With the fantastic success of microstock agencies in the last few years Novel Use is a native attempt for a traditional stock photography agency like Alamy to follow up this microstock photography wave, and open an additional revenue stream from selling microstock. Just look around – virtually everyone sells microstock credits and subscriptions, why Alamy should not?

Particularly knowing that the competition is tight and a major microstock site made $70 mln revenues last year, followed by others tens-of-mlns-dollars microstocks, does not it make a perfect sense for Alamy trying to follow their success?

Well, I am not sure. At least not with NU idea.

Let me state: it is not about stock photography content. This is exactly my point: stock content does not matter. Content is similar. I can hear your strong “NO!”, but, – come on, forget for a sec all these technical “TIFF+scale-up+keywording” content preparation tricks for the “really high quality stock photos” and just look what the micros sell. Would you agree now? – from the buyers point of view they all sell the same photos and stock illustrations. I know that stock photography content people will never agree to this statement, but the stock imagery buyers just made their votes with their bucks, so it is better to hear the market. You can find content at microstock prices for at least 90% of needs for an industrial buyer. Buyers can choose buying content through Alamy or through a microstock. And surprise :) – stock imaging buyers are already subscribed to 2-4 microstock agencies (InfoTrends marketing research).

So where is the Alamy’s difference on this saturated microstock market? Well, it’s not about the content, it’s about the community. It’s Alamy’s Pros vs microstock Amateurs. Can you sell your community to a buyer? Not sure. Can you sell quite similar content for non-micro prices? Sure you can not, Alamy already knows this answer and therefore NU came out.

However, NU does not takes in account the most important – psychological – factor: for many pros Alamy was an alternative to microstock. NU completely destroys this vision. The last shelter for a stock photographer who keeps screaming “I am not going to sell my images for a buck or two! Never ever!”, this last shelter fails with the NU introduction. Well, probably it should not be so dramatic, but the feeling of many stock photography professionals as they express themselves in Alamy blog and in other places on the Internet is quite similar to that.

That’s why Alamy community strongly disagree to license their images under NU. Their vision is an opposite to microstock amateurs who say “I can get 30 cents per download or nothing if my images will keep sitting on my hard disk. I prefer to be paid”.

In my understanding, NU, which attempts to sell existing “non-micro” content to “microstock-like” buyers is an unnecessarily hard try. Not because Alamy has to educate the market that Alamy sells microstock too, but mostly because Alamy has to educate its own community that Alamy went microstock. And such community education could be a long and not necessarily successful process.

A reasonable alternative to this community education process could be… getting another community, which is willing to contribute stock photos and sell them as microstock. Alamy should expand the contributors base making it easier for amateur photographers to sell stock photos. For the microstock market a stock photography agency needs a microstock community. If Alamy can do that instead of forcing their existing contributors to license stock photos under NU, Alamy definitely gets a good chance to penetrate into the microstock world. Alamy’ brand, the team and the vast agency’s market knowledge supported by the microstock selling community or a resale partner can make the difference.

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