Storyblocks Cuts Contributor Royalties to Further Fuel Marketplace


Unlimited downloads stock media platform Storyblocks has just announced a major change in the structure of their contributor marketplaces for images and videos: they are reducing the current 100% royalty rate, in favor of a commission system where contributors split the earnings from each sale with the agency.

This move is one that many experienced contributors and industry experts could have predicted, and the company explains it responds to the need of covering the increasing costs of managing such large, growing outlets as Storyblocks and Videoblocks (their brands for images and video offers).

So what is the royalty rate now? What does this mean for you as a contributor? Read on for answers.

Storyblocks New Royalty Rates for Contributors

In their recent announcement sent via email to their over 45,000 contributors, Storyblocks states the new commission structure will start running in August 1st 2018. From that day on, earnings from marketplace sales will be split 50/50 with the agency. This change is already laid out on their Contributor Portal site, and will be also included in the License Agreement from the stated date and on.

While this is a major cut from the current 100% royalty rate in their marketplace, it is still a considerably high percentage of earnings compared to those of other popular microstock agencies.

This cut in royalties has a lot to do with the performance of the marketplace, and the decision aims at solving two main issues the company has been experiencing, that were foreseen by more than a few experts in the industry back when they launched the platform.

Your Earnings with Storyblocks Now

After August 1st 2018, your earnings from sales from Storyblocks and Videoblocks will be half of what you were getting before. Depending on what media type you contribute, your final profit may vary:

  • Storyblocks (images including photos, vectors and illustrations): $9,99 per download – $3,99  from members. Royalty rate: $4,99 – $1,99 per sale
  • Videoblocks (video including footage, effects templates and graphics): HD $79 per clip and $49 for members. 4K $329 per clip and $199 for members. Royalty rate: $39,50 – $24,50 and $164,50 – $99,50 per sale

Increasing Expenses and Stalled Sales in Marketplace

If you are a Storyblocks and/or Videoblocks marketplace contributor, you are likely aware that sales have stalled lately. And you probably noted the agency has been heavily impulsing their membership offer (of their wholly-owned content) rather than the marketplaces where you contribute.

The company explains that the costs of hosting, reviewing and managing the millions of files submitted and accepted to their marketplaces, both for images and videos, are considerable. And so they have been focusing their marketing efforts in their Membership library offer, which at the moment is their sole source of revenue. Increasing their own income was the initial solution they came up with to cover the marketplace expenses.

While in the first years sales in these outlets grew exponentially despite the lack of promotion –having sold over $10 million and 150 million downloads in the three years combined they have been active–, lately the situation reverted and sales have stalled. So contributors are earning less and less from a sales channel that the company spends a lot to maintain.

A Cut in Royalties and Higher Marketing Efforts

So, Storyblocks new –and logically expected– resolution about royalty rates is looking to solve both the issues with the maintenance costs for the company and the declining earnings for contributors.

By taking a 50% commission from marketplace sales, the agency is obviously generating extra revenue from a stream that so far was non-profitable. And they use part of these incomes to both sustain the marketplaces as well as to promoting them more heavily to generate more sales. Essentially, this is what any other microstock agency does.

Storyblocks says in their communication to contributors that, while a decrease in earnings is logically expected immediately after the new commission system hits in on August 1st, their goal is for contributors to match and exceed previous earning rates as quickly as possible.

For that, they not only promise to do more marketing for the marketplace, but also to create new contributor profiles and to speed up the review and approval times.

A Substantial Move for Storyblocks and Videoblocks Contributors

As I said throughout the article, this announcement comes at no surprise for many of those whom have been in the stock photo business for a while. While very good in paper, 100% royalties deals for artists are very hard to sustain in time.

Whether the new equal partnership between contributors and agency works only time will tell. Royalty rate is still considerably fair at 50% of sales price, and if they make it to bring in more buyers it could turn out well.

Are you a Storyblocks contributor? What do you think of this change?


About Author

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.


  1. Hi Amos, why is the royalty rate so little for contributors ? 50% is still too little. They all seem to be percentage based.

    What do you think is a fair model to pay to authors on different buyer models, single vs. subscription ?

    • Amos Struck on

      Hi Sam,

      50% is actually a lot if you look from the side of the stock agency. They need to pay their people, run the servers, pay the payment processors, lawyers, programmers etc. Thats the reason why there are not many stock agencies out there with 50% at the moment. It is not a sustainable model at all. Most stock photographers might think that everything else is unfair but if you start your own website and try to sell images, you will see how much money you need to spend just to get one customer to buy.

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