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Commission change - James West comments

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6 minutes ago, Cryptoprocta said:

Did they actually promise that? If so, where? After all, they've cut our share at least twice in their history that I know of (only one of these since I started).

I thought someone put a link to a statement way back when - I will have a trawl and see if I can find it

 

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19 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I thought someone put a link to a statement way back when - I will have a trawl and see if I can find it

 

Ok, I'll be interested to see that.

However, making promises like that would show at best extreme naivety.

Edited by Cryptoprocta

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OK from the promotion to photographers when Alamy first opened - so maybe the word Promise was never used - but it certainly seemed to be implied.

“We place our contributors at the centre of our service”
    “This is just the start of the new way forward for the creative mind.”
    “Only alamy.com will sell the images you supply us with.”
    "On every sale alamy take 10% commission + about 3% credit card fee. YOU GET around 87% of the sale!!!! YES! 87% !!!"
    “It’s not like you are entering an arrangement that ties your images up for a lengthy amount of time.”
    “We have no interest in making changes to the contract to the detriment of photographers now or in the future.”
    "How can we be assured that alamy.com will not increase the commission in their favor in the future? It would not be in alamy.com's interest to change terms to the detriment of our contributors, since our success depends on attracting large numbers of contributors.”

I have highlighted the relevant statement - is being assured the same as being promised?

 

Edited by Starsphinx
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10 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I thought someone put a link to a statement way back when - I will have a trawl and see if I can find it

 

Love to see a historical promise. Still offering 50% as of this morning on the home page.

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3 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

> we are all aligned on the 50/50 and nothing worse 

 

In discussion, yes.

In action, no.

Sadly, its the latter that, IMO, forces Alamy to pursue

win-win ways to raise $$ for upgrades, NOT via 40/60.

 

An alternative to 40/60 would HAVE TO be pursued if everyone

a. emailed counter offer directly to JamesW-AlanC

b. took restriction or other actions by Feb19

 

EVERYONE, including the smallest volume contribs...

These threads could be locked-deleted soon.

Now is the time, if you cannot word your own counter offer,

to copy the best ideas you've read & email to mgmt...

I may be odd in this but I have an aversion to watching stuff on video - could you maybe provide James email address here just in case I am not the only one who does not want to watch video to find it

 

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However, making promises like that would show at best extreme naivety.

 

The problem if not they made a commission cut in itself. The problem is that they made such a cut for pretty naive reasons such as "we want you to fund our own growth, but you'll have no control on it whatsoever", as well as that they broke the 50/50 psychological barrier. When they reduced commissions from 60% to 50% many complained but it still seemed a reasonably fair commission (we split the money in two, half for you and half for us). Now they'are saying that THEIR work is more valuable than OURS. And that's perceived by many as unfair and vaguely insulting.

Edited by riccarbi
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Just now, KevinS said:

Love to see a historical promise. Still offering 50% as of this morning on the home page.

Turns out to be an assurance not a promise - so thats alright then (sarcasm alert)

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11 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

OK from the promotion to photographers when Alamy first opened - so maybe the word Promise was never used - but it certainly seemed to be implied.

“We place our contributors at the centre of our service”
    “This is just the start of the new way forward for the creative mind.”
    “Only alamy.com will sell the images you supply us with.”
    "On every sale alamy take 10% commission + about 3% credit card fee. YOU GET around 87% of the sale!!!! YES! 87% !!!"
    “It’s not like you are entering an arrangement that ties your images up for a lengthy amount of time.”
    “We have no interest in making changes to the contract to the detriment of photographers now or in the future.”
    "How can we be assured that alamy.com will not increase the commission in their favor in the future? It would not be in alamy.com's interest to change terms to the detriment of our contributors, since our success depends on attracting large numbers of contributors.”

I have highlighted the relevant statement - is being assured the same as being promised?

Alamy didn't say we were assured. A question asked that.

You'll notice that at the time, our share was 87%, and Alamy said only that it "wouldn't be in their interest to change terms to the detriment of contributors", no assurance, no promise, and they must have cut the contributor's share more times than  I was aware.

And now they have decded that it is in their interest to change the terms to our detriment - again.

 

BTW, interesting reading, marginally relevant: http://www.epuk.org/news/alamy-responds-to-epuk-s-open-letter

Hahaha (HOLLOW laugh) about infringements. :-(

Edited by Cryptoprocta

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1 minute ago, riccarbi said:

 

The problem if not they made a commission cut in itself. The problem is Is to make such a cut for pretty naive reasons such as "we want you to fund our own growth, but you'll have no control on it whatsoever", as well as to break the 50/50 psychological barrier. When they reduced commissions from 60% to 50% many complained but it still seemed a reasonably fair commission (we split the money in two, half for you and half for us). Now they'are saying that THEIR work is more valuable than OURS. And that's perceived by many as unfair and vaguely insulting.

Vaguely insulting?

Hmm - I suspect a huge amount of the problem, both here, and with other stock/microstock places, in general, is there seems to be a huge absence of understanding of each others roles between photographer and library/agency from both halves.  The stock sellers seem to have absolutely no idea of what it takes to get that photograph just uploaded to them - and the photographers seem to have little idea of what it takes to get someone to pay money for that photograph.  I think both sides are guilty of thinking the other side "has it easy"

I think it would have huge benefits if Alamy could sort out a proper meeting of minds over this - if Alamy can set down what their costs are (electric servers wages etc), predictable future costs (like server upgrades more space etc) and what goes into the selling of each photo while the photographers can set down similar  (equipment, travel insurance etc) predictable future costs (equipment upgrades and servicing etc) and what goes into the taking of each photo - then it will be far easier to find a way to balance both, and put everything on a secure footing so everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

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5 minutes ago, riccarbi said:

 

The problem if not they made a commission cut in itself. The problem is that they made such a cut for pretty naive reasons such as "we want you to fund our own growth, but you'll have no control on it whatsoever", as well as that they broke the 50/50 psychological barrier. When they reduced commissions from 60% to 50% many complained but it still seemed a reasonably fair commission (we split the money in two, half for you and half for us). Now they'are saying that THEIR work is more valuable than OURS. And that's perceived by many as unfair and vaguely insulting.

 

I certainly hear what you're saying, but isn't it a bit ironic that some contributors here are now saying that they are going to place images with "Tier 1" agencies that pay considerably less than Alamy's proposed 40% commission? Aren't these agencies even more insulting? Or am I missing something?

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Cryptoprocta said:

Alamy didn't say we were assured. A question asked that.

You'll notice that at the time, our share was 87%, and Alamy said only that it "wouldn't be in their interest to change terms to the detriment of contributors", no assurance, no promise, and they must have cut the contributor's share more times than  I was aware.

And now they have decded that it is in their interest to change the terms to our detriment - again.

 

BTW, interesting reading, marginally relevant: http://www.epuk.org/news/alamy-responds-to-epuk-s-open-letter

Hahaha (HOLLOW laugh) about infringements. :-(

As I said they may not have made it but they did manage to imply it - with some bloody sneaky language that does not look nice under reflection.  They intended it to be read as "we value you and will not screw you" while it actually meant "we are only interested in our needs and as soon as they diverge from yours we will screw you"

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I just googled publicly searchable financials on Alamy. I note that in the last fiscal year the number of employees rose nearly 30% to 198. This is a huge expense! I would be happy to hear a justification for this.

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1 minute ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I certainly hear what you're saying, but isn't it a bit ironic that some contributors here are now saying that they are going to place images with "Tier 1" agencies that pay considerably less than Alamy's proposed 40% commission? Aren't these agencies even more insulting? Or am I missing something?

 

 

Its the difference between entering somewhere being given the belief something wont happen and the accepting something has to happen so controlling the circumstances of it happening.

Like in the US - some states have the death penalty and some dont - so you may decide to commit a crime where there is no death penalty - or believing the death penalty inevitable whatever an indivdual state says you choose to commit the crime where you can choose between electric chair and lethal injection - you still get executed but you chose the method.

 

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2 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

As I said they may not have made it but they did manage to imply it - with some bloody sneaky language that does not look nice under reflection.  They intended it to be read as "we value you and will not screw you" while it actually meant "we are only interested in our needs and as soon as they diverge from yours we will screw you"

Of course, it's a business, they always have their own needs foremost.

What we choose to infer is up to us.

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2 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

Its the difference between entering somewhere being given the belief something wont happen and the accepting something has to happen so controlling the circumstances of it happening.

Like in the US - some states have the death penalty and some dont - so you may decide to commit a crime where there is no death penalty - or believing the death penalty inevitable whatever an indivdual state says you choose to commit the crime where you can choose between electric chair and lethal injection - you still get executed but you chose the method.

 

 

I get that too -- i.e. it's partially a gesture of defiance. However, it's a sad state of affairs when the only alternative is "Catch 22".

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1 minute ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I get that too -- i.e. it's partially a gesture of defiance. However, it's a sad state of affairs when the only alternative is "Catch 22".

I suspect that for others as well as me it will come down to bottom line -  if Alamy has made itself no longer trusted then it is better to take more money at 20% than it is to take less money at 40%.  Then again the first place I headed will give me 50% on some stuff - anything that sells 5 times or more will see me get 50% - and they sell to print and have $$$$ pricing on certain licences.  I would rather take 25% on some sales and 50% on other bigger ones (the price goes up for the first 5 sales) than 40% across the board.  

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"After years of super high growth 2018 will only grow by 2%". So the only answer to this is to cut commission by 20%? are the employs at Alamy also taking a 20% cut??. I doubt it, there are many reasons why growth may flatline, so to immediately cut commission so quickly means to me one thing. That Alamy is in deeper trouble than they are telling us and could be the beginning of a bigger problem. Maybe the Alamy model is not able to deliver anymore. These are just my assumptions of course and elsewhere the commissions are a lot less but sales are 50 times more.

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8 hours ago, formerly snappyoncalifornia said:

I just googled publicly searchable financials on Alamy. I note that in the last fiscal year the number of employees rose nearly 30% to 198. This is a huge expense! I would be happy to hear a justification for this.

Must have been soon after the upturn in revenues in 2015. Looks like a hasty decision now. Perhaps Alamy enjoyed the role of "cash cow". Lots of employees, big transfers of funds to Fischer Family Trust, loan to Manything, 100% to students, maybe other things. When I was assisting we did some corporate shoots. "Guys in ties on corporate highs" is what we called them (tie no longer required). 

Edited by KevinS
enjoy>enjoyed

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Maybe someone can explain why agents in other business areas only take a small cut but stock photography is different and deserve such huge commissions.

 

1. IT and Mobile telecoms contracting , the agent gets maybe 5% to 15%. 

2. Online hotel booking sites, e.g. booking.com, expedia etc. 10% to 20%

3 Sports agents between 4% and 10% of the athlete's playing contract, and 10% to 20% of the athlete's endorsement contract.

Apart from photo storage costs which maybe warrant another 5%, I don't see how they can justify such huge percentages. 

My own theory as to why they get away with this is:

1. A few dominant libraries have pretty much cornered the market and are able to dictate terms. Their greed has been strangling the life out of this industry. 

2. It is very difficult for photographers to sell direct or for the rare Tier 3/4 library offering sensible commission rates to make headway. 

3. The dominant libraries spend a disproportionate amount of money on sales and marketing just to keep their dominance. 

4. A ready supply of photographers willing to accept the situation, working for ever smaller returns. How long this can go on I don't know. 

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34 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I suspect that for others as well as me it will come down to bottom line -  if Alamy has made itself no longer trusted then it is better to take more money at 20% than it is to take less money at 40%.  Then again the first place I headed will give me 50% on some stuff - anything that sells 5 times or more will see me get 50% - and they sell to print and have $$$$ pricing on certain licences.  I would rather take 25% on some sales and 50% on other bigger ones (the price goes up for the first 5 sales) than 40% across the board.  

 

Are any of those other big guys likely to be any more trustworthy? Just sayin'...

 

I have to wonder about some of the agencies still offering relatively high commission rates. I have images with an agency that gives 60% after you've uploaded 500 images. Problem is they don't make any sales. Another big agency in Europe that has been around for a long tine still gives 50%. However, from what I've heard, sales there have all but dried up in the past couple of years. Sometimes the high commission rates just indicate that the agency isn't doing well, and that they are afraid of losing contributors. As I said, Catch 22...

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I started in photography as an amateur, had 35 great years as a professional, and then retired to my roots as an amateur.

 

I am asking myself this question.

 

Is my clinging to stock photography interfering with my enjoyment of my amateur photographer lifestyle?

 

I meet amateur photographers, like myself, on my photo walks. They are not into stock photography or selling their work in any way, but appear to be having the photographic time of their lives.

 

Maybe I should do the same. There is a rich and full photographic lifestyle beyond stock photography.

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I believe we may be at a tipping point where generic stock libraries will all be microstock and crowd sourced with no reward for the contributor; perhaps some on monetary 'benefits' like exposure... That is already almost the case with pictures in local papers.

 

In that model the library will make an income and if a photographer leaves there will be another five ready to come on board. Quality, what's that, who cares?

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28 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

Are any of those other big guys likely to be any more trustworthy? Just sayin'...

They're not, the one Starsphinx references hasn 't got a great reputation: but once  you've been through the first four stages:

 

denial (Alamy is a warm-fuzzy, supplier-friendly company)

anger (how could they do this to us, we thought they loved us as much as we loved them)

bargaining (I won't upload for under 50% / for exclusive files / for high selling suppliers ...)

depression (this is awful, I never thought Alamy would kick us in the teeth like (most of) the others),

you're left with:

acceptance (I will quit altogether [and all that work has been for nought], I will just go ahead as usual [accepting the kick in the teeth and knowing more may well follow], I will try to follow the money [by spreading to the agencies which sell more, even for a smaller cut and a smaller rpd, as it will make more in the short term, and we have no idea what will happen in the long term], or some combination of the latter two)

Edited by Cryptoprocta

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

I may be odd in this but I have an aversion to watching stuff on video - could you maybe provide James email address here just in case I am not the only one who does not want to watch video to find it

 

I can understand not wanting to see the video, but I'm not sure James would want his email address where anyone can see it. He says it real fast at 12:55.

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Just now, Bill Brooks said:

I started in photography as an amateur, had 35 great years as a professional, and then retired to my roots as an amateur.

 

I am asking myself this question.

 

Is my clinging to stock photography interfering with my enjoyment of my amateur photographer lifestyle?

 

I meet amateur photographers, like myself, on my photo walks. They are not into stock photography or selling their work in any way, but appear to be having the photographic time of their lives.

 

Maybe I should do the same. There is a rich and full photographic lifestyle beyond stock photography.

 

 

After nearly 40 years of mostly part-time professional photography I came to that conclusion 3-4 years ago, so I essentally quit shooting and uploading stock; did a bit of news which did moderately well through a now departed agency, not Alamy. I have not really found a new direction with picture making so I am pursuing other interests in photography.

 

A friend reminded why over dinner last night:
Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.  J M Barrie

 

I had got to the point where photography had become totally unrewarding work.

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