Shutterstock Updates Contributors Royalty Rates – New Download-Based Levels

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Shutterstock LogoToday we bring you a big heads-up from Shutterstock! The stock photo titan announced a new scheme to calculate contributor royalty rates, which will take effect from June 1st, 2020 onwards.

The new royalties calculation will be based on the number of times your content sells in one year, instead of the current lifetime earnings system. This way, the more times your images are downloaded, the highest your payout will be. The new scheme affects video earnings as well.

This is the first time the agency makes such a significant change to its payout structure —the same that hit $1 Billion in royalties paid at the end of last year— and they expressed it's to align with changes seen in the global, creative content market. They expect this system to encourage the submission of current, in-demand content, and to fairly reward those artists thriving with trendy visuals.

Read on for the full details on the upcoming Shutterstock Earnings Schedule! 

Goodbye Lifetime Earnings – Shutterstock's New Download-Based Royalty Rates

If you're a Shutterstock contributor you already know that until now the Shutterstock royalty rates have been based on the artist's historical performance: they keep track of your sales record since day one, and they have a structure with levels based on earnings' range that give you a fixed rate per download or a percentage of the total sale price, depending on the license type and buying method used by the customer. To date, the fixed royalty rate doesn't surpass the $3 per download mark, and the percentage royalty rate goes up to 30% max which means a max of $120. For footage, the rate is a steady 30% of the sales price.

But from June 1st, 2020, as a Shutterstock contributor you will earn a particular percentage from the total of the sale, according to how many times your content has been licensed in the current year. The new schedule has 6 levels, each with its royalty rate, according to yearly downloads.

How Much Will I Earn from Image Sales?

Instead of fixed royalty rates, the new scheme pays in percentages of the sale price only, The rates go from 15% to 40%, the first level marking up to 100 licenses sold, and the last one for over 25,000 downloads. The total amount depends on how much each license is sold for, according to the buying method used.

You will see the new system reflected on the Shutterstock Contributor Earnings page on June 1st, too.

What About Video Earnings?

The new payout structure affects video sales as well, with an identical scheme but different level parameters. The rates are also from 15% to 40%, but the levels are arranged a bit differently, with the bottom tiers reflecting a reasonable download volume for this type of content.

Like this, level 1 for video applies to up to 10 licenses sold –versus up to 100 for images–, level 2 rewards those with 11 to 50 downloads –while the same level for image applies to 101 to 250 sales–. It gets evened out towards the top, as level 6 is the same as for images, awarding the biggest percentage to those with over 25,000 videos licensed.

How Does This New System Work?

As we mentioned, the agency will keep track of how many times your content is licensed in the current year. Starting June 1st, they'll place you in a level accordingly, and you will escalate them as your sales progress.

However, there are two main points to highlight:

  • Images and Video earnings operate alone – Licenses sold for each media type are counted separately, and you graduate through levels independently, according to your number of licenses on each category
  • All contributors levels are reset at the beginning of each year – Every year, on January 1st, all contributors will be set back to  Level 1 and the licenses count starts again

This system is designed to offer fairer earning opportunities for all artists as well as greater rewards for best-selling content. They hope it will also enforce fresh, in-demand and trendy submissions to keep the ever-growing media catalogue up to date.

When Will the New Contributor Earnings Schedule Start?

As we said a couple of times already, this new structure will apply automatically on June 1st, 2020. And as we just informed, will be reset every January 1st from now onwards.

What do you think of the new Shutterstock royalty rates schedule? We'll love to hear your thoughts!

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I write about the stock photo and microstock industry since 2006 on my several online-magazines. My goal for MyStockPhoto is to teach photographers and stock photographers how to sell more photos and earn money with their photography hobby.

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