– Increase price per image.
– Decrease commission percentage to photographers.
Getty has been working on both fronts. By acquiring content, “wholly owned” as it is called, it can more safely try to corner the market and thus force image buyers to purchase images at the price they set and not obey the offer/demand balance. They have been aggressively acquiring collections for this purpose. If you control a commodity, you can set your own price. However, there is a ceiling. Image buyers do not have unlimited funds and very soon, you hit a breaking point where the cost of licensing an image becomes too expensive. We are not far from hitting that ceiling.
Wholly owned has also allowed them not to have to pay back any percentage on any sales. If they cannot acquire, they represent. However, they have change the playing field from a standard 50 % to 40 %. They will probably decrease this percentage again in the years to come. Scoopt.com contributors have just been slammed with such a percentage right after Getty bought the platform. And along with the decrease in percentage, Getty has asked for an increase in exclusivity, from 3 months to a year. What will be interesting, however, is how they will manage some of the Contour (owned by Mediavast) photographers who currently receive 70% of any sales.
On a parallel note, USA today has increased their day rate by $100.00, while asking for a near buy out. Gannett, the publishing company that owns USA Today, has now the right to you use the same image in all its publications, including websites, without an extra fee .
Getty will agree to such a deal, because it is in their best interest as a company. And they will do so on behalf of all the photographers they represent. So, whether some disagree or not, Gannett will still have content.
So here is the conclusion: It is going to be much harder for Getty to increase price per image than to reduce photographers’ commission. Using the UGC wave as a threat to professionals, Getty images will continue to abuse photographers talent by either paying them a flat day rate or a reduce commission fee by using the usual, “it’s my way or the highway” motto. And the majority of photographers will probably bow and take the hit, thinking that a dollar is better than nothing at all.
If only. If only they would care more and listen to their instinct instead of their stomach. If they had pride in their craft and work, realizing that they are the ones creating value that allows other to become wealthy on their behalf. If only they would understand that Getty would be nothing without their talent and creativity, then they would stand a chance . By trying to get a dollar where they could make $100, by accepting penance for reward, they are digging their own grave, as being a photographer will no longer be a profitable proposition.
What is interesting with this model is that Getty is slowly killing the chicken that has golden eggs. They will have to play a fine balance in order to keep high quality production while paying low percentages. At one point, it will not be profitable for photographers to contribute to Getty.