06 Aug 2008 The Empire Strikes Back
The market has been wondering how and when Shutterstock were going to respond to the introduction of subscriptions – the business model that Shutterstock has always dominated – at all other top microstock agencies, three of which have occurred in the past twelve months. The response arrived yesterday and contrary to recent industry trends, it’s a development which has pleased contributors.
Shutterstock have introduced a year-long subscription plan titled ‘Shutterstock On Demand’. Subscribers can download their quota of images over a year rather than the 25-a-day quota of regular subscription plans. The new plans appeal to photo buyers with smaller budgets or lower quantity requirements, a portion of the market that Shutterstock had, until now, lost to its competitors.
The smaller $49 On Demand plan buys 12 small to medium images or 5 at any size including vectors. The larger plan at $229 buys 60 small to medium images or 25 any size & vector files.
Shutterstock have also enabled buyers to run multiple simultaneous subscription plans on a single account, choosing which plan to use each time they download an image. This is not an insignificant development for the convenience of Shutterstock buyers.
Contributors will earn 3.25 times our normal payout rate for downloads in a small to medium plan and 7.5 times our normal payout rate for downloads from the any size plans. All earnings count towards your lifetime earnings to help you move up the Shutterstock payout rates. The program uses the same license as regular plans and as it can only earn contributors more royalaties there is no need to provide an opt-out facility.
Shutterstock have already updated the contributor statistics page and many contributors are already reporting seeing sales in the On Demand column. (not me, yet)
The atmosphere in the market has been rather grim for contributors lately with many agencies compromising commissions or license conditions in the name of increased sales volume through accessing new market segments. It’s encouraging to see Shutterstock implementing a strategy to access new customers without upsetting the contributor community. In fact, like a recent development at another market leader, contributors only stand to gain from these changes.