What started with iStockphoto back in 2010, when they announced that they will begin to offer commissions for photographers from as low as 15%, has lead to successive agencies following their lead. After istock, fotolia, dreamstime and now 123rf (did I miss any?) all decided to drop commissions substantially.
I have often said in this blog and elsewhere that 123rf is a fair agency and it has shown tremendous growth recently, whilst still maintaining a fair share for those whose work it hosts. Today all that changed and the inevitable tirade of fury from contributors has begun. The pie never seems to be big enough for agencies as they continually grab more of it, yet genuine growth can be achieved whilst still being fair, a notion which is seemingly very difficult for many businessmen to fathom.
123rf commissions will from January next year start at 30% and most contributors will see a drop from the 50% cut that they receive now. It’s not quite at iStock’s or fotolia’s levels, but these two agencies are in a league of their own when it comes to scr**ing their contributors. I know buyers read this blog too because I get buyer referrals, so next time you consider an agency ask to see what they offer their contributors. You can find a lot of the same work across the agencies, but if you want to continue to see high quality work, the artists need to keep getting decent amounts, otherwise they will no longer find microstock worth their while.
Dear 123rf, on behalf of all microstock photographers – you are very welcome.
You were nothing when we met. I take pride in the fact that I made you who you are today. I told all my friends about you and they grew to love and trust you, and now I look like a fool. Because of my faith in you, you earned a share of the market that grows day by day while notable competitors exhibit signs of self-destruction. We did this together — you and me. I invested a significant amount of money into my tools to supply you with a perfect collection that you boast as your own.
Today I am hurt and confused. What have I done wrong? Why don’t you love me any more? Has success made you arrogant and caused us to drift apart? Do you need a salary raise at my expense? Do you need a new boat? Tell me what is going on, we are partners. I made a commitment to you. What exactly do you intend to do with MORE. You haven’t explained.
It would hurt to part ways, but face it – I don’t need you to survive.
Can you survive without me?