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Author Topic: Future of MicroStock?  (Read 7980 times)

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RacePhoto

« on: January 24, 2012, 13:54 »
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Ah ha no not the doom and gloom patrol. But what if someone comes up with something totally new and revolutionary and blows the current agencies out of the water.

Says it's not so and could never happen?

Have you heard of SPOTIFY?

Spotifys Daniel Ek created a free, Facebook-enabled platform that could save the recording industry from piracyand iTunes.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2012/01/04/spotifys-daniel-ek-the-most-important-man-in-music/

There's a bit more to this story, before I jump off the cliff and into their fandom:

Trouble is, Spotify isnt really making money. According to its latest filing with Companies House in the U.K., where it is based, Spotify posted a pre-tax loss of 26.5 million ($41.5 million) for 2010, wider than the 16.1 million it lost the previous year.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2011/10/11/spotify-loses-42-million-on-licensing-costs/

But say someone came up with something new, to license images to the masses, via a subscription plan, using a similar cloud principle. (pretty much what take your favorite music anywhere does, for a subscription) Or is this old school and the only way it would work is Video and TV, in which case we have... Kindle.  ;D

Just pointing out that when people think of the music industry and iTunes or YouTube or whatever. Here comes a new player and shakes up the whole game.

Could that happen to Stock Imaging again? Is there a large enough demand to make it worth investing millions into something revolutionary?


wut

« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 14:27 »
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And I thought your posts were always long winded, there you go and top it with a 5 page article ;D

;)

RacePhoto

« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 14:29 »
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And I thought your posts were always long winded, there you go and top it with a 5 page article ;D

;)

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. How's that just a one liner? LOL   :-X

« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2012, 15:06 »
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Eh, I'm not that interested in music, and I couldn't care less what my friends are listening to.  But what would stop me from just grabbing the audio, saving it, and then not using the service?

Same with images.  You can't really control it when it's out there, so giving it away for free guarantees you 0 income.

« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 15:18 »
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Eh, I'm not that interested in music, and I couldn't care less what my friends are listening to.  But what would stop me from just grabbing the audio, saving it, and then not using the service?

Same with images.  You can't really control it when it's out there, so giving it away for free guarantees you 0 income.

I think it operates a bit like internet radio but on demand. I'm sure someone will work out how to strip it but the idea is that you don't store the music on your computer you stream it from the "cloud". When you stop paying for the subscription you can't listen to it.

« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 15:20 »
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I don't see how the Spotify model can work for images that need to be incorporated into something in another piece of software - Photoshop, InDesign, some HTML somewhere, etc.

All the streaming music services use some sort of DRM and  although I'm sure people do try to get around that, you can't just save an MP3 file when listening to Spotify. And with paid services (Spotify or Rhapsody) you need to connect to the service at least once a month for the mobile saved files to continue to play (and those play only in their app, not any music player of your choice).

If you just looked at pictures, it might be analagous, but as that's not what people do when they license stock images, a whole lot of additional software would be needed - and adoption of that DRM software by the majority of image editing, page layout and web design software - before you could even think about using this approach.

And then there's the issue of how you sell enough ads to make money with the free version (versus paid) of the service...

« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 15:29 »
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I suppose anything is possible, but microstock is about as cheap and easy to use as it could be. So, I'm not sure how much it would be worth it to try to reinvent the wheel.

I guess there was some effort to incorporate images into some blog software or MS Word a while back (from what I remember), but it didn't seem like much came of that collaboration.

RacePhoto

« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2012, 15:44 »
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I suppose anything is possible, but microstock is about as cheap and easy to use as it could be. So, I'm not sure how much it would be worth it to try to reinvent the wheel.

I guess there was some effort to incorporate images into some blog software or MS Word a while back (from what I remember), but it didn't seem like much came of that collaboration.

Yeah, paid link code, to use an image on your website, Stop paying and the images vanish?

Yes the video's on My Kindle are there, but not there. (how's that for beating around the bush?) I have a movie and I can watch it for two days, after that it's gone. If there was some way to save it off the device, then yes, it's a fail. Seems that right now they have avoided that.

As for the music, same deal. As long as you pay you can play. There are licenses to the agencies and recording companies. (are they still called that?) They make money on their whole catalog of artists.

Photos are similar to either of these, but true we don't have kids running around with an ipad showing friends the latest stock image of some sliced veggies. And there really aren't pop artists which people share images. It's a bit of a different market. Might work for smut?

More of the thought was, what if someone came up with a totally new way to market and distribute images? It was more about, the status quo not being set in concrete and someone with a revolutionary better idea could change the industry. The top ten would be, a history lesson.

« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2012, 15:54 »
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The market for imaging will start to come back when buyers start to understand that crowdsourcing inevitably delivers [email protected] and the whole idea of getting it dirt cheap off "the internet" loses it's glow.  People in design roles will see better imaging in use by competitors and be unable to find it on the microstock sites they're using themselves.

Microstock prices are now so low that only hobbyists and wannabes will continue to participate in the long term.      People with real talent in imaging - i.e. an aesthetic sense - will gradually migrate to new channels.   Which have yet to appear. 

« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2012, 16:11 »
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The emergence of Holography in advertising could throw a wrench into everything. How many of us are ready for that?

« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2012, 16:40 »
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I don't see how the Spotify model can work for images that need to be incorporated into something in another piece of software - Photoshop, InDesign, some HTML somewhere, etc.

All the streaming music services use some sort of DRM and  although I'm sure people do try to get around that, you can't just save an MP3 file when listening to Spotify. And with paid services (Spotify or Rhapsody) you need to connect to the service at least once a month for the mobile saved files to continue to play (and those play only in their app, not any music player of your choice).

If you just looked at pictures, it might be analagous, but as that's not what people do when they license stock images, a whole lot of additional software would be needed - and adoption of that DRM software by the majority of image editing, page layout and web design software - before you could even think about using this approach.

And then there's the issue of how you sell enough ads to make money with the free version (versus paid) of the service...

I can connect with Spotify on my AV receiver and record directly to usb stick, or via the rec out mode to an external device (MD player/recorder in my case).
Same on the computer, lots of software out there to record what is played on computer.
Additional option, every computer has a soundcard with an out connector, just make a bridge to the input channel and you can record, or make a connection to an external device and record.  No DRM is going to stop that.

Patrick H.

« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2012, 17:18 »
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Well, you're violating the usage license:
"You are granted a limited, non-exclusive, revocable license to make personal non-commercial use of the Spotify Software Application (including a right to download said application) and the Spotify Service and to receive by stream (and, where you have purchased the Premium Service or the Mobile Service, by conditional download) the media content made available through the Spotify Service in the United States."

« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2012, 17:57 »
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I do think someone will come up with something better than the microstock sites one day.  There's been a few interesting ideas talked about in previous threads here.  A lot of our earnings go to the sites at the moment and buyers could pay less if we kept more of the money.  Hopefully someone will come up with a good way for us to do transactions with buyers more efficiently.

« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2012, 18:05 »
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It's not the inefficiency that annoys me, or even the commissions - it's the one-size-fits-all pricing.  There's no allowance for the cost of production, or the quality, or the uniqueness of an image. Go into a "dollar store" in a mall - what do you see? That's right, a bunch of [email protected]   No quality products at all.  Fortunately, if you want something better you can go next door to a very different store.  Not so with microstock.  If you want to do unusual images that cost time and money to create, you have no marketing channel in microstock; and if there are buyers that would want them, and be willing to pay for them - all that money is left on the table.

This business model is simplistic and dumb.  The only reason it once seemed high tech and sophisticated was that web commerce was the new thing, for a while. 

« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2012, 20:24 »
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None of us can stop what the masses want because it means $$$ for the companies offering it (see the illegal use of Megaupload - high demand -> lots of cash).

One day the companies understand that concept (I mean really understand that concept) they will do what Megaupload did (and all the other one-click file sharing sites) and offer all content free and payout advertising revenue proportionally to download numbers.

SS is the easiest example. We're getting paid between 25 to 38 cents per regular download for which the customers pay the subscription fee.

Assume that SS drops the paid subscription plans and implements free access to EVERYONE and ALL the images on Shutterstock to download UNLIMITED images paying us contributors accordingly through ad revenue shown on the SS site.

As we all know Google earns insane amounts of money through online advertising, making $37 Billion (unaudited in 2011) not charging a single cent for a huge range of products and services accessible for everyone online.

This could actually generate more traffic, more people, more downloads and most importantly more revenue for SS (and therefore higher payouts for us) if it was offered "for free".

In the end, why would I care if SS pays me 0.2 cents 2 cents per image download (through ad revenue) if my portfolio gets 25.000 downloads a month instead of 1.000 downloads a month @ 38 cents a pop (paid by a customer?

Eventually, our images are ending up online for free ANYWAY, whether we like it or not (well we don't like it) BUT the fact remains that the file sharing/link sharing sites (heroturk0 etc.) won't have the "premium" first hand content anymore as SS would offer the content brand new, first hand FOR FREE anyway. They would take image sharing site out of business in a snap.

I know not many will like this idea but even if it takes 20 years, we'll get there...
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 11:47 by click_click »

« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2012, 20:43 »
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I actually believe - and I've posted this before - that after the subscription model comes 'free', supported by ads.  We'll get there.

RacePhoto

« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2012, 11:02 »
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I actually believe - and I've posted this before - that after the subscription model comes 'free', supported by ads.  We'll get there.

Actually what you and Click_Click say may come true in which case, nothing of mine will be up on Microstock. Why would any of us supply the images for nothing?

Or do you mean, everything will be free and we'll get a percentage of the advertising revenue?

No income, no work. Or to quote my late Uncle Ed: "I'd rather sit for nothing than work for nothing."

(he was talking about profit margins and business expenses involved producing a product)

« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2012, 11:36 »
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I think about this all the time.

I'm making a nice income now, and it would be nice to think it will continue to grow or at least remain steady for the next several decades.  My dream is to quit my day job at 50 and enjoy a comfortable, microstock-financed retirement, but I know that's naive.

All industries change, and anything tech related changes at a much faster pace.  Microstock as we know it will continue to evolve and maybe be completely replaced with a new model at some point.

But I comfort myself with this thought: images will always be needed.  Maybe they'll become more animated, more video-like, or maybe even holograms.  I'll just have to stay on top of the technology to create what's in demand.  I have enough faith in my ability to do so.  As for how we'll make money on sales of such images?  Maybe it will go to free downloads but advertising supported and we contributors get a cut.  Or maybe some other model we're not even thinking of.  It ultimately doesn't matter.  The creators of images will have to be compensated at a level that satisfies them enough to keep them creating.  Otherwise there will be no more images.  (At least, no more GOOD images, since the ones that people will create for no compensation will be crap.)

So I'm uncertain about microstock's future, but fairly confident that I'll be able to profit in some way as a contributor well into the future.

« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2012, 11:46 »
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... Or do you mean, everything will be free and we'll get a percentage of the advertising revenue? ...
I'm not sure if you read my entire post but here it is again:

Quote
... In the end, why would I care if SS pays me 0.2 cents per image download (through ad revenue) if my portfolio gets 25.000 downloads a month instead of 1.000 downloads a month @ 38 cents a pop (paid by a customer? ...

I'm sorry, I made a mistake with my example. Of course this wouldn't work at 0.2 Cents payout for each download. I'm talking about 2 cents per download financed through ad revenue.

So if I "sold" 25,000 licenses a month (free download - ad financed revenue splitting) at 2 cents a pop = $500
Right now, I might sell 1,000 licenses a month at 38 cents = $380

Not to mention that our images end up on file sharing sites as it is and no agency is taking serious action (or is going for a law suit) to reclaim lost royalties. That situation couldn't get any worse anyway.

I would pull my images out of ad financed Microstock in a heartbeat if I made less money, don't get me wrong.

And high quality RF and RM will still stay the way it is now as there will be always clients looking for unique premium and exclusive content.

« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2012, 14:36 »
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Interesting discussion. Why couldn't SS charge for downloads and also sell ads?

Some sites which sell IP Licenses to use images in much the same way as SS do sell ad space. One example is Renderosity. I think Turbosquid also sells some adspace.

SS could split the ad revenue 3 ways: pay us more; lower subscription prices (and so get an edge on the competition); and make more profit.

If SS made it clear that selling ads would lower the lower the prices which buyers pay and increase the royalties which submitters earn, would buyers and submitters go along with it?

« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2012, 14:40 »
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If SS made it clear that selling ads would lower the lower the prices which buyers pay and increase the royalties which submitters earn, would buyers and submitters go along with it?

I prefer that buyers feel that have some sense of investment in the content they are using, otherwise, it has no value to them, and they will feel free to abuse it.  Incorrect usages, distribution, etc.  Also, as a buyer, I wouldn't want my searches, which is part of the service I pay for with my download price, to be cluttered with crap ads.

RacePhoto

« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2012, 14:52 »
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... Or do you mean, everything will be free and we'll get a percentage of the advertising revenue? ...

I'm not sure if you read my entire post but here it is again:


Sure but I can be terribly thick sometimes and miss the simple point of what someone writes?  :-\

Ah, revenue sharing, based on page views, vs downloads. OK So people download 10 of my pictures but the total for the site is 100,000 so I get .0001% of the total ad revenue for that month. OK I get it! And people would still be paid the same, assuming the good images would get more downloads than the crapstock. Looks good on the wall, but here's a problem. (beyond what sjlocke  just added)

If it's free and instead of 100,000 downloads a month as the hypothetical number now, we instead get 1 million downloads a month. It's Free... then our pay would be decreased and page views don't pay anymore, it's click through credits. If it was page views like it used to be, I'd have a website that was so spammed up, that you'd have trouble finding the content.  :D

So maybe you .02 cents wasn't a bad prediction after all?

Hey anyone ever heard of http://photobucket.com/ maybe it's already here?

« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2012, 15:47 »
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...yada yada yada... So maybe you .02 cents wasn't a bad prediction after all? ...

Racephoto, I don't want to really dive into this right now. Let me put it this way:

- If ad revenue shared commission would be higher than what I get now selling my stuff in Microstock I'm all for it.

- If ad revenue shared commission would be lower, I'm all against it.

I do need to make a living somehow with the content I have and I'm trying to exploit all possibilities that are available.

I do not care whether visitors numbers, page views, site hits, hosting spanks, click through rates, impression counts and god knows what else they call that stuff that generates billions of $$$ for Google and Co. - I was simply referring to the idea to have ad revenue pay us instead of the direct customer.

I hope this is clear enough. Again I would like to remind that English is not my native tongue, so everyone, bear with me to make my point.

Sean is right about ad polluted search results but on the other hand I and a bunch of million ABP users (and the like) didn't manage to put Google out of business just yet either.

Give the masses what they want. High profile clients who have the $$$ can still pay top $$$ for ad free services, no biggie.

However, there is a horde of image/content hungry people out there who don't give a rat's a$$ whether there are ads in the search results AS LONG AS THE CONTENT IS "FREE".

Imagine that Megaupload alone at one point was responsible for 4% of all internet traffic worldwide. This is a sh!tload of traffic!!!

Regardless of the concept, there will always be a plus side and there will always be a downside to it (sorry for this clumsy comparison).

In the end you can't make all 7 billion people happy at the same time...
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 15:49 by click_click »

antistock

« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2012, 23:54 »
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a spotify of stock images will be the DEATH of the stock industry as we know it.

imagine the cheapest ever subscription plan with discounts and all-you-can-eat freebies.

the only one making money from that would be Spotify but wait a moment...they're actually losing 1 million $ per week !

lagereek

« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2012, 02:10 »
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Micro stock industry was invented with the amateur and hobby guys in mind,  nobody in their right frame of mind would ever dream about, that pros, etc would fraternize in such places. Nobody ever dreamed about it would get this big either.

Today its got out of hand and the main agencies will start to impose much tougher editing and acceptance of applicants, there is no room for diletans or generics anymore. This is a good thing and will benefit many of us,  others will fade away.

Buyers wants micro and thats why it will survive but in the next couple of years I think we will see thousands of contributors booted out or made redundant.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2012, 05:09 »
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The Bohemian has some interesting thoughts on the future. I've been saying we need a new model for a while.

RacePhoto

« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2012, 05:37 »
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The Bohemian has some interesting thoughts on the future. I've been saying we need a new model for a while.


Yes, I wasn't saying something specific that works the same way a Spoofitty (or whatever they are) But something revolutionary that turns the market upside down.

The solution, using technology wisely, will be so obvious that it will sweep the photo industry of its already febrile grounds and make impossible to live outside of it.

Ah Yup, that about covers it. I don't know what or when, but someone with the funding and the new concept will be taking over. Anyone for Goggle secretly developing this marketplace? And Maybe using the methods that Click_Click proposes. Revenue sharing.

« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2012, 05:52 »
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Micro stock industry was invented with the amateur and hobby guys in mind,  nobody in their right frame of mind would ever dream about, that pros, etc would fraternize in such places. Nobody ever dreamed about it would get this big either.

Today its got out of hand and the main agencies will start to impose much tougher editing and acceptance of applicants, there is no room for diletans or generics anymore. This is a good thing and will benefit many of us,  others will fade away.

Buyers wants micro and thats why it will survive but in the next couple of years I think we will see thousands of contributors booted out or made redundant.

Agree,
The agencies will require more and more quality and brand new concepts. Many amateur contributors will slowly disappear. I believe in the near future our ports (at least on the top 4 agencies ) will be reviewed again and many of our old photos will be deleted.

antistock

« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2012, 06:25 »
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Buyers wants micro and thats why it will survive but in the next couple of years I think we will see thousands of contributors booted out or made redundant.

Agree,
The agencies will require more and more quality and brand new concepts. Many amateur contributors will slowly disappear. I believe in the near future our ports (at least on the top 4 agencies ) will be reviewed again and many of our old photos will be deleted.


i don't think they will delete anything, they will just create a low-cost "archive" collection or something like that and dump a few millions of old images along with discounts and promotions.

antistock

« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2012, 06:33 »
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The agencies will require more and more quality and brand new concepts. Many amateur contributors will slowly disappear.

yes but because of the rule of supply and demand the average quality cannot improve much unless they raise the fees paid to us.

nobody is going to invest 1000s of $ in expensive studio shots if micro agencies pay 15-20% and sales keep going down.

at one point amateurs will simply realize it's wasted time for the tea money they get back and leave by themselves, probably sticking with Flickr and similar social/share sites where they can have all the fun they like without the hassle of inspectors and keywording.

pros instead will have a hard time to stay afloat, it's a cut-throat business and i can't see why it should ever be easier in the future.

lagereek

« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2012, 06:58 »
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Micro stock industry was invented with the amateur and hobby guys in mind,  nobody in their right frame of mind would ever dream about, that pros, etc would fraternize in such places. Nobody ever dreamed about it would get this big either.

Today its got out of hand and the main agencies will start to impose much tougher editing and acceptance of applicants, there is no room for diletans or generics anymore. This is a good thing and will benefit many of us,  others will fade away.

Buyers wants micro and thats why it will survive but in the next couple of years I think we will see thousands of contributors booted out or made redundant.

Agree,
The agencies will require more and more quality and brand new concepts. Many amateur contributors will slowly disappear. I believe in the near future our ports (at least on the top 4 agencies ) will be reviewed again and many of our old photos will be deleted.

Yes, that will be the next step,  files are already clogged up too much. I personally know the owner of one of the top ten Micros, he started many years back in the Trad agency world actually and his agency have already started a weed out of pics and contributors,  cant harbour them all, ruining the search, etc.

« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2012, 12:01 »
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I actually believe - and I've posted this before - that after the subscription model comes 'free', supported by ads.  We'll get there.

Actually what you and Click_Click say may come true in which case, nothing of mine will be up on Microstock. Why would any of us supply the images for nothing?

Or do you mean, everything will be free and we'll get a percentage of the advertising revenue?

You'll get whatever token payment they decide to offer.  And no, you won't give them new photos, but you'll leave all your old photos on line because taking them down is work, and any payment is better than nothing - i.e. they've become a fully depreciated asset.  By then the agencies will all have 100 million old photos in their archives and they'll regard new photos as essentially a separate business.

Jeez, I even scared myself with this one... :-)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2012, 12:08 by stockastic »

« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2012, 13:14 »
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The days of upload your hard-drive and get rich are over!

« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2012, 13:23 »
0
The days of upload your hard-drive and get rich are over!

unless it is all keyworded and edited :D

« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2012, 14:04 »
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I prefer that buyers feel that have some sense of investment in the content they are using, otherwise, it has no value to them, and they will feel free to abuse it.  Incorrect usages, distribution, etc.  Also, as a buyer, I wouldn't want my searches, which is part of the service I pay for with my download price, to be cluttered with crap ads.

I'd agree. If images were 'free' then what's to stop another site downloading them and presenting them on their own site without distributing any of the revenue?

The Google analogy doesn't make sense and is not comparable. Google is providing a service to both suppliers and buyers and apparently no-one can provide that service better than them. With microstock we are providing a product to the end-users.

Then there's the policing of the use of the images. Whilst people are paying for them then at least you have their details via the method of payment. If all it required to gain access to images was 'registration' then any sort of control would be lost.

The Google analogy for microstock could never work for a multitude of reasons.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2012, 14:07 »
0
The days of upload your hard-drive and get rich are over!

With all of the negative earnings postings from top shooters, the days of investing in good equipment, props, models, and shoots to create sellable work may be coming to an end also.

« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2012, 14:24 »
0
The days of upload your hard-drive and get rich are over!

With all of the negative earnings postings from top shooters, the days of investing in good equipment, props, models, and shoots to create sellable work may be coming to an end also.

This is the real problem.  I have lots of ideas for 'object' shots that would each make me $10 over time.  But each one would cost me $10 to make.   


 

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