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Commission change - James West comments

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3 hours ago, Broad Norfolk said:

I would be happy with 50% image exclusivity to Alamy. My 9K+ are all exclusive to Alamy anyway. I submit to other libraries and in each case my submissions are exclusive - no duplicates anywhere.

Jim.

 

Further to my comment above I must add that I too am not happy with 20% reduction in commission.

Like many contributors, I run a small business of which income from Alamy represents around 5% of my income. I wish it was more! On average I upload around 70 images per month on a regular basis. My downfall is probably that I just like making images. In the light of the proposed reduction in commission one has to consider reality as I have a business to run as well as Alamy. I kept faith after the last reduction to 50% but this, together with overall price reductions, meant that the rest of my business has been subsidising my Alamy contributions. This obviously cannot continue.

My own answer I guess is rather simplistic. I just adjust the way I do things and put emphasis into other areas. In particular print sales, which I will describe as 'exhibition' quality and usually command $$$ prices. These particular images would never go into stock because of the anticipated low prices they are likely to realise which I consider would be an undervaluation of my work. I only need to sell one of these per month to exceed the income I get from stock. The current situation has now got me to thinking why on earth haven't I done this before?

If the commission remained at 50% I would probably grin and bear it as it's an outlet for my obsession of making images!!

Jim.

 

 

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17 hours ago, JeffGreenberg said:

 

Exclusivity to retain 50/50 is the only counter by Alamy to now, AFAIK.

Another problem with exclusivity, there is history of contribs bending

rules, e.g., (5) similars limit, etc. (can't remember other examples)

Exclusivity will be violated -- guaranteed.

Those NOT violating it will be outraged & decide, hell, I'm doing it, too...

 

I believe most, but not all, would be honest

This of course would have to be contractual, flout the rules and maybe you would lose your account.

 

While I would prefer things to stay as they are, I can see the logic in a higher rate for exclusivity. But Alamy will have to play their part as well. If you have exclusive images then you must ask for higher prices. cut out the abuse and nonsense refunds.

 

Contributors will have to make their own decision as to what is best for their own interests. Be non-exclusive for 40% (with the potential to earn more per image by spreading them around) of be exclusive for 50% with the possible upside for maybe higher prices.

 

Either way it is better to have a 50/40 split for exclusivity than 40 for all. At least the choice will be in our own hands. 

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8 minutes ago, BobD said:

 

I believe most, but not all, would be honest

This of course would have to be contractual, flout the rules and maybe you would lose your account.

 

...

 

Like contributors do for keyword spamming, keyword plagiarism, and clients for 'erroneous' self-reporting of usage, or those why blatantly infringe copyright.

 

Does Alamy police its existing rules, let alone new, more complex, ones?

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

I was not making it as a suggestion - and I do not say it would work - I am saying I see it as something that might be cooked up. 

If people want to red arrow it to show what they think of it not a problem - I just hope they are not red arrowing me for expressing the thought.

 

Don't worry about the arrows, regardless of the colour or let them prevent you from speaking your mind. We all get it wrong sometimes and right at other times.

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

I was not making it as a suggestion - and I do not say it would work - I am saying I see it as something that might be cooked up. 

If people want to red arrow it to show what they think of it not a problem - I just hope they are not red arrowing me for expressing the thought.

 

I just wish people would state their (presumably opposing position) and add to the debate rather than red arrow. 

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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

Exclusivity does not make any sense for me. We have been encouraged by Alamy not to be exclusive, individual sales fees are falling, revenue is falling. Alamy alone is not enough to make a decent stock income. It hasn't been enough for five or six years ( lack of market penetration that James West admits to) 

 

My view is that any tiered commission system should be based on performance, particularly actual Sales, so that it acts as an incentive. 

 

I have just passed $200,000 gross sales after actively contributing since December 2002. Not spectacular I know but steady commitment and loyalty and an individual achievement for a former teacher without professional training in photography.

 

As a reward ......why such a brutal kick in the teeth Alamy?

 

I00007ypqvCqgJ8I.jpg

 

Don't know if I agree with having been encouraged, but definitely not discouraged.

 

However, I don't think it is the wrong time to turn over the leaf and shake things up and "get somewhere", not just the more or less treading water as a library.

 

Don't know exactly the best way forward, but trying to think of what is best for Alamy as that would likely benefit the majority of contributors as well. I'm convinced there would be ways that IMAGE exclusivity could be beneficial for both parties. I'm also, like yourself, inclined to implement something that reward those that fall into the category of making money rather than those that mainly clog up the system. There isn't a way that will make everyone "happy", standing still/status quo certainly doesn't make me happy, I would like to see a more aggressive Alamy going after market share, but not at the expense of lowering prices - thus exclusivity could be a great marketing tool.

 

Interesting to see your data. The following is hard to say/ask without sounding condescending, but please trust me that I'm not, I just have a curious mind and don't do "upmanship" etc., your data just left me with a lot of questions. What's your thoughts on self-curation or have you swapped the mindset to one of letting the market/buyers do it completely for you? Looks very much like a brute-force approach if I may say so? I can't but help noticing the extremely low net RPI, don't you find that demotivating and in extension doesn't this approach hurt your CTR/Alamy Rank significantly, ending up being counter-productive? Perhaps that is what one should do, just like the libraries i.e. personally open the floodgates/taps to "everything"? Do you find this approach better, because not that I keep notes, but I do seem to recall you being more "restrictive" in the past?

 

With the best of intentions, from a curious mind, that just like everyone is trying to work out the best way forward.

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Exclusivity, for those who contribute to multiple agencies or libraries, would reduce the contributor’s diversity of revenue streams and thus subject the contributor to greater, future Alamy pricing power over them, correct?  Exclusivity may work when there is a guaranteed benefit or return to the contributor for not only sold image licenses but also for unsold images that they have restricted from sale through other libraries or agencies.   After all, who is clairvoyant and knows what images, marked as exclusive on Alamy, would ever sell on Alamy?  Alamy's current way of working regarding exclusivity forces an all or none approach by contributors with the only benefit being associated to that one out of many thousands of images actually licensed as exclusive at the expense of restricting all other image sales anywhere else.

 

Perhaps 70/30 split (in contributors favor) for sales of all licensed images marked as exclusive in the portfolio along with the expected, enhanced licensing fees if an image is sold as exclusive.  For those images not marked as exclusive, a 50/50 split and normal licensing fees apply.  So, in essence, contributors get additional benefit in the form of a higher split for making their images exclusive to Alamy,  sold or unsold as exclusive.  Why try to claw back to a 50/50 arrangement?

 

James was proud to say that Alamy has no debt.  But from the outside looking in,  eschewing a decade long run of historically low interest rates, for example, is not using all the levers of business to grow the business and do all the novel things you want to do to disrupt his industry.   Private equity placements?   I'm sure you are doing this, but when you see Koch making a non-controlling 500MUSD investment, you wonder why not Alamy?  My point here is bootstrapping operations and growth on the backs of contributors = slow growth - to eventually be a follower v. leader, a taker v. disrupter, and I'm sure that is not the vision James had starting up.

Edited by Scott

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James proposed this change under duress. Sure, any path to compromise appeals. Exclusivity doesn't make Alamy attractive, 50/50 did. 

Edited by KevinS

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9 minutes ago, funkyworm said:

 

The cards may be in their hands, but they are our cards. All 150m. They are only in their hands because we let them.

 

Quoting Varys from Game of Thrones: “power lies where we think it lies.”

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4 hours ago, geogphotos said:

Exclusivity does not make any sense for me. We have been encouraged by Alamy not to be exclusive, individual sales fees are falling, revenue is falling. Alamy alone is not enough to make a decent stock income. It hasn't been enough for five or six years ( lack of market penetration that James West admits to) 

 

My view is that any tiered commission system should be based on performance, particularly actual Sales, so that it acts as an incentive. 

 

I have just passed $200,000 gross sales after actively contributing since December 2002. Not spectacular I know but steady commitment and loyalty and an individual achievement for a former teacher without professional training in photography.

 

As a reward ......why such a brutal kick in the teeth Alamy?

 

I00007ypqvCqgJ8I.jpg

 

Congratulations on joining the $200,000 club. Great achievement showing 16 years of dedication to Alamy.

 

Maybe you can do one of those PR articles for Alamy to attract new contributors. :)

 

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8 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

When I asked previously simply having my pics priced on my own Photoshelter website was sufficient prohibition to be exclusive on Alamy. 

 

This is not my understanding of James' e-mail. 

 

quote.

'a. Exclusive with Alamy (you can sell elsewhere direct but not via other stock agencies) for 50%'

 

 

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1 minute ago, geogphotos said:

 

Is Alamy a stock agency? 

 

 

That is beside the point really, the point being is you should be able to sell direct via your photoshelter account.

 

 

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With exclusivity you're tied to the way the one agency works and what they offer you. If they decided to change what is on offer, you are in no position to react quickly to protect your income. Basically, it would take months to build up work with other agencies again in order to get to the point you were at before the next 20% cut. Load the gun, spin the barrel and hope for the best is not the way I like to manage risk.

 

Now, if you're not reliant on the money (not main income) then exclusivity can work as it saves time and might boost your earnings..... provided the fees aren't slashed further. However, it feels like a delivery driver with one van, no breakdown cover and no income protection insurance..... just hoping each day his van keeps going but at the same time knowing at some point you're going to be saddled with a sizeable bill just to keep it going.

 

Edit.

Personally, over the last year I've been trying to spread the risk and become less reliant on one/two agencies. All it takes is for an unfavourable change to the search algorithm and, well, you're stuffed.

Edited by Duncan_Andison
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2 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

 

 

And as I said when I asked about this previously the answer I got was different. So what guarantee is that for the future?

In the future there is no future.

 

If Alamy does an exclusive option, they need to devise and publish a plan for how they will use that exclusivity for the benefit of both themselves and contributors.  Just having a box to check will achieve nothing in increased sales and income.  So far, Alamy has come up short on published plans.  Hopefully that will improve, along with any new changes to the contract. 

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1 minute ago, geogphotos said:

If Alamy has an exclusive option offering more money that exclusive box will be ticked.

Indeed, though since they can sell any image for any price, there certainly needs to be a lot of detail in the published 'plan'.

 

What would be most important, imho, is that you guys with substantial high quality catalogs and histories of making them money participate in the exclusive scheme--assuming your port is already de facto exclusive.   There needs to be a strong incentive for Alamy not to push the 50% images below the 40% ones in the algorithm. 

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8 minutes ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

 

If Alamy does an exclusive option, they need to devise and publish a plan for how they will use that exclusivity for the benefit of both themselves and contributors.  Just having a box to check will achieve nothing in increased sales and income. 

Yep - the Alamy exclusive check box has been available for sometime.  Has Alamy made any real attempt to capitalize on it?   Has anyone seen any obvious increase in marketing, sales, or income for exclusive images as a result?

 

If they keep 50% commission for exclusive images they also need to present a real reason to be image exclusive - otherwise it's a crap shoot.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

I have to say if I was Alamy in this position the way I would do it is 40% for all images currently uploaded regardless of whether exclusivity is claimed or actual, and then differentiate on all new uploads - so when uploading to get 50% you make the image exclusive to Alamy and tick a box promising that you will not upload said image to any other agency either while it is exclusive to Alamy or for a minimum of say 6 months from removing the exclusivity,  with hefty legal penalties if you broke this word.  I would also add in some commitment about similars from the same shoot or something.
I would then take pictures that are uploaded under this new tight restriction and promote the hell out of them.

I think that is easier to say when you haven't been uploading photos to the database for many years to Alamy like many in this forum have (I only have been doing this a couple years but sure have a lot of empathy for those who have been doing it for much longer as well as for those just starting out).  There are some on here who have consistently been uploading to Alamy almost 20 years.  That is a LOT of investment on many levels.  To suggest that all images currently uploaded be at the 40% is likely based on your longevity and portfolio size and not taking into account the collective whole of contributors.  I have only been with Alamy for two years and have done it full time expecting that in the future the time/energy will pay off.  I presume a lot of others have been uploading for years under this same framework. I have been awestruck by the non-contributor informed decision to make the cuts and have yet to determine how I will react but it is based a lot on the transparent response by James on what I consider a crisis.   I think that solutions/strategies forward must keep into context that we are all individuals with our own levels of investment and longevity with Alamy and that solutions need to be viewed from the many different contributor vantagepoints.  I don't see how the suggestion of 40% for all currently uploaded content is fair, ethical, or in the best interest of Alamy.  On the contrary, I see that content contributed under the 50/50 framework be grandfathered in and shielded from the proposed 20% cut.

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7 minutes ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

Indeed, though since they can sell any image for any price, there certainly needs to be a lot of detail in the published 'plan'.

 

What would be most important, imho, is that you guys with substantial high quality catalogs and histories of making them money participate in the exclusive scheme--assuming your port is already de facto exclusive.   There needs to be a strong incentive for Alamy not to push the 50% images below the 40% ones in the algorithm. 

 

That is another risk and there is no way to know or, guarantee it won't happen. No agency publishes the variables used to determine search position as this would leave them open to people gaming the system.

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3 minutes ago, Phil said:

Yep - the Alamy exclusive check box has been available for sometime.  Has Alamy made any real attempt to capitalize on it?   Has anyone seen any obvious increase in marketing, sales, or income for exclusive images as a result?

 

If they keep 50% commission for exclusive images they also need to present a real reason to be image exclusive - otherwise it's a crap shoot.

 

 

 

Exactly.   They need to promote this as a substantial new service for their clients. 

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8 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

If Alamy wants images on an exclusive basis they have taken nearly 20 years to decide on that.

 

What has changed? Why?

Edited 5 minutes ago by geogphotos

 

Nothing really apart from Alamy realising they are on a slippery slope and deciding that the quickest and most profitable way of delaying the inevitable is to take 20% of your hard earned cash without offering anything concrete in return. They are now,maybe,offering exclusivity simply because it is something they can manage within their present systems with the minimum of input from them. If it turns out like stacking, stemming,visibility and some of their other offerings then it will be interesting!

 

I gave up after the last cut so retaining the 50%,even if it means giving exclusivity,works for me. Alamy was never a first choice for specialist material but for a few years did reach a few markets where the trads did not go. I have never been keen on putting the same files with different agencies as I have always felt this,together with oversupply and placing with sub agencies has helped to kill the stock business. 

 

Regen

 

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1 minute ago, Duncan_Andison said:

 

That is another risk and there is no way to know or, guarantee it won't happen. No agency publishes the variables used to determine search position as this would leave them open to people gaming the system.

Yes.  But it's my impression that the majority of the largest and most important contributors (at least as represented in this forum) are already de facto exclusive, even though they may not have "checked the box".   If The majority of the best images are made exclusive, Alamy would have to promote and sell them. 

 

And if there is a market for exclusives, then those are the ones they have to sell.   Of course, if there is little or no market, as some say, it won't work out quite as well, though one has to assume that the best images will still sell.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

Yes.  But it's my impression that the majority of the largest and most important contributors (at least as represented in this forum) are already de facto exclusive, even though they may not have "checked the box".   If The majority of the best images are made exclusive, Alamy would have to promote and sell them. 

 

And if there is a market for exclusives, then those are the ones they have to sell.   Of course, if there is little or no market, as some say, it won't work out quite as well, though one has to assume that the best images will still sell.

 

 

 

Maybe some but I know there are quite a few that submit to other editorial agencies. It will come down to how much Alamy makes for them. Given the squeeze on fees and Alamy's willingness to cut commissions it would be a brave individual to place all your stock eggs in this particular basket. Alamy would have to come up with a good package and that, may or may not, offset anything they may make from those left at 40%..... if they're the smaller group in terms of image volumes. Especially as it will be the 40%'ers that will be funding Alamy's bright ideas.

Edited by Duncan_Andison
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19 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

We are all still waiting for a "Public Response" from Mr. West.

 

I will add that as far as I am concerned, the damage has been

done and I do not think it can be repaired.

 

Chuck Nacke

 

Chuck, anything can be repaired.

News photography is entirely different, and requires much more effort than Stock photography.

News should remain at 50%, no question.

 

Looking at stock photography from 30,000 feet, the 40% for stock photography could be accommodated if it means my sales total rises, and my monthly photographers payment for stock sales goes up considerably. With my stock only library it is not about the price, not about the percentage, it is about the size of the monthly Alamy payment for images in my stock library.

 

Bill

Edited by Bill Brooks
clarity
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29 minutes ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

Yes.  But it's my impression that the majority of the largest and most important contributors (at least as represented in this forum) are already de facto exclusive

 

I'm not convinced that's accurate. I can think of several who probably are and several who certainly aren't. 

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8 hours ago, Duncan_Andison said:

 

Personally, Alamy would be the last place I'd allow total exclusivity. They're too liberal with low licence fees at low sales volumes. They'd need a monumental increase in sales to even consider exclusivity and even then, given the way they've treated photographers earnings this time, I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them now. It's just a question of time before they pull the same stunt again. As mentioned elsewhere, damage done.

 

Hate to say it, but I think that Alamy might just grasping at straws with the 50% for exclusivity idea. They have opened a Pandora's box and are now looking for an easy way to close it. Hopefully Alamy is now thinking through all the possible complications. There's no simple way out of this mess now.

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