Alamy Doubles Downloads Since 2008

Posted on 10/7/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The latest edition of Alamy’s “Ask James” series of video chats where CEO James West responds to photographer questions is now live. West reports that the company licensed rights to about 360,000 images in 2012, up from under 200,000 in 2008.

West also said that while the volume of downloads “has essentially doubled the business (revenue) is about the same size.” In 2008 gross revenue was $31.5 million.

For contributors that means that the average price of a license in 2012 was about $87.50 with the contributor receiving 50% of that or $43.75 on average. West also reported that about 22% of the uses they license are for $25 or less. (Based on analysis I’ve done of sales by a few major contributors to at least 25% of Getty’s Premium licenses are for fees of $25 or less.)

Alamy currently has 40.58 million images on its site. With 360,000 images licensed a year that means that at most only one out of every 113 images on the site is licensed each year. (Thus less than 1% of the images on the site are license. Some may be licensed more than once a year which would further decrease the odds of any image being licensed.)

“Ask James: Take 2” ( offers many other valuable insights, not just for Alamy contributors, but for anyone engaged in the stock photo industry. It is well worth the 15 minutes it will take photographers or stock agents to review.

Back in 2008 when Alamy established a U.S. office 30% of their revenue came from sales in the U.S. Now U.S. sales represent 60% of revenue.

One of the photographers asked for some reasons why he should put his images with Alamy. West listed a few of the reason as follows:
  • Alamy is a strong company that has been in business since 1999
  • It has been profitable since 2004
  • It has survived two major recessions
  • Over the years it has built a fantastic position in the secondary editorial space
  • Alamy still pays one of the best royalty rates in the business. He acknowledged that royalties have been cut in the last few year because the company has been required to do a lot more things than was the case in the early years.
  • They have paid out over $135 million in royalties
  • Marketing more intensively and upping our game in U.S. market
  • The photographer gets to decide what images they will place on the site
  • Through Alamy Measures tools they tell the photographers what is selling
  • They have made measurable improvement in the search engine in the last 12 months based on the increase in sales and conversion rates.
Another photographer noted that some sales for limited, essentially one-time use, often have a 10-year license. He asked why that should be. West pointed out that in the new environment that offers so many possible ways for images to be used to sell a product or deliver information often major publishers really don’t know all the different ways they might want to eventually use an image when they make the initial purchase. Given how litigious the industry has become buyers have become reluctant to purchase RM images unless they had long-term rights.

Faced with this problem, and a decline in images used, a few years ago Alamy offered a major customer 10-year rights for a one-time fee provided the customer would report to them any instances when they used the image in a different way at a later date. At its own expense, Alamy then paid the photographer for each of these additional uses. They entered into this agreement as a way of getting a better understanding of how often customers might make additional use of the images they purchased. It turned out that only about 15% of the images were ever used a second time. 85% of the images were only used the one time even though the customer had the right to use them in additional ways.

The full video contains many other useful bits of information.

Copyright © 2013 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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