Price Cutting for Market Share Unlikely to Succeed

Posted on 12/17/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (5)

According to Paul Melcher, Getty Images is now offering publishers "new low prices in exchange for being the sole provider." Assuming that is true, it could easily backfire on Getty, and may point to a need for photographers to revise their marketing strategies.

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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 301-251-0720, 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:  


  • Yva Momatiuk Posted Dec 17, 2009

    Do you -- or Paul -- have an access to an actual agreement? Without the document in hand, we can all only speculate.


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Dec 17, 2009
    Has Getty ever heard of Anti-Monopoly laws? Why aren't other agencies suing for unfair & illegal practices?Can't they at least let the Feds know?

    Anyone have opinions on this?

    Bill Bachmann
    Orlando, Florida

  • Jagdish Agarwal Posted Dec 18, 2009
    Dinodia in India, has been successfully negotiating sole provider terms, with book publishers in India, for a long long time. First complete book, with all images from dinodia, was in 1987. And rates are not necessarily lower. Mostly we get higher rates. Because clients save time and effort, because all images are under one roof. And missing images, we source or shoot.

    jagdish agarwal /dinodia / india

  • Tim Mcguire Posted Dec 18, 2009

    I agree with your article. It doesn't really matter if Getty is really doing this or not. The prices are too low already. Over the past 10 years photographers have been getting less and less OF less and less.

    Getty's path could eventually leave a talent vacuum at big stock agencies because the model they represent is not financially viable for many (possibly most) stock creators living and working in developed countries. Clients with money will go where the best new images are (not sure where that will be yet).

    To a certain level independent stock artists could undercut Getty pricing for market share while still pocketing more per license than if their work were licensed through Getty... or they could match Getty prices and offer better, newer work.

    In the short to medium term volume will be the greatest challenge for independent direct licensing by creators. Getty will have a challenge sourcing good, inexpensively produced content from amateurs and pro artists in developing nations where overhead is lower. The problem for them is, technology has made Flickr and other technology platforms(Photoshelter, LisenceStream, IPN)available to everyone including those living in places where it is less expensive to live and work. Subscriptions to these technologies (PS, LS, IPN, Flickr)are far less expensive than Getty is, especially if you have good stock images and a way to market and distribute those images direct to customers through these new technology platforms.

    Tim McGuire, a virtual stock image collective for pro photographers and visual artists.

  • Bob Prior Posted Dec 18, 2009
    Following on from the above - how is it possible that professional images can continue being supplied by photographers who receive the resale prices currently being offered? Such action has been a questionable process for a considerable length of time and how long that kind of ‘business’ model can be sustained is, in my view, equally questionable.

    I have seen this happen before – in the print industry. Large print corporations, in an effort to keep their machines running and their turnover in place, no longer SOLD print but instead BOUGHT print, and the publishers, such as I, used that to our benefit by driving down the prices to rock bottom – BECAUSE WE COULD.

    However, that business model did not work in the long term, and those large printers went to the wall and the publisher went back to paying the right commercial price. And why? Because we had to. We needed to put ink on paper otherwise we would have no magazine to sell. And the same applies today - if images are worth so little to the SELLING process then why bother to buy any at whatever price – just leave the front cover blank! The reason I buy images is because it SELLS my magazines and poor quality images sell less magazines.

    It is not only the internet that is interfering with circulation but also the lowering of impact images and the reduction of the ‘wow’ factor that leads to purchase.

    One last point I would like to address is the last paragraph which seems to present PACA as being the only alternative means of sourcing images using the search engine principle. This is not true . Five years ago introduced the ‘one source’ search engine to its site which leads our current 360.000 monthly image buying visitors to keyword search over 150 stock photographic libraries at one hit. I would also add that those libraries are SPECIALIST libraries, thus giving a breadth and depth of results that will often challenge the larger umbrella sites.

    Robert Prior and

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