April 2010 MicroStock News

Golden LaptopApril was a big month in MicroStock with lots going on at many sites… plus the NAB convention in Las Vegas.  Lots of web site updates and a number of problems as well.

Pond5 gave away $25,000 in April… although not to one person, and not in cash.  They gave away $500 a day on their web site and another $2500 a day during the NAB conference.  The prizes were credits that can be used to purchased any media on Pond5.  Pretty clever considering it only costs them half ($12,500) if all of the credits actually get used.  April sales were up for most everyone, and I”m betting the giveaway is a big factor in that.  Several people I know won $50 during the month, sadly I was not among them.  Pond5 also made some changes to the web site during April.  They sped up the back end database a little bit (Pond5 is already the fastest of the MicroStock sites, so I’m not sure what there was that needed tweaking), added some search functionality, and a minor little thing with embedded meta-data.  What?!?  Yup, Pond5 can now import meta-data embedded in your QuickTime .MOV files.  MicroStockers in the photo world have had that for years all the sites importing embedded titles, descriptions and keywords.  Pond5 just missed being the first site to support it with .MOV files (PixelFlow was the first), but they are certainly the biggest site to support it.

RevoStock has also been very busy with site updates in April.  First they dramatically improved their back-end database which has made the site MUCH MUCH faster to access.  They had a few hickups along the way with the site going down several times, but in the end it was well worth it.  I used to hate using the RevoStock site because it was so slow, but now it’s a pleasure.  They also finally got around to supporting H.264/MP4 and PNG encoded files which is a major leap forward.  H.264 is used by most modern cameras today which means in some cases you can just submit footage straight from the camera, although most footage will still need to be “processed” before you submit.  If you are only submitting to a few sites and they all support H.264, I would highly suggest making the switch from PhotoJPEG.  Not only are the files much smaller, they contain a LOT more data in them which should be attractive to buyers.  And finally, they merged the two keyword fields in the submit form, which means you don’t have to enter primary keywords and secondary keywords separately. Boy was that a pain in the ass.  It makes cutting and pasting from iSyndica or other sites much easier… and rumor has it that it’s in preparation for supporting meta-data importing.

ShutterStock started out April with major FTP issues.  Files were not getting imported, or worse, they simply disappeared after uploading.  I lost about 200 credits on iSyndica from files getting lost after upload.  It took them about a week to even acknowledge the problem, and then another week or so to finally fix it.  Suffice it to say that it severely impacted my submitting to the site in April.  However, for me personally, they redeemed themselves with my Best Month Ever (BME) in sales.  I hope the sales trend continues.

iStock changed their FTP procedure, making it 10 times harder to upload files.  Then, during NAB their site started crashing and was mostly down for about a week.  Once they finally got the site back up and running, their FTP servers ran out of space and nobody could upload new files.  Pretty much a big mess for iStock in April.  Hopefully things will be better in May.

ClipCanvas changed their pricing schedule at the end of April.  They reduced all prices by 1 euro (from 50 to 49) because someone read a book on Marketing Psychology, I’m assuming. Most importantly, they added two more lower price levels 29 euros and 9 euros.  Quite honestly, they’d be better off just allowing artists to set their own prices, but at least this is an improvement and should spark more sales.  Too bad their process for updating your existing portfolio is so difficult.  My one sale on ClipCanvas last month had me a little excited, but lackluster performance and the lack of any sales data (popular keywords, clip views, etc..) has dampened that enthusiasm.  I’m still submitting there almost as much as I do to Pond5, but only because the initial submit process is so fast and easy.  If it weren’t for such an easy initial process, I might be thinking about giving up on ClipCanvas.  We’ll see how their new pricing works out and how long it takes me to adjust my prices.

MediaStock is a relatively new site I mentioned in my last blog entry.  It’s based in Canada and supports footage, images, music, AE projects and 3D models.  Most new sites don’t rate excitement, but the folks at MediaStock are taking the “Pond5 approach” and have decided to work closely with submitters to attract lots of uploads.  So far, their strategy is working. The 60% revenue share is definitely attractive and they’ve been very receptive to requests for changes to their site.  Still, they’ve got a ways to go.  Managing your portfolio is still difficult, FTP support is spotty and doesn’t work with iSyndica, and there’s no marketing data like popular keywords, etc… but I’m feeling pretty confident this site will be a keeper.  With less than 5,000 media files online they’re already doing a brisk amount of sales.

iSyndica had a VERY busy month.  They updated their pricing  to make it much more attractive, added model/property release management, and added support for embedding meta-data in .MOV files.  I’m still trying to get a handle on the release management, but honestly, I haven’t done a lot with models so I 0nly have a few releases anyway.  They big thing for me is their support for embedded meta-data.  You can type in your title, description and keywords for each footage clip on the site and when uploaded to sites like Pond5 and PixelFlow, the data will automatically be imported when you submit.  This should speed up your workflow considerably, I know it’s helped mine.  MediaStock is also working on adding meta-data support for .MOV files and they’re working with iSyndica to add direct upload support (thank goodness, because MediaStock’s FTP is sllllooowww).  And rumor has it that RevoStock is also adding support for meta-data.  If/when that happens, I’ll probably quadruple my uploads to Revo.

If you are reading this during the first week of May, iSyndica is having a birthday bash of sorts.  If you enter the coupon code: HAPPYBDAY, you’ll get 30% off your subscription.  In addition, all uploads between May 1st and May 7th cost zero credits (yup, they’re free).

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