Saturday, September 15, 2012

2ten Goes After Low Subscription Sales

CEO of Pocketstock launches an initiative to stop the race to the bottom on royalties for subscription sales to stock photographer.  See his write up below and join the 2ten petition if you support its ideals. 

I have just arrived in New York City and was in Starbucks very early in the morning a day after the latest 9/11 anniversary. Having parted company with $2.85 for a coffee for a colleague, I was further reminded how expensive coffee is compared with the best images as sold by stock agencies - in particular as part of a subscription plan.

95% of subscription sales are made by these companies, in order of power:

Shutterstock33 cents per image
iStock31 cents per image
Fotolia33 cents per image
Dreamstime32 cents per image
123RF29 cents per image
Depositphotos24 cents per image
Veer38 cents per image

I thought to myself, I’ll see if I can get a similar deal from Starbucks. “Look,” I said “someone from our company will be back in here every day for the next month, so, can we do a deal on 15 coffees per day?” “What kind of deal?” they asked. “I thought you might do us a subscription deal?” I replied.

Needless to say they looked at me as if I was completely mad, but did kindly point me in the direction of a Starbucks reward card. To be honest though, I was looking for a deal in the region of 10 cents per cup, not a free refill every now and then. You win some you lose some.

We like your pricing

At Pocketstock we have our largest file size priced at around $53 or higher. Now if I take the average price of a monthly subscription of 31 cents and compare it to our pricing, subscription comes in at 17,000 times less expensive than ours per file.

That’s 17,000% less expensive than Pocketstock’s list price.

Maybe our prices are too high, but we don’t want to start selling images at 30 cents that’s for sure, we have therefore decided to continue to push hard for single image sales at a level we feel is right as well as try to help to do something about the rush to the bottom: that is the
subscription price war.


So, we have now decided through the development of 2ten to try change the industry pricing structure, for new images at the very least, through a strategic 3 step plan.

Should you be supplying your best images to subscription plans? Well that’s your choice, but if you continue to do it in the way you currently are, expect the worst.

What is the worst that can happen?

You don’t want to know how bad it will get, but I’ll give you an idea of what will happen in the short-term - within months, subscription pricing per image will be in single figures – and I don’t mean dollars of course, but cents. Yes, that’s right your images will be sold for less than 10 cents if you don’t do something about it right now.

One of the leading subscription agencies is already offering your content for 13 pence per image in the UK and they are throwing in 1000 additional free credits for good measure as an incentive. Should 13 pence per image not be enough? I would have thought so. Is it worth producing for these prices? Only you can make that call.

Collectively we can make a change and stop the constant lowering of stock content prices, which will destroy your earnings, most of the single image outlets and any potential for new sales channels, but still line the pockets of those that sell your work.

$2 for the smallest file size and $10 for the largest

Having now set up 2ten to help support a fair deal for stock contributors, the objective is simple; get all contributors to refuse to allow any subscription agency to sell their new content for less than $2 for the smallest file size and $10 for the largest.

This way we hope to change the pricing structure that is currently so destructive for all contributors.

Sign up

Check out the latest low price subscription offers at and maybe, it will convince you to sign up and help change the way your content is sold. You can’t do that on your own, but as a group the power is in your hands.

Spread the word

Please tell all stock contributors about this campaign and ask them to sign up. The more support we get, the more we will be able do about the pricing scandal perpetuated by big business, who are currently commoditizing your material into something that is worth less than a cup of coffee, much less.

We promise never to use your name or personal details. All information will be treated as confidential.

Best regards

Russell Glenister