International Stock

Posted on 1/10/1997 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

61

International Stock


January 10, 1997

Any serious stock photographer must consider the international market for their
work. Over 50% of the market for stock photography is outside US borders, and
many US photographers make much more than 50% of their stock income from foreign
sales.

One of the most interesting developments in the past year was a meeting of
stock agents in New York after Viscomm. This meeting was organized by PACA and
agents from around the world were invited in the first attempt to share
information. More than 155 agencies were represented by 260 individuals.

This meeting was closed to the press and to U.S. agencies who are not PACA
members. It is my understanding that many details of what took place in the
meeting were shared with PDN, but not other members of the press. I strongly
recommend that you watch PDN for a report on this meeting as any insights you
can obtain may be very valuable in your future marketing strategies.

According to our sources a few of the issues that were discussed in this
meeting were:

  • The fact that many photographers have similar images with many different
    agencies around the world may soon become a very big problem as electronic
    promotion, online research and delivery of images begin to tear down the
    traditional system of "sales territories."

It is unclear how this will affect "sub-agency" licensees of large agencies.
Many large agencies are moving aggressively to actually own their foreign
offices. (However, once the office is owned that doesn't mean their
photographers get a better percentage. In most cases photographers still get
30%.)

The general assumption seemed to be that eventually the major producing
agencies would provide images to many of the world's customers through central
file servers and thus eliminate the agent-licensee structure. However, the
general conclusion was that full adoption of such a delivery system will take
many years giving the regional licensing agencies time to adjust.

  • It was felt that there would always be a place for the small local operations
    because they would always draw certain customers because of their strong
    coverage of regional photo subjects. The small agencies will need to examine
    whether they can sustain a business on the demand for "regional subjects" alone,
    or whether the uniqueness of their file when compared to the files of the major
    agencies will be enough to continue to draw sufficient clients.
  • Rights control is one way "traditional stock" can distinguish itself from
    royalty-free images. Expect to see much more emphasis on exclusives so the
    agencies can offer rights control. At the same time it was pointed out that
    many of the agencies promoting rights control don't really have effective
    tracking systems in place.
  • It was reported that in the United Kingdom (one of the major world centers
    for book publishing) the book publishers seem to be united in NOT being able to
    relate what they see on the computer screen to what will appear on the printed
    page. They prefer lightboxes and loupes and view digital search and delivery
    with dread. Expect this segment of the market to be very slow to accept the new
    technologies. At the same time they don't want to pay enough for usage to make
    it economical for agencies to continue to do research in the old ways.
  • 85% of PACA members say sales are on the increase with 11% reporting
    slippage, and 4% suggesting little or no change. Reproduction fees are climbing
    for 35% of the agencies and flat for 53%. 32% of PACA members said royalty-free
    images have had some effect on their business.


Copyright © 1997 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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