Why Creators Are Dissatisfied With Getty

Posted on 12/13/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

Recently, a Microstockgroup post by Hochmann asked, “Why all the hate towards Getty Images?” He went on to say, “Yes, I know that they give 20% as a commission while a bunch of other companies start at 35% and many of them go above 50%. But the thing is that in Getty you're getting 20% of photographs sold for $100 or $1000 instead of 50% of 1 dollar.

Well, not exactly.

I contacted several major Getty contributors and did an in-depth analysis of their 2017 sales.

First, sales over $1,000 are extremely rare. The contributors I contacted are very experienced and producing the kind of imagery that is in highest demand. None of those licensing RF had a sale over $1,000. For those licensing their images as RM gross fees over $1,000 represented just over 1% of total sales, but about 30% of revenue.

And all these images, both RM and RF were exclusive to Getty. In times past there have tended to be a lot more sales over $1,000, but those days are gone forever. There are fewer and fewer high value sales every year. In rare instances, an RM photographer may get a block buster sale for multi-tens-of-thousands of dollars, but that’s like winning the triple crown in horse racing. It almost never happens. You can’t build a career on that hope.

So what about the sales between $100 and $1,000? I looked at sales between $130 and $1,000 for another story on Getty discounting. Sales in this range represented about 8% of the total and 31% of revenue. The average license fee was about $364 which is not bad in today’s market if the volume were greater. Getty has just offered a 31% discount for many of the sales in this category, so the averages may be less in 2018.

Why Dissatisfied

So for a little under 10% of RM sales prices are reasonable. The big reason that more and more photographers are dissatisfied is that an increasingly large percent (over 90%) of images purchased are licensed for prices below $130 – often far below.

In the RM arena only 6% of the images on the sales reports examined were licensed for prices between $130 and $50 leaving 84% at prices below $50 -- most of them for prices way under $50. (See chart below.) For a $50 sale the creator with a 35% royalty rate receives $17.50. If the royalty rates is 20%, the creator gets $10.

  1 2   3 4
  Percent RM Percent RM   Percent RF Percent RF
  Total Sales Total Revenue   Total Sales Total Revenue
$50 to $20 11.41% 3.53%   9.80% 4.80%
$20 to $10 18.12% 2.44%   14.30% 2.80%
$10 to $5 21.48% 1.67%   22.10% 2.60%
Below $5 33.14% 1.09%   29.00% 1.40%
  84.15% 8.73%   75.20% 11.60%

Note in column 1 the percentage of total sales that are in the various price ranges. Over 54% of the sales are for gross fees below $10. Combined these sales represent 2.76% of gross revenue (Column 2). Most of these sales are below microstock single image prices, but the photographers aren’t seeing anywhere near the volume of sales that most microstock sellers see.

The interesting thing is how closely the percentage of RF sales and revenue (columns 3 and 4) match the RM sales. In theory RM images are suppose to be of “higher value” than RF and with use restrictions. But they are sold to a high percentage of Getty customers at exactly the same prices.

There is no longer much of a distinction between RM and RF when it comes to price. And, in addition, Getty’s default search is for RF making it less likely that customers even see the RM images.

The similarity in price results from the Premium Access deals Getty has with all of its best customers. In most cases these customers pay a flat monthly fee for the right to uses as many images as they need from Getty’s entire collection. At the end of the month the number of images used is divided into the gross fee paid to determine the price per-image-used. The price per-image ends up being the same regardless of whether the image is RM or RF.

And again the images are exclusive to Getty so these images, or similars, cannot be licensed through any other distributor.

Copyright © 2017 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 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.  


  • Tibor Bognar Posted Dec 16, 2017
    What you are saying, Jim, is true. I've talked to people who - like myself - found themselves at Getty after Corbis was sold and everyone is disappointed. Most sales are for extremely low prices, I've even had reports with a sale of $0.00 for an image - one wonders why do they bother? On another occasion I've received 2 cents for an image for which I had to hire a helicopter... Most people seem to think that Getty is the ultimate agency, but in fact photographers can do better with other distributors.

  • Grant Faint Posted Dec 16, 2017
    We need oil executives to price our photography. They are the best at finding reasons to keep their products

    at a high price levels. Getty's pricing has been dragged down by Shutterstock's pricing. So who are the winners

    in this battle : the image buyer is getting away with murder. grant

  • Pamala Strauss Posted Apr 5, 2018
    If not Getty who? The agency I'm with is winding down & need to find another. Any ideas for me? Pamela

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