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Author Topic: iStock's Race To The Bottom And Return To The Dumping Ground For Image Leftovers  (Read 14723 times)

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« on: May 24, 2015, 06:52 »
+37
Over the last 12 months, ever since they started the subs thing in May of 2014, I have watched my average dollar per download drop to about 20% of what it was 18 months ago as subs sales have increasingly cannibalized my credit and cash sales into being next to nothing. And since 2011, I have watched my total monthly income drop to about 15% of what it was at its peak.

Of course my total monthly downloads have gone up a bit again in the last year, but this just means that people are getting use of my images for a much lower cost. Does this make me happy? No, of course not. It devalues my work and means people are paying me less for my creative efforts now. As an artist that never feels good. But that's not really the most important issue here.

On a business level I can no longer afford to create quality imagery for stock photo purposes. The return per image just isn't there anymore based on the investment cost (money and time) of creating new content.

For the old imagery I put online 2-3 years ago, it has already paid for itself, so if I am now getting less per image but more downloads from it then it is still not OK, but I'm not actually losing money on those images, just making a lot less from them.

But if I am to create new imagery, and will get much less per image for the new stuff, and have my sales spread over a greater number of my images to make those sales, then the cost of creating new imagery just can't pay for itself anymore on a per image or even a per shoot basis.

So what do I do? I may snap something on the street, or here or there and upload it to iStock when I have a bit of extra time. Or I may not upload anything at all. But when I do,  the images I am uploading are stuff that requires almost no effort to shoot, thing's that cost me nothing to create, and things that I am not going to spend any time post processing or compositing like I did before. I also may upload some leftovers I have from a commercial shoot, basically the stuff nobody really needs or wants that wouldn't be used for anything else.

The result of this is iStock, and many of the other stock sites that have also raced to the bottom (to offer photo buyers who were still willing to pay a lot more for quality pictures until this race to offer the lowest prices started) are now being flooded with mainly shooter's garbage snaps again.

We have now gone full circle by going back to the days when photographers used to just give their leftover images to photo banks to try and sell for them while the togs mainly just concentrated on commercial assignments. So we are back to square one where nobody is really shooting quality stuff for stock anymore, nor have we really progressed in the last 10 years in terms of a more sustainable stock photo business model.

The one good thing is I can put up any leftover stuff I do have now without having to worry about painstaking inspection standards now that iStock opened the flood gates. So I am welcome to dump my garbage into my online portfolio as much as I want in the off-chance some subs buyer is willing to download it for a few dimes and quarters. Truth is I'm hardly doing myself a favor with that approach though (because the income from it is so nominal), nor am I really helping buyers either with my junky file uploads, but that's all that's left to do. So I'm just offering buyers low quality photos for low prices when what most of them really want is high quality stuff and would still be willing to pay more for it.

But are the buyers really unhappy knowing that there isn't much new high quality stock being created now? Probably they can't really tell the difference just yet because there is still so much good quality older stuff online that they can choose from at these lower prices. So they are having a field day for now and are the true winners in all of this. Neither the artists or the photo resellers are benefiting at all from this when they should be in some way. And for the photo buyers themselves, this just means more money left over to keep in their pockets with prices now being about 20% or less of what they were before. Nice one iStock!

Though when trends and styles start changing, as they do quite often, graphic artists and photo buyer's will start finding themselves having difficulty finding current, high quality, and relevant stock content they need in the future. Just like it was back in the day where much of the time you couldn't find relevant stock photos in photo banks and had to hire a professional to shoot what you really needed.

Also, it will reach a point where the quality stuff that is online for these cheap prices will have been seen and used so much already by the marketplace that image buyers may not want to keep using the same old stuff that everyone else has used already over and over again, regardless of its quality.

Maybe at that point some agency will emerge from the rubble charging prices again that makes it worthwhile for photographers to invest time and money to create quality content for stock once more and then buyers will return to paying the prices they were willing to pay before iStock went head to head with Shutterstock to try and win this game of who can sell the most downloads at any cost.

The irony in all this is that Getty will probably bankrupt themselves by racing to the bottom which will just prove to everyone that it was probably one of the worst business decisions ever made by a competing stock agency to try and copy Shuterstock's business model and cheapen the value of everyone's work even further to the point of capitulation.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 16:40 by iFlop »


« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2015, 08:02 »
+22
 First off, I agree with everything you've said.  But in my mind the whole issue of the race to the bottom is officially off and running with all agencies.  Stock makes a horrible "credits" change, 123 embraces it. One tactical move to attract buyers by reducing prices/commissions is embraced by others. FOTOLIA introduces DPC, perhaps the worst move in micro stock today, bringing all sizes down to a buck.  Bigstockphoto introducing a practically free video section, starting the race to the bottom with those RF assets.  DEPOSIT PHOTOS cheats and lies to retain market share, letting assets sell masked as credits but really they are treated like subs. We had a huge thread on that and ultimately nothing really changed. On a $300 partner sale we will still get pennies.  They offer what is a 10 images pack and call it a subscription.  I can go on and on and on and I am sure that many on this forum can add much more to my brief but factual summary. 

Regarding agencies that get it and pay more, well there is Pond5.  You set you own prices and get 50%. But why would buyers go there to get the same content they can get at FT for $1? They won't. That's mainly why P5 does not get a lot of still asset customers.  Why pay $20 at P5 when I can pay $20 elsewhere and get more high resolution images? That is the race to the bottom.  ALL OF THESE AGENCIES are contributing in some way and the critical mass is irreversible unless the producer masses pull their work and only support fair trade sites and that simply isn't going to happen.  Only a smidgen of artists read this forum.  The rest just keep shooting and uploading. 

I'm with you, though.  I haven't shot in my studio since last year. Only images I have uploaded in the last 6-7 months are stuff I shot lallygagging around town.  I have ZERO motivation to produce anything planned, except for video.  My point is that the MASSES need to embrace this approach, find new outlets, support only fair trade sites and yank their portfolios from FOTOLIA, IS, DT, SS, 123, Mostphotosl, DP, CanStockPhoto, BigStock, etc. But most can't due to the income they rely on to pay the bills. 

For me, yes, I have seen a drop in photo income from not uploading stock worthy work in nearly a year. Just uploading dive shots and scenics around beaches isn't going to bail me out.  There will be a point where most of us will lose interest when we see that our 3,500 image port is pulling in $200 a month instead of $3000 a month. Its on its way.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2015, 09:43 »
+19
Yep, agree. I think buyers are already noticing stuff is getting stale but they're willing to put up with it because of price. That's why all of these websites are posting "needs lists" to try and get fresh stuff. It's ridiculous when you look at some of the requests. "Model released group of seniors playing shuffleboard at a luxury hotel". A few years ago I could see that being a good investment. Not today.

I stopped submitting new content over a year ago and have started to remove quite a bit of images. Regular download volume is down, prices are down, and my income is down. The only thing that's up is subscription downloads. No thanks. I just had a designer call and ask about one of my files missing from Istock. I said I'm no longer selling my work for peanuts. On top of that, he was planning to buy a regular license to use for his client to resell prints. You read that right, not an extended license. So I get a few dollars while this company uses the wrong license to make a bunch of money with my work. All done. I'm transitioning to taking back control of my work and selling direct. I may leave some stuff in micro but it will be the old stuff that didn't cost much to produce.

A few years ago files were sold at lower prices but there was high download volume and growth. Now we have low download volume, low prices, and stagnation.

shudderstok

« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2015, 10:24 »
+7
I agree 100%.
But let's back up the truck a bit, the advent of race to the bottom primarily started with the introduction of Istock as the introduction to microstock and then several other microstock sites started up and followed suite with the phenomenon of the race to the bottom concept, and the bottom of the free fall was the introduction of subscription sales, which clearly has become the norm. Istock certainly was the pioneer to the race to the bottom, and now all they are doing is playing catch up as they clearly did not dive deep enough to the bottom at the beginning.
I have said it before and I will say it again, subscription sales are bad for everyone with the exception of the agencies, and sadly we are now in the strangle hold of subscription sales regardless of where where we place our images.
The genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going back in.

Conclusion: The cannibal is now being cannibalized by an even hungrier cannibal.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 10:27 by shudderstok »

« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2015, 10:36 »
+1
Conclusion: The cannibal is now being cannibalized by an even hungrier cannibal.

Nom nom.

B8

« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2015, 11:18 »
+5
I agree 100%.
But let's back up the truck a bit, the advent of race to the bottom primarily started with the introduction of Istock as the introduction to microstock and then several other microstock sites started up and followed suite with the phenomenon of the race to the bottom concept, and the bottom of the free fall was the introduction of subscription sales, which clearly has become the norm. Istock certainly was the pioneer to the race to the bottom, and now all they are doing is playing catch up as they clearly did not dive deep enough to the bottom at the beginning.
I have said it before and I will say it again, subscription sales are bad for everyone with the exception of the agencies, and sadly we are now in the strangle hold of subscription sales regardless of where where we place our images.
The genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going back in.

Conclusion: The cannibal is now being cannibalized by an even hungrier cannibal.

I can't say I actually agree with that view at all. At one time, experienced shooters could stay in the comfort of a small home studio producing high quality images of people and simple objects isolated on white and earn $10,000 a month with a portfolio of around just 2,000 high-quality images on iStock. I don't call that race to the bottom. I call that a great opportunity knowing that nowhere else would you have been able to sell those kinds of images and earn that kind of money. But now you are lucky to earn 10% of that with that same portfolio. That change in the dynamic is in itself the race to the bottom.

I do love though if you fast forward to 6:45 in this video by Derek Snyder from Getty Images where he says "Put simply, this is not a race to the bottom" when in fact for the entire 8:24 minute video he talks purely about how they are racing to the bottom with their subs program and considerably lower subs prices to take on Shutterstock and rebuild the iStock brand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R12s2Acv_IQ

shudderstok

« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2015, 11:50 »
-2
I agree 100%.
But let's back up the truck a bit, the advent of race to the bottom primarily started with the introduction of Istock as the introduction to microstock and then several other microstock sites started up and followed suite with the phenomenon of the race to the bottom concept, and the bottom of the free fall was the introduction of subscription sales, which clearly has become the norm. Istock certainly was the pioneer to the race to the bottom, and now all they are doing is playing catch up as they clearly did not dive deep enough to the bottom at the beginning.
I have said it before and I will say it again, subscription sales are bad for everyone with the exception of the agencies, and sadly we are now in the strangle hold of subscription sales regardless of where where we place our images.
The genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going back in.

Conclusion: The cannibal is now being cannibalized by an even hungrier cannibal.

I can't say I actually agree with that view at all. At one time, experienced shooters could stay in the comfort of a small home studio producing high quality images of people and simple objects isolated on white and earn $10,000 a month with a portfolio of around just 2,000 high-quality images on iStock. I don't call that race to the bottom. I call that a great opportunity knowing that nowhere else would you have been able to sell those kinds of images and earn that kind of money. But now you are lucky to earn 10% of that with that same portfolio. That change in the dynamic is in itself the race to the bottom.

I do love though if you fast forward to 6:45 in this video by Derek Snyder from Getty Images where he says "Put simply, this is not a race to the bottom" when in fact for the entire 8:24 minute video he talks purely about how they are racing to the bottom with their subs program and considerably lower subs prices to take on Shutterstock and rebuild the iStock brand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R12s2Acv_IQ

That is my point! Before microstock came along (and this really had nothing to do with Getty as they did not purchase Istock till much later) basic web usage images were being sold for $30 - $75 depending on your source and royalties being roughly 30%-40%. Microstock brought that down to it's knees for $1 - 5$ per image and starting at 20% based on the canister system, if memory serves correct.  If that is not being a pioneer in the race to the bottom I really don't know what is.

« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2015, 11:51 »
+11
But we always knew it was going to happen, didn't we? It was the logic of the whole thing. We were worrying about it 10 years ago when the ball had just started rolling.

Recently I have produced hardly anything for any sites - I'm a bit preoccupied with personal changes right now but even without that I doubt if I would find the enthusiasm to produce. One of the great things about stock for me was that rather than creating pictures to sit on a hard drive and do nothing, however pretty they were, I was able to produce something that was of actual use to people - and get some cash at the same time. It gave validity to taking pictures, then it provided a modest living.  Now, however, the lack of sales for most new stuff (only SS is still delivering decent figures) leaves me feeling I'm just wasting time and maybe I should let this drift away, merely collecting whatever cash is still to come while I find something else to do.

I never did high production cost stuff, anyway, but now even meals-ready-to-eat seem scarcely worth the effort of shooting and uploading when I could be reading a book instead.

« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2015, 11:55 »
+17
That is my point! Before microstock came along (and this really had nothing to do with Getty as they did not purchase Istock till much later) basic web usage images were being sold for $30 - $75 depending on your source and royalties being roughly 30%-40%. Microstock brought that down to it's knees for $1 - 5$ per image and starting at 20% based on the canister system, if memory serves correct.  If that is not being a pioneer in the race to the bottom I really don't know what is.

Yeah ... but folk like me weren't allowed to play with the big boys, that's what created microstock. It turned out that, despite not being able to meet "professional standards" required by the agencies we could still provide what a lot of designers needed - and broaden the market. The total that is being spent on images now is much higher than it was when the prices were higher.

« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2015, 12:15 »
+3
That is my point! Before microstock came along (and this really had nothing to do with Getty as they did not purchase Istock till much later) basic web usage images were being sold for $30 - $75 depending on your source and royalties being roughly 30%-40%. Microstock brought that down to it's knees for $1 - 5$ per image and starting at 20% based on the canister system, if memory serves correct.  If that is not being a pioneer in the race to the bottom I really don't know what is.

Yeah ... but folk like me weren't allowed to play with the big boys, that's what created microstock. It turned out that, despite not being able to meet "professional standards" required by the agencies we could still provide what a lot of designers needed - and broaden the market. The total that is being spent on images now is much higher than it was when the prices were higher.


Best and most fundamentally accurate post I've seen in ages...


« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2015, 12:16 »
+10
But we always knew it was going to happen, didn't we? It was the logic of the whole thing. We were worrying about it 10 years ago when the ball had just started rolling.


I must have had my rose-colored glasses on. I underestimated the depth of the greed of the big companies. I thought that as quality of images went up, and prices to buyers increased, that the amount paid to contributors would increase as well. I never thought that microstock shooters would ever make what trad stock togs made, but i did think that our royalties would move up, not down. I thought that it would even out to a midstock model, where buyers could still afford images, agencies could still make a buck, and contributors would make more than a dollar per image. Boy, was i way off base.  >:(

B8

« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2015, 12:20 »
+9
I agree 100%.
But let's back up the truck a bit, the advent of race to the bottom primarily started with the introduction of Istock as the introduction to microstock and then several other microstock sites started up and followed suite with the phenomenon of the race to the bottom concept, and the bottom of the free fall was the introduction of subscription sales, which clearly has become the norm. Istock certainly was the pioneer to the race to the bottom, and now all they are doing is playing catch up as they clearly did not dive deep enough to the bottom at the beginning.
I have said it before and I will say it again, subscription sales are bad for everyone with the exception of the agencies, and sadly we are now in the strangle hold of subscription sales regardless of where where we place our images.
The genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going back in.

Conclusion: The cannibal is now being cannibalized by an even hungrier cannibal.

I can't say I actually agree with that view at all. At one time, experienced shooters could stay in the comfort of a small home studio producing high quality images of people and simple objects isolated on white and earn $10,000 a month with a portfolio of around just 2,000 high-quality images on iStock. I don't call that race to the bottom. I call that a great opportunity knowing that nowhere else would you have been able to sell those kinds of images and earn that kind of money. But now you are lucky to earn 10% of that with that same portfolio. That change in the dynamic is in itself the race to the bottom.

I do love though if you fast forward to 6:45 in this video by Derek Snyder from Getty Images where he says "Put simply, this is not a race to the bottom" when in fact for the entire 8:24 minute video he talks purely about how they are racing to the bottom with their subs program and considerably lower subs prices to take on Shutterstock and rebuild the iStock brand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R12s2Acv_IQ

That is my point! Before microstock came along (and this really had nothing to do with Getty as they did not purchase Istock till much later) basic web usage images were being sold for $30 - $75 depending on your source and royalties being roughly 30%-40%. Microstock brought that down to it's knees for $1 - 5$ per image and starting at 20% based on the canister system, if memory serves correct.  If that is not being a pioneer in the race to the bottom I really don't know what is.

Still not right. There are still rights managed sites trying to charge those kind of prices for web use, etc. But the point is iStock created the platform for steady sales and access to steady buyers if you could simply create high-quality simple executions for royalty free usage. And nobody was making the kind of steady income and growth that iStock could provide at one time elsewhere shooting just simple images at home. So when iStock came along they didn't pioneer the race to the bottom, they pioneered the ability to make a lot of money from easy to produce, and simple imagery that most of the big agencies couldn't be arsed to bother with or would even accept into their collections because it wasn't considered creative enough. Then Getty came along and destroyed the whole thing and the final nail in the coffin was infused when they followed suit into subs and everyone's income dropped to the lowest levels yet. That is when they joined the race to the bottom. Before that iStock was doing nothing but raising prices for 5 years and racing to the top.

On the bright side though, the only thing left that Getty can do to screw iStock up even further is go out of business completely. I guess that would make a difference. 

shudderstok

« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2015, 12:24 »
-4
That is my point! Before microstock came along (and this really had nothing to do with Getty as they did not purchase Istock till much later) basic web usage images were being sold for $30 - $75 depending on your source and royalties being roughly 30%-40%. Microstock brought that down to it's knees for $1 - 5$ per image and starting at 20% based on the canister system, if memory serves correct.  If that is not being a pioneer in the race to the bottom I really don't know what is.

Yeah ... but folk like me weren't allowed to play with the big boys, that's what created microstock. It turned out that, despite not being able to meet "professional standards" required by the agencies we could still provide what a lot of designers needed - and broaden the market. The total that is being spent on images now is much higher than it was when the prices were higher.

But who ever said you were not allowed to play with the big boys? Also there were many sites that were not the big boys and the pricing was still in the $30-75$ range as were the royalties as previously mentioned, and somewhat easy to get accepted, you just needed more than 3 photos to get accepted, more like 50 -100 photos. They were all highly profitable and the designers were paying the pricing. Istock simply dropped the pricing and that was the beginning of the end. I find one of the lamest excuses in this whole stock debate is that it was a closed shop or not allowed to play, that simply was never the case. I got shut out of a few of the big boys early on in my career, but had images up with many other agencies and made money, through time I got into the big boys. Back then we were indie but sold our images for much much more and got a much bigger royalty.

« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2015, 12:26 »
+14
the microstock revolution worked because demand outstripped supply. We were paid thousands of dollars per month, even if the individual return per sale was low.

And thus we were able to invest in gear, models, location, training, travel across the world to meet up with other artists and invest together in image production.

But now that returns are low and unpredictable, people are going back to assignment work or their day jobs as doctors,lawyers, or media design.

Now i keep reading we are supposed to be scared of the next generation of smartphone artists , but seriously, what chance do they have, if they can't make money?

There was a moment when the internet screamed for cheap images and only 1 million files where available...or 3 million..

That moment came and went, now all agencies have more files than customers...

So people will produce according to the money they expect to make.

Nobody invest thousands of dollars and lots of time in a shoot for no returns.

If the agencies want higher quality content, they will have to find a way to make it work financially.


shudderstok

« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2015, 12:28 »
+1
But we always knew it was going to happen, didn't we? It was the logic of the whole thing. We were worrying about it 10 years ago when the ball had just started rolling.


I must have had my rose-colored glasses on. I underestimated the depth of the greed of the big companies. I thought that as quality of images went up, and prices to buyers increased, that the amount paid to contributors would increase as well. I never thought that microstock shooters would ever make what trad stock togs made, but i did think that our royalties would move up, not down. I thought that it would even out to a midstock model, where buyers could still afford images, agencies could still make a buck, and contributors would make more than a dollar per image. Boy, was i way off base.  >:(

did you not get the Istock it's not sustainable to pay your for your work email?

« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2015, 12:32 »
+1
But we always knew it was going to happen, didn't we? It was the logic of the whole thing. We were worrying about it 10 years ago when the ball had just started rolling.


I must have had my rose-colored glasses on. I underestimated the depth of the greed of the big companies. I thought that as quality of images went up, and prices to buyers increased, that the amount paid to contributors would increase as well. I never thought that microstock shooters would ever make what trad stock togs made, but i did think that our royalties would move up, not down. I thought that it would even out to a midstock model, where buyers could still afford images, agencies could still make a buck, and contributors would make more than a dollar per image. Boy, was i way off base.  >:(

I think we were talking about the constant dilution of sales through the influx of more and more images 10 years ago, rather than the price level. You could always go to Alamy to get the higher prices - just without the sales.  The microstock thing was huge sales at tiny prices makes everybody happy, I don't recall many people arguing for a move into "midstock" pricing, and the "Istockpro" midstock offering that was meant to open that market never managed to take off.

« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2015, 12:37 »
+7

But who ever said you were not allowed to play with the big boys? Also there were many sites that were not the big boys and the pricing was still in the $30-75$ range as were the royalties as previously mentioned, and somewhat easy to get accepted, you just needed more than 3 photos to get accepted, more like 50 -100 photos. They were all highly profitable and the designers were paying the pricing.

Well, I don't know about minor sites - were there really that many in 2004? - but I did read the terms and conditions for some big ones and it was clear that I couldn't qualify, you had to be an established professional to have a chance.

shudderstok

« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2015, 12:55 »
0

But who ever said you were not allowed to play with the big boys? Also there were many sites that were not the big boys and the pricing was still in the $30-75$ range as were the royalties as previously mentioned, and somewhat easy to get accepted, you just needed more than 3 photos to get accepted, more like 50 -100 photos. They were all highly profitable and the designers were paying the pricing.

Well, I don't know about minor sites - were there really that many in 2004? - but I did read the terms and conditions for some big ones and it was clear that I couldn't qualify, you had to be an established professional to have a chance.

Actually there were many sites in North America, Europe and Asia. The first big boy that accepted me was Tony Stone Images, which later became Stone once the evil empire bought them. In fact all the minor agencies I was with were bought out by the evil empire with the exception of Alamy, so all of my work got send over to them in one form or another and I had no choice but to submit my work to Getty. It was only years of that nonsense that I starting submitting my rejects to IS. I am not clear if this is a good situation or a bad one, but I do know now the dust has settled, I really don't see anywhere else I'd now place my images. It's sort of a well greased machine at this point, but also I can see that nothing sticks to grease and it is a slippery slope from here on in, but I don't think that is just a Getty/Istock thing, I think it is industry wide. The cards are no longer in our favor, but I also think the industry will prosper for many years, but the lack of reward to the contributor will ultimately and eventually make another shift in how images will be marketed. I could pretty much predict the outcome of microstock and subscription sites for the industry. I think the next move in the future will be more leaning towards midstock such as Offset, Stocksy, and what Vetta was trying to be, but Vetta was a few steps in front of itself and did not grab. I think the editorial market and web market will still keep buying schlock at shclock prices cause they don't care, but advertising and marketing industries will eventually rediscover they have a budget and that is where the midstock sites have a chance, but in order to succeed, they need to keep editing their submitted work and make them a curated agency, just like the good old days. :)

« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2015, 13:45 »
+2
Surely there must come an equilibrium point when returns reach the lowest level able to keep a useful number of producers producing.

« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2015, 14:04 »
+4
Surely there must come an equilibrium point when returns reach the lowest level able to keep a useful number of producers producing.

To me this is the key. Everything is defined differently by individual contributors regarding how much they are willing to accept as "the lowest level". But after that what are they willing to do? If they stop producing, that's one thing, but if they leave their content up that will give agencies years of content to use before they start feeling any headwinds from lack of new and fresh content. In my opinion they will be in the driver's seat for quite some time before they need to change course. 

« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2015, 15:13 »
+1
Surely there must come an equilibrium point when returns reach the lowest level able to keep a useful number of producers producing.

That's what I always expected and I assumed it would happen while there were still decent sales of new stuff - but it seems now that there is no particular minimum that cuts off the flow of images.
Does anybody know how iStock's library growth has been affected by the almost total collapse in sales of new material? I've a feeling they are still getting masses of uploads - and let's remember that their heyday (from the contributor's view) was when they had only 200,000 images and maybe 5,000 uploads a month. That amount of growth kept punters happy.

« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2015, 15:42 »
+6
But there is at least six months if not a year or two lag from the beginners doing uploads until they are disgruntled and stop. Then it will take time for the word to get around and the beginners no longer begin. I figure we are 3 to 5 years out from that point.

« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2015, 16:06 »
+2
But there is at least six months if not a year or two lag from the beginners doing uploads until they are disgruntled and stop. Then it will take time for the word to get around and the beginners no longer begin. I figure we are 3 to 5 years out from that point.
Now, it would be interesting if our thousands of images started to regain value after that....

« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2015, 18:58 »
+7
Surely there must come an equilibrium point when returns reach the lowest level able to keep a useful number of producers producing.

That's what I always expected and I assumed it would happen while there were still decent sales of new stuff - but it seems now that there is no particular minimum that cuts off the flow of images.
Does anybody know how iStock's library growth has been affected by the almost total collapse in sales of new material? I've a feeling they are still getting masses of uploads - and let's remember that their heyday (from the contributor's view) was when they had only 200,000 images and maybe 5,000 uploads a month. That amount of growth kept punters happy.

Istock's heyday was 2010-2011...it's been nothing but downhill since then. I bet you find the highest income average during that timeframe. One bad decision after the next and here we are.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 19:21 by cdwheatley »

« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2015, 15:25 »
+5
But there is at least six months if not a year or two lag from the beginners doing uploads until they are disgruntled and stop. Then it will take time for the word to get around and the beginners no longer begin. I figure we are 3 to 5 years out from that point.

I think you are right but the point might be coming sooner. When I started in 2007, a main motivation to continue was the first download. And the second one the next day. And another one. It kept being rewarding. That time has passed. Nowadays I'm happy if one out of ten uploads gets a download within the first week. And five downloads a year is becoming a top seller at most agencies.

I believe newbies already don't get the same amount of reward/motivation today. Even from our times, most stopped uploading after a few weeks or months. There won't be many who will continue uploading for years.

« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2015, 15:35 »
+11
There won't be many who will continue uploading for years.

Doesn't matter. The agencies plan is to have 10 million contributors all submitting 1 image and never reaching payout.

« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2015, 16:03 »
+2
(...) So I'm just offering buyers low quality photos for low prices when what most of them really want is high quality stuff and would still be willing to pay more for it.

But are the buyers really unhappy knowing that there isn't much new high quality stock being created now? Probably they can't really tell the difference just yet because there is still so much good quality older stuff online that they can choose from at these lower prices. So they are having a field day for now and are the true winners in all of this. Neither the artists or the photo resellers are benefiting at all from this when they should be in some way. And for the photo buyers themselves, this just means more money left (...)

you're spot on, a great many valid points you made there.

As for the photo buyers, there is one aspect not really making them the overall "winners" of all of this: the onus of sifting through 50m or so photos. This is **time-consuming** for them, this costs more (in time lost) than it saves (in dollars spent). I would hate to be in their shoes, I would prefer someone providing quality to me without the hassle of wading through tons of garbage or yet-more-of-the-same (I am talking multi-racial office high-fives and stuff here).

So what I hope to see is a market re-balancing itself to a point where, indeed, all those ridiculous discount-agencies (IS, SS you're talking about plus all others following the same idiotic path) have made themselves fully superfluous -- and good chances and business come back to those who pitch good quality selections to targeted audiences directly.

It would be nice to see that happening fast.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 16:06 by lex-icon »

« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2015, 17:28 »
+2
Let me remind that when istock,first with Bruce, then with Getty, was raising prices year after year, a lot of people, including a lot of photographers used to angrily protest (for example in this very forum). Recently, someone said that istock is still selling ex-Vetta and S+ images at "ridiculous high prices as if these fotos were gems" (meaning about 2 dollars and a half with the S+ subscription!!).

Obviously, introducing subs at istock was a (another) mistake. For what I can infere from my sales and revenue, and sales and revenue of some friends, we are losing money, yes, but Getty is losing money too. A lot of money.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 17:30 by loop »

« Reply #28 on: May 26, 2015, 00:15 »
+2
Let me remind that when istock,first with Bruce, then with Getty, was raising prices year after year, a lot of people, including a lot of photographers used to angrily protest (for example in this very forum). Recently, someone said that istock is still selling ex-Vetta and S+ images at "ridiculous high prices as if these fotos were gems" (meaning about 2 dollars and a half with the S+ subscription!!).

Obviously, introducing subs at istock was a (another) mistake. For what I can infere from my sales and revenue, and sales and revenue of some friends, we are losing money, yes, but Getty is losing money too. A lot of money.

Both are kind of true.  Getty got greedy and way overpriced a lot of images that were just boilerplate stock and overestimate the.draw of exclusivity for stuff that was nothing special.  Even for the stuff that was Vetta or agency and worth the higher price, there was too many different prices in the search and just confuse customers who went elsewhere for simplicity.

Now istock goes 180 and gives away all images at all size and quality for peanuts subs.

Getty never could get microstock right, just bounce from one ridiculous extreme to the other.   Dont blame the contribs for complaining about it.

« Reply #29 on: May 26, 2015, 00:54 »
+1
There won't be many who will continue uploading for years.

Doesn't matter. The agencies plan is to have 10 million contributors all submitting 1 image and never reaching payout.

Not really. For one, any serious agency (like a stock traded one) even a contributor account with $0.25 in an account payable, so it won't end up as a profit margin. Accounting wise it doesn't make a difference if they pay out that money or not.

And more importantly: The one image would most likely be one of a cat or a landscape or something random. For random contributors it takes a while (or never happens) that they understand the market needs. Agencies need people delivering good images as well. And for that at some point they will have to realize that a new balance has to be found. Not sure if that balance will be high enough for western countries to make a living, though.  ::)

« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2015, 01:02 »
+1
Let me remind that when istock,first with Bruce, then with Getty, was raising prices year after year, a lot of people, including a lot of photographers used to angrily protest (for example in this very forum). Recently, someone said that istock is still selling ex-Vetta and S+ images at "ridiculous high prices as if these fotos were gems" (meaning about 2 dollars and a half with the S+ subscription!!).

Obviously, introducing subs at istock was a (another) mistake. For what I can infere from my sales and revenue, and sales and revenue of some friends, we are losing money, yes, but Getty is losing money too. A lot of money.

Sure. Raising prices across the board was a part of what drove customers away from iStock, I am pretty sure. Despite the prior comments about the "good old times" when even web res images were $35 to license, there is a demand today for images that just don't justify that price. Have a look at all those "ten reasons why..." posts at Huffington Post and others that run 10 images along with the article - those articles will never make $350 in ad revenue. Not even talking about smaller blogs.

iStock opened that market to photographers who didn't get into those high priced agencies. But Getty thought they could come back to that old pricing. If you go back in time (like 2010), iStock made about $300 million in revenue when all others combined probably made less than $150 million. I believe even a higher tiered collection like Vetta did work very well as it was curated.

The problems came when prices for all images went up, no matter if they were unique, artistic, special or just a plain apple on white. Plus the seven collections with six size based price levels each, totalling 42 different price points for basically the same product. Customers didn't understand the reasoning behind that. I believe Shutterstock makes more money from non-subscription sales today than from those who are willing to pay $3,000 a year for image licenses. And all those non-subs sales could have been (sticked) with iStock if they acted smarter.

However, I am not sure if we were better off if that would have happened. Probably Getty would have cut down everybody to 20% (or 10% for non-exclusives and 25% for exclusives) today. They didn't have to cut royalties further since the RC introduction only because almost no one ever reached a higher payout level since but many dropped down, so they are already paying out less today than they originally expected.

« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2015, 02:32 »
+2
Let me remind that when istock,first with Bruce, then with Getty, was raising prices year after year, a lot of people, including a lot of photographers used to angrily protest


I was one who was concerned about it. I though it risked losing customers and the higher commissions risked pulling in a load of new photographers (which I suppose was part of the point).  For the most part, Bruce balanced the increased value of sales against the loss of customers very well but it did lose some - which boosted SS - and it did make us face tougher competition with some people dumping entire portfolios into the site and being excused the limits placed on the rest of us.

« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2015, 03:43 »
+2
Let me remind that when istock,first with Bruce, then with Getty, was raising prices year after year, a lot of people, including a lot of photographers used to angrily protest

I was one who was concerned about it. I though it risked losing customers and the higher commissions risked pulling in a load of new photographers (which I suppose was part of the point).

Remember the crazy high prices people used to pay for a basic html website ? There was money being spent back then.

Those were the days before social media sharing and before the ubiquitous iPhone camera (Facebook went mainstream about the same time that the original iPhone was launched). It was an era of almost unparalleled economic boom and new speculative web businesses funded by debt. There was suddenly a big and growing market for easily accessible commercial images. Plus clubs, church groups and existing local businesses were being told that they needed a "web presence". About the time that everyone got fast internet.

So back then iStock was probably right to increase prices. It was still much cheaper than images had been and the demand existed. But today business is much slower - and many organisations have switched their presence to Facebook. Many of the old web sites are either gone or else replaced by what is effectively a simple contact page. And much of the content which keeps things fresh today is shot on an iPhone and shared by 'friends' of the business/club/church group etc.

If the price of a thing is going down then we know that demand is not increasing. I strongly suspect that with hindsight the Shutterstock valuation will be seen as the high water mark. And that has almost certainly been based on past performance (never reliable), unrealistic future expectations and a market which would have corrected years ago if it had not been for QE and record low interest rates.

« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2015, 05:14 »
+4
Not everybody can pay mid-stock prices, ok. And so what? Every business has to know who its target customers are and that they can't have ALL the customers in its field.

All I know is that just a year ago, or less, I was selling almost as many files like I'm selling now with subs, and most of them (more than regular ones + Vetta) were E+ files, with an average of 18-25 & comission per download and an average price of about 50-60 $

« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2015, 05:50 »
+4
Not everybody can pay mid-stock prices, ok. And so what? Every business has to know who its target customers are and that they can't have ALL the customers in its field.

All I know is that just a year ago, or less, I was selling almost as many files like I'm selling now with subs, and most of them (more than regular ones + Vetta) were E+ files, with an average of 18-25 & comission per download and an average price of about 50-60 $

So does iStock know what its target market is? It started out as the definition of microstock, then it decided it wanted to be midstock, then in wanted to be both and now it seems to want to be microstock again but on a subscription basis. With the new pricing levels it seems to be telling all its customers that they were being ripped off in the past, which isn't exactly a great message.

« Reply #35 on: May 26, 2015, 07:15 »
0
Worth also remembering that, as well as the declining market, many countries are now beginning to experience negative economic inflation.

dpimborough

« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2015, 13:47 »
+2
But there is at least six months if not a year or two lag from the beginners doing uploads until they are disgruntled and stop. Then it will take time for the word to get around and the beginners no longer begin. I figure we are 3 to 5 years out from that point.

I think you are right but the point might be coming sooner. When I started in 2007, a main motivation to continue was the first download. And the second one the next day. And another one. It kept being rewarding. That time has passed. Nowadays I'm happy if one out of ten uploads gets a download within the first week. And five downloads a year is becoming a top seller at most agencies.

I believe newbies already don't get the same amount of reward/motivation today. Even from our times, most stopped uploading after a few weeks or months. There won't be many who will continue uploading for years.

But just like Pavlov's dogs they keep ringing that bell and contributors keep salivating at the thought of a meal ticket sale that never arrives

...I'm glad I'm a cat :D


dpimborough

« Reply #37 on: May 26, 2015, 13:49 »
+1
There won't be many who will continue uploading for years.

Doesn't matter. The agencies plan is to have 10 million contributors all submitting 1 image and never reaching payout.

More true than you could possibly imagine  ;)

« Reply #38 on: May 26, 2015, 16:32 »
+3
But just like Pavlov's dogs they keep ringing that bell and contributors keep salivating at the thought of a meal ticket sale that never arrives

...I'm glad I'm a cat :D

Eddie Izzard - Pavlov's Cats

« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2015, 00:12 »
+4

All I know is that just a year ago, or less, I was selling almost as many files like I'm selling now with subs, and most of them (more than regular ones + Vetta) were E+ files, with an average of 18-25 & comission per download and an average price of about 50-60 $
[/quothttp://www.microstockgroup.com/index.php?action=post;quote=419871;topic=25109.25;last_msg=420006#e]



Getting rid of E+ (or P+ for us non-exclusive) was the single biggest thing Getty did to drop my income.  Until the start of subs, of course.

« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2015, 17:54 »
+3
I think the toxic RC system (I stopped uploading) and then forcing us into PP was the worst. It made me pull most of my port and lowered my income a bit and theirs a lot. It was nice to have all my remaining images in P+ while that lasted though.

madman

    This user is banned.
« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2015, 11:56 »
+2
lok at istock one image normal credit price and other sites, istock prices $30, other sites are $10 , so who buy images so higher prices, I wonder. istock lost almost all small customers by doing so, sure, subs are very cheap but subs for big customers, not for all customers, istock serving our images and efforts dramatically very low prices to big agencies and we lost most of maney all time, look at istock's last years alexa graph, constantly decreases, by the way, istock firm and its contributors are continuously losing money, why do not they do anything to stop it? I cannot understand really, If istock go this way, the next time will drown in their own vomit, I think.


 

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