27 Jul 2015 LifetimeStock – The Company You’ve Never Heard of Who’s Number One in Microstock
I recently came across a very interesting microstock business. They’re called LifetimeStock, and they’re primarily a producer of stock photos. There’s a lot that makes them interesting, but the biggest factor is that their weekly ranking on Fotolia hovers between 1 and 5.
LifetimeStock is the newest venture by serial entrepreneur, investor, and tech developer Konrad Musial.
Other startups on Musial’s resume include YesSoftware, which provides web development tools; the CMS theme design tools Artisteer and Themler, and other products developed by partners, like billionphoto.com. Musial describes these businesses as working together in an incubator.
The other co-founders of LifetimeStock are Ukraine-based entrepreneur Oleg Dudko, founder of billionphoto.com and in charge of European operations; and Las Vegas-based photographer Adam Shane, VP of Photography. They conceived of this project when they noticed how many users of their web design tools required stock images to complete their designs. Instead of directing their users to outside stock agencies, they saw an opportunity to build and promote their own catalog.
LifetimeStock will provide images to the other “incubator” businesses as well as distributing to microstock agencies and selling directly through their new website, which is currently in beta. Of a total staff of nearly 100, they have around 50 employees working on the image side of the business, plus freelancers and temporary employees working on image production and processing.
The company has been developing this business for 4 years now, having invested $3M to date. They currently have over 250,000 images, though only 58,000 of them are with microstock agencies so far; here you can check their Fotolia (ranking in the top 5) and Shutterstock portfolios.
Their production includes both photos and illustrations, including cutout images in PNG format with transparency. As you can see on their website, this is very ‘stocky’ content, which is a deliberate style decision. Most of their photos—100,000 of them—are isolated people, animals and objects, the most commonly used types of images for app and web development. They also have a lot of images of drinks with semi-transparency on the glass. Illustrations are mostly conceptual, intended for bloggers to illustrate their topics.
All of LifetimeStock’s imagery was produced in-house in Las Vegas and Ukraine. Although right now most of the images are from their USA studio, they expect to end up with an equal volume of photos from each base, plus some smaller selections coming from their offices in Poland, Russia, and India. They also plan to add 3D models to their production.
They seem to offer a wider variety of options for designers and creatives. Masked Photoshop images, 36 megapixel textures, and photos up to 500 megapixels are some of the features available on their site. They also provide an interactive photo editing tool that allows customers to combine multiple images, crop them, and apply Instagram style filters before downloading them.
The Distribution Strategy
LifetimeStock uses the typical microstock subscription model for their direct sales business, offering a limited subscription at $9.99 per month, with 33 daily downloads and limited resolution. A higher tier at $239.88 a year offers 100 daily downloads and full-resolution files.
They sell images directly via their website and have an API to make the collection available inside other apps. And they will continue selling through the microstock channels.
One to Watch
Beneath the interesting statistics of LifetimeStock lies a massive undertaking in stock image production. Few producers have made such an investment in recent years. Musial reports that it’s been a steep learning curve with a lot of unexpected challenges, but that they’re now finally at a point where they’re seeing positive returns and good growth.
LifetimeStock and Musial are doing a lot of things differently, and clearly making a mark on the industry. They’re certainly one to keep an eye on.