Random Thoughts 132

Posted on 2/8/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



February 8, 2007

Will Flickr Enter Stock Photo Market?

Recently on CNN Stewart Butterfield, founder of Flickr, was asked why Flickr doesn't license rights to its pictures like iStockphoto. Butterfield answered, "that's something we haven't actually started yet but we've spent a long time thinking about it. Everyday we see people buying photos from Flickr users, and it's a very complicated, difficult and frustrating process for both sides. It's something we'll be looking at more closely and probably doing some stuff in the next year."

So will Flickr do it? They would have to develop a system to let users opt in or out as far as participation is concerned. Many might choose not to participate, but a significant number would. Any price is better than nothing so pricing is not an issue and photographers have little to lose. Flickr might need to develop a system to edit the offering to get rid of a lot of the images and raise the overall quality of those available for purchase, but that would still leave them with plenty of saleable images. Consider a subject area like "China". Getty has 14,891 images, iStock has 11,156 and Flickr has 1,236,884. If they only retained one out of every hundred images they would probably still have a very powerful offering.

They would have to offer the images as non-released and make the buyer liable if the image was used in a way that required a release. But there are many images where there is nothing to release (a city skyline or nature scene), and lots of potential uses where releases are not required.

If Flickr adds significantly to the available User Generated Content what will that do to the market?

User Generated Content

It seems to me that there is no long range way for photographers to make a living offering their images at micro payment prices. Portals will do alright because they get to keep 60% to 80% of the revenue generated and they have no cost of production. It's the individual photographer who is in trouble.

Consider the current return for photographers. iStockphoto has 11 million images on the site and last year about $20 million in revenue was generated. That averages out to less than $2 per image per year and the photographer gets 20% to 40% of that or $.40 to $.80 per image per year. The average photographer has 40 images on the site, but assume we had a photographer with 400 or 4,000 that's still a long way from making a living. A very few will make more and lots will make a lot less.

If your business is taking pictures be sure to factor in your costs. If you're marketing images at micropayment prices look at it as "supplemental income" and don't quit you're your day job.

YouTube To Share Revenue

YouTube founder Chad Hurley has announced that his team is working on a revenue-sharing mechanism that would "reward creativity" and enable video producers to earn some money when ads are attached to their videos. The system will be rolled out in a couple of months and be a mixture of short advertising clips to YouTube's more than 70 million users a month. The ads will be shown ahead of each actual film.

Only those who own the full copyright to the videos they upload will be allowed to participate in the revenue-sharing program. To make this work YouTube will have to find some way to be sure that ads are not attached to clips that include copyrighted content from TV shows, music videos or movies.

That could be a major problem if YouTube can't find some way to use image-recognition technology to identify the copyrighted material. If image-recognition doesn't work then YouTube might have to prescreen all the videos it is considering for use in the ad program. Anyway, the indications are that YouTube thinks they have a solution to the problem.

Digital Railroad Receives Additional Funding

Digital Railroad has received a $10 million in additional funding lead by London-based venture firm DN Capital. Existing investors Morgenthaler Ventures and Venrock Associates, who contributed $5.2 million in outside funding during June 2005, also contributed to this round.

Digital Railroad currently manages image collections of 800 photographers and more than 50 image distributors representing millions of both RM and RF images. Up to now it has been necessary to search each collection separately, but DR expects to launch a much anticipated site-wide search function called Marketplace before the then of the third quarter.

Marketplace customers will be able to search all collections with a single command making the current collection of individual sites a more useful tool for picture researchers trying to find the best available picture regardless of who produced it. It is expected that the thousands of customers who already purchase images from individual DR collections will find Marketplace a welcome addition.

Initially Digital Railroad was focused toward the editorial side of the business, but has now expanded its offering of RM and RF images giving it a more balanced collection of commercial and editorial images.

Mark Ippolito who has served in senior positions at PhotoDisc and Getty Images has been hired as Vice President of Sales for Marketplace.

Midwestock Closes Doors

Midwestock is in the process of closing down its operation and expects to return all transparencies to photographers no later than March 2nd. After that time they will begin referring clients directly to the photographer whose image the client seeks.

Susan Anderson started the business 15 years ago and it evolved from a file cabinet full of 35mm images to dozens of cabinets and eventually cd's and hard-drives storing hundreds of thousands of carefully selected images.

Anderson said, "While a wide variety of factors weighed heavily into our decision, in the end, it can simply be said we are ready to move on to new challenges outside the realm of stock photography. Please wish us well and know we will finish up this final stage of business with the same professionalism you have grown to expect from Midwestock."

Getty Offers Creative Research To All Image Producers

Getty's Creative Research team has decided to make public much of its research into the kind of images that are currently needed. They have just offered for purchase the first "MAP" (Make A Picture) report for US$750 or UK£400. You can get more information by going to: www. http://creative.gettyimages.com/source/classes/FrameSet.aspx?&pk=7. They have also made a couple samples from the report available free of charge for those who go to: http://corporate.gettyimages.com/marketing/map/index.html.

The data in the report is the result of examining over 2,500 advertising tear-sheets from around the world and surveying 500 advertising, design and marketing professionals. The team has also evaluated image searches by 1.4 million customers on gettyimages.com, as well as 50,000 picture research requests and 120 re-branding exercises facilitated over a 12-month period.

The first MAP report deals with the subject of women in the work-place and offers Getty's take on cultural trends and how they will shape visual language in the future.

Boughn Joins Dreamstime

Ellen Boughn has joined Dreamstime.com as Content Director. Boughn was the founder of After-Image in Los Angeles more than 25 years ago and later sold her company to Tony Stone Images. She has held executive positions at Corbis, Workbook Stock, Artville, Punchstock, Uppercut Images, and most recently at a21's SuperStock.

Dreamstime expects Ellen's expertise and direction to bring a traditional facet to the Dreamstime.com community in photographer recruitment, creative collections, editorial content and overall community relations. Her primary initiative will be to bring elements from the conventional side of the business and effectively combine them with the current, contemporary, technologically savvy systems already in place. In addition to her concentration on sharpening the infrastructure of the site, she will also assist in forming alliances with customers and companies from the traditional sector of the business.

"Dreamstime.com is a company that has demonstrated a passionate commitment to its contributors and users, is steadfast and innovative and is characterized by its high degree of integrity and respect for its partners. Dreamstime.com is an incubator for emerging talent and technology that captures the energy and intelligence of its users in a fresh and supportive fashion," said Boughn. "I am pleased to be able to bring my experience in the traditional business to this exciting contemporary company in a reciprocated learning and growing environment."

Dreamstime has offices in Brentwood, Tennessee and Bucharest, Romania. In addition the company has more than 250,000 customers around the globe, more than 10,000 current contributors and is fast approaching one million images.

Copyright © 2007 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 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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