Which Agency Offers The Best Royalty?

Posted on 11/19/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

A photographer recently asked if I could point her to a chart that shows what royalty percentage each stock distributors pays its photographers so she could better determine which offered the best deal. She added, “I recognize that there were a number of factors involved -- home territories, partner agents, image collections, number of photographer’s images licensed, rights managed, traditional royalty free, microstock – so hopefully the chart would take all these factors into consideration.”

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Copyright © 2012 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Christina Vaughan Posted Nov 20, 2012
    If I may say, Jim, I think you miss an opportunity to comment on a deeper issue here and it is the one of how do we as an industry attach value to the photography we represent in a changing world where there is an over supply of ubiquitous content? In the past decade within our industry, we have seen decreasing value attached to the photographer and photography and as a result, we have seen a decline in the ability of photographers to invest in high quality productions. Because there are less production values, the customer attaches less value to the image and prices come down. As prices come down, there is less money to reinvest and a vicious cycle of low quality content and low quality prices pervades. Today, there is a greater need than ever before for our industry to reinvigorate premium creative stills licesning. Through our brands Cultura and Image Source, we see that customers are still able and willing to pay high prices for quality images. If we want to see more quality imagery, we need to invest further in Photography and our Photographers. We do this by quality art direction, creative intelligence and also putting our photographers’ images in front of more buyers’ eyeballs than any other company, having the largest international network in the world. That’s our job, our brand and our business.
    BUT there is one additional factor. In my role of President of CEPIC, I have been fighting at EU legislation level for better recognition of the value of content creators . This has encouraged me to review our own business too and from December, we will have additional incentives in place to reward continued investment and to help develop strategically important areas of our collections as driven by the customer. Image Source will be paying out some of the highest royalties to premium professional photographers in the industry, This royalty comes from one of the most respected and established stock brands in the world and creates a virtuous circle of quality Photographers, quality Photography, quality Art Direction, quality Marketing, quality Distribution. All this equates to higher pricing, an investment in premium content and a greater return on investment for Photographers. It’s a win-win for all – the Customer gets better images, the agency gets to sell more at higher prices and photographers get a better return on investment which in turn allows them to reinvest in quality imagery

  • David Sucsy Posted Nov 25, 2012
    The beginning of your answer is good, but it deteriorates from there. Ultimately, this article ends up as useless.
    If you had quoted some actual income numbers or even percentages of some of the top stock photographers (Yuri Arcurs comes to mind), this article could have been far more helpful.
    Bottom line, this article has wasted 2 of my credits, and the time of most of your readers.
    I appreciate what you have done over the years and are continuing to try to do, but for your service to be something that we are willing to pay for and is useful to us as photographers, you need to do better than this.

  • Anita Najda Posted Nov 29, 2012
    I think one of the most important variables missing here is the role that smaller agencies/production companies play in covering the costs it takes to get images to the market. Companies like Image Source, Blend Images, fStop (my employer) and others spend significant amounts of money editing/keywording/retouching/processing images on behalf of photographers, and then typically distribute those images to a very wide network of distribution partners. Yes, they take a percentage for their efforts, but a real study of this topic would weigh many more variables than you've covered here. Derick Rhodes - http://fstopimages.com

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