03 Apr 2008 When is a Microstock Subscription not a Microstock Subscription?

…when it’s a subscription for credits. In a strategic move to attract more corporate clients and appease existing ones, iStockphoto have announced the imminent introduction of subscriptions, but with a difference.

Microstock contributors have, for quite some, time been calling for subscriptions where sales of larger images produce bigger commissions than smaller sizes. This is effectively what iStockphoto’s new subscription plan will achieve by providing a daily allocation of credits rather than photos.

Full pricing details are yet to be announced, but the cheapest package will be $96 for around 84 credits, providing subscribers with a slight discount and earning contributors an only slightly reduced commission, though it’s complicated by a system whereby contributors are rewarded with a portion of the used credits in the subscriber’s daily allowance. iStockphoto management are waiting on feedback from market discussions before finalizing the pricing structure, though the information that has been released is confusing most contributors on the relevant forum thread.

Contributors will also be given the opportunity to opt out their entire portfolio or individual images, though iStockphoto’s Kelly Thompson says “I think you’re going to be happy; you’re not going to want to opt out”.

While initially creating shock and upset among microstock contributors, the clarification that subscribers would get credits instead of images has calmed the hysteria. Many contributors are now pleased with the change and looking forward to getting access to the details. Super contributor Andres Rodriguez was confident in iStockphoto’s ability to make a subscription work: “Subscriptions on iStock have a good potential to be a success due to the traffic the site has, plus the fact they have been the only site to listen to contributors and charge a higher amount of credits for larger images”.

It’s been a busy week for iStockphoto’s public relations team with the announcement of the non-exclusive and week-long iStockalypse in Malta, revealing financial information about earnings and contributor commissions, and now this bombshell of an announcement about subscriptions. Hopefully tomorrow will bring the pricing details to round out the week.

Update 2008-04-04 iStockphoto have released further clarification which reveals that contributors stand to earn more but not less than with the current per-credit sales.

  • James
    Posted at 10:54h, 04 April Reply

    Hey Lee 🙂

    I’m having a bit of trouble sorting through exactly what this might mean in terms of actual revenue change for non-exclusive contributors at IS. There seem to be so many varying opinions over on the forum that its hard to tell how this will play out (especially without hard numbers from IS). When you find out more, could you post an update?

    Thanks! 🙂


    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 20:19h, 04 April Reply

      Updated. See the bottom of the post for details and a link to the source. Good news for us contributors!


  • James
    Posted at 15:19h, 04 April Reply

    Clarification from IS here 🙂 Looks good!

  • Photonomikon
    Posted at 13:31h, 07 April Reply

    And this is how subscriptions should be…
    Kudos IS. I’m loving them more each day.

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