As discussed on our March Shoot & Sell Episode, the following email was sent to Shutterstock contributors on February 19th with the subject “You Have Been Selected”.
It’s a big challenge to give my opinion on that. Cause I know I’m being watched by both the experienced contributors and the ones that just got started. So please, don’t get offended by my opinion.
I myself started in 2012 so I never saw what they call the golden years. But I can imagine what they feel after the price drops and the tsunami of new contributors.
What draws my attention
There are 2 things that call my attention in this letter. I’m optimistic with the first but not that happy with the second.
- What gladdens me is to see that the company is doing something about the undiscovered clips. If they really use that filter of “1. Never or rarely sold clips” and “2. Not new to the site”, and if they really limit the sales to smaller resolutions, then, personally, I do think it’s a good idea. This is something I talk about on the online course, that you can be sure the majority of your files will never get sales. It’s more likely that you’ll have a few bestsellers with frequent sales. The average I see is that 80% of files will never get sales. Shutterstock discloses the number of sales only, while Pond5 discloses the number of views too. You’ll notice that many clips never get a single view. So yes, finding a use for those files is a good idea. If only we got the choice to be part or not, but I’ll leave that to the second point. However, there’s no way to find out exactly what they are going to do. By the way the write it and by studying the market, I would have two guesses:
– They will launch a subscription-based marketplace. This is what we see in Storyblocks and Envato Elements. Customers pay a fixed monthly fee and will be able to download as many videos as they wish. And here I pull your attention to Artlist, the music website. They are just about to launch a footage website too. The revenue we would get for this model is hard to estimate and would depend on how many downloads each user made. But let’s wait and see before we discuss that.
– They will partner with creators. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, or Vimeo would benefit a lot if their creators had access to a big footage library. I can’t see how the footage use would be paid, but I can imagine a business model where these creators pay close to nothing to use the footage or something based on distributing the generated revenue or something like that.I know this is very unlikely but there is something about this sentence in the letter: “… an audience of millions who have never bought traditional stock footage before.” and “… able to fulfill customer demand for both high-end and low-end productions.” So we’re clearly not talking about ad agencies or big companies. Anyway, you can be sure I’ll keep you guys updated as soon as I learn more about it.
- No opt-out. Now here’s the part that gets me frustrated. And that is just one more signal of how little their consideration is for the contributors. The letter says “… our site functionality does not support the ability to opt-out of this limited license program, …”And this really frustrating. We are the owners of the content and this very same content is the core of their business. They shouldn’t simply sell it for less without our agreement. And here I think they’re taking advantage of the fact that they are the biggest agency to simply make a move like this without even letting us opt out of it. This is something that deserves our attention.I know I got a different opinion than most of you guys, but I’d love to read your comments on that too.
In the meanwhile, Pond5 is also making changes to the Contributor Agreement. They sent an email to contributors inviting us to a Live Streaming that will happen on March 21. They will be explaining the changes, how they impact us and answer questions live.
We have no ideas about what is going to change. But the fact that we will be allowed to make questions that will be answered by the CEO himself already gives it a totally different feeling when comparing to Shutterstock.
So stay connected, be sure you’re subscribed and the bell sign is on, and I’ll give you a summary of what has been said.