31 Dec 2009 This Month in Microstock – December 2009

In contrast to last month, December was full of action in the microstock market.

iStockphoto New Pricing and Exclusivity Changes

Dangling Carrot stock photoiStockphoto announced price rises for all exclusive content, an intermediate collection (called Exclusive-Plus, for now) where exclusive contributors can sell up to 20% of their portfolio at even higher prices, and changes to the quantity of sales required to reach higher canister levels. Prices for larger sizes of the main collection will be slightly reduced. All the details are in the iStockphoto discussion thread.

As usual, hot debate has ensued and the response is mixed. Many exclusive contributors are concerned sales volume will drop now that their prices are so much higher than non-exclusive content. Buyers will not be able to exclude higher priced content from the search results.

Many non-exclusive iStockphoto contributors see exclusivity as more appealing than before the changes, which is one of the explicit intentions of these announcements. Given their selling power and the search result boost given to exclusive files, iStockphoto exclusivity is indeed now a more appealing option.

Dreamstime New Pricing

Dreamstime announced new credit prices, raising the price and thus the commission for contributors. They’re also changing the quantity of downloads required for each file to reach the next pricing level, effectively raising prices and commissions even further. Contributor response has been understandably positive.

Fotolia New Pricing

Fotolia, persisting with their don’t-announce-negative-news strategy, quietly cut contributor commission rates for all but contributors on the highest level (of which there is only one). Prices for sizes above extra small will rise by 1 or 2 credits, making the net revenue per sale higher, despite the commission cuts, for sales of most sizes for most contributors. Fotolia still pays higher commission rates than many other top microstock agencies, but contributor response to the persistent cuts is consistently negative despite the agencies rapidly growing selling power.

Veer Guarantee

Following the trend set by Vivozoom and continued by iStockphoto and Shutterstock, Veer have this month added a guarantee to their Veer Marketplace microstock collection.

StockXpert Now 100% Getty Owned

Getty Images purchased the remaining 10% of Haap Media, the company that owns microstock agency StockXpert. They acquired 90% as part of the Jupterimages acquisition late last year. Previous owner and StockXpert creator, Peter Hamza, is melancholic about the end of the StockXpert era but already working on his next project.

Zymmetrical Closes

Announced on 30th, Zymmetrical, the “Fair Trade” microstock agency is closed for business. Contributors were all sent their outstanding balance as their final payout. CEO, Keith Tuomi, cited the hard situation of the stock industry and the economy in general as reasons for the venture’s failure.

  • Natalia
    Posted at 13:42h, 01 January Reply

    Regarding Zymmetrical, it is necessary to point out, that they were more concentrated on adding more crappy functionality to their web-site rather than on attracting buyers. Yet another LuckyOliver-like failure because of pretty irresponsible attitude to business in general and in particular to contributors who spent their time on struggling with new bugs that appeared after each update of the interface (happened regularly each ~1-2 months). No regret. Good riddance!

    • Keith Tuomi
      Posted at 15:26h, 09 January Reply

      Natalia is the only artist/business supplier I have had to ban while doing business online since 1991.

      At first we thought it was some secret “Extra Rudeness” checkbox in the Google Translate she is using to communicate, however it is clear she is among the most unprofessional and sociopathic people I have had the displeasure of dealing with. A classic indicator as to why agencies are giving sellers less and less, brave people behind computer screens who treat small businesses like some people treat Government Services Office employees – people that are just their to serve them and receive abuse.

      I’ll give you a hint: “the customer is always right” does not apply to suppliers and business partners.

      We tried to avoid having a call-center approach to member relations and unfortunately the extreme minority of people like Natalia (well, just her basically) seem to thrive on the fact they can get a real, live reaction from putting people down.

      Upon having enough of her unprofessional conduct, we temporarily suspended her account and and paid out the $4.90 owed to her. This did was simply a suspension, maintaining her portfolio and expended effort until such time that she could act like an adult and stop calling our staff names. She immediately posted on the Microstockgroup that we “closed her account” and that we are “defaming” her – a pretty great charge as she is the one who published the (misleading) info.

      If you enjoy swearing, insults, false bug reports, arguments about image review decisons, etc. then I highly recommend letting this woman “contribute” to your agency.

      Natalia, I may remind you that while Zymmetrical “the site” is gone, the business continues. If you would like a no-expenses paid trip to Beautiful British Columbia, to answer charges of libel in the provincial court, you can continue on your personal vendetta to poison every reference regarding Zymmetrical.

  • Krzysztof
    Posted at 00:47h, 03 January Reply

    Regarding Dreamstime, contributors commission was LOWERED from 50% to 30%. Many contributors, included me, were not happy about it. The problem is that only “positive” comments stay on DT forum, others are deleted.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 01:41h, 03 January Reply

      No, the current commissions range from 30% to 50%, but yes, they have been lowered. However, at the same time, prices were raised and the levels changed so that images earn more with fewer sales. Plus, Dreamstime still pay the highest commissions and are the only agency to allow individual photos to earn more, not specific photographers/portfolios. I totally understand people get upset with changes like this, but I think you time would be more productive protesting agencies who are less generous than Dreamstime.

      Regarding the removal of negative forum comments – I totally understand this. It’s their business and their customers see those comments too. There are independent forums where you can speak freely about the agencies, but doing so on the agency’s own forum just isn’t cool, in my view.

    • Serban Enache
      Posted at 11:34h, 04 January Reply

      Krysztof, no posts were moderated in the thread and the feedback was 100% positive. The royalties adjustment was done in fall 2009.

      While the royalty cut was done gradually in order to avoid any impact, this latest news represents an increase in royalties (thanks to the levels update). Lee already commented this in his article. If you want me to clarify anything feel free to leave a comment to any of my photos.

      Official thread here: http://www.dreamstime.com/thread_19813

  • Lorraine Swanson
    Posted at 19:58h, 03 January Reply

    On their forum DT has stated that the new credits pricing will come into effect next week. I am particularily pleased that many of my photos will be elevated to level 3 & 4 status, and that I should see a lot more means subs paying 70 cents and up. Sure beats 25 cents 🙂

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