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Meet Wemark, An Innovative Company Trying to Bring Blockchain to Stock Photos

Wemark is a new startup that launched into stock photo industry, aiming at transforming the way you buy (and sell) stock photos. Using blockchain technology, they want to eliminate the middleman position and be an alternative to stock photo agencies that connects buyers and content creators directly.

With their own dedicated currency and smart contracts, Wemark wants to give designers and creatives a way to buy stock imagery at lower rates and in a more transparent system, while giving image creators more control over their content and higher revenues from their work.

They very recently released alpha version of their site, and the whitelisting for their dedicated blockchain currency sale has just started. Find out more about this new startup next.

Wemark: A Digital Content Marketplace Opposite to a Stock Photo Agency

There’s several points that make Wemark different from every other stock photo agency out there, basically because they market themselves as a better alternative to stock photo agencies. According to the company, Wemark is an online marketplace for digital content, that puts stock photos at your reach by connecting you directly with the photographers or artists who create and own the images.

This sounds a lot like the description of a stock agency, but Wemark claims not to be one. For them stock photo agencies are a middleman: they take care of marketing, pricing, and licensing among other business aspects of selling photos online, charging authors up to 75% of sales in transaction fees.

Their service, they say, is no middleman. A blockchain-based distribution and purchase system that lets buyers and authors make transactions directly and with lower fees.

How Do They Do It?

What the company does is to offer a specific blockchain protocol for the transactions, that includes smart contracts that authors can customise and fix. They charge a transaction fee for the protocol, of 15% of the sale price. This is certainly lower than most stock photo agencies rates, and results in higher earnings for photographers.

Their system lets authors select both the price for their images, and the rights they want to include in the license available to buyers. Once the image, price and terms are approved, they can't be changed. If someone wants to buy an image, the protocol executes the smart contract covering it, and issues a license for that image under buyer's name. This hopes to give artists better control over their content, and add transparency to the business.

Want to join Wemark as a contributor? You can learn how to, here.

What’s in Wemark for Me?

As a stock photo buyers there’s two aspects in this offer that may interest you:

  • It allows for low image prices: As the transaction fees are so much lower, it’s possible to offer lower prices too
  • It will offer a wide range of prices: Since authors fix prices for their content, the same marketplace will host budget images from $0,50 to premium photos of up to $500
  • It aims at being fairer with content creators: as transaction fees are slashed down to 15%, authors would earn between 2 and 4 times more for every sale than they do in stock photo agencies

It does sound nice to be able to buy cheap stock photos which authors are well paid for them, but it's a bit hard to see if such a system could work in the long term.

How Does Wemark Work?

Wemark is currently in alpha version. The marketplace is not out just yet, but will soon (you can subscribe to be notified, here). But here’s what you need to know about how it works:

  • It will be an online digital content marketplace, starting with stock photos. You will be able to access and view a variety of images, and further purchase a license and download them, just like in a stock photo agency
  • It will have its own blockchain currency: the Wemark Token (WMK). To use Wemark you’ll need to buy Wemark Tokens
  • The system works on the base of the Wemark protocol, a smart contract that once established cannot be altered: when buying an image, the transaction is done between you and the author, and the smart contract will generate a license for that image under your name
  • License will include all the usage rights author has decided to include, and will be priced at the point author chooses
  • Sale price is final for you. Of that price, 15% of every sale will be the Wemark Protocol transaction fee, and the rest will go to the author

What are Wemark Tokens and How Do I Get Them?

If you are interested in starting to use Wemark as your image supplier, you will need to buy Wemark Tokens (WMK). As said before, this is Wemark’s native blockchain currency unit, on the base the whole system will operate. Further ahead they intend to have a rewards program based in the currency too.

To buy Wemark Tokens you can add yourself to the whitelist, which opened recently on May 7th and will be running for 2 weeks. Wemark Tokens have a price of $0,20 per unit, and there’s a limited supply.

Bonus info: if you want to sell your images in Wemark, you must also get whitelisted for Wemark Tokens.

Learn all about and enter Wemark Tokens whitelist here. 

Who’s Behind Wemark?

Above: CEO and Co-Founder Tai Kaish Below: CTO and Co-Founder Pavel Elkind

The company is a startup backed by venture capital. Co-founded by CEO Tai Kaish and CTO Pavel Elkind, both with over a decade of experience in digital marketing and software engineering respectively, for top brands. They are joined by a team of experts in different aspects of the business.

Wemark also counts with stock media industry experts in their advisor’s board, including Lars Perkings (founder of Picasa), Keren Sach (former director of content development at Shutterstock) and Lee Torrens (marketplace director at Canva).

Why Are They Doing Wemark?

CEO and co-founder Tai Kaish, seconded by the whole team collectively, stated that the reason behind Wemark is they want to offer an alternative for content creators. They say that as stock photo agencies grow in power and data, they force contributors to give in in terms of content rights, earnings and license control. And they want to change that.

Moreover, they state this is not just a company philosophy, but a guaranteed fact backed by their inmutable protocol programming.

What’s in Wemark’s Roadmap?

According to the company’s website and its creators, there’s a lot ahead for the startup. As they just opened up the whitelist for Wemark Tokens, the site offers only a preview of recent photos included in the upcoming library. But see how things will unfold:

  • A fully functional stock photo marketplace will be online in June 2018
  • In the third quarter of 2018 they plan to launch a pioneer’s program with special perks for early adopting firms, brands and design studios
  • In the fourth quarter of 2018, they should expand payment options adding credit card, wire transfers and other methods to assist buyers in the purchase of Wemark Tokens (the only currency accepted on the platform)
  • Also in this fourth quarter they will release a beta version of the site
  • In 2019, they plan to add other media types to their offer: illustrations, vectors, videos, stock music, 3D models, and more

They surely have a great roadmap designed, but only time can tell if they'll make it to get enough photographers on board, and selling enough photos as to fulfil those plans.

What Do You Think of  Wemark?

With blockchain's popularity rising, it was a matter of time before someone would try to use it in the stock photo market. It's innovative yes, and potentially game-changing, if and only if the metrics accompany them.

As we said they're not the first company in trying to do things differently and be more fair with content creators. But the reason why stock photo agencies charge transaction fees is because the costs of running a successful online media marketplace are great. Could an automated protocol solve it all and generate enough revenue as to make it worthwhile for stock photo buyers, contributors, and company? Time will tell

What do you think about it? Are you going to give it a try? Check out Wemark website and find out more details.

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus in providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography, like the PixelRockstar WordPress Plugin. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts
  1. Seems like a great project! Really looking forward to see what’s in store!

    Good luck

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