Airstoc – a UK-based stock video startup devoted exclusively to UAV, or drone, footage.
The company’s secondary objective is to raise the quality of their content in order to increase the public’s perception of drone video. One key point for the founders is to overcome the misconception and dismissal of drone aerials for commercial use. This means they have very high quality standards and don’t accept submissions from just any photographer with a drone.
Despite the company name, Airstoc not only provides stock footage but also connecting services between drone photographers and customers. At the moment bespoke work appears to be more relevant, but company says both streams are growing at a rapid rate and their development efforts focus equally on both.
Their growing network of users includes over 850 professional drone operators in 71 countries to date. Examples of the content they want to promote are property overviews for realtors or beach perspectives for cinematographers.
Airstoc intends to add still images to their catalog soon, but they currently only offer video footage. They offer 4k quality footage, and the assignments can also be 5k and 6k.
All footage is sold under Rights Managed licenses, for a single use per license but no other restrictions.
Their catalog has a flat rate pricing structure, with HD videos at $299 and 4K at $399.
Royalties are 50%—great by today’s standards—but there’s a 3-month lock in, which is not ideal but could be worse.
Although they have a non-exclusive deal available, they prefer exclusive content and offer higher royalties as an incentive for exclusive contracts.
Airstoc has been listed in CNBC’s “Top 20 Hottest Startups” of 2014, so they’re clearly doing something right.
Airstoc believes that their deep knowledge of the art and business of aerial photography gives them an advantage over non-specialized agencies. They also think their contributors will be loyal to a company that focuses on growing business opportunities for their area of expertise.
They work closely with their operators to gain that loyalty and ensure the best quality content for their catalog, which they hope to enhance in volume and variety to keep up with demand.
Being based in the UK has helped the company avoid some major legal headaches. In many countries, including the US, selling drone footage may violate regulations regarding commercial use of airspace, making it difficult to license safely—and subsequently deterring big clients from using it. But the UK revised its laws early, eliminating that obstacle. This also allows the company to instruct their operators based outside the UK with proven methods for shooting safely and legally.
However, since Airstoc is globally crowdsourced and drone aerials are still a new industry, legal issues are still their main challenge. Their goal here is to help buyers appreciate the value of drone footage without worrying about its legality, by working with operators to deliver legal and high quality shots.
If they can solve a lot of those issues, perhaps that will strengthen their unique selling proposition.
The company has been operating for one year already. They have a professional-looking website and are showing healthy growth: stock sales increased by 80% last month and they’re expecting a further 100% growth next month. Requests for assignment work are growing at 40% month to month, and conversion rates are also increasing.