It’s been announced that Soundcloud have partnered with Getty to provide options for people to licence their clips for commercial use.
It is problematic enough for us with understanding how we can or can’t get royalties for plays on these kind of sites if the piece is registered under the PRS or MCP. Same as with Spotify and Lastfm, but this is the same deal that killed Flickr. Yes, millions of people are on Flickr and still use it, but it destroyed the ethic behind it which was about creating an environment where people wanted to upload their images to be shared, discussed and to make friends and learn from one another. The fact that one day you could be talking to somebody in your town and then arranging a shoot together, and discussing strobism with a leading fashion photographer the next was the icing on the Flickr cake.
But then came Getty Images and within a few months for me Flickr died. People stopped submitting their images because they weren’t sure whether Getty Images would be stealing their work away, group pools dried up and even conversations in groups winded down. At the same time, there were an equal number of people completely changing the way they shot actually trying to get their images noticed by Getty in order to ‘make money’ from their hobby. It’s the dream, and one which suddenly seems attainable by a small few, but when you’re a site like Flickr, a small few is in reality hundreds of thousands. This works well for Yahoo, and I am sure they are making a very good revenue stream from the sale of images from their paid for subscribers, but is it beneficial to the creator? I haven’t found any success stories yet of people who have made successful livings selling stock through Flickr to Getty Images, perhaps there is. I truly hope that Soundcloud doesn’t fall foul of this same experience.