Image Licensing Trends

Posted on 2/26/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Earlier this week I wrote about the average price per image licensed at Getty. This article will examine some of the publicly available and widely reported numbers related to the number of images licensed.

Back in 2006 Getty reported that they licensed rights to 607,945 RM images and 1,053,751 RF images for a total of 1,661,696 for the year. We also know that in 2006 49% of the Creative Stills revenue was generated from RF licenses and 51% from RM.

I don’t have exact figures for 2013, but it has been reported that Creative Stills represented about $300 million. I assume about half of that was for RF sales and half for RM.

If there was $150 million in RM revenue and the average price of an RM image licensed was $298.71 there would have been about 502,159 RM images licensed. If the RF images generated $150 million and the average price was $133.20 there would have been about 1,126,126 RF images licensed. That would make a total of 1,632,285 images licensed in 2013 about the same number as in 2006.

Obviously these numbers may vary given that the some of the figures are estimates, but it seems likely that the number of images licensed hasn’t changed substantially in 7 years. What has changed is that in order to hang onto the same number of sales Getty has been forced to drop the average price per license substantially. The gross Creative Stills revenue in 2006 was $634.1 million. Roughly the same number of images licensed in 2006 generated half as much revenue in 2013 as they generated in 2006.

More Images Available For Licensing

In 2006 Getty had 973,933 RM images and 787,281 RF images for a total of 1,761,214 in their Creative Stills collection. Now, Getty has 3,439,607 RM and 4,046,303 RF photos and illustrations for a total of 7,485,907. These images all have an orientation as a keyword. However, if you do a blank search for images and illustrations in the Creative Stills collection you get 9,464,907 image returns. This means that another 2 million images, approximately, have no orientation as a keyword. Somewhere between 4.25 and 5.37 times as many images are available for customers to choose from as there were in 2006.


Another set of figures worth looking at for comparative purposes are Alamy’s. In many ways they show a similar trend. Alamy generated $31.5 million in revenue in 2008 ( before it experienced a substantial revenue drop in 2009. According to CEO James West Alamy’s revenue in 2012 was “about the same” as in 2008.

Thus in 2008 the average price per image licensed was in the range of $157.50 while by 2012 that average price was down to around $87.50. Alamy was able to keep their revenue stable by licensing more uses, but their average price per image licensed dropped about as much as Getty’s.

The $87.50 average for Alamy was less than half of Getty’s $184.24 average for Creative Stills. However, it should be noted that in 2008 about 77% of Alamy’s revenue came from Editorial sales while Getty’s editorial sales revenues are reported separately. The number of Getty Editorial downloads are not reported and were not considered in the above analysis.

At the end of 2008 Alamy had 15.45 million images in its collection. Now they have 45.3 million images.  I suspect 2013 revenue was about the same as 2012. (Unfortunately, comparative figures for exactly the same time periods are not available.)

Image creators face a double whammy. The number of images available for customer consideration is swelling at a staggering rate while the prices customers are willing to pay to use images are falling at an equally staggering rate.

Copyright © 2014 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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