Alamy

Commission change - James West comments

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39 minutes ago, Pancaketom said:

So what you are saying is Alamy has had a great year but next year might not be so good so you are going to lower what we get paid by 20% so that YOU can have another great year and maybe we will catch back up to the income we get this year in a few years if we upload a whole lot of good content? 

 

Yep!

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3 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

Playing "devils advocate" here. I joined Alamy 9 years ago because I liked the open, frank and friendly approach in James West's videos and presentations. I thought he seemed to be a pretty reasonable chap. Now our commission has been cut a great deal of anger is being directed at James. Suppose the real story is different to what James has told us...

 

It's approaching the end of Alamy's financial year. The "bean counters" have been busy and have warned that, although turnover is still rising (albeit slowly), increasing costs mean that the Alamy will declare a loss for 2018. The tactics Alamy has used so far to grow the business just aren't working well/fast enough. The investments James mentioned really haven't had any great effect (bearing in mind there was a recovery in the market anyway since 2010). ManyThing's business is also struggling. The uncertainty over Brexit has dampened demand in the Alamy's main market (UK) and this shows little sign of being resolved any time soon. This has caused a level of panic in Alamy and James is under immense pressure to cut costs. He's already faced with cutting staff and/or salaries (a daunting task - been there got the T shirt) and now he's decided (or been told) that the only quick fix is to reduce commission rates. No wonder he looks a shadow of his former self, his confidence has taken a real beating and he's under immense stress.

 

I would like to think that James would not have taken this decision lightly (especially just before Xmas), and that (underneath) his values haven't changed since those early videos and presentations which so attracted me to Alamy. But he's faced with a problem he doesn't know how to solve - like a scared rabbit caught in the headlights. Perhaps he felt he couldn't say the above, because showing signs of a weak/failing business may cause loss of customers at a critical time and Alamy's tier 1 competitors would quickly introduce temporary promotions to drive Alamy under.  

 

If the above really is the situation, if valuable contributors remove their collections or set restrictions, this will simply hasten Alamy's decline. Also if the above is really true, then it's a shame James really wasn't straight with us, and didn't ask for our help. Many of us had/have a very soft spot for Alamy and would have been open to co-operation in some kind of collaborative activities with clearly stated objectives.  Perhaps an agreed temporary cut in commission (FX runs for cover!), crowd funding, or a rights issue (to improve cash flow for investment). Maybe providing assistance by pruning our image portfolios, trimming keywords further (if server response times are becoming a problem), even writing and debugging software/HTML to improve customer experience. 

 

I feel, that if Alamy and its helpful/loyal contributors, were able to operate on a more open and collaborative basis, with clear objectives, then this crisis could be averted. 

 

Tell us what's really going on... put a temporary stop new contributors joining, change the business model, move up market. Ask for help. But don't just beat us up with a commission cut without a better explanation.

 

Cutting commission whilst also trying to add contributors and images at an ever increasing rate is doomed to failure. You won't beat the existing MS libraries.

 

Mark

 

 

 

I feel this is a very insightful post; thank you, Mark for writing it. I too have been loyal to Alamy and placed all my photos from the last seven years with Alamy alone. In part at least it is the trust engendered by  the openness of James and others at Alamy, particularly in the early years, which has led me to stick to Alamy. When I saw the video I was instantly concerned for the health and well-being of the man and my disappointment at the news he conveyed was tempered by concern at what I was seeing. I hope that insights such as this, as well as seeing the wave of horror from contributors at what Alamy are planning, might persuade Alamy to rethink and take action something along the lines Mark suggests. I feel there is a basic decency about Alamy and I hope it is not overwhelmed either by the business situation or the very understandable angry reaction of its contributors .

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Use the wrong thread for this originaly. My use of Alamy exclusively seems like a slap in the face. Only been here less than a year but built a small (1700+) port in that time with all the usual effort that it takes. Early on I used another agency just to compare  and saw a lot of licences there but for peanuts so i put every effort into Alamy. I think I would rather have a lot of peanuts now rather than 1 which may or may not be refunded, bulk discounted to some country I can't even find on google, or wait for up to 6 months to get my peanut. Live news is the only saving grace for me. 

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25 minutes ago, Joseph Clemson said:

When I saw the video I was instantly concerned for the health and well-being of the man 

 

My thoughts too. I'm upset but I hope you're alright James.

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Instead of putting the boot into the contributors, who make the business possible, Alamy should instead

 

1/  Take out a business loan for expansion, improvements

 

2/  Stop donating our money to charity without our consent

 

3/  Start making effective changes such as implementing a legitimate QC

 

4/  Improve the look and design of the website

 

 

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3 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

I have posted on the other thread about an agency that has some payments at 60% - there are agencies out there still paying proper percentages.

What is "the other thread."  What are the agencies?  To evaluate our response to the Alamy action we need to know the alternatives available.

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3 minutes ago, Ollie said:

What is "the other thread."  What are the agencies?  To evaluate our response to the Alamy action we need to know the alternatives available.

Posts deleted. Alamy has a rule to not discuss other platforms here. But it sure seems to be a topic of interest!

Edited by KevinS

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4 minutes ago, long journey said:

Instead of putting the boot into the contributors, who make the business possible, Alamy should instead

 

1/  Take out a business loan for expansion, improvements

 

2/  Stop donating our money to charity without our consent

 

3/  Start making effective changes such as implementing a legitimate QC

 

4/  Improve the look and design of the website

 

 

 

I agree with 1 and 2 but not 3 and 4. I'd remove en-mass the imported agency images that don't conform to Alamy QC and keywording requirements. They're just a millstone round Alamy's neck. IMO

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Having just read all six pages of many excellent comments, let me dare to sum up the following advice to Alamy, gleaned from everyone’s postings, if Alamy wishes to find a pathway forward that does not totally undermine its relationship with its current contributors:

 

--declare the 40% commission to be the terms for new contributors. You have a contract with the rest of us and you should honor it.

 

--close the door to new contributors for six months.  Use this period to cull poor quality images from the collection.  I’ve read that you now have 70,000 contributors.  Do you really need more?

 

--offer a premium to those who will designate their images as exclusive to Alamy.  This could be 55% or 60%.  If you persist in lowering the commission rate to 40%, despite the damage this will do to Alamy’s relationship with all its contributors, then you should at least offer to maintain the 50% rate to those who will designate their images as exclusive to Alamy.

 

--consider “Snappyoncalifornia”’s idea (page 4 of the Forum) of “Alamy Prime”.  This would allow current contributors to select the best of their own images for elevation to this new Alamy category, and would reduce your task of culling poor images from the collection.

 

--halt refunds for Personal Use sales.  One Forum participant proposed appropriate warning language. 

 

--read carefully and heed the posting (page 4 of the Forum) by BobD (Bob Deering).  He is right on the mark.

 

--if you have genuine confidence in your envisioned marketing enhancements and expansion into foreign language markets, take out a loan to finance these actions.  If you don’t have enough confidence to take out a loan then scrap the program.  Don’t ask us to finance a proposition you don't have the expertise to implement successfully.

 

--whatever you do about expanding into other language markets there are ample comments to show that computerized translation of keywords and captions is a disaster.  Real people have to do the translation work.

 

--Alamy’s only hope for long-term survival is to start giving priority to quality over quantity.

 

--the next time James addresses Alamy’s contributors tell him to look more professional, rehearse his presentation beforehand, look at the camera, and get a good night’s sleep before going on camera.

 

What you are contemplating is a disgrace.  There is still time for Alamy to redeem itself but if you proceed with this reduction to 40% commission across the board you will never recover. 

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6 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

Playing "devils advocate" here. I joined Alamy 9 years ago because I liked the open, frank and friendly approach in James West's videos and presentations. I thought he seemed to be a pretty reasonable chap. Now our commission has been cut a great deal of anger is being directed at James. Suppose the real story is different to what James has told us...

 

It's approaching the end of Alamy's financial year. The "bean counters" have been busy and have warned that, although turnover is still rising (albeit slowly), increasing costs mean that the Alamy will declare a loss for 2018. The tactics Alamy has used so far to grow the business just aren't working well/fast enough. The investments James mentioned really haven't had any great effect (bearing in mind there was a recovery in the market anyway since 2010). ManyThing's business is also struggling. The uncertainty over Brexit has dampened demand in the Alamy's main market (UK) and this shows little sign of being resolved any time soon. This has caused a level of panic in Alamy and James is under immense pressure to cut costs. He's already faced with cutting staff and/or salaries (a daunting task - been there got the T shirt) and now he's decided (or been told) that the only quick fix is to reduce commission rates. No wonder he looks a shadow of his former self, his confidence has taken a real beating and he's under immense stress.

 

I would like to think that James would not have taken this decision lightly (especially just before Xmas), and that (underneath) his values haven't changed since those early videos and presentations which so attracted me to Alamy. But he's faced with a problem he doesn't know how to solve - like a scared rabbit caught in the headlights. Perhaps he felt he couldn't say the above, because showing signs of a weak/failing business may cause loss of customers at a critical time and Alamy's tier 1 competitors would quickly introduce temporary promotions to drive Alamy under.  

 

If the above really is the situation, if valuable contributors remove their collections or set restrictions, this will simply hasten Alamy's decline. Also if the above is really true, then it's a shame James really wasn't straight with us, and didn't ask for our help. Many of us had/have a very soft spot for Alamy and would have been open to co-operation in some kind of collaborative activities with clearly stated objectives.  Perhaps an agreed temporary cut in commission (FX runs for cover!), crowd funding, or a rights issue (to improve cash flow for investment). Maybe providing assistance by pruning our image portfolios, trimming keywords further (if server response times are becoming a problem), even writing and debugging software/HTML to improve customer experience. 

 

I feel, that if Alamy and its helpful/loyal contributors, were able to operate on a more open and collaborative basis, with clear objectives, then this crisis could be averted. 

 

Tell us what's really going on... put a temporary stop new contributors joining, change the business model, move up market. Ask for help. But don't just beat us up with a commission cut without a better explanation.

 

Cutting commission whilst also trying to add contributors and images at an ever increasing rate is doomed to failure. You won't beat the existing MS libraries.

 

Mark

 

 

 

I've pretty much agreed with everything you have said, Mark, regarding this matter.  This is a very thoughtful statement.

 

Rick

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13 minutes ago, Ollie said:

--the next time James addresses Alamy’s contributors tell him to look more professional, rehearse his presentation beforehand, look at the camera, and get a good night’s sleep before going on camera.

Agreed. This really puzzles me. Was he trying to look like the average contributor? Was the video rushed? (That seems likely) Remember, Alamy has only one investor, so James was not thinking about impressing lots of stockholders. Agree also with your other points. 

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On 12/5/2018 at 05:31, Allan Bell said:

 

Very sad to hear James waffling in his video. Not the sort of thing I would expect of a company CEO. It really does not instil any confidence in me about James and Alamy going forward as a company.

 

I have made many friends through being with Alamy and would not like to lose contact with them, which is probably what would happen if I left the company so for the time being I am putting Alamy on the back burner, in that images already with Alamy will stay (for now), but I will not be uploading any more for the foreseeable future.

 

At this juncture, with what is going on in my personal life, (illness, death, home move), I do not have the time to consider other options so that will have to go on hold too.

 

All I can say James is a very sceptical "Thank you" for adding nothing to my future and taking it all away at this time.

 

A very disappointed Allan Bell.

 

 

Addendum:  After spending time the other day on setting up "My Portfolio" I have made it invisible as my first action to the announcement of commission being reduced. I know it probably will not make any difference either way but it makes me feel a little bit better.

 

ITMA

 

 

Allan....please give me your email. I will give you mine and you can keep yours private if you like, and send it to me.

Xxxxxxxx xx per your advice Allan. Thanks

I would be very distressed to lose you as my friend...I have a feeling we’ve both suffered losses recently.

Betty

Edited by Betty LaRue

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32 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

I have a feeling we’ve both suffered losses recently.

Betty

 

Very sorry to hear of your loss Betty. I hope you're alright.

 

Gen

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21 minutes ago, gvallee said:

 

Very sorry to hear of your loss Betty. I hope you're alright.

 

Gen

Thank you, Gen. I’m trying to push through it. Being an optimist by nature helps.

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8 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

I am very very angry about James West's choice of a lower class sweater/jumper to cover his torso and arms while addressing photographers. He should have talked to us wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

 

Perhaps you could let him have one of yours. James looked like he could really do with a couple of weeks in Hawaii.

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A lot of good suggestions in this thread. 

 

As regards foreign language sites. Listen to your foreign language suppliers very carefully before using any automatic translation programmes. Many of us have worked in this area before. 

 

Cut down on personal use and presentation use refunds. Genuine mistakes happen, but not from the same supplier... I had six of those last month. Every little helps. 

 

Award loyalty and offer a 50/50 fees share for exclusive images on Alamy and market them as such. 

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On 05/12/2018 at 00:33, xsync said:

Will you and your staff be taking a 20% pay cut as well?

 

That's effectively what your doing to your contributors.

 

I may have missed it, but I'd be interested to see some sort of official response to this question.

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7 hours ago, KevinS said:

Posts deleted. Alamy has a rule to not discuss other platforms here. But it sure seems to be a topic of interest!

 

Yes, but bizarrely James names a number of them in his video. Almost like he's telling us where we can go....

 

Mark

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The problem is that the contributors are Alamy’s source of finance to expand. In the video James was proud to say expansion into the USA didn’t need a loan. In fact the money was made up from lowering the contributor commission to 50%. Now the same thing is happening. Alamy should be funding this expansion from its profits. I haven’t benefitted from the USA expansion. My sales are still poor and income from each sale is also pathetic. Using your contributors as a cash cow has passed the limit for many now. 

Edited by Dayve
typo
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 Almost like he's telling us where we can go....

 

He certainly is!!!

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10 hours ago, KevinS said:

Mr. West,  

I've been contributing here for 10 years, but didn't get an email. Two days now, still nothing. Could you kindly ask your information technology department wuzzup? TIA

I never got an email either. If I hadn't gone to the forum late last night I wouldn't know this is happening.

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1 hour ago, vpics said:

A lot of good suggestions in this thread. 

 

As regards foreign language sites. Listen to your foreign language suppliers very carefully before using any automatic translation programmes. Many of us have worked in this area before. 

 

Cut down on personal use and presentation use refunds. Genuine mistakes happen, but not from the same supplier... I had six of those last month. Every little helps. 

 

Award loyalty and offer a 50/50 fees share for exclusive images on Alamy and market them as such. 

 

Thumbs Up to this (especially red part) - stronger reasons to visit/license from Alamy. Surely key to growth must be the more USPs the better. Perhaps curation from exclusive images? Move from often perceived dumping ground and "the same old stuff that can also be found elsewhere cheaper" (microstock).

 

1. Would really like to see something done with exclusivity, beneficial to both Alamy and us.  Other places have a huge difference in commission for non-exclusive images vs exclusive images. Perhaps put non-exclusive imagery down to 25%-30% which they already are signing up for elsewhere and exclusive imagery 50%+, strictness when it comes to adhering to the exclusivity - sister images etc. - proper exclusive and boot out those that clearly breach it.

 

2. Pricing tiers - perhaps with a bit of our influence - I'm probably not alone in perceiving some of my images more valuable/costly than others.

 

3. RM/RF licensing - none of these are really working in 2018/2019 - too much money is too often left on the table. RM too complicated, RF too crude. There is an industry-wide need for a new licensing form, impression/exposure based. Small prices for small uses, big prices for big uses, bulk discounts for real/significant volume - all the white papers read indicate that pricing like that wouldn't be the slightest issue, very little shopping around for price - right image, speed and ease being the main factors - that's how I read it anyway.

 

I think that Alamy really ought to listen to it's contributors at this time, because it might be the last chance to remain a value-added element to those involved in stock. We're on the cusp of not needing a middle-man, where search engines soon connects and transacts directly with creators. AI and machine learning will know what a specific buyer is looking for better than themselves - so person specific tuned and weeded search results makes the process a lot easier.

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It is what it is crack on and keep uploading

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Just watched the video.

 

Some really odd comments in there.

 

The last one that caught my attention - "We are still relatively new...". Nope, no you are not. In any way. 

 

Those graphs - showed a trend towards increasing revenue BEFORE the cut that it is made out to be the increase in revenue.

 

I'm not angry or outraged - I'm not invested enough for that. But that video was not at all convincing. You'd have been netter off without it.

 

Glad I am not too invested here yet. I don't see that ANY agency should ever get more than 50% of the income generated for an image - Who exactly makes the effort and takes the time to make that image that someone obviously wants? 

 

Agree with Martin above. Both licensing models are a bit rubbish. 

 

Though I'd be happier selling RF if I saw a larger/minimum amount. £0.25 or whatever for someone to have free rein over the image?

 

And RM just seems like a pain to manage

 

An impressions bases system sounds good - but who is going to build that? 

 

It would be nice if the middle man could be cut out. as said, I think they are less useful now, and if we could only make it a bit easier for clients to search across multiple photographers.

 

But what do I know? I am still a newbie in most things photographic.

 

What I would like to know, is due to the change in contract, can I delete my photos without a 6 month delay, should I choose not to continue here?

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Ollie said:

What is "the other thread."  What are the agencies?  To evaluate our response to the Alamy action we need to know the alternatives available.

 

1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

Yes, but bizarrely James names a number of them in his video. Almost like he's telling us where we can go....

 

Mark

 

1 hour ago, regen said:

 Almost like he's telling us where we can go....

 

He certainly is!!!

Well the post that was deleted did not contain any competitors link - and he certainly did not mention all in the video - but it did contain an invitation to visit my Twitter which Starsphinx_pics (anyone see the pattern lol - my website is also starsphinx) so I re extend the invitation to interested people to visit my twitter.

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