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9 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

paying big dividends to the Directors

No. I don't know why some people want to perpetuate this myth.

Directors' remuneration 2012-£567691

Directors' remuneration 2018-£644780. It hasn't even kept up with inflation.

Edited by spacecadet

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On 12/01/2020 at 18:13, spacecadet said:

No. I don't know why some people want to perpetuate this myth.

Directors' remuneration 2012-£567691

Directors' remuneration 2018-£644780. It hasn't even kept up with inflation.

 

Myth? I'm talking about dividends. I think these aren't included in the Director's remuneration figures. The major shareholders are Alamy's Directors. 2013 was the first year a dividend was paid. The change in contributor commission from 60 to 50% in 2013 coincided with the introduction of dividends. Since 2013 this change in commission has netted Alamy around £12M extra. If my calculations are right, over the same period more than half of this amount has been invested (loans or shares) in Manything Systems Ltd or paid out in dividends. Here are the dividends.

 

Year    Dividend

2012    £0

2013    £862,722

2014    £513,600

2015    £128,400

2016    £410,520

2017    £423,313

2018    £782,612

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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Alamy and it's contributors want to preserve premium licence fees. But the only way to achieve this, in a highly competitive market, is by offering a premium product or customer experience. At the moment I fear Alamy isn't doing this. They are just adding more and more images, saleable or not, badly keyworded or not, with colour profile stripped and of decreasing minimum resolution (MP). Since I joined they have reduced the minimum image size requirement from around 16MP to 8MP to 6MP. They have mixed in mobile phone images, and it's now clear they convert any submitted images to sRGB.

 

I wonder what would happen if Alamy introduced a new section "Alamy premium". This would be a curated collection of top quality, high resolution images with AdobeRGB or even ProPhoto RGB colour space profiles?

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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Mark, having worked in agencies myself back in the day, it's been my experience that what adds value for a customer isn't always technical, photographic perfection. A premium collection might mean something very different to buyers. At agencies where it presently exists, it means more commercial, more trendy, and higher production values. Those things will absolutely get a small group of commercial buyers to spend more. It's unlikely that the secondary editorial customers that most Alamy contributors seek to work with would care at all about these things.

 

What really kills me is the way that the stock photo industry as a whole has just walked away from the high-end of the media business. For those of us with commercial backgrounds, this was both lucrative and intensely creative. It's all gone now.

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It doesn't sound like it based on what I just wrote, but I would love to see Alamy create a premium collection - if for no other reason than to see what the Alamy crew considers to be "premium." Back in the days of paper catalogs, it was easy to tell what a given agency treasured. Not anymore.

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When I year or so ago I mentioned that Alamy is becoming a microstock agency and we are contributing to it I was "hissed off". But the truth is:

1) Alamy is becoming a microstock agency by dropping prices. Just got two sales for $3 each... RF, full size. Really? $3 for a full size image? Tell me that's not microstock prices.

2) We are contributing to it by uploading tons of mediocre photos. Yes, yes, I know that famous story about kitchen sink photo. But in fact - that's a typical microstock approach, whether you like it or not. You just too afraid to admit it.

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2 hours ago, Brian Yarvin said:

John, now that you've said that, you've got the challenge of convincing the photographers who are thriving in the micro world and who've flopped at Alamy that your point of view is the correct one. This is no small challenge.

 

And Ian, no not at all. Flooding an agency with images it can't sell won't make them sell and won't have any real impact on the agencies that are selling. You and I have both seen this before. If you want images to generate revenue, you've got to put them where they can be seen by people who are actually paying.

 

Once of the basics of stock photography is that the demand for images is completely unrelated to the supply. Adding a million or a hundred million images of the London Eye won't increase the number of (paying) requests for that subject. The reverse works too. If you remove a hundred million images of a given topic, you won't have any effect on the number of requests either.

 

 

 

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, just pointing out that the microstock business model takes advantage of photographers, even if they are thriving.  À chacun son goût, as the French say.  I actually placed some images with a certain "tier one" MS agency as an experiment. I'm debating whether or not to remove them now or wait for the unlikely possibility that I'll hit the payment threshold one day.  I now realize that in the microstock game, you have to either go whole hog or not at all. Personally, I'd rather keep "soldiering on" here FBFW.

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14 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

 

Myth? I'm talking about dividends.

My mistake. But I still don't know what your point is. Profitable businesses reward their investors.

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3 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

My mistake. But I still don't know what your point is. Profitable businesses reward their investors.

 

 

That must be why they needed 'my' $800 that I lost in 2019 through sales as a result of the exclusivity changes. 

 

At the time there was some mention that this additional revenue would fund improvements that contributors would benefit from.

 

I don't begrudge Alamy directors being rewarded but......I expect you can guess the rest.................

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On 13/01/2020 at 09:30, spacecadet said:

But I still don't know what your point is. Profitable businesses reward their investors.

 

It's as stated in my earlier post "If Alamy had used more of the funds it generated by cutting the photographer's commission since 2013 to grow the business and create more unique selling points (rather than funding Manything Systems Ltd and paying big dividends to the Directors) maybe they could have resisted the slide?"

 

Since 2013 the cut in contributor's commission has generated £12M extra for Alamy, around £4M has been loaned to and invested in Manything Systems Ltd (now Videoloft Ltd.) and £3M paid in dividends. Leaving around £5M to grow the business and donate to charitable causes etc. I was just pondering what might have been the effect if more had been used to grow the business and develop more unique selling points.

 

Mark

 

Edited by M.Chapman
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A big jump in dividends has twice coincided with a cut in commission, strange that!.

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31 minutes ago, BobD said:

A big jump in dividends has twice coincided with a cut in commission, strange that!.

 

 

Unfortunately, I think our CEO's entrepreneurial energies are drawn to newer horizons and Alamy is essentially a cash cow that is a useful form of revenue but not something that is regarded as worth developing too much further. I expect that the senior figures at Alamy, like us, also despair at the direction that the stock industry is moving in and realise that there is not all that much that they can do about it. Or at least that the cost of trying 'to do something' can't be justified and that it is better to sit tight.

Edited by geogphotos

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23 minutes ago, BobD said:

A big jump in dividends has twice coincided with a cut in commission, strange that!.

No.

The commission cut was made after the 2018 accounts were filed.

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3 hours ago, spacecadet said:

No.

The commission cut was made after the 2018 accounts were filed.

??

 

Alamy's 2018 Accounts weren't submitted until late September 2019. Commission cut was announced in Dec 2018 with effect from Feb 2019.

I guess the critical date is when did they pay (or decide to pay) the dividend? Just after they announced the rate cut?

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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10 hours ago, geogphotos said:

Unfortunately, I think our CEO's entrepreneurial energies are drawn to newer horizons

 

Unfortunately, if those "newer horizons" are Manything Systems Ltd, they seem to be really struggling. It's normal expect startup losses, but at the moment the losses just keep rising and are now approaching £1M / year. On the bright side sales are rising (£549K in 2018 versus £376K in 2017), and there's good gross profit margin on those sales (75%). But the distribution costs (£341K in 2018 and £330K in 2017) and administration costs (£1,046K in 2018 and £871K in 2017) are currently turning the good margin on sales into thumping operating losses (-£979K in 2018 and -£913K in 2017).

 

Just have to hope that Manything Systems Ltd grow into a profitable business so that Alamy can get a return on the £4M they've invested in them in loans and shares. Hopefully when Alamy get a return they can invest more in their stock photo business, (and restore our commission - here's hoping!!).  

 

For those interested, Manything Systems Ltd (now called Videoloft) annual accounts can be found here and their website is here

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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On 12/01/2020 at 14:56, Brian Yarvin said:

Mark, having worked in agencies myself back in the day, it's been my experience that what adds value for a customer isn't always technical, photographic perfection. A premium collection might mean something very different to buyers. At agencies where it presently exists, it means more commercial, more trendy, and higher production values. Those things will absolutely get a small group of commercial buyers to spend more. It's unlikely that the secondary editorial customers that most Alamy contributors seek to work with would care at all about these things.

 

What really kills me is the way that the stock photo industry as a whole has just walked away from the high-end of the media business. For those of us with commercial backgrounds, this was both lucrative and intensely creative. It's all gone now.

 

At one time clients would lease one high priced high production value, creative, still stock image for print. Today clients lease 100 images for the internet for the same project. The cost to the client is the same, but the total stock photo buy is spread over the 100 internet images.

 

The client is not spending less money. There is probably more money spent on still stock images today than ever before, because there are many more still stock images leased than ever before.

 

Part of my solution is not to resist low prices, but to increase the number of low priced images leased. So I sign up at Alamy for absolutely everything, and I try to create better images.

 

All of the high production value, high price, creative photography, has fled to videos on assignment for music, documentaries, television commercials, and drama.

 

Clients have abandoned premium still stock. They do not need it for the internet.

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I know I am going to get some stick for this post.

 

From what I can see from the above there seems to be some supposition going on,  but I know, from the horses mouth (so to speak),  that Alamy still does have the contributors welfare at heart and is constantly working to get the best it can for us.

 

All of the above comments are placing a lot of undeserved false negativity on Alamys head.

 

So, in the nicest possible way,  if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

 

Allan

 

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1 hour ago, Allan Bell said:

So, in the nicest possible way,  if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

 

Seriously??

 

So why not share some of the information you gained from the Cambridge meeting (which you declined to do in the other thread). I'd be delighted to hear some more about the initiatives Alamy is undertaking to grow the business and maintain licence fees. At the moment my negativity (sorry) is based on falling licence fees, cuts in my commission and subsequent increases in dividends. I know that Alamy (like all stock agencies) are under severe pressure, but it would be great to hear what Alamy are doing to grow the business (and at least maintain our income), if not via the attendees at the Cambridge meeting, from Alamy themselves.. Their current strategy seems to largely focus on adding more and more images... it would be good to hear about other initiatives. Without information there's a risk of supposition taking over.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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1 hour ago, Allan Bell said:

I know I am going to get some stick for this post.

 

From what I can see from the above there seems to be some supposition going on,  but I know, from the horses mouth (so to speak),  that Alamy still does have the contributors welfare at heart and is constantly working to get the best it can for us.

 

All of the above comments are placing a lot of undeserved false negativity on Alamys head.

 

So, in the nicest possible way,  if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

 

Allan

 

 

 

Hi Alan,

 

Please share the positivity. I could certainly do with some. 

 

I can't help feeling rather negative from time to time so could do with some good news.

 

It is isn't so much the 'heat' in the kitchen that is getting to me, more my falling income.

 

Thanks in anticipation

 

Ian

 

 

 

 

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This is a depressing thread, particularly as I have only recently started doing this. I only have 72 images up, which is nothing I know, but to think it is largely going to be useless in returns makes me feel less enthusiastic about the whole thing. I've not sold one image either, not sure what I'm doing wrong ... clearly something!

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3 minutes ago, Chris1603 said:

This is a depressing thread, particularly as I have only recently started doing this. I only have 72 images up, which is nothing I know, but to think it is largely going to be useless in returns makes me feel less enthusiastic about the whole thing. I've not sold one image either, not sure what I'm doing wrong ... clearly something!

 

Chris, you have some decent images - you aren't doing anything wrong! It's just that 72 images is a drop in the Alamy ocean.

 

John.

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18 minutes ago, Chris1603 said:

This is a depressing thread, particularly as I have only recently started doing this. I only have 72 images up, which is nothing I know, but to think it is largely going to be useless in returns makes me feel less enthusiastic about the whole thing. I've not sold one image either, not sure what I'm doing wrong ... clearly something!

 

Some nice images, but captions and keywords need some attention

e.g.

M3MRMN has no children in it. I think you may have keyworded/captioned another image whilst this one was still selected - easy to do in Alamy Image manger.

 

Don't expect sales to come quickly, it can take time and you need many more images.

 

Mark

 

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15 hours ago, Chris1603 said:

Thank you - will check them tomorrow!

One thing you will hear many times - this is a marathon not a sprint.

Numbers do count in this game - yes there are exceptional photographers with tiny ports who make money but they are generally working in a  niche or are simply exceptional photographers with ability above the normal and for the vast majority of us it is a case of getting as many quality photos up as we can because the guy with 1000 images will do better than the one with 100 (and think 10000 and above to be serious)

It is also worth having an honest conversation with yourself about what you are doing this for and what your expectations are.  If you want to make money without having to do a lot then it is not going to happen.  If you produce photos as a side effect of a hobby and figure it is better to have them up here where they might get seen rather than on your hard drive where they wont then you are fine.  If you hope for the odd bit of pin money from doing so then cool.  If you actually want to turn this into a viable living income then you are going to have to work your ass off in not just photography but in marketing, understanding demand etc etc just the same as you would have to work your ass off in any other job.  It will mean boring tedious stuff you really do not want to bother with, there will be times you feel every creative cell in your body is being formulaed to death as you work on what is demanded by the market not what you like taking.  And you are unlikely to get seriously rich.

If you have short term money goals you are going to lose motivation and drop out - if you have a proper long term adaptable view then you will stick it and maybe just maybe will see a return.

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