Chris Barton, the “Fair Trade Photographer” joins the well known anti-microstock apologist Dan Heller in blaming microstock. The article is very nice, but I guess if Chris would be the author of that group image, he proudly would show all these usage examples to his prospective customers. Anyway, welcome to the club, Chris, you are in the good company.

Back to 2007 Dan Heller was absolutely sure that microstock is a transitional business model and that the microstock agencies are hurting themselves. Explaining why the microstocks can not survive Dan says:

And all this gets back to the discussion about how they are “hurting themselves.” To understand this, we look at the factors involved with repeat buyers vs. new buyers. Lower prices may get some ratio of new buyers, but it’s the unintended effects associated with the retention of those buyers. And here’s the catch-22: if they stay, you’re selling more and more product at severely discounted prices to a customer that should be paying more. If they don’t stay, you’ve lost the entire benefit of the lower prices. So, not only do lower prices not guarantee buyer retention, or that they’ll even start there over competition, but the perilous effects of their remaining loyal is almost worse. The entire objective of “low-balling” is to rope the user in so you can upcharge them later. Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it. What most companies do is offer the big discounts at sign up, but once in, prices go back to normal. Microstock agencies don’t do this, but should. This leaves microstocks in the worst of all worlds.

Now in 2010 we can see that the microstock business did not collapse, being a growing industry even in the recession period, while most traditional stock photography agencies experience a sharp decline in sales. Surprisingly for Mr.Heller, the microstock continues to rapidly expand and keeps threatening traditional royalty free and right managed stock photography business models.

Surprisingly enough, Dan Heller was served  for some time as the Vice President of Marketing at Picscout, a company which proudly displays Dreamstime logo at the top line of their list of customers. If you can not beat them, join them.

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