Photochain: Rewriting Rules For Monetizing Images

Posted on 5/9/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Photochain is raising funds to build a blockchain based stock image platform that is excepted to go live by the end of 2018.

Artists will be able to define the price for their work and receive “up to” 95% of the price they set (depending on the business model). The platform takes a commission to maintain the platform, and to offer support, marketing and other services.

Currently, they have a first prototype (demo site) which is based on the Ethereum Testnet. In this site, for demonstration purposes only, Photochain has used images from Pixabay (a site that hosts free Creative Commons Public Domain (CC0) photos) with the prices shown in the crypto currency Photon Token (PHT). For an ordinary user this can be a bit confusing.

The production version will allow photographers to set prices in USD, EUR or any other currency. No crypto-knowledge will be required in order to use the platform. In other words, even though the platform is blockchain based, images can be purchased simply with a credit card in the usual manner and the photographer will receive instant payment into his account, also in his selected currency.

Among the advantages the Photochain blockchain offers compared to traditional stock photo licensing is that the photographer will be able to set the price for the use his images and receive up to 95% of what the customer pays rather than the very small percent currently offered when selling through traditional stock agencies.

It is unclear whether each small transaction will be immediately credited to the photographer’s PayPal or bank account or credited to the photographer’s account at Photochain with a further requirement that a certain minimum be in that account before the money can be transferred to the photographer for actual use. If each small transaction of a few dollars is transferred to the photographer’s account separately the photographer may be forced to absorb significant bank charges.

In the fund raising offering they indicate they’ve raised around $4 million in token sales and hope to raise about $18 million. Of the money raised about 30% is expected to be used for marketing, 38% for IT development and infrastructure. In addition, they expect to use 4% for allocation to contributors and 4% for Co-operations with Photo Agencies. 4% of $18 million would be about $720,000.

In order to attract buyers Photochain intends to seed the platform with an initial purchase of stock images from photographers. Photographers interested in selling all rights to a collection of their images can contact Fredi Lienhardt at serqv@cubgbpunva.vb.

One of the challenges for photographers will be setting a single price for any use of a particular image. Typically, any given stock image may be licensed at a variety of different price points depending on who the customer is, the intended usage, the uniqueness of the image, the amount of time it takes the customer to find the right image, and the number of images needed. Set the price too high and you’ll probably make very few sales. Set it to low and you may give up a lot of revenue by making the image available inexpensively to certain customers who would be willing to pay a lot more. There is no indication as to whether customers will be able to narrow their searches to only those images in a certain price range. For more information see “Setting The Price” here.

There is no indication that one of Photochain’s major purpose is to carefully track all uses of each particular image, as is the case with many other blockchain offerings. Thus, there seems to be no reason why photographers should not place the same images on multiple other sites, non-exclusively, in order to maximize potential revenue.

One big question will be how effectively they will be able to compete against Getty Images, Shutterstock, iStock, AdobeStock and Alamy with so little resources for marketing. They should have a nice initial marketing fund, but 5% of revenue isn’t going to give them much to work with long term.

It is unclear whether “up to 95%” is likely to change quickly. It’s also unclear what (depending on the business model) means.

Copyright © 2018 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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, 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:  


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