MicrostockGroup Sponsors

Author Topic: Whatever happened to blackbox? How has the experience been, some advise on joining it?  (Read 15543 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2020, 10:56 »
a) how did you get specific time frame #'s? (or did you just look at it then?

You need to find a clip that you know the upload date for (it can actually be any type of item - music, image etc.).

Then use:

itemgt:CLIPNUMBER (it only has to be close to that number since so many new items are added each day).

itemgt means "Item number greater than".

You can also use itemlt:CLIPNUMBER (less than) or combine both of them to look at just one month or one day (if you have the clip numbers) in 2019 or whenever.

If you want to EXCLUDE an artist's portfolio you put ! in front of artist, like this:


Now you will see all P5 clips EXCEPT the BB clips.

« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2020, 11:06 »
close to 40% of your royalty income.

Are you serious?

Wow. I would have guessed maybe 10% and thought that was way too much, but 40% is just robbery.

It is a very good way to make sure you will never make a significant income from stock footage, however.

Please learn how to write good metadata yourself if you want to make money. Because we want to make money, right?


It's hard to avoid the 30-70% cuts to the agencies, but further cuts like these are quite easy to avoid!


I recently edited some keywords of older clips to include some current relevant terms that fit them well, even if they weren't necessarily created with that in mind. They have since started selling very well.

And optimizing my metadata a number of years back on clips already uploaded when I learned more, quite literally raised my income to something I could live comfortably on.

Please learn to control your assets and optimize them as much as you possibly can on your own. I know many absolutely hate writing, but it's necessary in order to maximize earnings.

« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2020, 11:39 »

close to 40% of your royalty income.

Are you serious?

You can choose how much you want to share, but thats the amount they've recommended in the FAQ files (20% for metadata & uploading about 20% for editing, grading). One thing they've mentioned is that the 15% cut they take makes no difference since they've negotiated a higher commission with the agencies (they sort of allude often to it).

Someone who's worked with them for sometime might be able to tell us more about this. Wanted to try this weekend but this whole process put me off

Sent from my HD1901 using Tapatalk

« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2020, 11:51 »
One thing they've mentioned is that the 15% cut they take makes no difference since they've negotiated a higher commission with the agencies (they sort of allude often to it).

That might be true, but as far as I understand you just get a lump sum each month, and you have no idea what clips sold, or do you get the stats? Is it possible to see what percentage they're getting or do you just have to take their word for it?

Anyway, you would need a 17.6% increase to negate the 15% cut, which would mean roughly 35% at Shutterstock and roughly 47% at Pond5. That's not unlikely, but as we've seen that doesn't really matter since you still have all the other major drawbacks to deal with (along with much worse average performance at Pond5 at least).

« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2020, 12:28 »
No, not really. You choose a curator and agree how to send them the files. Many people send them harddrives with tons of content. So the curator has to do everything, select from a large group of files that werent intended for stock to begin with, then they process, edit, keyword and upload. Then you click on submit.

A full curator is a real working partner, so you just spend your time shooting. The advantage of bb is, that you can work with different curators, a drone specialist, a sports specialist or someone who does very creative and advanced editing.

It obviously takes time to get to know people and work with them, but it is the same process like hiring anyone else or sending files for processing to a company.

Many people choose a family member or a friend they collaborate with. You dont have to pay 40%, if you have great quality you can negotiate a different rate. Or maybe get a friend to do it for 10%. There is no fixed amount, if someone is ready to edit your files for 1%, that is not a problem.

The royalty sharing tools are also to share with models, location owners, camera people if you hire them etc...working with curators are just one of many options.

But so far I do it all myself.

As for the principle of working with a distributor:

I have photos on eyeem, westend61, stocksy...etc...all of these companies sell direct but also send my files for distribution.

Eyeem pays out 50% of whatever they receive...so...if they get 20% royalty from gettyimages, I get 10%...etc...

Then there is the opt in to partner programs that many agencies offer where they send your files around the globe. There you get even less from what the buyer originally paid.

So from my perspective as a photo stocker, getting 85% from distribution, is extremly affordable, even if it is not perfect.

I am used to having a mix of uploading myself and working with distributors...it all adds up and the diversity protects me from individual dramas. I get more balance.

My pond5 files are also now appearing on vimeo, but pond5 only pays me 40% in general, not 85% like bb.

Everyone has to figure out what works for them, but of course the basis is always trying to create really useful clips.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 12:34 by cobalt »

« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2020, 10:46 »
Still a fairly involved process. Though the idea and execution is definitely a good one it just seems like there are missing bits

Sent from my HD1901 using Tapatalk

« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2020, 23:09 »
Work in progress I guess.

They are really interested in people who want to do more than stock. I think longterm the platform will evolve with a stronger focus on those who are interested in movie making. At least that i what I see in the community. Quite a few people showing their private movie projects who are now looking at their raw material what could be useful for stock clips.

They have a different crowd, there are a few familiar faces, but many are new to stock.

« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2020, 23:12 »
That would be my thought as well. You have a good collaboration platform it could support the upfront payment or coownership options needed for film production or even other creative projects.

Sent from my HD1901 using Tapatalk

« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2020, 03:19 »
I only recently started there and just have six approved clips online.
Is there a way to see at My Blackbox tab which agencies accepted them, or do I have to search online?
Otherwise, how can I know where my clips are?
Also, I suppose there is no way I can choose only selected agencies I wish they are sent.


  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2020, 20:21 »
I've been submitting there for just over a year. The main reason I started was that I wanted to start submitting live-action content as well as animations, and it would look a bit weird to have cookery videos on a SpaceStockFootage account full of planets and spaceships and the like. Could have changed my username, but wanted to stick with the branding... and as most agencies don't let you have more than one account... using something like BlackBox was the only option.

Aside from the odd exception, my income has increased every single month since I've been submitting, but that's to be expected as I've been submitting a lot more content every month. Aside from March and April 2020... things have been pretty quiet since the middle of last month, but I guess that's to be expected. Seeing the same from my individual agency accounts.


Submit and tag once and they distribute to five agencies.
Payments are always on time
User interface is good when it comes to keywording and the like
Popular Facebook page with a lot of help and advice
FTP is fast, reliable and very few issues.
The ability to share revenue with partners, actors, curators etc
The ability to assign curators to handle your keywording etc.


15% cut. I guess that's not too bad though, especially as they seem to have slightly better royalty rates from one or more of the agencies. I think with SS you get pretty much the same as you would going direct.
Recently added a 10 clip per day upload limit
You can't alter the display image/thumbnail for a clip... it's always the first frame.
No ability to enter a 'description'. They call it a description like on SS for example, but if they're submitting to P5, the description becomes the title... and the description is just a duplicate.
Once you've submitted, there's no editing of anything. Stupid typo its there forever.
They tell you if it's online at one or more agency, or if it's been rejected by all agencies. So when it says 'online', it may be online on one agency and rejected by the rest, or it might be online at all agencies.
You don't get any feedback on why a clip has been rejected.
Impossible to delete anything from your portfolio without contacting support... I'll double check but I think there might be a minimum duration you have to keep them on as well. They did say they'll take them down asap for any legal type issues though.
Can't set your own prices at P5.

Other downsides which I've not included in the list as they're more subjective opinions rather than facts... everyone's far too positive in their Facebook group! You've got people ordering all the BB merch and wearing it with pride, thanking the owner for everything he does and how amazing BB is, people brimming with excitement and being all hopeful about making their first sale. Negativity doesn't go down well in the group. Negativity as in facts though... not just unfounded negativity for no reason. It feels a tiny bit like a cult for some reason. Maybe I'm wrong! And dont ever ask a question in the group unless youve double checked the user guide twice. The moderators will tell you to read the user guide. Your peers will post some kind of meme or inside joke about not reading the user guide. Call me crazy, but I just answer their question. Not exactly a recommended approach when it comes to customer service.

Does seem to be quite a mixture of abilities and experience when it comes to the people who submit there from people who are just shooting on their phones to people all kitted-out with their Red cameras and the like. Then youve got another mixture people with their Red cameras who already produce stock and know what stock is, and people with their Red cameras who have no idea about stock. So I guess their early marketing worked, it got plenty of people through the door. I do feel that a lot of their marketing is marketing the concept of selling stock itself, rather than marketing Blackbox (with a bit of collaboration features sprinkled in).

So theyre on about moving away from the gig economy, financial freedom, passive revenues etc etc. All stuff that the other agencies offer. without the 15%. So in that sense, theyve done a really good job of promoting the concept of stock itself.

And while the owner is obviously a talented guy who has set up a decent platform, I do get the feeling that he bends the truth slightly if its in the interests of the platform. Like when he said that there wasnt any benefit to knowing why youve had your clips rejected. I mean, surely everyone here would agree that theres more benefit to knowing why your clips have been rejected than there is to not knowing why your clips have been rejected? Im sure youd get the same answer if you asked why you cant edit clips, why you cant delete clips, why they dont tell you which clips have been accepted where Im guessing the real answer is that it would take a lot of time, money and effort to install those features, but thats probably not the answer youll get. Itll be along the lines of trust us to take care of all the business side of things for you, you concentrate on creating great content.

On a side note, one reason why youll notice a lot less videos promoting BB at the moment, is that theyve suspended the referral program. I think it was two, maybe three months ago give or take. Theyre working on another one and will let everyone know when its ready. 

Bottom line... if there was the possibility to open second accounts at all the agencies, then I'd probably just do that instead. Overall, I'm pretty happy with them though, but I would rather have a bit more control over editing, know what's been accepted and where, what's been rejected and why, pricing etc etc.

« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2020, 22:54 »
I agree with everything you wrote.

They went from 4000 people to over 45 000 contributors in 18 months.

Their resources must be stretched and it will take time to improve the platform.

The community reminds me of a friendlier version of the old istock exclusive vibe. We had a cult like culture, but there was an amazing amount of drama. BB is catering to a very different crowd, I dont think their members would want the often quite direct discussions we have here.

They love their community and feel at home in their group which is refreshing to the doom and gloom elsewhere.

As for second accounts, you can always register a second business or company and set up additional accounts for that  business. But I guess you already know that.

« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2020, 23:21 »
Thanks spacestock that really helps. Although i guess you've been submitting fully edited, metadata filled clips to them. Have you had a chance to use check out the collaborative features? How convinient have you found them?

Sent from my HD1901 using Tapatalk

« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2020, 03:09 »
I have submitted more than 130 files to BB. Used to have almost one sale a month, but with such a small portfolio, it is more about luck. It is beneficial for European customers to get videos to P5 without dealing with VAT (P5 pays from Ireland, BB payment are not). Nevertheless, complete lack of control is convincing me to stop submitting there. So, no videos at P5 for me anymore as I really want to know where are my files, why they have been rejected...

There is one more very interesting thing. Basically all my files (95%?) were accepted through BB to P5 but almost none (5%?) were accepted at SS, the last one maybe... a year ago. When I am submitting videos to SS using my personal account, my acceptace ratio is much much much much bigger. How it can be possible with similar quality of videos? So, for me, it is question of having videos at P5 and nothing at SS with 15% cut or at SS (but not on P5) without a cut but not on both platforms.

« Reply #38 on: April 30, 2020, 10:44 »
There's something really fishy going on with SS and Blackbox.
Almost nothing seems to go through.
If you compare the Blackboxguild portfoilo on SS and P5, you'll see that only half of the files end up on SS and the gap is growing.
SS has 750000, Pond5 has 1,4 Million files

« Reply #39 on: April 30, 2020, 12:41 »
There's something really fishy going on with SS and Blackbox.
Almost nothing seems to go through.
If you compare the Blackboxguild portfoilo on SS and P5, you'll see that only half of the files end up on SS and the gap is growing.
SS has 750000, Pond5 has 1,4 Million files

not sure if that is related to bb - shutterstock just seems to be doing a LOT of rejections lately...

« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2020, 13:13 »
I notice my commercial files always show up on ss but not all my editorial files. some show up with a 3 month time lag, some never.

Maybe it is the heavy rejection change at SS.

In the beginning pond5 and ss always took the same bb files. So yes, that is frustrating.

« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2020, 05:22 »
Thats scary, with the kind of random rejections SS has been giving lately its usually important to know and be able to resubmit stuff.

SS has often rejected shots that when reuploaded have sold on the first day and a lot. So resubmissions not happening makes black box pretty bad

Sent from my HD1901 using Tapatalk


  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2020, 21:22 »
Just a couple of answers to a few things...

You get a breakdown of your sales, and get an email for every sale you make with the price, date, clip etc. You never know which agency you sold it at, but you can usually tell based on the price.

They don't make the percentages they get from the agencies public, as I guess it's a figure they've had to negotiate, so the agencies don't want BB to go advertising it. Could cause them issues if they try negotiating deals with other people.

They definitely have a deal with SS on the percentages, but that might just be it. Based on sales prices, I don't think they have a deal with P5 or Adobe, but I could be wrong. Maybe with Vimeo... hard to tell.

Yeah, the 20% for keywording and 20% for editing is just a recommended figure. You can negotiate with the person and if you have a track record of getting decent sales with your content then that's going to put you in a better position. I mean 20% for five minutes work is great if the clip sells 5 to 10 times in a year... not so great if it sells once a year or less.

Signing up with a curator is probably a good idea if English isn't your first language. While I'm not sure if great keywording makes that much more of a difference than good keywording, I reckon 20% could be worth it to avoid bad keywording. Otherwise, probably best to do it yourself unless you're super busy.

Collaboration features are good... have used a couple of people for keywording and allocated a share for a model in some shots. The keywording ones were mainly with people I know to get the hang of it so they could do keywording for other people. Obviously they signed up using my referral code, so I get 1% from every one of their sales!

« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2020, 04:10 »
Maybe if you shoot footage for clients Black Box may be useful. However if your primary income is stock footage you'd have to have rocks in your head to use dilute your royalty even further by using Black Box. I am amazed at how many people have jumped on board.

« Reply #44 on: May 04, 2020, 08:27 »
Well, how many people do stock full time?

Less than 10% of all uploaders? BB has a lot of new faces, so it seems to work for them.

« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2020, 12:44 »
I almost joined BB and then pulled out for two reasons. First is terms and conditions for exiting their platform(18 months lock-in). Second, even if you come out of it, you will need to post those videos from your account and it will again go under the approval process. I see as a producer or creator of content, I get nothing except money here and there while BB builds its portfolio. It would have been really great if BB would tag the the videos in existing portfolios of the creators and sell under agreements. The prime reason for not joining them is lock-in period and BB not using creator's portfolio accounts in these agencies. I am not really sure of how much percentage of creators have abandoned their own portfolios for BB.

« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2020, 12:57 »
I have been a member of BB for 16 months.  In late 2018, early 2019, I sent them a little over 1000 clips.  Starting in March 2019, I switched to using Microstock Plus to upload all my media.  Since that time I have uploaded about 1100 more clips to various agencies, including the ones that BB supports (and which you cannot upload to personally if those same media are sent via BB).

I have about 30% more revenue from the non-BB clips than I do from the BB ones, even though BB has had all their clips longer.

BB takes 15% off the top as their commission.  They then take another 2% when they pay you, claiming that "every agency does this." Uh... I have worked with some 20 agencies over the years, and NOT ONE of them charges me to pay me.  Thus, their commission is really 17%, which comes off the top of what SS, Adobe, etc paid in the first place.

With BB, you do not have any idea which agency accepted (or rejected) your media, and have no idea which agency sold the media.  You do get an email  for each sale, and they pay very quickly on a per-sale basis (no holding until the balance reaches some special level, as the other agencies do).

BB might be useful for far-flung transient teams that work on one project together, then reform into different teams for future projects. That is because they support assigning different percentages to different people for a specific media.  For those of us that are lone operators though, that benefit does not really help.

I tried 5 different BB members to do editing/keywording for me when I was on the road for 6 months straight. Of those, 4 were absolute complete wastes of time, where the person was clearly doing the least possible effort to grab 60% of the take.  1 was good, but then stopped doing that work after only a couple weeks. 

When I asked the owner of BB about some form of vetting of editors, and some form of voting on them, so we would have some idea which ones were competent, I was blown off, and he just said it was my responsibility to vet the people (which I did by giving them each a small one-day's worth of shots to work on first).  That was pretty much every interaction with him.  He is a Dictatorship, taking down anything in his forum with the slightest sense of questioning His Wisdom.  He is totally closed-minded to any input at all, thinking he knows exactly how everything should work.

Bottom line -- I dropped them a year ago. If I could remove my media, I would, but the initial agreement (which I read up front and knew at the time) says that I cannot. Once they have it, your media stays there.

They charge way too much for what they offer (which for lone operators, is about zero).  They are non-responsive to any suggestions or requests for changes. Their forum is a rah-rah-ain't-we-great forum, because any post even very slightly off that theme is deleted within minutes.

Instead, go with Microstock Plus. They charge $10/mo to send 250 media to each of 30+ agencies (I only use 12 of them -- pick the ones you want). you can pay more for higher volumes, but that works for me. MS+ also handles both photos and video.  I typically submit 1000 to 1500 media at a time (after traveling 4 or 5 months). I let MS+ submit 250 per month until the batch is complete. That means I can input all at once, and know my stuff will roll out over a 4-6 month period.

Oh yes, MS+ does not take one dime from your commissions. They are submitted under your name, so you know who accepted/rejected, and later sold them.  The only place MS+ gets involved is submission. You upload once, and MS+ then sends to as many as 30+ agencies that they support.

« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2020, 16:48 »
I would love to test MS+ I can get my video clip up to one site, all sites have a green check but on the upload page it says "ignored" by two of the agencies and I have no idea how to fix it, I can not find any support to ask on the site as well. The only reason I am not using it is because I can't get it to work and I have used a LOT of different services.

« Reply #48 on: December 13, 2022, 13:50 »
Bumping this up, i made an account there and somehow wss never able to figure out the get another person to help with metadata. So not much up there at this moment and zero sales

Have any of you had more luck there? I'm guessing it makes a ton of sense with the shutterstock tier system

« Reply #49 on: December 13, 2022, 17:04 »
I only use it to share revenue with a friend or someone else who helped me with a shot. I wish the agencies would allow shared revenue.



Mega Bundle of 5,900+ Professional Lightroom Presets

Microstock Poll Results