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Licensing Artwork

I can't get artists onboard.

11:51 pm on Apr 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'd like to license artwork from various "small time" artists for printing on-demand and subsequent sale online. My site is well-established, although we haven't licensed anything before. I've contacted 20 or 30 different artists now with basically no interest from any of them. What could I be doing wrong? Don't these guys want to make a buck?
2:01 pm on Apr 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I can't talk for anyone else, but as someone exhibiting work in 10 UK cities this year, if some unknown mailed me with something like this, I'd certainly go look at the site but unless the site made a big impression by being especially wow or well known, I doubt that I could be bothered. There are about a billion places to do this sort of stuff like this online so another makes a relatively small splash in the pond. I'd look at recrafting your mail to make it incredibly clear why your site is the site they must use and all the incredible things you'll do for them and their exposure.
2:58 pm on Apr 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The licensee pays to use the licensed material. Done that way nobody can complain. Much like a movie studio paying the author to license their book for x years, paid up front, and possibly pay royalties on income above z.

I asked one of my suppliers about this. They're a large art publisher in New York:

When you license a piece of art, do you pay an up-front licensing fee or just royalties?

Up-front payments (actually advances on royalties) are only when the artist has a proven history. Most deals are made for royalties paid quarterly based on the selling price of the print.

tangor, where did you get your info?
1:44 pm on Aug 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@ Tonearm:

Would love to know if you have made any progress on this.

If it were me, the first thing I would do is find out what typical licensing rates are for the products you intend to sell, so that when it comes time to telling the artist what you can pay, you will already have a good idea of what others (your competition) pays.

Also, it might be good to start off with an intelligent, specific compliment about piece of work that they created. Tell them exactly WHY you like that particular piece of work.

You might want to wait to pop the question until you have already exchanged one or two emails first.

Or maybe at the bottom of your first email (which would be more social than business), you might add something like this.

"BTW: I was wondering if you ever sell your art?"

Just to pique their curiosity.

Also, for people who don't email back, there is always (or at least sometimes) the phone.

Also, I wonder if the artists you are dealing with even know what licensing is... maybe when you broach the subject, you need to KISS more for them?
3:20 pm on Aug 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ergo, artists (or at least the ones the OP has been trying to contact) must not be rational.

I believe it's closer to what others have pointed out, that the approach is negatively influencing conversions. This is similar to link building. Conversion Analysis is an important factor for identifying what will make someone link from their site to another site. Conversion optimization is the largest aspect of what I do.

The problem here is lack of conversions. The lack is caused by skepticism, lack of trust, the medium of contact (email), and other issues related to trust. Your solution lies in solving each of those issues. Ask yourself, what is causing skepticism and what can I do to overcome it? What can I do to build trust and communicate that in my email and/or website?
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