Where Are Shutterstocks Most Productive Contributors Located?

Posted on 5/24/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock, Inc. has released its 2017 Contributor Earnings report, which features it’s milestone of having paid out over $500 million in the 13 years since 2004 to the Company's global community of over 225,000 photographers, illustrators, digital artists, and videographers.

Shutterstock's 1.7 million active customers around the world rely on contributors' content to create campaigns, promotional materials, social posts, websites, and creative projects. This report analyzes 13 years of contributor growth, tracks the amount paid to contributors, and offers new insight into trending keywords and topics currently driving global demand.

"We are proud to work with an incredibly talented community of artists who continuously contribute amazing content for Shutterstock customers to license for their creative projects," said Shutterstock's Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Weiser. "Shutterstock drives more than 5.5 downloads per second, so our contributors are always attentive to the market's content demands and this report provides valuable insights around areas of interest and how to best capture them."

When comparing this report for 2016 with the one published in 2015 for the calendar year 2014 there are several important take-aways.

  2016 Percent
  2014 2014 to 2016 Percent
Gross Reported $115,000,000 Gross   $83,605,000 Increase Increase
          Decrease Decrease
Africa $568,000 0.49%   $608,000 -$40,000 -6.58%
Asia $19,100,000 16.61%   $12,047,000 $7,053,000 58.55%
Europe $81,400,000 70.78%   $59,323,000 $22,077,000 37.21%
Oceania $1,100,000 0.96%   $1,042,000 $58,000 5.57%
The Americas $12,600,000 10.96%   $10,487,000 $2,113,000 20.15%
Totals $114,768,000     $83,507,000    

Australia $924,000     $801,000    
Rest of Oceania $176,000     $241,000    
UK       $4,247,000    
Germany       $3,361,000    
Japan       $572,000    
United States       $7,646,000    
Brazil $442,000     $324,000    
Mexico       $190,000    

First, in 2016 70.78% of the revenue went to contributors in Europe and another 16.61% went to Asian contributors. (Australia is not counted as part of Asia, but a substantial part of Oceania.)

It is also important to recognize that Europe is divided into two different economic regions – Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Shutterstock doesn’t tell us much about this split, but in 2014 the combination of royalties paid to contributors in the UK and Germany, certainly the two biggest production areas of Western Europe, was only 12% of the total European royalties paid. The fact that they did not mention the UK and Germany in the 2016 report may be an indication that the percentage declined further in the last two years.

It seems clear that European production has moved dramatically to the low cost of living countries.

In 2014 royalties paid photographers in the United States represented 72% or the royalties paid to all contributors in North and South America and only 9% of total gross royalties paid out. Since they did not choose to break out the U.S. portion of 2016 royalties we presume the percentage is even lower now. If it were still at 9% it would have been a little over $10 million for 2016.

Finally, if we look at the Asian production in 2014 royalties paid to Japanese contributors only represented 5% of total Asian royalties. Clearly a huge percentage is going to contributors in Thailand, Vietnam, India and the Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union where cost-of-living and production costs are low.

Clearly, if Shutterstock were to re-locate its headquarters to a central point near where its production is located it should be in Kiev or Moscow. There may be tax advantages to doing that also.

Shutterstock data reveals that certain subjects drive high customer demand for contributors' work. These include:
  • People - Real people in real life situations. All ages, all backgrounds.
  • Healthcare - Everything health-related, like medicine, wellness, and insurance.
  • Buildings - Local places in major cities.
  • Sports - Individual athletes and team sports.
  • Nature - The extreme side of weather.
Explore the 2017 Contributor Earnings Report here. To review the 2015 report check here.

Copyright © 2017 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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