Two weeks ago, Shutterstock released a new commission structure which made a lot of photographers mad. And there was a reason for that. Even though some mistakenly estimated 75% drop (to almost 25 %), I was expecting around 25-35 % for majority of small and middle photographers. Now, two weeks have passed and we may start to look at the first results of commission drops and the boycott of the agency.
Let’s begin with the boycott. Shutterstock used to have 326.3 mil. images (around May 29) and it dropped to around 323 mil. few days ago. Nevertheless, there is a second wave of a boycott now (June 15-21) and it seems that more photographers are joining the action. There are 320.5 mil. images in the database now and that means 1.8% drop. The truth is that this number also includes the newly added images in the last two week.
Therefore, the drop is higher in fact. The truth is that the database was usually increased by around 1.2-1.25 mil. images a week, so there would be probably around 329.5 mil. images today if there is no boycott (326.3 + 3.2 added images in the last 18 days). Therefore, the drop in the size of the Shutterstock database is around 2.7 % (320.5/329.5). Is it much or not? Difficult to say. Much higher impact can be seen in the number of weekly added images. It has dropped from 1.23 million to 970 thousands which is 21 %. That is not insignificant.
What about the earning drops? I still do not have precise estimations for all the levels but I can make some preliminary results. I was in Level 3 in the old system ($0.36 SS/$2.70 OD), I am the the Level 4 now (30% commission). So far, my average price for subscription image has been lowered to $0.185 only which is 48% drop! Awful. If we are talking about On Demand, the average price is 12 % lower. In total, it is around 30% drop per image in my case which follows my estimations. On the other hand, number of sales increased by almost 30 % in the first two weeks (in comparison with Jan-May 2020), so the June is not so bad so far. Nevertheless, it seems it will be the worst month in 2020.
It is difficult to say how big the drop it will be as earnings vary a lot month by month and it is impossible to make conclusion from one half of a month only. So far, it seems it can be anything between 5 to 25 %.
Update June 16, 22PM: The database dropped to 318.8 mil. images. That is 2.3% and 3.2% drop.