When Dissolve hit the market, I – along with many other online content creators – was excited by the potential of having access to high quality stock footage that wasn’t the run of the mill stuff we’ve seen hiding out in every other stock site out there. It was fresh material, and prices began at a pretty amazing US$5. To top things off, you could also get access to three free clips a month if you were a member. Finally, there was some stock worth celebrating!
Fast forward through to 2015, and somewhere along the lines you will have seen Dissolve change tact. Whatever the impetus, the high quality stock marketplace went higher with their pricing overnight. One day, the cheapest Dissolve footage was US$5. The next, there was an almost 900% increase with the cheapest footage priced at US$49!
The silver lining was the fact that they continued to offer three free clips each month. Interestingly though, how they did that changed too – they began to process the free clips as an ‘order.’ If I’m being honest, that always felt to me like a little bit of a slap in the face: “Hey, we’re including the full price of these clips just so you can see how cheap you are being by not actually purchasing the footage otherwise!”
Now today was the first opportunity I have had to check out the latest offerings from Dissolve this year – and yes, that very much included perusing their free clips. Well, it would have except for the fact that they’re now offering just the one free clip a month. That puzzled me a bit. Last year they announced that, “Quality is the focus as company expands into multi-billion dollar market segment” – so why do they seem to be narrowing their target market while expanding their business? Surely that is not mutually beneficial. Well, I have a theory.
In this example, Dissolve have a Saudi Arabian aeroplane taking off from Heathrow Airport. Pricing for this 14-second clip begins at US$400. We are already talking an increase of 7900% on their original clips (to be fair, this was not necessarily one of those US$5 clips). If you intend to use it in an indie-released feature film though, that increases to US$3,000.
Now $3K for what is essentially beautiful filler is most likely beyond the scope of the average joe making a YouTube or Vimeo clip, right? So who is it priced for? The official line says that, “Our aim is to empower today’s video storytellers with footage from the world’s most exciting and relevant shooters.” Sounds wonderful! But who are these story-tellers? I think the Dissolve About us answers that question quite succinctly: they license, “stock video clips for use in commercials, television shows, documentaries, and feature films, and licenses stock photography for use in design and creative work.”
In short, Dissolve burst onto the scene with their great product, and lots of people bought in. But it seems like they were not necessarily attracting the right people. In order to bring balance, pricing was dramatically increased in order to right-size the average story-teller out of the Dissolve equation. That way Dissolve’s apparent understanding of what constituted “video story-tellers” could be more readily serviced with their empowerment.
What about the rest of us though? Well, we can pretend we’re in the money and occasionally buy these high-priced clips – in the same way that you might fork-out to buy an Armani suit. Otherwise, we may just have to write blog posts of lament over diminishing access to quality stock content until something new comes along once again.