Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thomas Hawk's view of the new Corbis site - Snap village - and microstock in general

I have been following Thomas Hawk’s blog for a while and in his recent post, he talks about why he believes Corbis new microstock site, Snapvillage (and all microstock sites such as iStock), are a rip of to photographers. I normally don’t get into the microstock/macrostock debate but this is a new and interesting take on the matter that I thought was interesting.

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: Why Corbis' New SnapVillage Stock Photography Agency is a Bad Deal for Photographers

My own view is that there is artificial price control going on between Getty and Corbis' microstock offerings and their far more lucrative traditional stock photography business. While I applaud Corbis for letting photographers set a price between $1 and $50. Why not let the photographer set the price between $1 and $1,000? If there really is no market for these images at higher than $50, the market is efficient and these photos would quickly price downward. If Corbis President Gary Shenk is *really* serious about being willing to cannibalize Corbis' business as he is quoted in the New York Times above, why set the $50 upper price limit?

You won't see Corbis and Getty allowing images by you and I to be priced greater than $50 for one simple reason. They understand that our images are just as good as their Pro images and they do not want to cannibalize this far more lucrative business. They want to keep the myth alive that their images are so much better than our images and to create a wide valley between the two to continue reaping in the millions that they do each year.

I don’t really agree with this view. The reason being is that if Corbis and Getty were afraid of cannibalising their macrostock collection, they would allow the prices to be higher, not kept at an artificially low amount. Why? Because if Getty can sell an iStock picture at a higher price, say the same price as it gets from its normal collection, it would actually make more money as the commission it pays its microstock contributors is lower than what it pays its macrostock contributors.

So why has corbis limited the maximum price to $50? I am not sure but I don’t think this is the reason.

Regardless, at this point in time, both Thomas and I (for completely different reasons) believe Corbis new Snapvillage site is not a good deal for photographers.

1 comment:

Cassandra said...

I agree with you about the pricing issue, but am curious as to your take on the recent layoffs at both Coris and Getty.

Do you think microstock had anything to do with it?