Another Look At The Market In China

Posted on 5/2/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The stock photo market in China may be bigger, and more lucrative than many people think. Gaopin Images tells Selling Stock that their average gross sale to Chinese customers in 2018 was $35, 17% more than what Getty is earning worldwide and 44% more than the gross China sales Getty is reporting to its contributors.

Recently, I analyzed the 2017 and 2018 China sales of some of Getty’s major contributors. The average gross China sale Getty reported was $19.70, but 16% of the top sales were for average prices over $98 with one over $600.  Eighty-four percent of Getty’s sales were for prices under $25 with an average gross sale price of $5.74 for this group of images.

To a lot of photographers those numbers may not sound like much, but consider that in order to understand what customers actually paid we must include the percentage Getty allows VCG to retain for handling its China sales on top of the figures Getty reports. If VCG retains 32% of each gross license fee before submitting the balance to Getty, that would jump the VCG selling price up to the $29 average that Getty probably earned for All sales, worldwide, in 2018. The $29 figure includes all the sales Getty makes directly.

Photographers should consider what it might mean for their gross revenue if they were dealing directly with Gaopin Images instead of VCG through Getty, and maybe getting a higher royalty share than they receive from Getty. VCG might generate a higher sales volume, but it is unclear how they will come back, and when, from their recent problems with the China Cybersecurity Agency investigation. The VCG hiatus may also be an opportunity for Gaopin to grow its customer base.

In recent years there has been a social medias boom in China like everywhere else. Large enterprises, small agencies, and individuals all have accounts on social media platforms like Weibo and Wechat. These accounts need lots of images for the articles they post daily. All the premium licensing platforms sell to this market. The single image price for a social media use tends to be around $15, while package prices can be lower than $5. Package price tend to be just slightly higher than the microstock platforms.

Considering the very low price and huge amounts of images licensed to these social medias, the average licensing price in the China market is getting lower year by year just like everywhere else in the world.

However, in China there is also a growing demand from commercial clients who need unique, premium and inspirational content for their campaigns. These include: automobile corporates, information technology, telecommunication service enterprises, food and beverage industry and financial institutions. They purchase large quantities of creative images at high prices. There is also increasing demand for creative footages and music.

Nature, landscapes, city life, modern architecture, Asia life and business, food, backgrounds, illustrations and HDRI domes are among the top selling categories. Images full of imagination or even ahead of current trend are favored by some agencies. Though RF images are more preferred, RM licensing percentages have not dropped as much. In the traditional advertising market there is still a high level of demand for RM images. For RF priced for a single high-res image ranges from $300 to $500. Customers are willing to allocate adequate budget for premium content suitable for their product marketing and promotion.    

Gaopin Images was founded in 2013 by former Corbis China core team and Jason Liu is the company CEO. The company currently has over 8 million images on its premium licensing platform of creative image, footage and music, as well as editorial images of art, history, documentary, and movie archive. Through a sales network in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Gaopin Images reaches many thousands of clients in the China market. Gaopin Images is a member of CEPIC and DMLA participant.

Copyright © 2019 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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