Yuri Arcurs Switches From Non-Exclusive To Exclusive

Posted on 6/4/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Since he started producing microstock images in 2005 Yuri Arcurs, the world’s top selling microstock shooter with over 1,500,000 downloads from iStockphoto alone, has been a strong advocate of non-exclusive representation and not putting “all his eggs in one basket”. Recently he signed an exclusive deal with Getty Images.

“We have found a very good distribution partner going forward that appreciates the images we do and the extra efforts we put into them. You should not expect us to be contributing much to the microstick sector in the years going forward,” Yuri explains.

Actually, the exclusive deal seems to be with iStockphoto. Currently, about 12,500 of Yuri’s images are available at Exclusive prices and another 450 have been placed in the Vetta collection, all under the contributor name “Urilux.” None of his images appear to be in iStock’s Agency collection that is also licensed through gettyimages.com. In addition there are about 1,200 new images under the “Yuri_Arcurs” brand that are being licensed at Non-exclusive+ prices.

It is unclear whether his new production will be marketed as RM or traditional RF through www.GettyImages.com? If so, will these be licensed at Premium Access prices that are often lower than iStock’s exclusive price schedule?

The principle reason for this move appears to have been that Yuri felt the need to pull his images out of the Shutterstock subscription service. In order to do that he needed to find a way to replace the significant revenue Shutterstock has been generating for him. In the last couple of years Shutterstock sales have been growing dramatically and cannibalizing the sales of some of Yuri’s other distributors, all of which represented his images on a non-exclusive basis. Shutterstock, has become the largest single distributor by far of Yuri’s images. But the royalty rates for those licenses are extremely low and do not make up for the royalty losses from his other distributors. Yuri says, “Subscription sites are not suited for the kind of high production cost images we produce.”

It is unclear how much Yuri’s sales on iStock have dropped. At the end of 2011 he had more than 1,300,000 downloads, at the end of 2012 more than 1,400,000 and now more than 1,500,000.  We don’t know the exact dates when his sales jumped to the next higher 100,000 number. Something in the range of 100,000 downloads a year doesn’t sound all that bad until you realize that in 2011 Yuri had over 240,000 downloads. It is also important to note that to generate that volume of sales Yuri has a staff of over 100.

Before, Yuri’s images on iStock were available at the non-exclusive plus prices. Now, as an exclusive photographer he will get a slightly higher price per image licensed (see below) and a higher royalty share. For the Vetta images the prices are much higher but there are indications that sales of Vetta and The Agency Collection images haven’t been all that strong in recent months. The chart below lists the credits required to purchase images in the various collections. The credit price varies from $1.75 to $1.47 depending on the size of the package of credits purchased.

  Non-Exclusive Non-Exc+ Exclusive Exclusive+ Vetta Agency
xSmall 1 3 5 10    
Small 4 5 7 20 35 55
Medium 7 10 12 30 55 75
Large 10 12 17 40 75 100
Xlarge 12 15 20 45 105 150
XXLarge   18 25   135 200
XXXLarge     28   160 250

Yuri (and Getty) must hope that since his images are no longer available on Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, 123RF, and all the other sites where his images used to be found, customers will return to iStock and be willing to pay higher prices for Yuri images, rather than accept an alternative that may not be quite as good, but is cheaper and easily available on the site they have been using.

Yuri will also continue to operate his PeopleImages.com site that he launched a year ago. Currently there are more than 95,000 images on that site. It is unclear how much of his total revenue this site has been generating.

Yuri has indicated that during the next few weeks he will be removing all his images from the other microstock sites that currently represent his work. The other sites have always represented many more of Yuri’s images than iStockphoto was willing to accept. Dreamstime has over 35,000 of Yuri’s images and Fotolia more than 67,000. Will iStockphoto now accept all the images it previously rejected? Will some of these images simply be taken out of the market? Many of them have been good sellers.

This experiment will be worth watching regardless of whether you’re a Yuri Arcurs fan, or not.

Copyright © 2013 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.  


  • Shannon Fagan Posted Jun 8, 2013
    It's a very interesting update to the industry at large, particularly given the recent Sean Locke situation at iStockphoto which was not mentioned in the above article but is coinciding as important perhaps to the why/when of Yuri's position in that channel of distribution.

    Yuri was a outspoken advocate of the industry and his position in it circa-2008 when micro and premium seemed to be on a course to overlap with all photographers dipping into both sides.

    To date, 4-5 years later, these camps have remained fundamentally separated, more due to reasons of psychological and operational barriers of working methods of the agencies, than due to one side being better at one thing vs. another. Though these ego-driven arguments might exist, clearly the content in both sides, and the sales, are fundamentally adequate for comparison.

    We don't hear a lot of details of Yuri's operation these days. I miss learning more about how his camp operates day to day and where they are at logistically in the midst of declines in sales and continued metamorphosis of which agency is doing what . The entire industry has become quieter.

    I agree, I look forward to seeing how this experiment rolls forward in the coming months.

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