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Commission change - James West comments

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12 minutes ago, Ollie said:

I applaud everyone who is writing James West to express both their sense of betrayal at the proposed cut as well as offering suggestions on how Alamy could improve its standing in the market and how it could maintain the trust of its contributors.  I do have to say, however, that I could never allow Alamy (or anyone else) to do my keywording.  I travel to many out-of-the-way places around the world and photograph things that could only be properly identified by relying on good notes taken at the time, sometimes augmented and verified by Google searches during my image-processing work.  I don't think any paid employee is going to devote as much care and attention to this task as I do.  I think it's my keywording that is responsible for my relative success in selling my images.  I think more of us need to emphasize the need for Alamy to cull the dross out of its collection, maintain the 50/50 split for current contributors, and offer 60/40 for anyone who wants to sign up in the future.  Thanks for lending your voice to this effort.

 

Agree 100% about keywording. One of the things I like best about Alamy is being in charge of my keywording. I'd be very disappointed indeed if that disappeared.

 

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22 minutes ago, Ollie said:

I applaud everyone who is writing James West to express both their sense of betrayal at the proposed cut as well as offering suggestions on how Alamy could improve its standing in the market and how it could maintain the trust of its contributors.  I do have to say, however, that I could never allow Alamy (or anyone else) to do my keywording.  I travel to many out-of-the-way places around the world and photograph things that could only be properly identified by relying on good notes taken at the time, sometimes augmented and verified by Google searches during my image-processing work.  I don't think any paid employee is going to devote as much care and attention to this task as I do.  I think it's my keywording that is responsible for my relative success in selling my images.  I think more of us need to emphasize the need for Alamy to cull the dross out of its collection, maintain the 50/50 split for current contributors, and offer 60/40 for anyone who wants to sign up in the future.  Thanks for lending your voice to this effort.

 

I don't think we will have to worry about Alamy doing keywording. Their idea is to reduce costs not increase them.

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2 hours ago, Paul Mayall said:

 

Alamy will not fade away by lack of material from individual contributors, Alamy's archive has grown very quickly in recent years through big agencies adding million's of images, this will continue no matter what the commission rate is set at.

Paul.

 

There's plenty of images here, but they soon age and need constant updating... new buildings, changing landscapes, new tech, trends, etc, etc.

 

I'm not going out of my way to provide any new material, I get the impression that a lot of the people who helped to build this business won't bother either.

 

It's no longer worth the effort for Alamy.

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24 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

 

+1

Suggest win-win alternatives to 40/60 in emails to James@ & Alan@...

There are infinite possibilities & it need not be only one.

There can be combos.

For example, contrib gets 50/50 each month they submit 10%

greater new images than their 2017-2018 monthly average;

&-or 50/50 in 2019 until contrib reaches their 2018 total net, &

ONLY THEN a greater contribution towards 2019 upgrades;

2020 to be determined in late 2019...

 

You sorta lost me there, Jeff. Sounds awfully complicated. What does "greater new images" mean?

 

Oh, OK, I get it now -- 10% greater number of new images.

Edited by John Mitchell
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2 hours ago, KevinS said:

That is misleading, for sure, to anyone looking at Alamy to sell for them. Not sure if this one is still accurate; also found with the contributor info aimed at newcomers;

How much money can I make on Alamy?

The average image license fee on Alamy is $90; ...

 

My average so far this year from 212 sales is $29 gross. So not just a small exaggeration.

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1 hour ago, Ollie said:

  I think more of us need to emphasize the need for Alamy to cull the dross out of its collection, maintain the 50/50 split for current contributors, and offer 60/40 for anyone who wants to sign up in the future.  Thanks for lending your voice to this effort.

 

Sounds good to me, except that I think some kind of mechanism / criteria would have to be included that would allow new contributors to eventually reach the 50/50 level.

Edited by John Mitchell

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28 minutes ago, BobD said:

 

I don't think we will have to worry about Alamy doing keywording. Their idea is to reduce costs not increase them.

That was actually kind of my point - I want James to read the email, snigger or snort at the naivety of him paying people to do it, and if he is as decent as people believe the thought of how much it would cost to employ people will play against the 60/40 decision.

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3 minutes ago, andremichel said:

My average so far this year from 212 sales is $29 gross. So not just a small exaggeration.

False advertising maybe?

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43 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

 

+1

Suggest win-win alternatives to 40/60 in emails to James@ & Alan@...

There are infinite possibilities & it need not be only one.

There can be combos.

For example, contrib gets 50/50 each month they submit 10%

greater new images than their 2017-2018 monthly average;

&-or 50/50 in 2019 until contrib reaches their 2018 total net, &

ONLY THEN a greater contribution towards 2019 upgrades;

2020 to be determined in late 2019...

Are you suggesting that each year someone has to contribute 10% more photos than previously? 

 

I hope not because that's completely unsustainable. 

 

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People definitely need to get emailing - the response suggests emails are being read.

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49 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

In 2019 only.

As a way to

a. retain 50/50

b. contribute $$ towards 2019 upgrade costs

Assumption:  10% more images vs. one's 2017-2018 average = some percentage more $$ for Alamy in their 50% share;

images must not be fillers to meet 10% additional goal -- how to monitor that, I don't know...

I don't understand this either. If we all submit 10% more images next year it doesn't mean Alamy will earn more revenue than last year. More likely the RPI goes down by 10%

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All these suggestions are interesting, but I doubt that Alamy would go for any of them (not being fatalistic, honest).

 

Personally, I still think that the most realistic collective "offer" to make is to split the difference -- i.e. reduce commission across the board from 50% to 45% rather than to 40%. That way our incomes would be reduced by 10% rather than by 20% and Alamy would still have extra revenue to help finance its plans, which hopefully would focus on generating more sales for its contributors rather than seeking the questionable status of a "Tier 1" agency.

 

Those who understandably can't live in anything but a 50/50 world would just have to pull up stakes and look for greener pastures.

Edited by John Mitchell
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45% is not a compromise, if the cut is totally wrong and unfair. 45% would still mean that Alamy gets more than the photographers.

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7 minutes ago, Skyscraperfan said:

45% is not a compromise, if the cut is totally wrong and unfair. 45% would still mean that Alamy gets more than the photographers.

 

Yup, that's true. I didn't say that I liked the idea. I just think it's the most realistic approach given the times and circumstances.

Edited by John Mitchell

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11 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Yup, that's true. I didn't say that I liked the idea. I just think it's the most realistic approach given the times and circumstances.

I don't think Alamy will accept any of our ideas unless we can convince them that it will be bad for Alamy to go ahead with this change.  Alamy clearly doesn't give a damn about us. What Alamy cares about is Alamy. 

 

Do you think Macron would have listened to the yellow vests if they just politely asked Macron to compromise on how much he should increase taxes by?

Edited by andremichel

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22 minutes ago, andremichel said:

I don't think Alamy will accept any of our ideas unless we can convince them that it will be bad for Alamy to go ahead with this change.  Alamy clearly doesn't give a damn about us. What Alamy cares about is Alamy. 

 

Do you think Macron would have listened to the yellow vests if they just politely asked Macron to compromise on how much he should increase taxes by?

 

I'm not sure you're comparing apples with apples there when it comes to Alamy contributors and the yellow vests. I don't think that James would have made the announcement if he thought it was bad for Alamy. Mind you, there obviously wasn't a lot of forethought.

Edited by John Mitchell

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22 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

If I had submitted 10% more images -- varied & salable -- in 2015-16-17 than I did,

I would certainly have seen more licenses & net $$ than I got in 2018.

If I see more, Alamy sees more...

SIMPLE PIMPLE EASY PEASY

If only you submitted 10% more then yes you would earn more but you would take sales away from other competing contributors. If everyone submitted 10% more images then revenues across the board won't magically go up 10%. Otherwise Alamy would now have a turnover of $300m or more given how much the whole collection had grown over the years. 

Edited by andremichel

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15 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I'm not sure you're comparing apples with apples there when it comes to Alamy contributors and the yellow vests. I don't think that James would have made the announcement if he thought it was bad for Alamy. Mind you, there obviously wasn't a lot of forethought.

I am using it as an analogy.  I am not saying they are the same. Of course he wouldn't have announced this if he thought it would be bad for Alamy. But he maybe underestimated the contributor reaction. 

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44 minutes ago, funkyworm said:

 

The thing is with a USP is the U in front of it. If all agents have the same product the there is nothing unique about their collection. Already with many searches here the returns are being dominated with public domain images out of copyright.

Somewhere along the line, someone has to create the image in the first place. With most of my agencies I have an agreement to prohibit sub-distribution. I am amazed how many agents re-distribute doing so in the knowledge that the creator will receive next to nothing.

 

Fortunately I am now back at home in Holland so can think things through about this. I think it is an absolute disgrace.

 

I wont be writing any letters to Alamy because I dont think they care. I have done it before and it made not one iota difference. It took me about ten years to get to the point of enough stock to make an income, in that time I did a lot of night shifts doing crap work. Then they cut commissions. We all went through gnashing of teeth. But, it was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Then they did it again. It was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Then they did it again. It was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Now they are doing it again. It is supposedly in our interests. It wont be.

 

In the mean time we are lead down garden paths again and again and again... RM is now essentially RF. A news service which for the first two years was nothing. Wanting us to cover stories but prioritising UK weather to the point where pressing "send" is probably too much effort because the images will get ignored. "Image needs" which are provably no longer needed. Pricing to the point that the only way to earn is not to make any costs, and even then you'd be earning less than minimum wage.

 

I had already stopped uploading a while back and had been contemplating a soft Alamyxit. Now its going to be a lot harder. I have had enough of the stierenpoep.

 

 

 

Pretty  much sums up my view and approach,

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4 hours ago, funkyworm said:

With most of my agencies I have an agreement to prohibit sub-distribution. I am amazed how many agents re-distribute doing so in the knowledge that the creator will receive next to nothing.

 

 

 

 

Same here, however i have seen my work from other agencies on Alamy being submitted without my knowledge, i really think we photographers have lost control of our images as we have lost control of what we receive for them, it is a crazy business to be in where we supply material then are dictated to in regard to how much we will receive financially, recently my lowest fee for 1 image from elsewhere was 27 euro cents.

Our financial reward can be so low yet we still get screwed down on commissions, i ask myself can it get any worse,  i am sure it will in 10 years as commissions will probably be 30/70 with most agencies.

 

Sorry for being negative folks! but that's how i see it at the moment.

 

However it would be a positive action to contributors and perhaps the industry if Alamy would keep the current 50/50 commission rate and show they are a responsible organisation showing their contributors are a major part of Alamy's success.

 

Alamy, i ask you not to put your financial woes on the contributors who feed you, rather add the little extra on sales and the people who feed us.

Paul

Edited by Paul Mayall
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12 hours ago, Alex Ramsay said:

Dear Mr West,

 
Like the vast majority of your 40,000 contributors, I am extremely disappointed by your decision to cut the royalty we receive by 20%. I’m luckier than some others in that I work mainly to commission, and am not solely dependent on the modest income I receive via Alamy. Nevertheless the roughly 10,000 images I have with you represent a considerable investment in time and effort, put in with the expectation that you would sell my work for the highest prices you could achieve (admittedly in a difficult and changing market).
 
I unwillingly accepted the earlier royalty cut in 2013 (even then, deceitfully presented as a 10% reduction - actually about 16.5%). I could accept that we were in a roughly equal partnership - my skill as a photographer balanced by your organisational and marketing talents. I now see that you regard us, our abilities and our experience (not to mention our loyalty) as disposable assets easily replaced from the vast global pool of camera-owning citizens. I shall reconsider my position if and when you bring in the new contract - I don’t look forward to withdrawing my images, but there are other libraries who will be pleased to accept them.
 
Incidentally, I suggest you change your ‘Why Alamy’ page to reflect the new reality - it is deceptive, to say the least, to offer a 50% royalty when you know full well that is about to change.
 
Yours sincerely,
Alex Ramsay

YES +1

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6 hours ago, andremichel said:

I am using it as an analogy.  I am not saying they are the same. Of course he wouldn't have announced this if he thought it would be bad for Alamy. But he maybe underestimated the contributor reaction. 

 

Judging by James' nervousness in the video, I'd say he knew that the reaction to his announcement wasn't exactly going to be positive.

 

In a more democratic world, the announcement would have been a proposal rather than a pronouncement, and James would have asked for contributors' feedback, including suggestions on how revenue might be increased without changing the fair 50/50 split.

 

It seems we just aren't there yet...

Edited by John Mitchell
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It would be interesting to know the breakdown of Alamy's expenditure. What percentage goes on IT and storage, how much is spent on advertising and the proportion on sales staff etc. Without knowing this it is difficult to suggest ways by means profitability could be increased. For example, is it worthwhile saying goodbye to those long established portfolios that contribute little to the revenue stream, or maybe asking contributors to prune their own collections deleting excess similars, or is the storage cost so relatively small as to be irrelevant?

 

I get the impression from what we have been told that the commission cut is being made in order to finance additional sales effort, particularly in the non English speaking marketplace. Personally I would cautiously welcome a move in that direction, as I find my European (non UK) sales are not proportional to the number of images I have available.

 

It is impossible to over emphasise the importance of marketing in any business, and possibly Alamy has not fully exploited this in the past. The opening of the USA office appeared to assist my sales of US stock, while I have personal knowledge of another UK based IT company that increased its turnover by 30% in two years after opening a small US based subsidiary. Given the state of the market generally, I wonder what would have happened to the bottom line, and our income, had the US office not been opened?

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I have been using Alamy for just over two years now. With little success. I shoot a lot of Live News, but never use Alamy for that, I syndicate direct to the newspapers and news websites myself for 100% of the money. Alamy sell for a lot less than the standard reproduction rates due to subscription deals so make no sense whatsoever for me to use Alamy for that. 

 

I have uploaded 2500 of my live news images after the event for stock, which includes other photos that is not what I would call news photos. I made about £165 from Alamy this year, but £400 last year. That is what Alamy paid me, none of this $1000 of sales nonsense. Why do people keep quoting their sales? it is meaningless as lots of sales are via 3rd parties so you get 30%. Turnover aside, the 2500 images was a test to see how Alamy works for me, IT DOESN'T, poor sales of pennies. I had a quarter page image in The Times this year and was paid £4 !!!, normally £90 if that sale is made direct, admittedly as it was stock I wouldn't have made the sale without Alamy, but for £4, I don't care as the time it took to upload that set and keyword, wasn't worth the hassle. My sales have dipped over 50% in a year, yes its a small sample of my tens of thousands of images. I won't be uploading as a further 20% cut in my revenue from Alamy is a joke. I have spent the time to add 3000 images, so won't remove them. But Alamy has lost out on having my archive.

 

So whats 60% commission from zero images Alamy?  

 

 

 

Edited by Paul J
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Then they cut commissions. It was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Then they did it again. It was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Then they did it again. It was supposedly in our interests. It wasn't. Now they are doing it again. It is supposedly in our interests. It won't be.

 

 

Hear hear

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