Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interview with David Negron, CEO of ProductionTrax

ProductionTrax is an online marketplace for royalty free music, sound effects, pictures and footage. As a photo and video contributor, I asked David Negron, founder and CEO of ProductionTrax, few questions about his company:

MicrostockExp: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us the story behind ProductionTrax inception?
D.N: My name is David Negron. I went to USC as a Jazz Major and after school started a company with the intent of getting into the film music production industry. I set Productiontrax up to sell my own music. After a bit of research I realized that I could have other people sell music on the site as well and Productiontrax as we know it today was born.

MicrostockExp:We know now that ProductionTrax started in the music business, but when did you decide to branch out to video and photos?
D.N: We originally sold Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects. About 2 years ago we launched a complete redesign of the site and decided that we needed to diversify our product offerings to keep up with the bigger microstock sites. We were actually the first site to offer all 4 product categories (Music, SFX, Video and Photos).

MicrostockExp:Can you present us the different products you are offering and more importantly what are the incentives for contributors?
D.N: Other than the 4 main categories, we also recently expanded our offerings to include DJ Elements, which are music tracks and music components that are licensed to be used in derivative works, which most royalty free music does not allow for. This lets DJ's use them for mixing and beat making.
Our biggest incentive for contributors is the independent nature of our site and the ability contributors have in controlling their media. We never ask that a contributor be exclusive to our website, we're musicians here and contribute to our own site and I would never limit myself to selling my work in place, so why would I ask other contributors to do that? We're one of the few websites that allows contributors to set their own prices and our 65% payout is one of the largest non-exclusive payouts in microstock.
We also offer customers 2 license options, one of which is a non-commercial license that gives inexpensive options students and customers who have personal projects, and contributors have the ability to set these options at the same price if they don't want to offer their work to non-commercial projects.
We also offer our contributors the ability to easily market their own product. Every contributor page has a RSS feed that contributors can use to populate their webpage or blog with new content they've uploaded. In fact you can even import this information to your Facebook or Myspace page. Every track and profile has a Tweet Me button that allows contributors an easy way to share new content with their Tweeps. We have a weekly newsletter that gets sent out to a large database of people detailing new products on the site, so contributors that upload often will have their tracks show up in these emails.

Another thing that I feel sets us apart from other sites is our personal relationship with our contributors. We make an effort to communicate with them as much as possible. We send newsletters to our contributors when ever we have info that they need to know and will occasionally reach out to them if we feel the site need specific content. For example the Olympics are coming up and I noticed we didn't have many national anthems, so we sent out an email to our contributors and with in a few weeks we started to have a decent collection of anthems for anyone doing olympic projects. We also try to connect with our contributors through social media to help develop a strong line of communication.

What products you are currently have the most and in what sector you want to get more market shares in the future? Can you tell us a bit about your plan in the near future in terms of technical development ? (ftp for example)

D.N: We don't offer FTP, but we do have a nice bulk upload app that is actually easier to use than FTP. It lets users quickly upload large file counts and an excel template lets us populate track info fast so your tracks are up and ready to sell. In terms of product offerings, we have more music and sound effects than anything else, since this is where we started. Stock footage has been quickly catch-up though and we have a good number of video tracks currently. Our photo offerings is where I'd like to focus our content efforts this year. It's the category we have the least content in and it is something we want to improve. Focusing on gaining new photo contributors will be beneficial to all photo contributors, as the more photos we have available for sale, the more we'll sell photos. I'd also like to procure some of the larger music and sound effects libraries that our competitors have and we've already have. As for our technical plans for the upcoming year, they will mainly focus on speeding up the site for a better user experience and building up our infostructure to ensure we are able to grow the way we want to and increase the reliability of the site.

If you want to start uploading your pictures,videos or music to Productiontrax, you can click the banner below !

royalty free music and sound effects at productiontrax.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Clipcanvas HD footage marketplace review

In this article I review Clipcanvas, a HD footage marketplace I joined two months ago to distribute my clips. Also in this post, an interview with Cato Salter, CEO of Clipcanvas who was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his company.


Clipcanvas is a HD footage and animation marketplace based in Norway founded in 2007. The website site with a black and gold design is fairly quick to load. A large window , on the right hand side of the screen displays continously three different footage every week. Video clips previews use the flash based Flowplayer technology with success: preview window is large (420 by 238 pixels) and the image is crisp and clear making it the best previews I have seen so far on any footage agencies.

How to submit?

You can either run the Clipcanvas uploader application from your desktop or normal ftp software like Filezilla.
The Clipcanvas uploader is pretty straightforward to use: Once logged with your credentials, you just have drag and drop your clips onto a window and click the upload button.
Once submitted, your clip will be placed in the ''tag your clips'' section of the site.The last step is to enter keywords (separated by commas) and minimal informations about the clip such as category,dynamic,handling,camera framing.
Based on my experience, once you have your keywords ready, the final submission does not take more than 30 seconds and if you have a group of similar clips, less than 10 seconds using the available fast tagging. Clipcanvas is by far the easiest and fastest site for your final submission. In addition, clip reviews are very fast, mostly done under 24 hours. I found out that if the Clipcanvas uploader was very slow, uploading using ftp was considerably faster so I will recommend the latter.

Video clips requirements

Clipcanvas accepts clips with a minimum duration of 2 seconds and a maximum size of 750MB in the following formats:DV,DVcam,DVCpro 25/50/100,HDV1,HDV2,Xdcam,Xdcam HD,ProResHQ 10bit,ProRes 8bit, AVC intra (must be delivered in ProResHQ),Cineform, 12bit (must be delivered in ProResHQ),Dnx, DnxHD,Photo.jpg/.mjp 75/100%, Digibeta (export to ProRes or photo.jpg before upload).
I did not have so far any rejections by uploading quicktime movies (motionjpeg 95%) rendering from avchd files.

Interview with Cato Cater, CEO of Clipcanvas

Q: Can you present briefly the business in which Clipcanvas operates?

A: ''We are in a competitive industry comprised of so many professionals with high standards, and it is important to us to do our best to meet the requirements and demands that this implies. This goes for our submitters as well as for our buyers. We deliver video footage to our customers in more than 7 different professional codecs and a total of 20 variations thereof, bringing flexibility to our buyers´ digital workflows. Our primary focus is HD. The main bulk of our customers are working in production and post-production houses, and this list is growing by the day, representing companies and buyers from all over the world''.

Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming developments at Clipcanvas?

A: ''With regards to developments in the future, I would like to say we continuously work on making improvements:
- the referral program is in place and will be available from early January - referrers will earn a flat 10% of sales generated by these referrals for a set period of time for each buying user referred
- we will also offer more advanced affiliate solutions for those that want to integrate more closely with Clipcanvas through an API (will also be available in January). For example, the API would make it possible for any of our submitters to display and offer their own clips for sale through their own webpages (if they have one), but it would require some programming skills (with which we might even help out with in certain cases).
- also we are continuously working to improve the service we offer, based on input from all our users, and some of these improvements take more time while others take less, some you notice and some you don´t. We still have a lot of work to do, we are working hard, and I hope our users appreciate this even if some developments take longer time for us to implement than we would wish for''.
''We market our service and the video content offered through Clipcanvas in many different ways, both online and in more traditional media and communication channels. This is something we will intensify in the upcoming year, as we are now at the point where we pack some punch in the market''.


In summary:

Plus for contributors: Euros zone, video previews, referral program (to start in January 2010), ftp, quick final submission, quick reviews, high commission rate (60%), option to set your own prices (from 50 to 500 euros).
Plus for buyers: billing accounts, live support,free H.264 watermarked previews for testing.
Minuses for contributors: did not find any... but feel free to leave a comment if you find some!

Overall, I found Clipcanvas to be a great marketplace to join and I am looking forward to their new developments in 2010. The number of clips doubled in the last 6 months and Clipcanvas has now a library of just over 50,000 clips. For future reference, Clipcanvas is ranked 157,235 in Alexa.com and below is a 6 months trailing of Clipcanvas traffic compare to some of its competitors.

With a bit more than 100 clips on line I already had my first sale and looking forward to have more. Clipcanvas referral program is not ready yet but feel free to join by clicking the banner below. You can also follow Clipcanvas on twitter or join their fan page on facebook.

Clipcanvas Stock Footage - HD Video Clip Downloads
Browse my HD clips at Clipcanvas !

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Experiment 12: setting up your on-line microstock store

In this article, I will be sharing my experience setting up my online stock photography store on Smugmug. For those of you who never heard about Smugmug, it was founded in 2002 as a family business and a picture and video hosting site. It has rapidly grown and is now hosting more than 700,000,000 pictures. To put it into perspective, Flickr has more than 4 billion now.
Smugmug offers three levels of membership including a Pro account which allows you to license and sell merchandise from your pictures. A lot of pro photographers are using Smugmug as a platform to sell products to their customers after a shooting session or to market their pictures.

Below is my list of the PROS and CONS having a Smugmug Pro account:


• No domain name or annual hosting fees, no website design fee ($ 149.95 annual fee all included).
• Customers do not need to register before buying your product; they just can pay by credit card.
• Friendly webpage customization (graphic themes, CSS and Javascript).
• Unlimited storage for your photos and videos.
• Password protected galleries and custom watermarks.
• Reactive customer service
• Ability to set your own prices and retain 85% commission on sales.
• No image reviews
• You can sell three sizes of digital prints (1MP, 4MP and original) but also merchandise (T-shirts, mousepads, poscards, mugs, etc….), prints (glossy, matte, metallic) and canvas (rolled, wrapped).
• Display of HD 1920x1080 videos (up to 10 minutes and 600 MB long)


• Payment only by paper check in US dollars so far … (direct deposit is coming but only for US photographers)
• You are paid monthly if your profit exceeds $500, otherwise you are paid once your balance reaches $200.
• The photo licencing agreement is not as clear as on microstock agencies and extended licences are not available.
• The website is only in English.
• There is no option to sell HD videos yet.
• And of course… you have to do the marketing yourself

Is a Smugmug pro account really for you ?

I think the first thing to consider is that if you are willing or not to promote your portfolio. If you are not ready to do that, the Pro offer is not probably for you as you cannot count to get the same volume sale of Istock for example. Also I believe you would need a quite large portfolio (more than 2000 pictures) to begin with.

How do I use my Smugmug pro account?

I uploaded more about 2500 pictures so far online. Ftp is not available but uploading via the web browser is quite fast and IPTC data are read automatically.
Since sales volume are low, I priced my pictures has the following: $20 for 1MP, $40 for 4MP and $60 for the original (10MP). I have also a macro RF section as well  as Macro RM even if I don't have an e-commerce section for the later.
Stock  pictures are organized in different galleries: people, food, architecture, transportation, nature landscape, textures and backgrounds.
I have also  a special collection of more artsy pictures which would do well on microstock and some pictures I decided to sell at a higher price and are not offered on microstock agencies.
If contacted directly by a client for a special request, I upload the product to a password protected gallery where he or she can proceed to a secure payment. You just receive a confirmation e-mail when the payment is completed.

Some tips

Smugmug provides some stats but those are quite limited. It is however possible to track your visits using Google Analytics. To do that, go to contol panel, advance site customization and copy paste the code into the head tag.
Smugmug has integrated some social network tools: you can easily share a gallery on twitter and facebook for example. Digg, Stumble Upon and MySpace are also available.
You can link your Smugmug pro account to your own domain name and it is done in few clicks when you have already a domain on godaddy.


Smugmug is a friendly and fast platform to share and sell your digital images. It can be a good complement to your microstock activity if you already have a client base and/or are willing to market your site. However payments for European users are not straightforward since only US dollars checks are emitted.
So far, I’ve sold one digital print (by direct contact) and one print (no direct contact) . This wouldn’t sound like much but it was enough to recover more than 50% of my Pro account cost.
More than 4000 galleries of stock images are already on Smugmug. If you want to join, you can save $5 on a Pro account by entering the following coupon during your registration: 5CnHScGMAvPuA.

You can visit my online store following this link.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November 2009 earnings


November was on track for a BME until the first half of the month, but the second half was noticeably slower and I ended up finally with a second BME. Only one BME to report at CSP with Istock finishing first, ahead from SS (despite 15 OD sales) and FT. Sales were dissappointing at SXP and DT (with RPD decreasing for the third consecutive month). I am still on the process to upload my entire portfolio at Veer and I am glad to report my first sale there. So overall, my earnings reached almost $600 this month when I include midstock sales and referrals.
A slowdown is expected in December so unless a EL sales spree happens, I will probably keep September in my records as 2009's BME with $508.82.


No sales yet but I managed to increase my portfolio at Pond5 (54) and Clipcanvas (91). I have also 39 clips accepted at Shutterstock, 9 at Revostock, 5 at AlwaysHD and 1 at Istock (this clip was pending for a month in the queue...).One of my clip was on the front page of Clipcanvas for a week but unfortunately it was not sold once :( I noticed that video previews looked much better at Clipcanvas than they do at Pond5...

Update: I just found out that my first HD clip (720p) was sold on Clipcanvas at the end of month. I received for this sale a commission of 30 €. You can see this clip here.

Stay tuned for more blog updates in December and in the meantime, you can read my daily updates on Twitter.

Daily sales graph - Isyndica screenshot

Earnings table (figures in USD)

Upload once - Sell everywhere! iSyndica, the web distributor