Offset To Introduce Social Media License

Posted on 5/30/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock has notificed its Offset contributors that it has decided to make Offset content available to its Enterprise clients (over 24,000 of them) at a price point between $50 and $100. The current Offset price for a 72dpi web use image is $250.

A significant number of contributors have complained saying they were “duped” when recruited to submit images to the Premium Offset collection. At that time Shutterstock promised to maintain premium prices for this set of highly curated images. The prices were to be $250 for web use and $500 for most other uses with certain limitations.

Until now, Shutterstock has been very good about holding to these list prices and seldom discounts.

All Offset contributors are non-exclusive and as a result a number of the images in the collection have also been made available “in the same quality” through stock photo competitors who license them for social usage at significantly lower prices (this would include Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.). Shutterstock says, “As a result, we have received negative feedback from clients regarding our pricing on your images for such use.”

Some contributors acknowledge that their contracts with Offset prohibit them from offering images through other distributors at a lower price point. However, they point out that the “list prices” the other distributors offer are similar to Offsets. The problem is that many of these other distributors regularly dramatically discount their listed prices to certain users. In many cases the price charged for social media use will still be significantly lower than $50.

Most of the Offset contributors were originally attracted to Offset because (1) here was a microstock company that promised to develop a highly curated collection of premium images, (2) price them at a high level, and (3) aim the collection at the high end users in the market. Now Shutterstock seems to be taking the collection “down market” and this concerns many contributors.

Several contributors have suggested that when presented with a customer complaint about the current prices Shutterstock should say something like, “If you can find the same image at a lower price somewhere else, of course you should buy it at that lower price. Most of the images in our collection are available in other places at different prices. What we have tried to do with Offset is provide our customers with a highly curated collection of images in the subject areas most often needed by our customers. This enables customers to quickly find images that will solve their immediate creative problem so thy can get on with the other activities of their day. We also provide other services to our Enterprise customers to help them be more efficient.”

In a letter to contributors Shutterstock said, "The need for images in social media has grown substantially. As a result of this growth in digital use we notice our clients consuming images for their social media feeds at an incredible rate. However, images used in social media are often only seen for 24 hours before they are replaced with a new image which means that the demand for images continues to grow rapidly.”

“With the increasing growth in social, there is a shift in the marketplace where a number of contributors have offered the exact images in the same quality to stock photo competitors for a significantly lower price for social usage (this would include Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.). As a result, we have received negative feedback from clients regarding our pricing on your images for such use.”

Many contributors I have talked with are very skeptical that the lower price will result in increased revenue. They feel that the number of $250 sales will decline and for every $250 sale lost Shutterstock will need to get five $50 sales to generate the same revenue. Since the $50 price is only available to Enterprise customers contributors are skeptical that the lower price will generate that many additional sales.

Some contributors have indicated that they will watch their sales results carefully once this new policy is in effect, and in all likelihood will not submit as many new images to Offset in the future as they have in the past.

Shutterstock says they have about 300,000 images in the Offset collection. About half of them have been supplied by roughly 20 production companies and stock agencies. The remainder have been supplied by individual photographers. It is unclear exactly how many images are being licensed annually, but I believe it is somewhere in the range of 30,000. Probably more than half of that number are for the $250 price. The average price seems to be about $350.

Copyright © 2015 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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