A few days after PhotoArchiveNews.com announced the Corbis/VCG sale in January I had a call from Corbis Entertainment head Gary Shenk inviting me to an interview with him on what’s next for the brands he did not sell to Visual China Group.
On a call last week which lasted 50 minutes Gary was upbeat and in a bullish mood – in fact of all the conversations we have had over the years this one was the most interesting. Gone was the PR speak he adhered to during his corporate Corbis role, he now sounds like an independent photo agency owner, championing his company, talking business budgets and thinking about how he is going to incentivise his photographers. Things are going to get gritty in the entertainment photo industry and Splash is his main agenda along with a ‘pure focus on the entertainment businesses’ Gary: “Splash is one of our key priorities, and now we have resources and investment to focus on it”
The call with Gary in Los Angeles included the management team from his celebrity photo agency Splash. Gary did most of the talking, I could sense he was on the edge of his seat or even pacing the room while the team chipped in when their department was mentioned. The main news here is that Gary and the entertainment businesses he didn’t sell to VCG – Splash, BEN his product integration platform and Greenlight, the rights representation and clearances business will be housed under a new name next month – Gary: “We will be launching the “NewCo” in May”
Splash was my main focus of all the businesses, I wanted to know what his plans for this great brand are. The focus is on the photographers and getting them paid as soon as possible after an image is published, Gary: “We will be augmenting this in the next few months with market-leading payment terms on exclusives — we’re looking to pay in 2-5 days, we already have the best payment terms in the industry — paying photographers within 30 days of publication (as opposed to collection, like other agencies) I challenged him on the competition the other established lean and keen independent celebrity photo agencies in the field like Xposure, FameFlynet, WENN who can adjust their businesses at the click of a shutter to fit the changing celebrity photo field …I got the feeling they don’t even register with him, in fact he was all for ‘crushing the competition’ – Gary: “We are aggressively recruiting photographers and invite photographers to join us as we embark on our exciting future!”.
So, lots to look forward to in May for the celebrity photo industry, here at the PAN offices we have wind of three more significant photo agency launches in the planning – the celebrity photo field has just warmed up again and this time the photographers are back in control, it’s all about the photographer now!
We rounded up the conversation with a note to speak again in 6 months time. Gary finished with this “The celebrity content market is undergoing dynamic changes related to challenges in the traditional publishing market, and celebrities increasingly engaging with their audiences directly. But celebrity remains by far the most-viewed content in digital, and new opportunities abound. As the #1 player in the celebrity content space, Splash is best positioned strategically and financially to lead through this change, ensuring our contributors and customers are successful.”
Thank you again!
GARY SHENK | CEO
Thanks Gary, speak soon.
• Photographers wanting to join Splash should email Austin Raishbrook in the Splash LA offices on firstname.lastname@example.org, he will then direct you to the relevant Splash office in your territory.