11 Jun 2008 Choose Microstock or Macrostock or Both
I’ve previously written about the opportunities for microstock photographers to enter the macrostock market. From what I hear, many photographers are doing so. But do you list the same images as you have in the microstock market? And if not, how do you decide which images go into each market?
Most microstock photographers are already aware of this, but it’s worth mentioning again for those new to the market. Microstock agencies use Royalty Free licenses by necessity. However, the macrostock market supports both Royalty Free and Rights Managed license models, which are not compatible with each other. Once an image has been sold with a Royalty Free license it cannot be sold with a Rights Managed license. Microstock photographers venturing into the macrostock market need to ensure they don’t list any images as Rights Managed if the same image is listed Royalty Free anywhere else.
Listing Photos in Both Markets
Most photographers that I speak to post their best performing images in both markets. Alamy, for example, currently don’t prohibit listing images that are available in the microstock market. Many photographers take advantage of this and post either their entire microstock portfolio on Alamy, or just their better selling photos.
Buyers who later find images they purchased at macrostock prices for sale at a microstock agency are understandably upset. Nobody is happy to see something they just bought for $300 available elsewhere for just $3.
Some microstock contributors employ the strategy of deleting their photos from microstock agencies when they sell for the first time at a macrostock agency. This tactic ensures they don’t waste images that would never sell in the macrostock market, and eliminates the risk that the macrostock buyer finds the same image in the microstock market – assuming they delete the image fast enough.
Understandably, macrostock agencies are not happy to have their customers risk buying images that are available from a competitor for a fraction of the price. Unlike Alamy, many require that contributors don’t contribute images that are available elsewhere at lower prices, or below a certain price point. Last week, PhotoShelter amended the contributor agreement for their PhotoShelter Collection prohibiting the listing any images which are available elsewhere for less than their minimum license price of $50.
These agreement restrictions are common enough to force contributors serious about participating in both markets to divide their portfolios into two groups, one for each market. While there is no shortage of microstock agencies, there’s only a few macrostock agencies that have open contributions: Alamy, PhotoShelter Collection, Inmagine and Fotolia’s Infinite Collection for their Emerald level contributors.
An Open Market
The evolution of the stock photography market has reached the point where contributors can sell their images at a full range of prices, from a single dollar to thousands of dollars. It’s no longer a challenge to find outlets to sell your photos at different price points. The current challenge is sorting which images go into which segment of the market for maximum return.