Crowd-Sourcing Wakes Up West

Posted on 8/8/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

"As more artists feel empowered by technology, they have expanding opportunities to sell their content," said Avi Zvi, CEO of Ofer Media, an Israeli private-equity and investment firm that finances media, entertainment and Internet companies. Ofer Media just funded a community-based Web site, which joins other micro-payment audio and music Web sites by giving amateur musicians a platform to sell music to advertisers and entertainment producers.

The crowd-sourcing trend continues, and new permutations emerge in the process. Those who object to the crowd-sourcing premise of YouLicense, iStockphoto or eLance on ethical grounds can take a look at the online communities of Pixish and the newer crowdSPRING.

Pixish allows companies to list requests and rewards, often no more than the poster's undying gratitude, and photographers compete for a chance to be published. crowdSPRING does the same for graphic designers, though assignments usually offer minimal financial compensation.

Both Pixish and crowdSPRING have taken heat from industry watchdogs unhappy with a business premise being rooted in speculative creative. Multiple contributors complete or nearly complete each posted assignment, and a client chooses and pays for one submission. The anti-spec position is particularly prevalent among graphic designers, who often say that the premise is analogous to asking several accountants to handle your taxes, then paying only the one who produces the largest refund check.

Still, there are currently 160 submissions to a logo project for Palermo Suites, which describes itself as "a large-scale super-chic private members club based in Buenos Aires" and offers to pay the winner $400 for a new logo. While this may be insulting to a Los Angeles-based designer, those living in Bangladesh, Taiwan or the former Soviet bloc live in very different economies. Empowered by technology and now competing at the global level, these people are the reason the ethics-based argument against royalty-free stock and the current outrage with microstock are irrelevant outside Western cultures.

This does not diminish the tough financial position that many professional photographers are in, but it does put it in context. Clients could always find someone to do it cheaper; now, price has become even less of a factor. Photographers and other artists in developing countries are getting a chance to earn a better living; corporations are getting a budgetary break; professionals in industrialized countries are losing a revenue stream.

This transformation has happened in many industries, notably computer programming and customer service. The number of new community-based business launches in the creative industries suggests the trend will continue.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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