I was lucky enough to meet many wonderful microstock people at CEPIC event in Dublin last summer. Vita Valka, the CEO of Pixmac is one of them.
Pixmac is a newcomer, operated from Prague, Czech Republic since mid-2008. I like these guys because their understanding of the microstock market differs from the traditional “it’s all mine!” policy of the top microstock agencies.
It’s not a secret that the microstock industry has no problem with supply. Oversupply creates tough competition between agencies and between the photographers, and many microstocks do not care too much about their contributors.
No, they do not state that. They simply do it. They reduce photographers’ commissions (iStock Q4-2010, Fotolia Q1-2011), terminates contributors affiliates programs with no notice (Fotolia), and keep changing the rules of the game ‘on the go’, trying to increase company’ profits by reducing their payouts to the artists.
Pixmac’ approach to the microstock fairness is quite different, and I am happy to let Vita and his team to speak by themselves:
— Pixmac Press Release —
Microstock Maturity by Pixmac
Prague, 3rd January 2011
Howdy folks everywhere. A very happy and prosperous 2011 to all our Photographer Contributors and to other friends around the globe.
As we know, it all started a decade ago. A great passion for photography blended with understanding the everyday designer’s needs. It was iStock’s team that launched the best photographer community ever.
Way back in the early days, the opportunity was quickly spotted by other agencies, resulting in a true revolution in the stock photo business. Unfortunately due to changes in technology and market forces the role of the photographer changed somewhat from being the master of microstock to almost it’s ‘slave’, as many of you will remember.
Pixmac is bringing in fair rules
Some of you may notice that we at Pixmac endeavor to respond and explain. We are flexible. We change our minds. We listen and we fix what needs to be fixed. We’ve learned a lot from our competition and you guys and gals contributing to the agencies are a true inspiration to our team!
In the microstock marketplace there are some old customs that we’re going to change at Pixmac. One of those is exclusivity. Exclusivity is something like DRM in music. It doesn’t work long term. The world has changed. So starting today Pixmac removes exclusivity restrictions for its contributors.
Contributors should be partners
There are many things that microstock contributors don’t like. Obviously they don’t like low revenue split. Inspired by Robert Kneschke, Pixmac has decided to guarantee 30% revenue and at least $0.25 (it was $0.10) per sale – FOREVER. And after the first $200 made on revenue it’s raised to 40%. We’re also raising the Extended License pricing from the flat $30 to $40-$120. Starting today, we guarantee a minimum commission – forever.
Pixmac has been open to listening to you since day one. And we hope you’ll be asking us questions first before going to forums. We’re here for you and if we make a mistake (which we are sure we will do – we are people like you), so please let us know because we’re usually quick in fixing it.
Vita Valka, CEO of Pixmac says: “We’re trying to become a true Open Company . And it’s not always easy. But if you have a fair vision and if you know what your Contributors need there’s always a way how to work it out. The problem of a few Agencies is that they just don’t care. We genuinely care about the photographers as well as about our buyers alike.”
Declaration of Fair Stock Photo Agency
We thought it would be nice to have a list of things that an Agency would respect and Contributors would like. We’ve thought about a few points (below), but we’re quite open to discussion about what’s missing or what’s not an issue.
1. An Agency should state proper attribution (Contributor’s name/nickname) next to the images on it’s site and should require the attribution on its resellers’ sites. The Agency should sell the images (even resized) with embedded attribution. The Agency should embed attribution metadata into large thumbnails.
2. An Agency should state the name of each reseller and let Contributors opt-in or out for each of the resellers and from subscription offering on the Agency’s or a resellers’ site where appropriate. The Agency should display the reseller’s name per each sale.
3. An Agency should notify Contributors about commission changes. In that case the Contributor should be able to withdraw his/her images and stop selling through that Agency. In an ideal case the Contributor should be able to withdraw part or the entire portfolio anytime.
“Thanks to David Mail, Lee Torrens & Roberto Marinello to help us with defining what should be mentioned in such a document. Thank you Robert Kneschke for inspiring us. We’d really like to hear and read any ideas you might have. The ‘Declaration’ is a first step to an even better microstock market.”, says Vita Valka.
Sales define contributors’ satisfaction
We love to focus on buyers. It’s the best way to satisfy Contributors and partners like Dreamstime. We’ve decided to try to be the smartest guys and gals in marketing. We design banners while sleeping. We live with AdWords 24 hours a day. We write down ideas when we’re at the bowling alley. We love the job at Pixmac as much as you love being photographers!
We’ve grown already. Pixmac sells thousands of images a month. Pixmac is localized into several languages. And Pixmac is already inspiring others.
“Pixmac is one of the few agencies doing SEO right.” – Yuri Arcurs, speech at CEPIC 2010
“I LOVE your one-stop-shopping idea! It has always been a missing element of microstock agencies.” – Lee Torrens, microstockdiaries.com
“I am impressed by the determination of Pixmac to treat photographers fairly. They have just set the bar to a new level.” – Tyler Olson, microstockgroup.com
“I like the Pixmac team’s open approach, the responsiveness, the attention to the Contributor side perspective, the focus on marketing our products – for example, have you seen how many contests they have been running in the last months?” – Roberto Marinello, mystockphoto.org
“Pixmac’s agreement changes capture each of the best things from other microstock agencies into a great deal for contributors.” – Bob Davies, picniche.com
“Pixmac is a living proof that a newcomer can compete and succeed on a modern crowded highly competitive microstock market. Differentiation is the key. And Pixmac got it right.” – David Mail, prostockmaster.com
See? Yes we are a relative newcomer. But we have been doing things differently since beginning and it is working. Check out the Alexa (link below) or Compete (link below) for ranking of www.pixmac.com and read some forum threads where we were active. Even our blog would tell you a lot about our philosophy. We love companies like Zappos & Apple and we know that we’re in the same boat with each of you. We’re partners. United we stand.
If you don’t know the story of Pixmac yet, please check out these two resources:
We believe no other microstock Agency is as successful as Pixmac since those old fellas launched in 2005 or earlier. As you can see on Microstock Diaries (link below) at least 10 microstock Agencies have closed in the last two years.
We see ourselves as a sort of ‘Food Court’ in the microstock arena, providing a rich smorgasbord of choices. A place where buyers can go to find all kinds of top brands and names, as well as the creative work of smaller players. Fun, fast, diverse, efficient, and easy to use.
We wish the best of luck to all the other competitors that we love such as YayMicro and BigStock with their focus on easy use. Photocase and StockFresh have a great passion for photography. Shutterstock with their highly respected business model. And Dreamstime with their focus on photographer community. Guys, please motivate and inspire us! The good old days when the user base grew instantly are gone. Pixmac has a challenging 2011 ahead – there is no doubt in that.
Let’s sum it all up
To summarize the long list of changes and improvements at Pixmac, this is a shortlist of the positives arising:
1. Commissions at least 30% / $0.25 forever
2. Raised prices based on downloads. Raised prices of EL.
3. Removed exclusivity lock-in
4. Declaration of Fair Stock Agency
Vita Valka, the CEO of Pixmac and a former designer, knows exactly what the buyer needs. He also identifies wholeheartedly with the company’s Contributing Photographers. Without your creative input there’s no microstock! No Pixmac!
Pixmac’s dream team, situated in Prague, Czech Republic, is a flexible group of experienced professionals always willing to help you. Pixmac managers are active in 15+ countries around the world including the Americas, Europe, Asia & Africa. And there’s always a tasty cup of coffee or tea ready and a cookie at the office for any Contributor who is in our neighbourhood. If you come to Prague, please let us know!
Feel free to contact Pixmac on twitter.com/pixmac or Facebook. Or via any of the standard methods such as email at [email protected] or call us at +420 296 566 268.