Alamy Q1: Revenues Down Despite Rising Volumes

Posted on 5/14/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Not surprisingly, Alamy’s sales for the first quarter of 2009 were down. Yet this time, they dropped only by 11%, compared to the last quarter of 2008, when the decline from the previous quarter was 21%. Could this be an indication of a turnaround in the economy?

Compared to the first quarter of 2009, Alamy sales were down 27%. This is the third consecutive quarter that sales have been down. Alamy peaked in the second quarter of 2008; prior to that time, the company had not had a down quarter in its history.

A portion of this drop can be attributed to currency exchange rates. In the last quarter of 2008, Alamy started breaking out its total revenues into U.S. dollars, Euros and English pounds to give a better picture of what has been happening in the various markets. To make the trends easier to understand, we have converted the Euros and pounds to dollars based on the exchange rate on the last day of the quarter. Since Euro and pound rates relative to the dollar were declining steadily throughout the last quarter, the numbers presented in Table 1 are not entirely accurate.

Table 1. Alamy revenues Q4 2007 – present (US$ thousands)
Currency 2007 2008 2009
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
US dollars 2,461 2,626 2,937 2,750 2,390 2,351
Euros 1,084 1,163 1,226 1,036 1,018 746
English pounds 4,150 4,146 4,368 4,433 3,091 2,682
Total revenue 7,695 7,934 8,531 8,219 6,498 5,779

The good news is that there was only a 1.6% decline in U.S. dollar sales, which may be partially explained by Alamy opening a U.S. office. European sales, however, were down by 15.6% compared to the previous quarter and by a whopping 34.4% compared to the first quarter of last year. U.K. sales were down by 10.5% compared to the previous quarter and by 15.6% compared to last year. Euro sales were down by 14% compared to the previous quarter and by 25% compared to last year.

The average price of a rights-managed image was down to $105, and the average price of a royalty-free image was down to $172—in contrast to $149 for rights-managed images and $219 for royalty-free images a year ago. This represents a 30% drop for rights-managed and a 21% drop for royalty-free image prices. The average price for a rights-managed image licensed for editorial use was $94.

Interestingly, despite all these drops in revenue the company actually licensed rights to more images in the first quarter of 2009 than during the same period of the previous year. While royalty-free sales were down, rights-managed sales were up significantly. There was also an overall 2.5% increase in the number of images licensed (see Table 2).

Table 2. Alamy images licensed by model: year over year comparison
Licensing model Q1 2008 Q1 2009
Rights-managed 35,678 39,076
Royalty-free 11,954 9,744
Total 47,632 48,820

The problem is not that the company is selling fewer images, it is that image prices have dropped so dramatically. While Getty Images no longer supplies breakdowns of its sales data and Corbis never has, there is good reason to believe, based on reports from a number of image suppliers, that Alamy’s experience fairly accurately reflects what has been happening in the industry as a whole.

Over half (56%) of revenue was generated from images supplied directly to Alamy by photographers, and 44% came from images supplied by agencies. The photographer share, which had previously been increasing, has now been flat for three quarters.

Competition for those supplying images is also getting intense. A year ago, there were just over 12 million images on Alamy. Now there 16.14 million—a 35% increase.


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 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.  

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