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Shutterstock Reduces EL Royalties

In a sad move by stock image giant Shutterstock, contributors have been left out of pocket as Shutterstock reduces Enhanced License royalties. The change came into play January 25, 2016. This comes after the last change that negatively affected contributors royalties, that is, the overhaul of the referral program. This too reduced income for many long time Shutterstock advocates. Perhaps sadder though is the confusing language used in the email that was sent to contributors. It made it seem that losing income was a good thing. Read below to see for yourself.

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Shutterstock Reduces EL Royalties – Their Statement

“At Shutterstock, one of our most important goals is to drive our contributor’s success by continuously delivering new earnings opportunities to you, our partners. Our enhanced license provides a great opportunity to license your content at a higher price point. Over the past year, we have been testing ways to better communicate the value of this premium license to our customers. 

We have determined that a fixed rate payment for enhanced licences limits our ability to continually drive more downloads. Therefore, effective January 25th 2016 the enhanced license payout will move from a fixed rate of $28 to a tiered percentage model, similar to our custom image license. To help simplify the earnings schedule, your enhanced license payout will now be determined by your earnings tier. 

We are your partners and our job is to work tirelessly to serve you and grow our marketplace together.”

Shutterstock Reduces EL Royalties – Why?

Shutterstock claims this will “drive contributor’s success”. Few contributors seem to believe that statement. It seems more likely that this move is to help Shutterstock maintain its profit margin, now that it is a publicly traded company.

The real question for contributors is – how much will I now earn for an Enhanced License sale? The answer it seems, is not so simple. It used to be a flat $28. Now it depends what earnings tier you are on. According to some clever folk over on MSG, the royalty payouts will be as follows:

  • 20% tier – $18.80 maximum
  • 25% tier – $24.75 maximum
  • 28% tier – $27.72 maximum
  • 30% tier – $29.70 maximum

Note that these are the maximum payouts per tier, meaning you could receive less if the buyer received a discount. Which a lot will, as EL’s come in 2, 5 & 25 image packs – with discounts given appropriately. Confused? That seems to be the desired result here. Nothing could have been simpler than a flat payout per download, but now you need to do some digging to work out why you are receiving each EL payout, as they will vary.

The only tiny bit of good news in this is that long time contributors on the top tier of 30% will occasionally receive a small boost of up to $1.70 per EL over the old arrangement. But it seems highly unlikely this will result in increased income, as Shutterstock claim.

What do you think of this move by Shutterstock to reduce EL royalties? Let us know below.

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