Adobe Stock Launched: Royalty Rates UP!

Posted on 6/16/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Adobe has launched [St] Adobe Stock as part of its Adobe Creative Cloud subscription offering.

Creative Cloud customers are now able to launch Adobe Stock directly within CC desktop software such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop or After Effects, and add watermarked or licensed images to their Creative Cloud Libraries. This will allow them to access and work with images across multiple desktop tools.

According to Fast Company 85% of the people who buy stock images use Adobe applications. Over 90% of the people who create stock images use Adobe software in the process of creating or preparing the images for marketing.

The [St] subscription plans start at $29.99 a month for 10 images for existing Creative Cloud subscribers and $49.99 a month for non-subscribers. The $29.99 plan requires a year’s commitment while the $49.99 plan can be purchased for a single month. If in a given month the customer doesn’t use all the images purchased the unused images can be rolled over to the next month with a limit of 120 rollover images on account.

Customers with the $29.99 plan can purchase as many additional images as they want in any given month for $2.99 each. Additional images for the $49.99 plan are $4.99 each. Those who just want occasional images can license individual photos for $9.99 each.

Royalty Rates

Royalty rates for all image contributors have been raised, from 20-25% to 33%! Fotolia will continue to be operated as a separate site in addition to Adobe Stock, although the same images will be available on both sites. It appears that the new royalty rate will be the same for sales on both Fotolia and Adobe Stock. [St] Adobe Stock ( will also be operated as a separate independent web site.

Adobe Stock also offers large users  a 750 downloads per month plan for $199.99. That could turn out to be about $0.26 per download and $0.09 for a 33% royalty. But Adobe has provided a minimum guaranteed royalty ( of $0.25 in the event that a straight calculation of the number of downloads might be lower.

Mat Hayward of Adobe says that the Dollar Photo Club that many contributors to Fotolia dislike will continue to exist, but Adobe has stopped promoting it. He also indicated that videos are not currently available on Adobe Stock but that they are constantly considering the best ways to improve the product based on client and contributor feedback and needs.

What Will Shutterstock Do?

One of the big questions is how Shutterstock, and to a lesser degree iStock, will respond to this move. Most of the images available on Shutterstock will also be available on Adobe Stock.

While it may not be a big deal for designers to search a separate site, download a file and then upload it to their project it will certainly be easier to do it all within Creative Cloud.

But the price differential could be a significant incentive to switch to Adobe. The big question is how many subscription customers really download 750 images per month. While Adobe Stock offers a subscription plan for its users that is priced exactly the same as Shutterstock’s my guess is that a huge percentage of the customers use far fewer images and could benefit from Adobe Stock’s 10 images a month plan. They can easily add as many additional images as they need to their plan for $2.99 each. A customer can get 66 images a month for what they would have to pay for Shutterstock’s plan. If there is a months when they use fewer than 10 images they can roll them over into the next month.

Another factor to consider is that it is believed that many Shutterstock subscription users download many more images than they actually end up using in projects. They use them for layout purposes, or just to have on hand in case. Only a small percentage of these images are actually used in projects. It costs the user nothing to download these extra images, so why not.

Adobe Stock’s Creative Cloud option allows users to download as many images as they want onto Adobe Creative Cloud and only pay for those images when they are actually used in a project. This could give a lot of subscription customers everything they need for a lot less money.

I estimate that about $135 million of Shutterstock’s revenue comes from subscriptions and a significant part of this could be at risk, although the decline will certainly come slowly since most of their subscription customers have year long commitments. Another $80 to $90 million comes from single images sales and Adobe Stock customers can purchase single images from Adobe for about the same price they pay Shutterstock or a little less.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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