this, certainly not people like myself.

How does the union control non-members? They will just take advantage of the opening to make more sales. There are too many hungry people who are happy with the commissions and treatment that microstock photographers get, no matter what the agencies do or change. Proof is the changes we've seen in the recent years and no one drops the agencies that pull these tricks. They know that people are willing to work for pennies and low commission, it's already a proven point.

We're in a price war, the buyers want to pay less, the agencies want to make more on lower priced sales, it all comes down to artists getting the short end of the stick, changing levels, lowered commissions, and forming a paper union with no power, won't change anything.

Co-op sounds interesting but players will need to remove all their images from all of the lower priced competition. It does nothing, the same products are all for sale for less on 28 other sites.  :(

« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2010, 11:07 »
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I agree that a union is impossible.  We don't even agree with the simplest aspects here.

A group of photographers joining to create their own site is possible. It needs however a lot of work to make this successful. One should accept to lose money for a while before having a return. Are we all willing to take that risk?

Fotonaut

« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2010, 11:14 »
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Unionstock.com domain is for sale. Coopstock.com is owned by Jupiterimages. Getty saw this coming, and nipped it by the bud.

« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2010, 11:26 »
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As a few people know here, I'm working on a stock guild site. The scripts aren't ready yet for easy upload. It won't be a direct sales site but merely present a link to existing agencies. The purpose is to catch random traffic from Google etc... I have some indications that this tactic can work.

Setting up a multi-photographer stock site is very easy to do actually, and with total financial transparency. The problem will be server load when it expands. The scripts I have don't account for server load.

The initial investment is under 500$, the hosting might be 2-300$ per year. Consider Photoshelter (330$) and Smugmug (150$) per year with commissions 9-15%. Did those do anybody any good? Overview here.

To get any substantial earnings from it (pricing at 20$), it needs exclusive content or picscout and other aps in the making will find out. Moreover, anybody running the site will be perceived as a competitor by the existing stock sites, and personally, I don't like to give up my earnings and karma at DT or SS. Because, they will retaliate (rightly so).

RacePhoto

« Reply #38 on: September 08, 2010, 11:34 »
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I agree that a union is impossible.  We don't even agree with the simplest aspects here.

A group of photographers joining to create their own site is possible. It needs however a lot of work to make this successful. One should accept to lose money for a while before having a return. Are we all willing to take that risk?

I don't know if kicking around ideas and thoughts is really "disagreeing", I see it more as brainstorming with differences of opinion. :D

Yes, people would have to expect to invest, remove images from the competition and probably lose money for awhile. In the end the site could work and could make more money for the members, but there is risk and taking a cut for some time before the profits would increase.

If the artists aren't willing to be exclusive and independent of the major agencies, it's futile. It would take some major artists to make a difference. Then the question of, what happens if it does work and the agencies change their ways? Does everyone go back and the union co-op becomes unprofitable again?

That's why I am of the opinion that it will never work. Too many hungry people, willing to work for small percentages. Too much risk for those depending on Micro income.

« Reply #39 on: September 08, 2010, 11:52 »
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I agree that a union is impossible.  We don't even agree with the simplest aspects here.

A group of photographers joining to create their own site is possible. It needs however a lot of work to make this successful. One should accept to lose money for a while before having a return. Are we all willing to take that risk?

Is it more risky than accepting everything from an agency? I love my job and I would hate to see things going even worst than this in 2 or 3 years.
I'm confident that a coop may work in the mid run if many of us will join it! More will come because no other agencies can offer the same royalties (i.e. all profits-costs)

RacePhoto

« Reply #40 on: September 08, 2010, 12:01 »
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I'd contribute and join just for the profit sharing part. Not that anything of my own would sell or be accepted. ;)


I agree that a union is impossible.  We don't even agree with the simplest aspects here.

A group of photographers joining to create their own site is possible. It needs however a lot of work to make this successful. One should accept to lose money for a while before having a return. Are we all willing to take that risk?

Is it more risky than accepting everything from an agency? I love my job and I would hate to see things going even worst than this in 2 or 3 years.
I'm confident that a coop may work in the mid run if many of us will join it! More will come because no other agencies can offer the same royalties (i.e. all profits-costs)

« Reply #41 on: September 08, 2010, 12:11 »
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Unionstock.com domain is for sale. Coopstock.com is owned by Jupiterimages. Getty saw this coming, and nipped it by the bud.
Those are bad names from a SEO point of view. They emphasize how contributors are organized (coop, union). A buyer couldn't care less. He wants his images, even if the contributor gets only 1 cent. Any site has to be buyer-oriented and not contributor-oriented, and should have the advantage for the buyer in its name. TopStockImages would be a good choice but somebody took it right before my nose.  :P

Often, people are putting the horses before the carriage. Everybody likes to talk about organization, commissions, financials, marketing, a feelgood union - but the main point is USP. You first have to define your goals in the landscape of existing stock agencies and define what sets you apart from them. It won't be another instance of Yuri's port (pun intended, StockFresh).

Any new stock site won't work because it's old wine in new wineskins. Even with the very deep pockets of DepositFiles, DepositPhotos can't break into a market that is taken already. How the site is organized doesn't matter to buyers, whether it's a feelgood coop or a bunch of sharks from Getty. Buyers don't care.

Yes there are a few USP's and one of the properties will be exclusive content. I don't see many high-profile contributors giving up 10 birds in their hand for 1 bird in the sky. ;)
If anybody is going to put there content that is already on a gazillion other sites at wildly different price points, it won't work.

Avava (Jonathan Ross) put a message here in this thread and it has been neglected. He offers some USP.


helix7

« Reply #42 on: September 08, 2010, 12:14 »
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We don't need a union.

We need people to make smarter decisions about who they work with and what their involvement is in any agency.

I can't believe some of the stuff I'm reading on the istock forum from non-exclusive contributors. Most susprising is the stuff I'm reading not directly related to the royalty issue. For example, I've seen a few posts about people are changing their direct links to images on istock over to other sites as a form of protest. Why . were non-exclusive artists ever linking directly to images on istock?

We need people to be a little smarter with their work and how they promote it. We should be supporting sites that pay fair rates and we should promote our images on those sites only. Stop posting referral links to istock or any other site that offers abusive royalty rates.

A union isn't going to stop people from doing stupid things. The best thing we can do is be more vocal in these public forums about how to promote your work in a way that supports ethical practices at good companies. Stop supporting istock, linking to istock, and referring buyers to istock.

Do start linking to sites that pay high percentages, sites that treat contributors fairly, and sites that offer buyers better prices and simple pricing structures (no more exclusive, exclusive plus, vetta, crap like that).

We don't need a union to fight for us. We just need to make smarter decisions and be more responsible for our actions. Can we really be all that surprised that istock is cutting rates? They jack up prices, constantly make changes that hurt contributors, and yet we continue to link to them, buy from them, and send new customers to them. They've been sitting in their big offices thinking, "Hey, look! We can treat our contributors like crap and they just keep taking it! They love us for it! They keep sending new buyers to us!"

Enough already. Let's face facts here. istock is overpriced and undercuts artists. There's only one winner at this company, and it's not us or the buyers.

And we don't need a union to tell us that or to do something about it.

« Reply #43 on: September 08, 2010, 12:17 »
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Maybe we can buy ads at Google AdWords?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/v/7FRwCs99DWg[/youtube]

The guy from video claims he paid $6 to have its add on a top. So maybe its cheap way to put short info about Getty :-)

helix7

« Reply #44 on: September 08, 2010, 12:23 »
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Maybe we can buy ads at Google AdWords?

The guy from video claims he paid $6 to have its add on a top. So maybe its cheap way to put short info about Getty :-)

He was targeting very specific names, so didn't have to pay much per click. Targeting searches for "Getty" would be rather expensive.

« Reply #45 on: September 08, 2010, 12:25 »
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I guess this have been discussed before, but isn't it time to start an International Microstock Union? An organization that could take the fight for us, try to keep royalties up and try to get buyers to think more about what the contributors get at the different microstock sites. They could also contact the media exposing the greedy microstock sites, giving them bad publicity.

I'm not a business guru, but a "union" wouldn't work.  A union has to have some sort of power - ie., the autoworkers or teachers or whatever stop working and go stand outside.  What is a stock union going to say?  Stopping a small percentage of uploads for a period of time?  The old stuff is still there.  The people who don't have a vested interest keep uploading.  No one is going to deactivate their entire portfolio for a week.

You'd only have "Bob" at the head of the group saying "We all don't like this idea!", which they (royal they) knew from the start.

Union should make incorporating stock agencies countries to legislate this problems. That is why union and how union. So, Union means that we all pay our taxes and want to be protected from corporate theft on our works. It is doable but very hard! Union should become strong political movement regarding these issues. But, designers can help us create union and even join in. So, then corporations will scratch their heads twice before they do anything with "minus" word in announcements ;-)

lisafx

« Reply #46 on: September 08, 2010, 12:26 »
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I can't believe some of the stuff I'm reading on the istock forum from non-exclusive contributors. Most susprising is the stuff I'm reading not directly related to the royalty issue. For example, I've seen a few posts about people are changing their direct links to images on istock over to other sites as a form of protest. Why . were non-exclusive artists ever linking directly to images on istock?


Well, I am one that mentioned changing direct links.  I don't yet have a site that direct links to anywhere, but have been taking steps toward getting one.  I was deciding which site to link to and this just put IS out of consideration.

I also mentioned having an Istock link on my business cards.  The reason for that is that Istock allows the most customization of the profile page.  I put in a lot of time in early days organizing things into lightboxes for easy access from the profile page, so from that standpoint I have a nice little store front set up on IS that was convenient to link to.  Obviously now I would be much better reprinting business cards with links to FT and/or DT instead regardless of the profile page.

« Reply #47 on: September 08, 2010, 12:43 »
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Often, people are putting the horses before the carriage. Everybody likes to talk about organization, commissions, financials, marketing, a feelgood union - but the main point is USP. You first have to define your goals in the landscape of existing stock agencies and define what sets you apart from them. It won't be another instance of Yuri's port (pun intended, StockFresh).

Any new stock site won't work because it's old wine in new wineskins. Even with the very deep pockets of DepositFiles, DepositPhotos can't break into a market that is taken already. How the site is organized doesn't matter to buyers, whether it's a feelgood coop or a bunch of sharks from Getty. Buyers don't care.
I think this is the right way of thinking. Labor Unions work because, as has been pointed out, they have teeth, special powers granted them by laws.

But if we think in terms of a business, business organization models exist which have been used for many years, and are known to work, such as limited partnerships, and so on. No need to reinvent the wheel to figure out who does what and why. And business concepts, such as USP, provide ways to think about how we might begin to find a way to thrive and grow in the microstock marketplace.

A business startup is a better idea than starting a union.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #48 on: September 08, 2010, 12:44 »
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Moreover, anybody running the site will be perceived as a competitor by the existing stock sites, and personally, I don't like to give up my earnings and karma at DT or SS. Because, they will retaliate (rightly so).

This is a very serious issue indeed. While I am ready to invest (and possibly lose) $1000 on a project I trust, I am not ready to resign from the major sites, it would be an unsustainable loss for me.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 12:46 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

Fotonaut

« Reply #49 on: September 08, 2010, 12:57 »
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We need people to be a little smarter with their work and how they promote it. We should be supporting sites that pay fair rates and we should promote our images on those sites only. Stop posting referral links to istock or any other site that offers abusive royalty rates.
A union isn't going to stop people from doing stupid things. The best thing we can do is be more vocal in these public forums about how to promote your work in a way that supports ethical practices at good companies. Stop supporting istock, linking to istock, and referring buyers to istock.
Do start linking to sites that pay high percentages, sites that treat contributors fairly, and sites that offer buyers better prices and simple pricing structures (no more exclusive, exclusive plus, vetta, crap like that). 


Just removed my iStock link, Yay and Alamy left (50 % commission): http://fotonaut.no/priser/


 

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