I was reading the recent blast of entries over at StockPhotoTalk, especially the ones that discussed Bill Gates and his initial view of where the market would go when he founded Corbis. Also, there are the considerations that have played out in the Big Agency marketplace, and the evolution of the MicroStock sales models. One thing struck a chord in my memory; Recently there was a news story about Knight Ridder selling off a bunch of it’s Newspaper assets, and the sale has made for some serious ripples within the industry. But what caught my attention was…
… remembering a talk radio show here in the Bay Area that evening, and the guest host just happened to be a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. I listened for an hour about how the newspaper industry is trying to re-figure itself out in the Internet-era, where the younger audience getting it’s news from other sources. The host described how he and other employees were ‘scared’ of the uncertainty with their jobs, and their media. He also referenced Craigslist as a source that came along and literally ate up the newspaper industries fiscal bread & butter, namely the Classified Sections.
I couldn’t help but think as to how taditional photographers and agencies must feel now that the internet has come along, and opened up whole new markets. Up surged the MicroStocks, a licensing model that can’t be ignored, and is driven by people who are looking to pay as little as possible for an image, or people who are happy as clams to get paid anything for their images, no matter how little. – It’s really amazing what a perfect fit that is for a complimentary marketplace.
Yes, the MicroStock Agencies are like Craigslist, and in that regard, photographers who sell their photos for a living should be as concerned as the folks in the newsprint industry.
Then, just today, on a newsgroup that is dedicated to the Microstock arena, a photographer said she was approached directly by a client who wanted to use her image exclusively for a huge run of packaging. By any traditional standard, that should have been worth a lot of money; in the thousands for sure. Given that the photo could be used on a big box item, sold internationally, and have the product package image used in every ad, brochure, or other marketing material for as long as the company wanted, yet this photographer was grinning from ear to ear because she got paid several hundred dollars. But as someone else on the list pointed out, she’d have to give an unlimited RF license to 1,750 customers on one microstock site to earn that much. Gee – well, that’s worth some serious congratulations, I suppose. (not)
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