GDUSA Previews Stock Survey

Posted on 8/21/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Graphic Design USA has previewed the results of its 23rd Annual Stock Visual Survey. The full report, which will be published in the September edition of the magazine, shows prevalence of royalty-free and microstock imagery among professional designers, but the magazine does not think this means rights-managed licensing is on its way out.

Of the professional designers surveyed, 94% use stock and 95% of those use royalty-free stock. Only 45% use rights-managed imagery. Nearly three quarters of professional designers have now used microstock, nearly double the results of two years ago. Subscription produces are in use by 45% of designers.

GDUSA says, “Given the downward pressure on price, one might assume that rights-managed licensing is toast. One would be wrong. As is described in more detail in the full report, creatives continue to evince a stubborn and vehement respect for the character and quality of rights-managed stock as well as its close cousin, the specialized or niche stock collection.

“Even under the duress of the economic downturn and the many high-volume/low-cost options, a shade under half of the respondants still license rights managed images sometimes. More than a quarter of creatives still spend more total dollars on rights managed images than on royalty free.”

The issue not addressed by the survey is whether there is enough demand for rights-managed images to make it an economically viable proposition for photographers to continue to produce them. Creatives may be spending more total dollars for rights-managed than for royalty fee, but that’s not hard to do. If the average price of a microstock royalty-free image is $5 to $6, and an average price for a rights-managed image is $500 (as it was for Getty Images a couple years ago), designers could be using almost 100 microstock images for every single rights-managed one they purchase and still be paying more for the rights-managed image.

Copyright © 2009 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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