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Commission change - James West comments

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2 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

 

How do you they haven't started losing money? Are there some more recent figures somewhere?

Profitability in 2017 was 9% (see https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03807789/filing-history) so it wouldn't take much of a swing in sales or costs to give problems. I see Alamy's latest move as a desperate step rather than a money grab. Maybe I'm naive. :unsure:

 

Mark

Ok, it's possible they are losing $, but 2% growth is growth. 2% of a big #. Don't know if their costs went up more that that. As long as Alamy is funding a lab full of scientists at SBL, I'm not on board the losing money idea.

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2 minutes ago, KevinS said:

Ok, it's possible they are losing $, but 2% growth is growth. 2% of a big #. Don't know if their costs went up more that that. As long as Alamy is funding a lab full of scientists at SBL, I'm not on board the losing money idea.

 

I do agree (looking closely at James West's video) the gap between sales revenue and money paid to contributors appears to have widened in recent years (even this year) suggesting (by extrapolation on last year's profit) that they should still be profitable, unless they have had a major increase in other costs. I just wondered if you had seen any profit numbers that I hadn't found.

 

Mark

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2 hours ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

Ah.  Haven't looked closely.

Thought it was rounded to 155M.

Is there way to get figure for various past dates

if one hasn't checked on those dates?

Ultimately would like to compare pre-Dec4

rate of increase with post-Dec4...

 

I used the The Wayback Machine.

January 3rd was the earliest homepage saved in 2018.

Not sure if the day to day count is very accurate. If you view some of the new or favorite contributors, you'll notice some have just come in with huge amounts they have been building over the years on sometimes all of the big microstock sites. Some of those look more like agencies. Here or here. If one of those agencies comes on board, that will give quite a shock to the numbers. However over time the average will be quite accurate.

 

wim

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1 hour ago, Skyscraperfan said:

I also do not sell my old camera gear. I have an old DSLR that had cost me €3499 when I bought it. Now I could get something between €300 and €400, but I would never sell a camera for €400 that I had paid €3499 for although I don't have any use for that old camera. Selling it would feel like losing €3099 instead of getting €400.

 

Yes I have the same problem. This doesn't make it less stupid btw. It's just nice to know one's not alone in one's stupidity. ;-)

Oh mine were almost double the price of yours. But they make such nice paperweights or door stoppers. But do they still spark joy?

Hmm.

 

wim

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1 hour ago, Joseph Clemson said:

 

I think I can identify the 'sleepy' agency of which you speak. I have a legacy portfolio of about 200 RF images on each of the main microstock sites, which have been there about five years now. The two main agencies pull in about $20 per month from this remnant portfolio. The agency which you refer to here, with essentially the same portfolio as the two big agencies, has earned me precisely  $17.54 in five years and I expect to earn enough to cash out sometime around 2030.  I'm not saying everybody else will have the same experience as me, it may be that this particular microstock agency will reward someone who commits exclusively to it. What I am saying though, is that on the basis of my own experience, I think I am better off here, even at 40%.  I certainly would not contemplate exclusivity anywhere in microstock.

I have earned a quarter of that in 4 months on a port of 69 images only 4 of which are newer than 2 years - and you are a way better photographer than me so I doubt we are talking the same agency - another poster on here was seeing results way higher than here, again on a smaller port.

Edit - just got your reference and er yes we are talking the same one - and it seems odd that I am doing so much better on a tiny port.

Edited by Starsphinx

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4 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I have earned a quarter of that in 4 months on a port of 69 images only 4 of which are newer than 2 years - and you are a way better photographer than me so I doubt we are talking the same agency - another poster on here was seeing results way higher than here, again on a smaller port.

Edit - just got your reference and er yes we are talking the same one - and it seems odd that I am doing so much better on a tiny port.

 

Not everybody has the same experience at each agency, photographer's location, styles and subjects of photography (amongst many other factors) will vary and be influential, but it's useful to try and gauge what others have experienced at any given place. My experience of microstock as a whole has led me to eschew that model for still imagery, and if I was somehow persuaded to  return to microstock, the particular agency in question would be very low on my list of priorities.

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4 minutes ago, Joseph Clemson said:

 

Not everybody has the same experience at each agency, photographer's location, styles and subjects of photography (amongst many other factors) will vary and be influential, but it's useful to try and gauge what others have experienced at any given place. My experience of microstock as a whole has led me to eschew that model for still imagery, and if I was somehow persuaded to  return to microstock, the particular agency in question would be very low on my list of priorities.

Definitely weird.  Right now I am uploading a large number of files to them (or rather am doing the boring captioning and keywording having uploaded earlier) - I will then be visiting a couple of other companies and putting files there - and see what happens.  The only thing I have done here to change all my files to non-exclusive.   For the next few months I will probably add to all different places including here, until a pattern emerges - then I will be guided by the pattern.  Hopefully, the pattern will not be an equal series of tumbleweeds in every agency lol.

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Stock is, and I think always has been, ebbs and flows, wheels within cycles and other such unpredicatabilities. Good luck working out patterns or trends to follow! That said there will be some models and/or agencies that will suit some depending on the work they typically produce.

 

The microstock agencies transformed the industry, there is little point bemoaning it now. We're now at a point that the term 'microstock' doesn't really properly describe the place of the bigger players amongst them (top 3). While they are known for their tiny per image returns that's not what they all about any longer. My only four figure sale in recent years was achieved by the micro James referred to as a Tier 1 agency. Even without this individual sale the volume they achieve means the returns there per image have probably been better than here. Its not a perfect comparison because they are different portfolios of images, but it certainly inclines me to focus more where the sales are being made daily. Like many have said I too find slipping below that 50/50 split a bit of a barrier, but at the end of the day I'm primarily focused on actual returns into my bank account and experience tells me that isn't always achieved by the agency offering the biggest cut!

 

As a side note consider Getty, I've seen a few pondering them. Don't imagine you can simply shift your Alamy collection over to them; its a whole different curated kettle of fish. I'd guesstimate at best 10% of a many typical contributors Alamy ports might interest Getty. But here's the thing, that 10% might make more on Getty even on a measly 20% royalty! 

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53 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I have earned a quarter of that in 4 months on a port of 69 images only 4 of which are newer than 2 years - and you are a way better photographer than me so I doubt we are talking the same agency - another poster on here was seeing results way higher than here, again on a smaller port.

Edit - just got your reference and er yes we are talking the same one - and it seems odd that I am doing so much better on a tiny port.

I do think some images do well on different agencies, so maybe you're just lucky there, but do your homework.

I checked your Twitter, and that agency has been sinking fast for a long time, and particularly people complain about sales stagnating when they get to the higher levels, as though lower level images, from which the company makes more profit, are being promoted.

I've never been with them, and have no personal experience.

But the bottom line is to make sure you read widely before throwing your images to the winds of agencies. Microstock group is a good place to start, and read back for a few years to see the patterns and trajectories. Also be aware that many of the people on msg are supplying video and/or vector images in addition to or instead of still photos, so their results could differ vastly from yours.

Edited by Cryptoprocta

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3 hours ago, PeterLL said:

I have been following the threads with great interest over the last few days and, while I agree with the great majority of comments denigrating the cuts that  are being made to our commission rates and the manner in which they were presented I personally think Alamy has bigger problems than just alienating it’s contributors. I have a modest collection of just over 12,000 images placed with Alamy which nonetheless represents a large investment in time and effort in getting them up and 2018 has been my best year in terms of pure numbers of sales - but not in terms of revenue earned. I have been a contributor since 2002 so have seen pretty much all the changes to our contract over the years. The drop to below 50% may well prove to be a cut-off point for me.

 

However, I mentioned that I believe Alamy has bigger issues.

 

The first of these is the sheer number of images now available, of which, again in my humble opinion, many are of relatively poor quality. Quality control of uploaded images seems to have become an afterthought. 

 

Added to this is the extremely poor and often inaccurate captioning and keywording of so many images. Photo buyers cannot be too impressed in having to wade through pages of images that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject they are researching and smacks of a level of amateurism that should not be present in a company that wants to see itself in the top tier of image suppliers. 

 

Then I ask myself how much research and development time and money has been spent on the ‘new initiatives’ we have recently seen, namely ‘what should I shoot’ and ‘my portfolio’ - should I mention the word amateurish again? I don’t believe for one minute that either of these initiatives will help me sell a single image license?

 

Alamy seems to be encouraging more and more photographers to join the ranks, diluting the work of it’s existing photographers, and making licensing an image even more difficult, not because these people are supplying better images but because the best images for any given subject are now so difficult to find. If a new photographer is supplying better or unique images that’s great, more power to them, but please no newbies supplying yet more mediocre photography, again it comes back to a much higher standard of quality control. 

 

Maybe, by tightening the existing image stocks and improving image quality and keywording, of new submissions it would encourage more photo buyers to the site, who would be prepared to pay better prices for licenses because they don’t have to spend as much time finding what they want and subsequently Alamy’s bottom line would improve, or am I just being naive? I think not. As a professional photographer for nearly 40 years, covering major sports events for clients worldwide, including Olympics and world championships I have survived by supplying quality images and not rubbish!

 

Finally, to return to the subject of the thread, professionals should not accept less that 50% for the use of their creative works. This being the very reason I choose Alamy as the place my images. 

 

Peter, this is all very well stated.  Perhaps James and his management team are reading this forum but, like the number of images in the collection, the longer this forum gets the less likely James will see any single post.  I wrote James directly yesterday and he answered today.  You should take your "bigger issues" paragraphs above and put them in an email to him to ensure he sees them.  Those points are part of what should be Alamy's solution to ensure its long-term survival.

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This is obviously the end for stock photography as many of us have known it. I've been a contributor to Alamy since February 2001, when it had just a few hundred thousand pictures. Sales in the hundreds of dollars were quite common, so I devoted a lot of my time to increasing my collection. Despite falling prices and falling revenue, I had recently resolved to work on optimising my keyboarding and had, after a hiatus, begun contributing fresh material again. This cynical commission grab, has now put paid to that. If I could be bothered, I would close my account, but even that is not worth the effort. 

 

My sales peaked in 2009 with a gross of $31,115. From there it went rapidly and continually downhill, to where last year my gross was under $5,000. My sales numbers for this year are up on last year, but are struggling to even meet last year's dollar figure.

 

It should have been obvious, that crowd sourcing and the Uberisation of our craft would have eventually been its demise. If James West genuinely believes that taking 20% of the revenue of the content creators is the answer, he is more callous and cynical than I thought. I think he would be better advised to cut and run while he's still ahead...and shut Alamy down before it ignominiously vanishes down the plughole of obsolescence. 

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1 hour ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

For whatever reasons, that's your decisions ?decades? ago.

Non-exclusive = exact same images at multiple agencies;

Acceptance = Fatalism dressed up...

 

Yes, not really a conscious decision, though. I'm just not a "volume person" by nature. Also, photography has never been and still isn't a full-time pursuit.

 

Don't see it as fatalism in different duds necessarily. FACT: Alamy is going to drop its commission from 50% to 40% no matter what we do.

 

I actually do have images duplicated at a couple of other agencies, one which pays 60% but generates no sales for its contributors. Shall ponder further, though.

 

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6 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I know, I know, I'm beginning to exhibit symptoms of classic cyclical forum psychology (CFP). :)

Same here, I'm afraid. Really can't stand <50%, but I'm ok with Alamy, generally. I also don't see Alamy doing any back-peddling. As a private company they're not worried about stockholders. OTOH I can't bring myself to upload just yet.

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16 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:
38 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

HARD CORE FATALISM ===> Alamy is going to drop its commission from 50% to 40% no matter what we do <=== HARD CORE FATALISM

Jeff,

 

It's great to have a positive attitude, but what makes you think James or Alamy would modify their plans because of a tiny minority of contributors whining on a forum?

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18 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:
41 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

HARD CORE FATALISM ===> Alamy is going to drop its commission from 50% to 40% no matter what we do <=== HARD CORE FATALISM

And in this case, fatalism = realism.

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5 hours ago, spacecadet said:

So no-one gets anything out of you for nothing?

The camera has presumably paid its way as a business asset, and you've claimed tax relief on the purchase price over its lifetime, but it still hurts you to think that someone might get some use out of it that they hadn't paid for?

Well, it's a philosophy of life, I suppose. It's not mine. I can't afford to give much away, but I'm not pathologically opposed to doing so.

 

I've given cameras away after a few years of use.  Eventually, nobody is going to be making batteries for them.  I also sell phones after a few years for not all that much money, and don't see it as a loss.  I gave one phone away because the screen wasn't registering one of the letters in portrait mode.  

 

Use it, get sell it on.  Buy used or new old stock -- chasing the latest and greatest can be more expensive than buying a two models back camera.  A friend is still using a Panasonic GF1 with lenses that I gave his nature reserve. 

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Even if a single person or even we all together do not have the leverage to change anything, we should still stand firm, because we want to be able to look in the mirror each morning and see somebody who fights for his principles.

For example we boycott a big fast food chain because it still uses plastic cups. Or we even boycott the products of a whole country because of the actions of its government. That may not have a big impact, but it is important to act in a way that WOULD have a positive impact if more people would act the same way.

You can compare it with a general election. There are tens of millions of votes and it is very unlikely that my single vote will make a difference. That should not mean though that I should not care about what I vote and just throw the dice.

Just think about how many thousands of Euros of revenue each of you has created for Alamy by sending them your photos! In future Alamy want 1/6 more and offers you 1/5 less in return. Do you really want to accept that or instead go somewhere else where you get a fair offer?

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3 minutes ago, Skyscraperfan said:

Even if a single person or even we all together do not have the leverage to change anything, we should still stand firm, because we want to be able to look in the mirror each morning and see somebody who fights for his principles.

For example we boycott a big fast food chain because it still uses plastic cups. Or we even boycott the products of a whole country because of the actions of its government. That may not have a big impact, but it is important to act in a way that WOULD have a positive impact if more people would act the same way.

You can compare it with a general election. There are tens of millions of votes and it is very unlikely that my single vote will make a difference. That should not mean though that I should not care about what I vote and just throw the dice.

Just think about how many thousands of Euros of revenue each of you has created for Alamy by sending them your photos! In future Alamy want 1/6 more and offers you 1/5 less in return. Do you really want to accept that or instead go somewhere else where you get a fair offer?

 

 

I have about 200 fewer photos up than you have and have made six sales in two and a half years.  It's hardly a huge part of my livelihood.    The people who make many sales off small ports tend to be specialists in things that are hard to get to -- underwater photographs of rare sea life being one that comes to mind.   

 

Last night, I looked at Getty and checked Adobe again.  Getty doesn't give photographers a choice of whether they're going to iStock or Getty Images, and the rates don't look considerably better.  Adobe is fundamentally microstock from all reports.  

 

Alamy provides as much of a service as most of the other agencies for most photographers.   The only alternative to being part of the pack is to become a much better photographer and be lucky enough to get attention for that.  

 

Some of this is reminding me of people who imagined that publishers would steal their work so they never submitted it.   Publishers never bother with that since newbies are always pretty cheap.

 

Realistically, how many people get accepted to Getty Images and what larger portion get accepted to iStock instead.  

 

Boycotting the products of a whole country because of the actions of its government can be amazing painful to people who don't like that government in the first place.   And some of us have a "plague on both your houses" reaction to civil disturbances that don't have angels on either side.    My principles are that I try to keep people who buy one side or the other as the heroes of their fantasies from wading into conflicts they don't know enough about.  

 

With this one -- yes, it isn't nice to have one's income cut, but this is a world where any number of people can buy a good camera and shoot photographs when they travel, and end up creating an oversupply of what can even be good photographs.   The way out of being merely good is to be better than the majority of good photographers.  

 

I also think that imagining that one can make a full time living from stock photography has been unrealistic for a number of years.   Also, I've heard from one media buyer that Alamy (the last time she looked) was too expensive.  Sent her to check again and she found the prices more in line with what her clients would want to buy.  

 

Yeah, some of that 20% that Alamy's keeping should go into review of images and keywords, and purges where warranted. 

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Whew! This is some thread that covers an awful lot of ground. Not going to go over what has already been said, or to justify anything or place myself firmly in one camp or another (there's already enough division here). But I think that I'm now ready to join the 45%'ers (if there's room in the club) and to begin to return to taking more of the type of images I love and start pushing at the POD sites, before that stream disappears too. 

 

My personal opinion is that there is little to be gained elsewhere on any stock site - unless you have a speciality or volume. Seminars, drones, news (for the time being), POD, direct sales (esp with particular industry knowledge/insight/contacts) are the way to go. 

 

Very difficult for someone like me who's dug their own (limited, secondary editorial) hole, but hey, I'll see what happens over the next few months. Not pulling anything right now and most certainly not restricting my images to PU use! :huh: Quite the opposite, in fact (had enough of abuse of systems, without actively inviting it). 

 

Anyhow, already said more than intended at the start of the post (whoops)! No insult or offence intended to anyone with an opinion, living, dead, or somewhere in the middle. Good luck to us all. :)

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16 minutes ago, losdemas said:

Whew! This is some thread that covers an awful lot of ground.

 

It also covers a lot of well worded and very valid criticisms of the current Alamy business model and some very interesting solutions and ideas. I hope that Alamy are reading these two very long threads carefully and with interest because there are some important posts in amongst the angst.

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From the graph on the youtube video ...... and wayback machine.....Alamy's estimated numbers

 

2008 payment to contributors 12.5M

2008 total revenue 22M

2008 total images 14M

 

2018 payment to contributors 14M (+12%)

2018 total revenue 29M (+32%) - but costs have risen as well as infrastructure needs, so this is not profit!

2018 total images 155M (+1000%)

 

 

When you at it like that theres no wonder something has to change, and Alamy know it. And let's not beat about the bush they know a lot more on where the market and their company is/should be going at a macro level than we.

 

But anyone who thinks there will be financial growth for "photographers" (in ANY agency) is sorely wrong IMHO - this is NOT an ALAMY thing it is an industry thing. 12% increase to togs with a 1000% increase in inventory over a 10 year period. It is a stagnant market in terms of potential growth for the average tog.

 

I am not saying anyone should leave, stop, stay, delete, add or whatever but you may consider its a market that no one who looks at the numbers would likely invest in.

 

Food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Panthera tigris
typo
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What many of us forget, me included, is that print medium is going the way of the dinosaurs. Newspapers are failing, and many of those that are still here have cut features. 

I have seen it with papers I have long subscribed to. Whole sections, like travel which relies heavily on images, pretty much disappearing. Other sections cutting half their pages. Then the newspaper physical size decreasing, to cut paper costs, so smaller pictures used.

 

Those good textbook sales? Many textbooks are going online, now. Magazines failing, some of them (usually specialties) asking their readers to submit stories and photos.  And the readers do it just for the glory of seeing their stuff in print...bragging rights to Uncle George.

 

So here we have a bloated library with maybe 30% being really good images, but extremely difficult for a buyer to wade through the dross to find the gems.

Shrinking print outlets.

Much of the sales being used online, so no need to pay for those larger sizes. 

People giving their work away. 

 

These above points arent aren’t going to get better. Only worse, folks.

Somehow my brain just found clarity, and I don’t like what I found.

Betty

Edited by Betty LaRue
Typo
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51 minutes ago, Panthera tigris said:

From the graph on the youtube video ...... and wayback machine.....Alamy's estimated numbers

 

2008 payment to contributors 12.5M

2008 total revenue 22M

2008 total images 14M

 

2018 payment to contributors 14M (+12%)

2018 total revenue 29M (+32%) - but costs have risen as well as infrastructure needs, so this is not profit!

2008 total images 155M (+1000%

But anyone who thinks there will be financial growth for "photographers" (in ANY agency) is sorely wrong IMHO - this is NOT an ALAMY thing it is an industry thing. 12% increase to togs with a 1000% increase in inventory over a 10 year period. It is a stagnant market in terms of potential growth for the average tog.

 

The rather stagnant revenue growth figures point to a company just hanging on.

 

Surely these figures point to a collapsing market for the average tog. You needed an unrealistic 1000% increase in your port just to make a tiny gain. 

 

Edited by andremichel
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17 minutes ago, andremichel said:

The rather stagnant revenue growth figures point to a company just hanging on.

 

Surely these figures point to a collapsing market for the average tog. You needed an unrealistic 1000% increase in your port just to make a tiny gain. 

 

 

The figures also point to the fact that it is pointless just growing the number of images - particularly when many are of poor quality

I suspect that a tightly edited high quality portfolio of 50M images would have produced higher revenue growth - if supported by an appropriate roll out strategy

Alamy should have seen this earlier than they did - or was it just vanity to be able to say worlds largest collection of stock images

 

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