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Author Topic: Why video contributors should leave iStockphoto  (Read 24158 times)

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« on: November 02, 2014, 16:51 »
+30
Theres been a lot of internet discussion about iStockphoto since their price/credit restructuring in September, most of it focusing on photo sales. As primarily a video contributor, Id like to point out the danger of what iStock is doing to the stock video market. They not only pay less per sale than other sites, but in the long run theyre threatening the profitability of the stock footage industry as a whole. Ill make a case here as to why its in the best interest of non-exclusive contributors to stop uploading to iStockphoto and deactivate their files as a growing number of contributors are already doing.

The unanimous opinion online of those who have looked into the data is that iStockphoto is an exploitative rip-off for non-exclusive video contributors. iStocks base royalty rate for non-exclusive contributors is 15%. Thats half of what Shutterstock pays video contributors, and far below the 45%-50% payouts of Pond5 and RevoStock. Sites like Depositphotos, Fotolia and Dreamstime all have much higher royalty rates as well, though low sales amounts and subscription rates on at least Fotolia can make those sites not worthwhile. All in all, iStockphoto by far has the lowest royalty rate for non-exclusive contributors.

So what? Why not just take whatever you can earn from iStock? Because low pay devalues our work, with the larger threat being if iStocks exploitative practices become successful and force other companies to compete by similarly lowering royalty rates. iStocks short-sighted attempt to outmaneuver competitors could trigger a race to the bottom, with us contributors being hurt the most. Its bad enough that one site insults us by paying us only 15% for the sale of our own work. If other sites follow suit, the financial loss over the years would be thousands of dollars for even small volume contributors.

So far, based on forum chatter, sales (including mine) have not responded well to iStocks restructuring. Though that hurts in the short-term, its best for the long-term that this plan fail. The money I make at iStock is unfairly low, and not worth the money I stand to lose at other companies if they adopt iStocks practices. Thats why I responded as many other contributors have in the last month I stopped uploading new content to iStock, and recently deactivated all my video files there.

Note that everything Ive said pertains to NON-exclusive contributors. iStocks exclusive video contributors are in a completely different situation. They start at a 25% royalty rate, and are eligible for the Signature collection where clips sell three times higher than non-exclusive Essentials clips. So they stand to make good money when their clips sell. Many complain that the new pricing on exclusive clips is so high its hurting sales. Regardless, the royalty is more equitable, so they dont have the same reasons to abandon iStock as non-exclusives do. It would actually be greatly to the advantage of exclusive sellers if the non-exclusives did leave. When you have a high priced clip for sale, the last thing you want is a similar clip selling next to yours for literally one-third the price.

I believe what would be best for all contributors in the long term is if non-exclusives left iStockphoto en masse, essentially turning it into a shop that mostly sells exclusive clips. Some clients will pay for a premium for that, so let the market set that price and feed those contributors. Meanwhile, non-exclusive contributors can get a much fairer royalty rate at other seller sites.

If you sell through iStock, I encourage you to evaluate whats best for your business both right now and in the long run. If you agree iStock is unfair in what it pays, consider no longer uploading to them and deactivating your files there. Send them an email that youll no longer accept an insulting 15% rate on your own work. They need to pay competitive with other companies or lose their non-exclusive supply.

You can hear from other iStock non-exclusive video contributors on the iStock forum here: http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=362971&page=1

Instructions on how to deactivate iStockphoto files can be found here: http://istockfaq.gettyimages.com/how-do-i-deactivate-a-file/


« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2014, 22:11 »
+14
I decided to pull out not because of this post but because I see the same video sell for $6-7 now and below that the old commission of $19. They are simply further cheapening the market and I agree 100% with your post.

« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2014, 04:54 »
+9
Very well said. I think your argument probably applies equally to non-exclusive still images too.

Istock no longer sell images in the volume or price that justifies (if it ever did) paying the lowest royalty rate in the industry. I haven't uploaded to Istock for well over a year and have no plans to do so unless royalties improve.

« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2014, 05:53 »
+10
Just deactivated the rest of my video portfolio, except 1 that has never sold.  I wish more people would take their work off istock instead of endlessly complaining about them but leaving all their portfolio there.  Every buyer that fails to find what they want there and finds it on a site that pays us more is going to help us.

It was a real pain uploading video clips there and its such a shame that they have to go but hopefully buyers will find them on Pond5, I can sell for less there and make much more than I would get from istock.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 05:56 by sharpshot »

« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2014, 07:35 »
+7
Every buyer that fails to find what they want there and finds it on a site that pays us more is going to help us.

Exactly, thank you.

« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2014, 11:21 »
+6
Well I have left just one video there. There's no logic to sell videos for 15% royalty rate.

Hobostocker

    This user is banned.
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2014, 14:12 »
-2
Well I have left just one video there. There's no logic to sell videos for 15% royalty rate.

the microstock model is failing because due to oversupply it can't keep the promise of selling cheap but in high volumes, now it's only selling cheap and on top of this the fees are the lowest in the industry.

we finally reached the last stage of the microstock Ponzi scam, we and many other "trads" tried to warn you years ago but nobody would listen, actually they would even ban my comments in some micro blogs, hahaha, where are they now ? probably no longer in the industry i guess.

« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2014, 14:40 »
0

the microstock model is failing because due to oversupply it can't keep the promise of selling cheap but in high volumes, now it's only selling cheap and on top of this the fees are the lowest in the industry.

we finally reached the last stage of the microstock Ponzi scam, we and many other "trads" tried to warn you years ago but nobody would listen, actually they would even ban my comments in some micro blogs, hahaha, where are they now ? probably no longer in the industry i guess.

I think video still has a way to go before oversupply, still many niches to fill and trends are always changing. Especially as bandwidth becomes more widespread across the globe, i can see video being used in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of devices.

« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2014, 18:42 »
+1
I think video still has a way to go before oversupply, still many niches to fill and trends are always changing. Especially as bandwidth becomes more widespread across the globe, i can see video being used in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of devices.

Agree completely. And 4K is still growing. Maybe in a couple years over-supply will come and revenues for contributors will drop. But then someday they'll invent some new format and everything will have to be re-shot. Video seems to generally have a shorter shelf-life than photos.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2014, 19:29 »
+3

the microstock model is failing because due to oversupply it can't keep the promise of selling cheap but in high volumes, now it's only selling cheap and on top of this the fees are the lowest in the industry.

we finally reached the last stage of the microstock Ponzi scam, we and many other "trads" tried to warn you years ago but nobody would listen, actually they would even ban my comments in some micro blogs, hahaha, where are they now ? probably no longer in the industry i guess.

I think video still has a way to go before oversupply, still many niches to fill and trends are always changing. Especially as bandwidth becomes more widespread across the globe, i can see video being used in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of devices.

There doesn't seem to be much demand either. So is it really worth it to spend hours or days producing a clip that will probably sell in low volume at micro prices?

« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2014, 07:24 »
+1
Pond5 sell quite well at higher prices and 50% commission.  I think video clip buyers are happy to pay a higher price, the market isn't failing, just istock as usual.

« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2014, 09:02 »
+2
I see no oversupply in video. Pond5 has 3 million files and the largest library at the moment. Only 480 000 files have a model release, 90 000 in total for 4k video.

Of course video is a much smaller buyer market, more specialized than photos.

I sincerly hope istock changes their approach in video, I just started uploading again before they changed their system, but with the 3-7 dollar sales, Ive decided to take a break and will wait it out to see what happens. My portfolio there is much smaller than anywhere else, because they had a codec problem, so I wasnt uploading for nearly a year. So for now I wont deactivate anything.

Some time next year they will bring in new managers with new brilliant plans and change everything again. The current situation will not last, they already have a lot less choice in video compared to pond5 and Shutterstock. Whoever invests properly in video production cannot upload to istock at the moment, there is no sensible return on investment. Or maybe people will send the outtakes there, for 3-7 dollars it just makes no sense otherwise.

But at least they seem to be taking good care of their exclusives, I read they get 50 dollars or more on average. Perhaps they should change their system and make it exclusive content only.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2014, 09:25 by cobalt »

ultimagina

« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2014, 13:00 »
+3
I had my first video sale today. Only $9.78 on IS compared with $20 -$23 on SS. And I had to go through extra steps to trim the clips to 30s and recode them with PhotoJPG. Dissapointing!

« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2014, 14:24 »
0
I had my first video sale today. Only $9.78 on IS compared with $20 -$23 on SS. And I had to go through extra steps to trim the clips to 30s and recode them with PhotoJPG. Dissapointing!
It's a bit of side step here, but I find photojpeg for video a rather poor choice compared to what other codecs now exist. Which is another serious flaw with iStock, they tend not to keep up with the advances in technology as well as other sites.

KB

« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2014, 16:46 »
0
It's a bit of side step here, but I find photojpeg for video a rather poor choice compared to what other codecs now exist. Which is another serious flaw with iStock, they tend not to keep up with the advances in technology as well as other sites.
I was told only last month by SS that they prefer ProRes or Photojpeg, so I can't imagine that Photojpeg is that poor a choice. ProRes may be better, but it also produces larger files, so I find Photojpeg to be a decent compromise.

« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2014, 18:03 »
0
It's a bit of side step here, but I find photojpeg for video a rather poor choice compared to what other codecs now exist. Which is another serious flaw with iStock, they tend not to keep up with the advances in technology as well as other sites.
I was told only last month by SS that they prefer ProRes or Photojpeg, so I can't imagine that Photojpeg is that poor a choice. ProRes may be better, but it also produces larger files, so I find Photojpeg to be a decent compromise.
This seems to be a topic in a few places right now. I've done a few tests, you can try yourself and see if this is so in your workflow, it's just I find P-jpeg to have lots of digital artifacts and banding compared to other codecs, even h. 264 is considerably better.

« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2014, 18:11 »
+1
One great side effect of iStock's self-implosion - my sales at Shutterstock have been record high since September, more than making up for the loss of iStock income. This and similar anecdotes from others suggests that maybe there's an exodus of customers from iStock to Shutterstock?


« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2014, 20:21 »
+1
One great side effect of iStock's self-implosion - my sales at Shutterstock have been record high since September, more than making up for the loss of iStock income.

I had an October record month with SS and P5. IS is a fairly new site for me but judging by the lack of sales, commission and antiquated contributor site, I have absolutely no motivation for growing my portfolio with them.

Hobostocker

    This user is banned.
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2014, 23:18 »
0
One great side effect of iStock's self-implosion - my sales at Shutterstock have been record high since September, more than making up for the loss of iStock income. This and similar anecdotes from others suggests that maybe there's an exodus of customers from iStock to Shutterstock?

yes, because the stock industry is a zero sum game.


 

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