You can find dozens of articles praising Shutterstock and other stock photo websites like Getty Images or iStock. But the truth is, when you buy a stock photo, a large part of the money goes to the website itself — fees up to 85% aren’t uncommon. It’s hard to tell how much an image creator will get when his image is bought. For example, Shutterstock works with a variable subscription model. The lowest reward you will receive as a beginner is $0.25 every time one of your images is downloaded.
Stock photo websites take fees up to 85% .
Not many people are aware of the fact that stock photo websites ask one of the highest fees on the internet for acting as an intermediary platform. In addition, for most stock photo websites, you have to agree to transfer the intellectual property of the image to them.
Don’t use subscription plans
Actually, these subscription plans offered by many stock photo websites limit the income of “image creators”. For users looking to buy multiple images each month, these subscription models offer the best value on licensing images for their projects. You’ll get a certain download limit depending on the size of your subscription.
On the other side, on Shutterstock, image creators only earn between $0.25 and $0.38 every time one of their images get downloaded because of this subscription model. Which according to the pricing above leaves the platform with 26.5 Euro for every 10 images sold while the creator is left with around 2.5 Euro only for his work… Sad right?
An image creator can earn more per each work when someone buys a single image. The creator biggest problem is the promotion and marketing his work, therefore, the tendency to join a stock photo agency to secure a minimal profit. However, Shutterstock and other websites are making better money when users buy multiple images under the subscription model, further decreasing creators cut. That’s as well the reason why these subscription models are heavily promoted.
We might need blockchain, right?
Here we go again… Blockchain! But yes, blockchain is actually been created to cut out the middlemen and reduce costs. Blockchain can indeed cut out a platform like Shutterstock and reduce or remove all fees, giving image creators the freedom to determine their prices.
Few projects have thought about providing this solution, however, WeMark did. WeMark has been created to present an alternative to stock photo websites like Shutterstock and Getty Images. They are using the blockchain to make stock agencies redundant.
WeMark has launched a platform for photographers a few weeks ago. Thousands of photographers have already signed up and submitted over 40,000 photos. All these photographers are actually a stakeholder of the platform. Like most ICO projects, some kind of cryptocurrency is generally involved. Once they sell an image, they get paid using the platforms native currency WMK (WeMark tokens).
An autonomous protocol has been designed to automatically process payments once a stock photo has been sold, but it takes as well care of issuing a license for using the image which is of course stored on the blockchain. At last, the protocol will give the buyer to the content itself.
Content Creation Industry and blockchain
I think the whole content creation industry (music, arts, text, video, …) needs a blockchain based platform to remove high fees and take care of licensing. It’s not ok that platforms like Shutterstock still exist (and are heavily marketed) without people knowing how much money actually flows to the platform itself instead of the image creators.
I truly hope platforms like WeMark (or any other) will become big and successful so they can compete with centralised platforms like Shutterstock or Getty Images. There are as well some centralised alternatives that require much lower fees for using their platform.
The power of Shutterstock has definitely decreased compared with the early (golden) years of Shutterstock due to free stock photo websites. However, there is a big chance the free stock image will be used on dozens of other websites.
WeMark Origin and Roadmap
WeMark actually started in May 2017 when they held a pre-seed round and joined the Silicon Valley Accelerator “NFX”. WeMark managed to raise $1M from VC’s in the US and Israel.
In January 2018, WeMark launched the alpha version of their platform for photographers so they could create a profile, verify their identity and upload images for review. To date, thousands of artist had already joined the Alpha version. WeMark’s Whitepaper has been released in April and by May 2018 the Token Generation Event will get started throughout the team will try to achieve a relatively low Hard cap of 8 Million USD.
By June 2018, the Wemark team is hoping to launch the full alpha version of the platform with a fully-working marketplace, including licensing and payment distribution. The Beta version has been planned for Q4 2018 which includes improved UX and searching capabilities.