Credits-Per-Day Subscription Distinguishes Between Print and Web Uses

Posted on 4/22/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

PantherMedia’s proposed credits-per-day subscription plan is structured so customers who need larger files for print uses pay more reasonable prices for their images than is the case with existing subscription and microstock plans.

Most existing subscription models offer packages of one, three, six or twelve months and allow the buyer 25 print-resolution downloads per day. There are a few limitations on how the images can be used, including limited print runs, no merchandising rights and only one person can access a given subscription. With this model, print-use customers get a real bargain compared to those who need lots of images for Web use only.

In Panther media’s model, subscribers who need lots of images for small uses on the Web or in PowerPoint presentations can still get what they need at basic microstock prices. However, when a customer needs a larger file size for print, more credits are required. As a result, the print-use customer ends up paying more to use the image.

PantherMedia offers plans that allow 10, 30, 60 or 120 credits per day. A Web-resolution image costs 1 credit, while a 16-megapixel file costs 85 credits. By adjusting the price based on credits, the compensation is much more equitable for those who need a high volume of images in small resolutions, compared to those who must have larger file sizes.

One argument presented by existing subscription sellers is that customers that use images for print and do not need many tend not to download as many as they are allowed, while the Web users may need to download everything they can. The problem with this strategy for the creators is that they usually earn the same per download, regardless of how their image is used.

With PantherMedia’s system, image creators share in the much higher print-usage fees. Contributors receive 30% to 50% of PantherMedia’s net revenue for each image. (PantherMedia works with over 90 content distribution partners worldwide; these partners receive a percentage of the gross sale before PantherMedia receives its share.)

PantherMedia’s prices may be high for those who use microstock sites to find images they need for print projects. However, customers who regularly license rights-managed and traditional royalty-free images may find PantherMedia’s print-image pricing very reasonable and may be drawn to this site. Buyers looking for pictures for the Web should also find the offering more flexible for their purposes.

For creators, the pricing strategy offers a lot of hope.

It may be the answer for those who have seen their rights-managed and traditional royalty-free sales decline precipitously but have yet been unable to find a way to reach out to all those small users with minimal budgets that microstock has uncovered. Before pricing based on credits per day, such producers have been faced with the dilemma of either giving images away to traditional customers for ridiculously low prices, or ignoring the huge group of users that could not afford to pay more than a few dollars per image.

For microstock photographers, this method of pricing could generate a lot more revenue. Most non-exclusive microstock photographers should be testing this offering—there is nothing to lose.

The big question is the percentage of microstock sales where a large file is really needed. Nobody seems to have an answer, except people who run microstock sites—and they are not talking. Even if customers need large files of only 5% of the images downloaded, the extra revenue credits-per-day subscriptions would generate could be very significant.

Yet what will determine the success of the new credits-per-day offering is whether or not PantherMedia can gain enough traction in the worldwide microstock market to be competitive with the current market leaders. Only time will tell.

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, 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:  


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