EyeEm No Longer Subsidizing Getty Sales

Posted on 5/27/2019 by Robert Kneschke | Printable Version | Comments (1)

    Robert Kneschke is a full-time stock photographer, based in Germany, who has been selling images primarily in the microstock arena for almost almost 15 years. He is one of Adobe Stock's Top 12 all-time contributors and has over 17,500 images in various microstock collections. He currently has 10,200 images in the Getty Images collection via EyeEm. Robert also published a blog www.alltageinesfotoproduzenten.de (Daily Life of a picture producer) in German. The following is one of his recent stories.

EyeEm No Longer Subsidizing Getty Sales

A few years ago EyeEm decided to guarantee its photographers a minimum compensation for each image licensed through its partner relationship with Getty Images regardless of what they received from Getty. The joy of the last EyeEm payday was clouded by the fact that EyeEm is no longer subsidizing low priced sales and for the first time photographers got an idea of how low some of the sales of their images really are.

The minimum figure was never publicly disclosed anywhere, but with enough sales, it's easy to figure out the timing of when the minimum allowances were instituted and lowered:

Up to and including April 2016 $5.00
From May 2016 $3.50
From June 2016 $3.00
From November 2016 $2.00
From June 2018 $1.00
From May 2019 no minimum

This means that EyeEm photographers can now also fret about the absurdly low sales prices at Getty. My new record low is $0.06 per sale, while other photographers even reported $0.03 sales.

This is nothing new for photographers who sell via iStock or on other channels at Getty Images. Photographers from macrostock distributors such as Westend61 or Imagebroker have been annoyed for a long time about the partly single-digit amounts in the billing of Getty Images.

What has been more remarkable so far has been that EyeEm, as one of the few agencies, has been able to guarantee minimum remuneration despite this pricing policy. How they managed this, no one knew, but it was an open secret in the picture industry that such out-of-pocket co-pays could not go on forever.

So it was, as EyeEm announced here yesterday in the unofficial Facebook group "EyeEm Market Worldwide" through its CTO and Co founder Ramzi Rizk:

    "[...] Since the start, we made the decision to subsidize any photos that were sold through third-party partners for less than $2. We did this from our belief that your work should be compensated fairly. Starting this month, we will no longer subsidiary partner sales (sales of images on partnering photo platforms). This means that some of you will see sales under $1. As our sales through Getty and other partners increase, stopping subsidies is the only sustainable way to continue licensing through third parties.

    Just as we did at the start of our journey, we continue to see this as a partnership equal and are committed to always pay you 50% of all revenues from your image sales. Our team's main focus has been to improve your opportunities on EyeEm Market, where we are able to control the prices and guarantee fair compensation. Our Market is growing at a very healthy pace, and as it grows, so will your sales. Many of you have already seen royalties from those sales growing over the past months. [...]"

Why did EyeEm end the subsidy?

As the above quote is aptly mentioned, passing more money on to the photographers than has been taken is, of course, not sustainable and long-term economic suicide. The more images of EyeEm online at Getty Images, the bigger the problem becomes.

The partnership with Getty Images was announced here in March 2014 shortly after the announcement of its own "EyeEm Market," as was the 50% share of the photographer. However, many hobby photographers were not aware for a very long time that the Getty share was still attracting before this income. The Getty share is not known, but is estimated at 60 – 80% internally.

Currently, more than 6.2 million EyeEm images are online at Getty Images (currently about 25 million creative images at Getty Images in total), which is already 25% of the total Creative image portfolio at Getty and by far the largest collection. In the last year alone, it has grown by almost two million images. It is clear that not every sale can be subsidised any more. Much more exciting, however, is the question:

Why did EyeEm subsidize sales in the first place?

Since its inception in mid-2011, EyeEm has seen itself mainly as a "photo community" and compared to platforms such as Flickr, Instagram or 500px rather than Shutterstock or Fotolia. The sales aspect didn't come until later and was (and still is) treated as of sideline importance.

Sales were above all another means for EyeEm to attract more users to the platform, because in the tech-start-up-up economy, the key figures are mainly users (growth), uploads and "engagement." The hashtag for this was #EyeEmPaid, which did well on Twitter and consorts for years, as long as the sale price was never lower than 5 (or later 2) US dollars.

You could almost cynically say subsidizing sales with the resulting cheer messages was nothing more than clever marketing.

Also articles like "How I made $10,000 on EyeEm Market" or "I made $1,254.93 in four months with #EyeEmPaid, do you want to know how?," which have been prominently placed in the EyeEm app for either way or similar for years, read with very different eyes in view of the subsidy.

In April 2015, EyeEm received a total of $18 million from financial investors, which of course facilitates the generous rounding up of mini amounts, but even such a sum is at some point depleted.

By the way: The very cumbersome handling of the modelling contracts also appears in a new light: When sending links to the models, they were also motivated to register with EyeEm in order to feed the growth.

Where do we go from here?

The EyeEm photographers have now been taken out of their dream bubble and land on the hard floor of the stock reality. You now see for how much (or more precisely: For how little) money Getty Images is really selling their pictures, despite list prices of up to 475 euros per picture.

If we take the lowest reported commission of $0.03 as a computational example, that would be a sale price of 15 – 30 US cents per sale at an estimated 60 – 80% Getty-share! One wonders what "tailor-made" subscription packages Getty Images da offers the big customers as "premium access."

What do you say about the whole thing?

To read the original story in German click here.

Copyright © 2019 Robert Kneschke. 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


  • Ashlyn Williams Posted Jul 21, 2022
    Getty images bought one of my selfies for $37.50 a while back (oct. 2015) and last month bought another one for $0.01. I was unaware of this change but after finding out after the sale has already been made, I'm pissed!

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