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Commission change - James West comments

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5 hours ago, radharcimages said:

Utter rubbish James.

Nothing at all to do with contributors net royalties.

Coincidently (dont believe in coincidence) my net royalties have only this month or so recovered to the level before the last cut. Thats with pretty much doubling the number of images and reworking thousands upon thousands of existing images.

Im never going to see a return on that with this cut. A 20% cut brings me back to 2008 levels. Let me repeat that a 20% cut brings me back 11 years and 40,000 images ago.

Think about that James, it means the last 11 years work have been for nothing, zero growth, just a massive drain on my resources to subsidise you.

 

You complain about 'only' 2% growth, many many companies, corporations and countries would love 2% growth.

 

You are giving me a 20% cut effective February. That's unsustainable. Im guessing you will hope most people will just moan and gripe and do nothing about it and that may well be the case but its such a big jump that its a showstopper for many people. As you mention there are Tier 1 suppliers out there with smaller percentages but they do much much larger volume. If leading contributors migrate away the top 5% of their images you will lose that 2% and then some almost overnight. Its not about cancelling contracts or storming off in a huff, we all have our own spreadsheets and graphs and whilst Alamy has umpteen million images to choose from the vast vast majority are pretty much unsaleable.

 

You are doing exactly what some of the big supermarkets have done in the last few years, squeezing and squeezing main/big suppliers (because they can) and once people find alternatives they will do so. Im sure by this announcement that really doesnt worry you in the slightest but the recent history of companies squeezing regular/main/big suppliers hasnt ended well. Im sure you think you will do well out of it otherwise you wouldnt have done it.

 

Dont try and dress this up any other way than its taking money from your suppliers to give to you and your staff through wages, dividends and special directors payments.

At least be honest about it and stop this complete male bovine excretia. We are not exactly 'all in this together'.

Totally agree.

I urge Alamy to re-think this rapidly.

Alamy want greather than 2% growth achieved by cutting their suppliers royalties by 20% ... 

The 'tier 1' agencies have a slightly lower royalty rate but a far higher return per image with increased sales volume.

There are other 'fairer' ways to achieve a similar result. One already mentioned is a staggered royalty rate 40% for £x of sales and 50% for £x etc ... surely this would encourage your contributors to supply quality images that will sell ... 

All this has done is alienate your contributors who will now be looking at all the alternatives out there and no doubt supplying your direct competitors.

I know there are some very disgruntled 'big names' .. can Alamy really afford to lose the respect and possibly the collections of these photographers?

 

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Why are stock images so much different from any other digital assets like e-books or apps? If you sell an app through an app store, Google or Apple will usually hold back 30% and the other 70% go to you as the creator of the app. If you publish an e-book on Amazon, it's the same. You get 70% of the net sale price. That 70/30 split seems to be agreement for many digital goods, but in the photography business we even have to fight for a 50/50 split.

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6 minutes ago, Skyscraperfan said:

Why are stock images so much different from any other digital assets like e-books or apps? If you sell an app through an app store, Google or Apple will usually hold back 30% and the other 70% go to you as the creator of the app. If you publish an e-book on Amazon, it's the same. You get 70% of the net sale price. That 70/30 split seems to be agreement for many digital goods, but in the photography business we even have to fight for a 50/50 split.

Because they think they can away with it. 

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1 minute ago, andremichel said:

Because they think they can away with it. 

 

Unfortunately they do and have been for some time. In fact it is now the norm.

 

Allan

 

 

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21 minutes ago, Skyscraperfan said:

Why are stock images so much different from any other digital assets like e-books or apps? 

 

I assume because it's so much easier and quicker to take a photo, add some keywords and upload it than it is to write an eBook or write an app?

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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2 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

 

I assume because it's so much easier and quicker to take a photo, add some keywords and upload it than it is to write an eBook or write an app?

 

Mark


The may be true for ONE photo, but while an author needs only one book and an app developer only needs one app to generate a lot of money, a photographer needs quite a lot of photos.

The photographers who quickly take a photo and upload it to Alamy are a major problem. If you take photography seriously, you should invest some effort both in taking the photo and optimizing it with software of your choice.

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How about a higher percentage payment to anyone who has their images exclusive to Alamy, seems a fair way forward, 

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I can live with a negotiated commission of 40%. Hell, I can agree to 20% and I won't  care.

 

What I can't accept is changing an agreement so fundamentally after contributors have  made an agreement to give so many individual photographers have just been given a 20% pay cut. Effectively to announce to your contributor base that you can't be trusted to keep your word - something which is self-evidential because you've done this before.

 

Say what you like about the company structure, it is clear and obvious that the only people who will ever benefit from this are alamy's owners, however they dress it up in a calculated video or personalized forum comments.

 

I can't work with people I can't trust and I suspect many others here feel the same.

 

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So Alamy thinks it can grow it's business by damaging the relationship with it's suppliers? I really don't think there are many companies that can make that work.

 

As a supplier, now I have less income. So my products have to be reduced in value and/or reduced production. I really don't think there are very many suppliers that can increase their business based on reduced income.

 

I think Alamy is stepping onto the very slippery slope with this decision to reduce contributors royalties.

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4 hours ago, JeffGreenberg said:

I applaud JameW for creating this 2-way thread.

 

Senior management know fair and well that the threatened 'voting with our feet' simply will not happen, that the vast majority of contributors will swallow this and carry on.

 

Under belief that rate of new submissions starting yesterday sends a strong message, I am suspending submission of new images, only reprocessing existing images, if any

submitting is done.

 

 

As a semi-retired person (and professional photographer for 40 years), I currently have more time to devote to stock photography than I have had since I joined Alamy in 2004. My rate of submissions have increased dramatically in the last 2 years, along with my rate of sales and income (although it's not close to a living-wage by any means). For the first 11 months of this year, I worked hard to improve this situation and planned to do even more about it 2019. However, I can say that I have not felt more annoyed, disappointed and let-down by anything in years than I was by James West's @Alamy rambling and unconvincing video posted yesterday, basically informing us of his (in my view, totally misguided) decision to poop all-over his loyal contributors.

I sold my first photograph (a 10x8 B/W print) to a magazine at the end of the 1970's, for more than I got for an Alamy sale last week. But, I have continued to show my faith in the company, because I considered it to be more reputable and more concerned about contributors than many of its competitors. But, now, it's time for a change, I think.

 

When I sold that first image, there were only a few picture agencies around and they were extremely difficult to join. I remember selling a few 6x6cm transparencies to Tony Stone and others, but no one took me on as a regular contributor. So, I sold most of my work by direct contact with the "market" (book publishers, magazines, calendar companies etc). I spent many hours a week sending stiff-back envelopes with slide sheets and 10x8 prints all over the UK and abroad. The rest of the time was spent researching markets using 'Artists & Writers Year Book'; 'Photographer's Markets Annual' and the 'BFP' newsletters.

 

Things are much easier now. Buyers are contactable by email. Images can be submitted via the cloud and a simple URL link. So, it occurs to me: Why not go back to "knocking on doors"? Cut out the middle-man and make the initial contact with potential buyers myself? Maybe not all of the time, and maybe not exclusively, but enough for me to stop being upset that my loyalty to Alamy for the last 14 years was totally misplaced. Take back the reins and become an architect of my own stock photo destiny. If enough of us do that, James may re-think his decision. But, if he doesn't (as I expect), we may not care as much. 

 

Stephen Power

Associate Editor, Cameracraft Magazine

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Mark

 

 

Edited by M.Chapman
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43 minutes ago, Steve Valentia said:

Why not go back to "knocking on doors"? Cut out the middle-man and make the initial contact with potential buyers myself? Maybe not all of the time, and maybe not exclusively, but enough for me to stop being upset that my loyalty to Alamy for the last 14 years was totally misplaced.

My history in photography is exactly the same as yours, ten years later, though. Dealing direct becomes much more attractive as fees and percentages decline. It doesn't take many sales at all to match or exceed what Alamy has been doing lately. Several of my old customers seek me out now and then, willing to pay a decent fee of which I keep 100%. This is now a direction I will move in, as well as looking into other agencies.

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Just one more example of how the heart and soul of  the business, the photographers, are being being relegated to the bottom of the food chain. 

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Having had a look around, it seems to me that Alamy wants to be another SS.

I suspect that it won't be long before our Alamy percentage is reduced to 30%.  It's a better match to the competition.

So the bar to shopping around is now very low indeed.

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Today, I thank God I have uploaded to Alamy less than a thousand pictures from my 10-year-old over-20K-image port ... 
A company so desperate to spit so stupidly on the face on its most valuable asset, its contributors,  and at the same time not able to understand how "iconic" the 50/50 ratio, which had made up so much of its stunning success in the last 15 years actually is,  simply doesn't deserve my efforts, precious time, and hard work anymore. I suspect you are just a dead man (barely) walking.... Sorry, Alamy but that's what you really look like, now.

Edited by riccarbi
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2 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Mark

 

 

Great post.  West would do well to read it a few times...

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16 minutes ago, Reimar said:

Having had a look around, it seems to me that Alamy wants to be another SS.

I suspect that it won't be long before our Alamy percentage is reduced to 30%.  It's a better match to the competition.

So the bar to shopping around is now very low indeed.

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

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21 minutes ago, Reimar said:

Having had a look around, it seems to me that Alamy wants to be another SS.

I suspect that it won't be long before our Alamy percentage is reduced to 30%.  It's a better match to the competition.

So the bar to shopping around is now very low indeed.

 

James said as much (i.e., wanting to be another SS)  He wants Alamy to perhaps be a 1.5 tier 'agency' (or whatever you call it).  They're wanting the revenue of the Tier one MS agencies, and to get there they have to sell at prices competitive with them.   They've been edging toward that, apparently, for quite awhile.  That requires paying contributors as MS agencies pay theirs.   Not hard to figure that out.   It's not rocket surgery.

 

I expect they feel this is their only choice, and they may be right.  Perhaps they've gone too egalitarian both in their library and their contributor base to change that now. 

 

 

Edited by MilesbeforeIsleep

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6 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

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

Started searching myself. First one I read about has split same as Alamy currently. Suspect there are others. Noticed a sharp drop in fees here in the last month or two, so for now, the difference in fees isn't much of a factor. With the discounts here and the overly generous license terms (not policed), perhaps RM is fading away, at least at Alamy.

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1 minute ago, KevinS said:

Started searching myself. First one I read about has split same as Alamy currently. Suspect there are others. Noticed a sharp drop in fees here in the last month or two, so for now, the difference in fees isn't much of a factor. With the discounts here and the overly generous license terms (not policed), perhaps RM is fading away, at least at Alamy.

Too many people being taken in by the "they are all paying less" line - turns out they are not all paying less - there are those paying the same amount or more and also selling more at the same time.  We do, indeed, have options.  I want to  make sure as many readers as possible get to know that - because the more people who know it the more people are going to make better decisions about what is best for them.

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Mr. West,  

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

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8 minutes ago, KevinS said:

Mr. West,  

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

 

Neither did I.

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14 minutes ago, KevinS said:

Mr. West,  

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

Nor me - it feels I got a harder kick in the teeth.

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

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

 

If he had raised the photographer's commission to 60%, I would not have even noticed if he had clothes on.

 

In spite of my anger over his lower class sweater/jumper, I have today uploaded some new images that I had a lot of fun creating.

 

Bill
---------------

Check it out !!! https://www.alamy.com/portfolio/billbrooks/favourites.html

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