Shutterstock has humiliated its contributors who invested their labor and passion for the development of this marketplace for many years. They made an announcement via a poorly-proofread email that the royalty arrangements were changing June 1st. The new scheme took the absolute worst of all agency adjustments tried in the previous few years and blended them together. The email didn’t provide key details. And all this happened in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when other companies try their best to support contributors.
The pay cut was implemented via an overhaul of the Shutterstock Earnings Breakdown structure. The old system paid photographers based on their lifetime earnings. It’s now determined by how many images are licensed each year. Typically most people get $0.25 to $0.38 per download. Under the new scheme, this is down to $0.10, if the customer has one of the bigger plans, and it seems most do. All contributors bizarrely start back at level one each year, resulting in a sudden annual pay cut for most sellers.
Shutterstock is standing strong in its decision to cut costs by reducing payments to its contributing photographers, despite a tidal wave of recrimination that continues to wash over the microstock agency.
What’s so bad about the new scheme?
1. Everyone starts at the base rate of 15% royalties every January 1st, regardless of how well you did in December.
2. Images and videos have separate counts, so those who submit both have an even harder time getting to decent royalty rates.
3. There’s no way for even the most successful contributor to have earnings stability as they drop back to the basement each January.
4. Minimum subscription royalty is 10 cents – a huge drop from the current 38 cents.
What’s the solution?
First of all, I did stop selling my photos and footages on Shutterstock until they fix the new earning structure that abuses and underestimates the contributors. I had more than 6600 images and a few hundred videos for sale. Meanwhile, I have to admit that Shutterstock was my best income source. You can also, if you are a contributor, disable your portfolio.
Supposing that you’re a customer, you can stop buying from Shutterstock and stop them from stealing from us. You can try other stock agencies as I mentioned above, and show us your support.
If you still wish to support me, you can purchase the same content on other agencies such as Adobe Stock, Pond5, Alamy, and Dreamstime. Also, there is a Facebook group you can join and participate in.
Finally, you can use #BoycottShutterstock hashtag to bring awareness to the cause and impress yourself on Twitter. Also, sign the petition on change.org against the new fees of Shutterstock.