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If the strategy of microstock is to make profit from a high volume of low value sales, then at what point does everything collapse? From what I've seen, It seems that all microstock sites are racing to lower their prices and inflate their libraries as fast as possible to increase their collective sales. The quality requirements go down and contributor volume rapidly goes up. This increases the collective volume of sales for the agency, while the sales for most individual contributors rapidly decreases. The agency wins and the contributor loses. The library becomes buried in substandard images. The customers become too frustrated and look elsewhere to meet their needs in a timely manner. Combine this also with the ever increasing number of low quality free image sites popping up stealing customers away as well. The microstock contributor is now struggling to get any sales at all...for mere quarters. The contributors are unhappy with increasing efforts being met with pathetic returns. The customer is unhappy with decreasing quality of images that are more difficult to find ones that meet their needs.
Unless you have an existing portfolio of 5000 images or more already in place, I dont see how any future efforts in microstock are worth the effort to try and grow. The only way microstock can be viable for the individual contributor is with a volume of sales that cannot be achieved anymore under such conditions. Does it not leave the contributor hungry for an increasing value to their now low volume of sales in order to continue selling stock? Does this not eventually leave the customers hungry for better quality of images and customer service? So if I'm reading the terrain correctly, does this not mean microstock trending tragically downwards and macrostock trending upwards in the future to meet these needs on both sides?  If the contributor is going to struggle to get any sales at all, one may as well have some self respect and aim upwards instead of down. Continuing on this path only makes Shutterstock more rich at our expense and they have proven often enough they have no respect for the contributor.
I'm sitting here editing new images and I find I dont feel good about wasting it on microstock anymore. Will the future of stock return to macro? Thoughts?

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Agree. You have valid points.

I'd say microstocks are progressing from kinda C2C to obvious B2B now. Single contributors are being squeeze out (both of business and of resources to keep on too). Personally, I haven't decided yet on what should I do in such a situation. 

There is a voting on a new Copyright Directive on Change.org now. (https://www.change.org/p/tell-meps-to-approve-the-proposed-new-copyright-directive?esource=CNB_GI_BAT_NON_LEG_2018WK25_CopyrightDirectivePetition_E01V1_non_non_none_000000_enUS_SEG&utm_medium=email&utm_source=eloqua&elqTrackId=D035EA672CA726B0AD9F808B49582368&elq=b60b5a6a17d240c9ab7cdfaa816de774&elqaid=22156&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=10604)

It might improve our status a bit in perspective. Yet it doesn't revert the general B2B tendency.

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I thnk it's as much to do with big data, deep learning, AI etc.  The bigger the data set, the better the technology.  At some point, I think even keywords will become redundant.  Buyers will describe their requirement, the software will deliver the result, whether that's a single image or a composite.  So quality isn't the issue, it's quantity.  Essentially SS will become, or has already, a data management company.  And there wil be a lot of uses for that data, not just graphic design etc.

I'm not sold on the 'drowning out' thing.  Look at Google - a search term will pretty much deliver what you are after, despite there being gazillions of 'crap' to sort through.

Of course, we all have the option of getting/being good enough to submit a portfolio for acceptance at premium sites.  True, microstock will continue to reduce returns for contributors, but that's the price of technological advances.

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1 hour ago, FrontlitPhotography said:

  Look at Google 

I guess Google has restrictions in some countries and, perhaps, languages ))). Often I have to switch it off to find useful stuff. 

Do you mean that on arrival of big data compilation tech. we will obsolete, become kinda exclusive retro guys or rather tendency shapers? This reminds me of the countries which collect nuclear waste in order to use it sometime later on, while now it puts into question the life itself. mmm...  In such a case SS will be obsolete too.... in a perspective....)))  

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2 hours ago, Jason Dudley said:

If the strategy of microstock is to make profit from a high volume of low value sales, then at what point does everything collapse? From what I've seen, It seems that all microstock sites are racing to lower their prices and inflate their libraries as fast as possible to increase their collective sales. The quality requirements go down and contributor volume rapidly goes up. This increases the collective volume of sales for the agency, while the sales for most individual contributors rapidly decreases. The agency wins and the contributor loses. The library becomes buried in substandard images. The customers become too frustrated and look elsewhere to meet their needs in a timely manner. Combine this also with the ever increasing number of low quality free image sites popping up stealing customers away as well. The microstock contributor is now struggling to get any sales at all...for mere quarters. The contributors are unhappy with increasing efforts being met with pathetic returns. The customer is unhappy with decreasing quality of images that are more difficult to find ones that meet their needs.
Unless you have an existing portfolio of 5000 images or more already in place, I dont see how any future efforts in microstock are worth the effort to try and grow. The only way microstock can be viable for the individual contributor is with a volume of sales that cannot be achieved anymore under such conditions. Does it not leave the contributor hungry for an increasing value to their now low volume of sales in order to continue selling stock? Does this not eventually leave the customers hungry for better quality of images and customer service? So if I'm reading the terrain correctly, does this not mean microstock trending tragically downwards and macrostock trending upwards in the future to meet these needs on both sides?  If the contributor is going to struggle to get any sales at all, one may as well have some self respect and aim upwards instead of down. Continuing on this path only makes Shutterstock more rich at our expense and they have proven often enough they have no respect for the contributor.
I'm sitting here editing new images and I find I dont feel good about wasting it on microstock anymore. Will the future of stock return to macro? Thoughts?

Valid point Jason

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Agree totally.

In todays tech industry users are gold. The more users the more a company can boost their value. A tech company don’t need to earn much money - it’s the amount of users that sets the value. Even companies with a substantial deficit can be worth billions if they have generated millions of users. I think that is the point for (some) microstock business today. It’s quantity before quality.

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shifting the focus point is not solving a particular problem 

I think that is a solution. Put less time and energy into Micros and focus on more profitable ventures, within the industry.

Unfortunately, the oversupply is leading to a drop in royalties and the situation is only going to get worse. We can be that deer in the headlights or take action now, it's up to us. Hoping and praying that somehow agencies will start to look out for our best interests is only going to lead to disappointment and frustration.

One example is that I'm focusing more on footage, although that seems to be suffering from oversupply as well but apparently less so than stills.  

 

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10 minutes ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

I think that is a solution. Put less time and energy into Micros and focus on more profitable ventures, within the industry.

Unfortunately, the oversupply is leading to a drop in royalties and the situation is only going to get worse. We can be that deer in the headlights or take action now, it's up to us. Hoping and praying that somehow agencies will start to look out for our best interests is only going to lead to disappointment and frustration.

One example is that I'm focusing more on footage, although that seems to be suffering from oversupply as well but apparently less so than stills.  

 

What will you do then the footage is done? Jump as long as you can (hello to Ukrainians, sorry, guys I just couldn't resist)?

And why on the earth it is only about oversupply? I'd say it is overgreed, technology, and market share...

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8 minutes ago, chris kolaczan said:

Will the future of stock return to macro? Thoughts?

 

No.

 

Macro will continue to be a source for genuinely hard to produce images (either requiring well above average skills or logistic requirements). For the other 99% of image needs, micro will continue and most contributors expecting a big payout will continue to be disappointed. The technology to produce high (or at least high enough) quality images is ubiquitous. That isn't changing.

Well... this is a new level to the whole thing. Human rights vs non-human. Given the fact that in some countries dogs are given more privileges than humans, our perspectives are bleek. :huh:

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I strongly think that better times for microstock will come.

When two,three or four things get in the right place : 

1 ) Termination ( or end ) of Shutterstock's deal with facebook ( all those thievery web sites  use same code - leakage from Shutterstock's  API ( application programming interface ) trough FB) 

2)  When Shutterstock fix broken API

3) when Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) vote on a new copyright directive in early July, and hopefully accept that new " Copyright Directive "

4) When ALL microstock agencies raise content approval standard.

 

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14 hours ago, chris kolaczan said:

Macro will continue to be a source for genuinely hard to produce images (either requiring well above average skills or logistic requirements). For the other 99% of image needs, micro will continue and most contributors expecting a big payout will continue to be disappointed. The technology to produce high (or at least high enough) quality images is ubiquitous. That isn't changing.

Exactly.  You'd think there'll always be a market too for good documentary editorial, but the genie is out of the bottle for the rest of it.

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