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New earnings structure for Contributors

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Hi guys!

Have anyone tried to download his own images for free? Haha

I saw that there is plan for 10 free images for 1 month. Every next month you must pay. But.. you can cancel it anytime and keep the free images. So theoreticly you do this, will they pay you something or they don't? So if they pay, where they get the money? (or there is money left from the new low earning structure?) 

And does someone tried this on his own profile? Haha. I'm just wondering. 

I did some photos but, not motivated to upload at all.

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In an email that is going out today, we are announcing that we will be updating the earnings structure that determines how much you get paid when customers license your work. We are making this adjust

This is just a joke. 10 years with SS and now I'll be getting 20% commission on my footage clips??? No lifetime sales tier, just what you sold last year/this year.... To get to the curr

This space will be updated to address frequently asked questions.  My email shows different counts for videos than are shown above. Which is correct? Apologies. The email to video contributo

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3 hours ago, Andreas Prott said:

So June is over and its time for a real statistic. How did I do it? I took all downloads and restated them with what the old earnings scheme would have brought. This eliminates the possible bias of changed RPDs or fluctuation of DL numbers. It simply says how much would I have earned in the old system and how much did I get in the new system - plain and simple.

I am currently on level 4 for stills and on level 1 for video since I only just started to upload videos from time to time (didn't upload anything from May 26th). Life time earnings are below 3.000$ since I began late after giving up iStock exclusivity. So my sub payment used to be 0,33$ and there was not a fall as steep as from 0,38$.

For stills my loss of income is 17% and for video it is 50%. In total the loss is 29%.

Thank you for doing the actual math. I did as well. Your loss is very similar to mine. I'm level 4 images and level 2 video.

When this whole thing went down, I was ever the optimist, assuming that the ODDs and SODs would make up for the loss in the other categories. Now that the month is over, I can see that they did not.

My loss for stills is 37%, video 33.3%. Overall earnings loss was 29.3% compared to what I would have made before the change.


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My numbers are in for June. No doubt about it, net income from here took a nose dive. Net income on the other stock agencies were up, so overall I'm up for the year to date and June results are good elsewhere, considering the global pandemic effect.

Not going to disable my portfolio. I will be halting all new content uploads here though. The average return doesn't pay for the time it takes to upload them.

Sorry Shutterstock. You screwed yourself in the process of screwing the contributors.

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1 minute ago, Gray Photo Online said:

Not going to disable my portfolio. I will be halting all new content uploads here though. The average return doesn't pay for the time it takes to upload them.
Sorry Shutterstock. You screwed yourself in the process of screwing the contributors.

Same feelings for me. I actually did upload a few things, but between the earnings loss and the increasingly ridiculous rejections - supposedly invalid releases that were deemed perfectly fine last month, stupid rejections for similar (a guy surfing and a guy falling off his board are the same thing?) - I'm at the point where I just say f...k it, I'm not going to fight this anymore. I was all fired up in May, and ready to put some serious effort into this. But now the motivation is gone.

So, good luck, Shutterstock, with that continuing stream of fresh, trendy content you said the new system would reward.

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I haven‘t uploaded since the announcement and turned of both photo and video at different times to send a message of discontent like thousands of others.

However, I make my own decisions. I have activated video to collect my own data. I will also do the same for photos.

There is no hurry, I believe the market will sort itself out.

There are contributors with large editorial or walk around ports that seem to be doing fine. So maybe that is the direction SS wants to go, a few „stock factory“ contributors that supply high quality content in large volume and lots of amateur or editorial shooters, that upload everything from their mobile phone.

Probably the stock factories are unaffected by the changes anyway, because they can negotiate their own rate cards.

So maybe that is the grand plan, who knows? Attract millions of new contributors with mobile phones? That literally document the world around them as a live stream?

The part timers, that invest time and or money in their production will gradually drift to other places like Adobe. Or maybe send their content to exclusive agencies. Perhaps we will see a rise of smaller, boutique production houses again.

In the end, the money will always decide. Producers will only upload the type of content that makes them money.

And January with the reset will be interesting. But maybe by then SS will change the rate card to a rolling 12 month average, so that amateur and pros do not start out at the same level. People that work hard and really achieve the 40%, should not drop to 15% on January 1st. It does not make for a very happy New Year. 

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On 5/26/2020 at 11:30 AM, Kate Shutterstock said:

In an email that is going out today, we are announcing that we will be updating the earnings structure that determines how much you get paid when customers license your work. We are making this adjustment in order to reflect changes in the market for creative content, help to create fair opportunities for all our contributors, and reward performance with greater earnings potential. 

Starting on June 1st, 2020, your earnings for each license will be based on your Image Level or your Video Level.  



On June 1, you will be placed in an Image Level and a Video Level based on your download count so far in 2020. The email you receive today will let you know which levels you are in as of this morning. 

How does it work?

  • These new levels are based on the number of times your content is licensed rather than your lifetime earnings. 
  • All contributors reset to level 1 for both images and videos every year on January 1st.
  • There are separate levels for images and for videos, and you graduate through them independently based on your download count in each category.



So when are we getting those greater earning potentials for contributors? i see them as shareholders, but not as contributor

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On 7/1/2020 at 3:46 PM, Rocky Grimes said:

Although Shutterstock has changed its business model to the detriment of the contributors I don’t agree with your skepticism or believe they are blatantly and illegally selling our photos behind our backs.

My support here is that I disabled all of my contributions on Shutterstock as everyone should do if they support the effort here.   Why are you still selling on Shutterstock?

And, I ask you, for the second time, the same question you asked me; “So, how do you even know that Shutterstock is not selling your images without any pay to you?”   Well?   My answer is that they are not. What say you?

no but there is incentive to delay timing to minimize payouts.  Many people are reporting higher level of EL in early June, when they would have been on lower % than before, so where is the audit, and why can't they share this information.  Same as how conversion of currency is calculated.  

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Wow, this really shows how much SS cares about its contributors, especially when they refuse a perfectly good photo for some BS reason like "out of focus' when the photo is focused perfectly. Basically they are telling you that your photo isn't even worth a dime. Adios Shutterstock! You can keep your Dime. 

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Upon reviewing my earnings last month, assuming  like for like in terms of the number of downloads  compared to previous months, they held up well. I am small beer but enjoy the challenge etc. There were lots of pathetic 10c payments but an unusual number of 50c $15-20 downloads. Was this just a quirky month or is this to be expected because of the new earnings structure. I just dont know but I hate to think what it will be like come January when I revert to level 1 with everyone else. 


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6 hours ago, Billy333 said:

If you translate from russian those signs you will surprise even more :))) The first in the second raw is "Nobody told that it will be easy" the fourth says "bitch with colored hair" the third is even more surprising

If you know Russian, so almost everything you gave here as an example is just a jokes, some of them from  old classic Russian comedies. I think in any culture, in any movie you can find some rude jokes, no? So take it easy, nothing wrong with it:-))

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On 7/2/2020 at 1:03 PM, Andreas Prott said:

I am 100% sure that Shutterstock did a complete restatement of last years payouts with the new scheme and came up with a huge profit when even Level 5 sellers struggle to keep their earnings. But they surely won't share.



here are my facts and figures - that I have already posted in another thread:

June is over and I have calculated - for the period from June 03 to 30***.

- 152 downloads for 0.10
- 313 downloads for ø 0,29
- total: 465 downloads for ø 0,23
- subs according to old model: 0.38
- Loss: 39%.

- 36 downloads for ø 3.16
- ODs according to old model: 2.85
- Profit: 11%.

Compared to the old model, I have a combined loss of 22% for these two license types. 

The above-average Enhanced and SOD revenues make up for this. Before I would have got 30%, now it is 35%.

This results in a total loss for this month incl. Enhanced and SODs from June 3rd: minus 6%.

***I left out 01. and 02. June, because the numbers there were not clear yet. On 01. June the old system was still used and on 02. June the subs were wrongly calculated as SODs.

This means for me as a level 5 contributor: My losses will level off at approx. 15% in an average month even though I've reached a higher level. I do not have the high Enhanced and SODs regularly. If I add the time I need to reach level 5 again in the new year, the losses will be significantly higher. I assume that there are also losses with level 6 contributors. If I pretend that I am level 6 and calculate 40% for me with the Enhanced and SODs, I get exactly 0% compared to the old system. If I include the ODs in the calculation, it might have been a plus of 2% to 4% - but that cannot be calculated reliably.

Another Level 5 contributor has shown his figures elsewhere:
Compared to May he's down 27% and compared to April it's down 47%, although he had slightly more downloads in June than in the two previous months. Based on almost 500 downloads.

A third Level 5 contributor has a plus of 8%. However, if he deducted a very high SOD, it would have been a minus of 15%. Based on just over 1000 downloads.

Conclusion: Shutterstock has calculated well - for themselves and the shareholders. The "higher revenue potential" is and remains a marketing phrase that has nothing to do with reality.

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I have tried to ask this question to Support but haven't had a reply which addresses the question.  I'm trying to find out if it is possible to opt out of subscription sales. I can't find a way to do this on the site so I have had to completely deactivate my portfolio to prevent any further subscription licenses being granted for the woefully inadequate remuneration now being offered. It seems bizarre that Shutterstock clearly has the capability to sell work at sensible prices but now seems intent on devaluing the products, which is obviously stupid and ultimately unsustainable.  What I'm trying to establish is if there a way to continue sell work on this platform for sensible prices (i.e. excluding all underpriced monthly subscription sales) . If so, how? and if not, why not? 

I'm quite happy to sell my work elsewhere but I put a lot of work into uploading stock here it seems a shame to remove it all permanently but how many people are going to pay sensible prices anywhere if they can get the same images for nuppence?

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Hi Wilm, great to see you here again! 

And thank you for the info.

I read a few days ago that the 34 cents video clips do not mean the customer gets the 4k file, it is a limited use within a design.

So I turned videos back on, later photos. But that lead to my account being disabled.

Turning off was ok, turning back on was not.

Anyway, we will see what happens, I think in a few weeks or months, latest after the exodus after the January reset, maybe they will consider talking to the contributors again and looking for a solution that allows a longterm win win for all sides, including the producers.

I will keep following here, while I upload elsewhere. 

The demand for photos, but even more for videos is very strong, there is so much content missing on all marketplaces.

If the rumours that Adobe is considering an exclusive option are true, a lot of content will just stay there. Artists just want a reliable work environment. SS provided that for many years and many people only uploaded here, even though the content is non exclusive.

But I guess SS is focussing on the mix of stock factories combined with newbie amateur content. It probably gives them the best returns. 

And those who do stock as a hobby with their smartphones, will probably not mind the January reset, they will just see it as fun kind of computer game, I suppose.

Maybe they are right, who knows? Perhaps exploring the world mostly for editorial or simple walk around photos and then upload high volume without processing is indeed the most economical thing to do. No investment in time, equipment, training needed.

Lifestyle model shoots for the stock factories, iphone uploads for everyone else.

The most enthusiastic commenters here were high volume producers with huge editorial ports over 100 000 images.

So, we will see. For now this is like a new company with a very, very different approach to the stock market. 

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After June end,
  1. if its possible, for the contributors who have online their shutterstock portolio to give statistics about earnings June against May 2020.
2. You will continue for one month more or are you going to disable your account?
I am curious what really happening with colleagues that remains and i am trying to predict the future of microstosk . Thank you!
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My income is so small that it’s ridiculous to speak. I was on level 1 until June, now level 1 on video and hardly exceeded level 2 on photos. 
Unfortunately, I had hardware flaws. I also began to take up photography last year.
Unfortunately, for me, nothing has changed for the better or for the worse, since all this is close to zero.
I morally support the protests.

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16 hours ago, Ian Tragen said:

I have tried to ask this question to Support but haven't had a reply which addresses the question.  I'm trying to find out if it is possible to opt out of subscription sales.

No, not possible. If it was, we all would.

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