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Poll

Would you support or invest in a new agency owned by a collective of contributors

No, I wouldn't contribute content or support
Yes, I'd contribute content
Yes, I'd invest and contribute content

Author Topic: New co-op owned RF/RM agency  (Read 13166 times)

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« on: September 16, 2010, 02:40 »
0
There have been discussions in the past about unions and co-operative agencies.

I thought it would be timely to create a poll about whether people would be prepared to actively take part in establishing a new agency, owned by contributors that pays a significantly higher percentage of royalties to contributors.

The model I'm thinking of is based on some of the contributions on the threads in past. that is an agency made up of:
-of non-exclusive content based on traditional a microRF license
- exclusive content (per-image exclusivity) priced higher and licensed under a new micro-Rights Managed license.
This would allow current IS exclusives to contribute images under the RM license, and provide an avenue for independents to sell all images on a contributor owned site, including some at significantly higher rates and margins.

Financial contribution:
Clearly we're not looking for a commitment here, just an in principle indication. A broad aim could be 1000 contributors investing $1000 - to arrive at start-up capital of $1M.


« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2010, 02:51 »
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Change that investment to a 100 dollar, and I'm in....

1000 $ is too steep, and hasent anything to do with a coop - you compleately misunderstood the consept of a coop.

The coop concept is: one man - one vote - regarless the folie size or sales

To be able to deliver to a coop - you would have to join the coop/be a part of a coop finansially that is - own a part of the coop.

So it should not be possible to contribute to a coop agency, without having invested in it.

So the fee to be a coop member should be like 50 or 100 USD.

Also coop's traditionally finased the coop and investments, by witholding a small part of the members payment for a year, i.e. 5 or 10%. Those would then be payed out at the end of each year. This ensures the coop work capital.

If you are smart, you place the coop in denmark, whre coop's founded under the danish coop rules are taxfree.

« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 02:55 »
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In realation to a REAL coop your poll is meaningless, as you got to own a part of the coop to be able to deliver to the coop - otherwise it's not a coop.

Better take a closer look on what a coop is - with your current lack of knowledge shown here about how a coop is set up and work, I would not trust you to start one :)

« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 03:07 »
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In realation to a REAL coop your poll is meaningless, as you got to own a part of the coop to be able to deliver to the coop - otherwise it's not a coop.

Better take a closer look on what a coop is - with your current lack of knowledge shown here about how a coop is set up and work, I would not trust you to start one :)

My aim wasn't really to get into a definitional argument about what a co-op is or isn't, or even about the final structure of what any organisation would look like. More about whether there is in principle agreement about an agency, owned and controlled by a broad base of contributors to license content.

In the past most of these threads have become bogged down in the detail - which is something I was trying to avoid in framing the poll (obvioulsy not trying hard enough ;) )

To me the economic reality is that any entity would need a significant amount of capital to draw from to start with. Whether this comes from contributions in the form of shares, from co-op fees or from some sort of loan agreement is something that would come several steps down the track.

I'm also not volunteering to run the agency - clearly it would need to be someone with more experience than me.

Microbius

« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 03:26 »
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It would have to be owned by everyone that contributed or owned in trust for them.
Many agencies are started by contributors then they get greedy. There would have to be safeguards.

« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 03:33 »
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I would invest in it but I think we would do much better if we had investment from image buyers.  Why not get them involved in building an agency?  They would be much more likely to use it and they could give us lots of great advice.  It would also cut marketing costs.

« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 03:54 »
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OK - but I'll write something about it later, maybee in the weekend. A real COOP is VERY different from other types of companies, and theres plusses and minusis.

Before discussing anything, one should be fully aware of what one's discusses :)

Thus having a meaningfull discussion :)

« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 03:55 »
0

« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 05:44 »
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I would be willing to take part, but not at micro prices.  US$1000 for me is too high, as I have a very small portfolio. Maybe charging a fee for each image would be more adequate for the various portfolios. It would also incentivate a more selective portfolio.

I think it would be easier to start with a small group, but this would also require a higher initial investment per capita.

« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 06:44 »
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I'm going to concentrate on macro for a while, but still be interested in either coop or very large partnership type arrangement (the less I spend the better but I think it will take at least $400-500 each).

lagereek

« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 06:47 »
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Agencies where all contributors are part-owners have already been tried and tested and with a misserable outcome of greed, jealousy and beefing about whom are to have the biggest shares.
Not a good idea. count me out please.

« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2010, 06:49 »
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How about contacting a programmer/designer and ask what we can expect the cost to set up a complete market to be? I guess it's a lot, but that would give us something to aim for in terms of donations for a start.

I would invest, but not a $1000. More like $100

« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2010, 06:59 »
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I would submit and invest under one condition:
The royalty percentage (~50% is fine for me) needs to be in the contract as unchangeable. I am an iStock exclusive and I was very happy with them until about 2 weeks ago. Now my biggest fear is that this royalty change is just a first step and the royalties are going to drop further.

« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2010, 10:21 »
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I would submit and invest under one condition:
The royalty percentage (~50% is fine for me) needs to be in the contract as unchangeable. I am an iStock exclusive and I was very happy with them until about 2 weeks ago. Now my biggest fear is that this royalty change is just a first step and the royalties are going to drop further.

The challenge will be to have a royalty structure that maximises the payout to contributors, while still providing enough cashflow to sustain a professional agency. Maybe a fixed percentage in addition to a regular distribution of profits in proportion to income earned?

Whatever the case is would need to be written in black and white without a "we can change it at our discretion" type clause.

Microbius

« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2010, 10:37 »
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I think that was the option discussed previously.
Contributors would get a small percentage then all profits would be divided at the end of each year and distributed as an adjustment to that percentage.
So people would say get 20% throughout the year and an additional percentage based on company profits as a "bonus" at the end of the year.
The company would solely be run for the benefit of the contributors.

« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2010, 11:11 »
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The more I think about it, starting a new site is a lot of work, I was keen a few years ago but there was little interest.  And there is the likelihood that we would waste all our time arguing about how it should be run.  Doing a deal with one of the sites that already pays us a decent commission would be more straightforward.

« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2010, 11:35 »
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How would you market it? That's the downfall of going it alone, marketing is expensive whether you are a co-op or not. Who is going to edit the members' submissions? Just a couple of many problems.

« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2010, 11:45 »
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I think that was the option discussed previously.
Contributors would get a small percentage then all profits would be divided at the end of each year and distributed as an adjustment to that percentage.
So people would say get 20% throughout the year and an additional percentage based on company profits as a "bonus" at the end of the year.
The company would solely be run for the benefit of the contributors.


Yep. As someone mentioned in an earlier thread a good example of such a business is the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. The business was bequeathed to it's employees who became 'partners'. They earn a normal salary and then receive a profit-based bonus annually. You can read about it on Wiki;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lewis_Partnership
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 11:50 by gostwyck »

« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2010, 11:49 »
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The more I think about it, starting a new site is a lot of work, I was keen a few years ago but there was little interest.  And there is the likelihood that we would waste all our time arguing about how it should be run.  Doing a deal with one of the sites that already pays us a decent commission would be more straightforward.

Certainly more straightforward, but it wouldn't have any of the safeguards that a contributor owned site would have, and wouldn't allow any of the IS exclusives to participate without taking a huge gamble.

It does take work to run a site, which is why we'd be paying people to do it for us. At the moment IS contributors pay $3-5Million a week in royalties from our content to istock to run that agency. ($3million assumes they pay contributors 36% of revenue, $5M is based on 25% - and both relying on the $1.7M a week in royalties as in the latest announcement)

We don't really have figures for the other sites, but if you do some basic calculations I'm sure you can get an idea of how much you've contributed to each agency's revenue share.

« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2010, 11:56 »
0
I think that was the option discussed previously.
Contributors would get a small percentage then all profits would be divided at the end of each year and distributed as an adjustment to that percentage.
So people would say get 20% throughout the year and an additional percentage based on company profits as a "bonus" at the end of the year.
The company would solely be run for the benefit of the contributors.


Yep. As someone mentioned in an earlier thread a good example of such a business is the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. The business was bequeathed to it's employees who became 'partners'. They earn a normal salary and then receive a profit-based bonus annually. You can read about it on Wiki;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lewis_Partnership


A good read and probably a good model to work from.

« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2010, 12:40 »
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I'm in. Just $1000 is a fortune to me.

« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2010, 13:06 »
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Some of us have complete portfolio on Sumgmug or Photoshelter, would be easier to group them and market them using $100 we put each on the pot?

helix7

« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2010, 13:09 »
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Waste of time. I think we'd all be better served by an already existing agency or a startup that already is underway. There are a few new companies that pay fairly and are priced right. I'd rather throw some support behind one of these fair-trade agencies than bother with a coop that require me to invest not only time but money as well.

alias

« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2010, 13:15 »
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Agency co-ops are always very argumentative. Even with say 50 people.  Thousands of people are not going to form a successful co-op agency. It won't happen. Any agency also needs vision, direction, style, leadership. Lots and lots of little agencies might work however.  Perhaps under some sort of loose affiliation or guild like structure. Even a guild of independents. Perhaps with a common look and feel. Perhaps representing each others' product somehow. Perhaps with common pricing. Break it down into smaller chunks. Photoshelter is starting to seem quite interesting. Think about how you can provide buyers with a legal guarantee that you own the work. What about model releases etc ?

Fotonaut

« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2010, 13:22 »
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Photoshelter search is not up to the task.


 

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