UPDATED 28 JAN:
Is this the beginning of the end of the royalty free decade?
Veer will soon sell microstock and Royalty Free on one site with a credit based purchase system in an unprecedented move that will be communicated to contributors over the coming weeks and to clients in the spring of 2010. The change eliminates the differences between licensing microstock and royalty free and effectively terminates the royalty free model on Veer.
Both collections will be available under the same End User License Agreement (EULA) and purchase path. This means that the only remaining distinctions are the creators of the content (user generated versus professional photographers) and the current price levels. As images from both types of creators can move up and down the pricebands over time the distinction between the two models will disappear over time calling an end to royalty free as we know it today as the collections merge ever further.
Once the changes are implemented Veer will no longer sell rights managed imagery on its site, instead this content will move to Corbis. This is the first time royalty free content will be available on pre-purchased credits as well as credit cards under a unified purchase path alongside microstock. I talked to Nairn Nerland, SVP of Marketing and GM of Veer.com to find out more about the planned changes.
Nairn explained that he does not believe the removal of rights managed content will have a big impact on the Veer client base as the offering has always been built on several products and rights managed is not a big part of the mix. Veer.com has never really been a destination for rights managed images in particular and clients would search across collections to find the images they need and do not necessarily see the licensing model as premium.
Veer is not planning to change the creative direction for the royalty free collections as it suits the existing client base. It will add User Generated Content (UGC) to the mix as client feedback indicates the content has been received well. The simple licensing model has also had good feedback and will now be applied to all remaining collections on veer.com. The site already contains over 600.000 user generated images. Veer marketplace will remain as a destination for creators but will no longer be a brand used for clients.
These latest changes on Veer come after the launch of Veer marketplace in 2009 and follows a number of surveys and client feedback that called for a simplified user experience. The result is a consistent End User License Agreement (EULA) and a simplified checkout process. Corporate clients will be able to buy imagery with an account while other users can pay all images via Credit card or pre-purchased credits. Prices for the collections will not change initially but Veer is aware of the current gap between microstock and royalty free pricing.
Where wholly owned images are concerned, Veer will look at the lifecycle of an image and move it between the two models where appropriate. For obvious reasons, Veer will not move media partners’ images between collections but it can give advice to partners on the basis of analysis.
So what will happen to the rights managed images that move to Corbis? Not much change here. In fact, many of the rights managed images are already available on Corbis. When they are from media partners they will maintain the partners’ branding, others will fall under the Corbis brand. The collections will be fully integrated and Corbis sales teams will sell the full portfolio.
With both microstock and royalty free images on one site Veer intends to offer clients the ability to search by price as well, a functionality that exists for many products we buy every day as consumers but surprisingly enough is not the norm for photography.
Driving traffic to the site will be mostly marketing driven with technical support, just like most microstock sites currently offer. Corbis will focus on what Nairn calls premium ‘Gold standard content’ and sell rights managed as well as premium royalty free content to what is still a large market.
The soft launch will kick off first, followed by the communication to customers. The team is now working on the technology side and in particular on the development of the credit packs to ensure the trust of customers is not breached. The intention is to reach a growing audience with the integrated products and the unified purchase path.
So there it is; is this the beginning of the end of Royalty Free as we know it?