Editor's Note: James West, CEO of Alamy, provided a detailed explanation of the company's Alamy Permium Account strategy on the Alamy blog. For more information about this read our story published last week and contributor comments on the Alamy blog.
Alamy Premium Accounts
I'd like to clarify some facts behind a couple of reports that are out there that have caused some to comment on our (and other) forums. Someone has posted an email from one of our sales agents to a customer.
Here's the bit of the email that is causing all the trouble:
"Regarding photo rates we're working on a new package called the Alamy Premium Account, the benefits are:
* $49 (US) per image
* Unlimited repeat below the line use over 10 years, worldwide*
* Un-watermarked "try before you buy" downloads
* No print run/impression limitations
* Unrestricted file size (typically 50MB)
* 22 million images available on www.alamy.com/bespoke and growing
* No credits, subscriptions or volume commitments
* Unlimited shared access to your library of purchases
* No differentiation between Royalty-free and Rights Managed images
*definition of below the line: direct mail and collateral, email and PDF, corporate websites and intranet, presentations, public relations, event programmes, sales giveaways, annual reports, office décor, company handbooks, training docs."
There have been some misinformed comments about this as unfortunately a number of people published it before checking with us first - and this has not been helped by someone using my name making comments that I would never have made.
This particular deal says use it for anything you like, within your industry,
as often as you like, for ten years, but not for advertising
(because you have to pay more for that).
This is just one example of a number of deals we are testing the market with. Some deals are priced at $49, some at $99, some at $199, some in the high thousands.
We have control over every aspect of each offer. Unwatermarked 'try before you buy' downloads, for example, are only available for customers we can trust with such a feature. We hand pick the customers who have this feature enabled and we keep a close eye on their download activity.
"No differentiation between Royalty-free and Rights Managed images" - this is salespersonspeak for the same terms apply to all the images on Alamy, regardless of their normal license designation. A Royalty Free image bought under this scheme is only useable for the terms set out in the deal.
These deals narrow the usage rights available under a traditional RF license in exchange for simplifying the purchasing experience for the customer. It is not, contrary to some reports out there, rebadging RM as RF. These are Rights Managed licenses, no different from any other kind of broad license we've been selling for years to educational publishers, to name just one example, to cover multiple editions, languages, etc.
The price on offer in each case depends on our analysis of the following:
• The scope and range of usages the customer requires
• The likelihood of those usages being used to maximum capacity
• The impact of microstock in the sector the customer belongs to
In practically all cases, unless the entry-level price is already high enough, we are withholding high value advertising rights from these deals. These are usually negotiated separately or built into a high all-encompassing price.
We have found examples of large consumers of photography who are limiting themselves to mircrostock sites because a. they can't deal with the headache of policing the usage of Rights Managed images across a large distributed marketing teams and b. they are buying such large volumes of imagery (thanks to the explosion of digital platforms) that even conventionally priced royalty free imagery is deemed too expensive.
Our trials have shown that we can cannibalise microstock market share at a much higher price point. Too good to be true? It gets better - some of these customers have been upgrading their premium account purchases for expensive advertising usages.
To put the significance of this trial in perspective - we are working on dozens of news ideas at the moment but only one of them, Premium Accounts, is about pricing. Everything else we're working on is about making searching on Alamy better and faster for picture buyers. Premium Accounts make up less than 1% of our revenues.
There is no opt in/opt out available for this. You can, of course, opt out of Alamy whenever you like. We provide the marketplace and set the ground rules, but it is entirely your decision as to whether you want to participate or not.
I want to sell as many of your pictures as possible for the highest price possible. By giving us your pictures you are entrusting us to make a judgement over what price the market will bear. We have been licensing content for 10 years. We are really good at it. If you are unhappy with what we are doing and you don't like our explanation, I completely respect your judgement if you decide your pictures will do better someplace else.
For an independent view of this issue you might also want to check out the article here. Here's an extract from the author and stock industry veteran, Jim Pickerell:
'RM pricing is not a way to protect the value of images. All RM means is that the price is negotiable. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the seller will receive a high price for his work. When you have a negotiable price it can be set at any level on which a willing seller and a willing buyer agree. The buyer sets the price if there is no price so low that the seller will walk away. However, if the seller takes a stand, walks away, and the majority of buyers are unwilling to pay the seller’s price the seller may be quickly driven out of business.' (You'll need to pay a small fee to read the whole article but good content, as we all know, is worth paying for.)