It is going to be interesting to see how the market reacts to Shutterstock IPO. For once, the stock photo market will be taken out of its own little world and confronted to the business world.
Also of importance, obviously, is KKR investments in Fotolia for 50 % of the company. Obviously, this is a revelation of perceived value from traditional investors.
It is clear that the recent sale of Instagram for 1 billion has impacted those decisions and will probably also affect their outcome.
Both companies, Fotolia and Shutterstock brand themselves as tech companies first, photo agencies (or a variation of sort) second (or third..or last). They are predominantly sales platforms for crowdsourced goods. The fact that they are selling photograph instead of widgets is almost irrelevant.
How will these two investments impact the growth of these companies will be the real revelation. If both succeed in transforming this massive influx of cash into market shares, it will definitely signal the burial of traditional RM models and the end of those photo agencies that cling to it.
It will also declare the end of the professional stock photographer as we knew it ( hasn’t that happen already ?)
More importantly, it might signal the weakening of Getty’s formidable machine.
Both Fotolia and Shutterstock are going for the more traditional marketplace, the up to know reserved hunting ground of Getty. Shutterstock clearly states it in its filing while Fotolia remains more general. However, both see their growth tracing a highway into the professional image buyers market.
In the process, they might force Alamy, who has a similar business model than they do, to revisit it’s own approach to the market and abandon RM while extending their crowdsourcing.
Fotolia and Shutterstock are both visibly aiming at becoming the only platform to buy and sell photography, similar to what Itune has done with music.
While the concept is not new, Getty has been flirting with success in that matter for years, it is now becoming closer to becoming a reality.
Think there is still a need for RM ? Let take editorial. Recent years have shown that no publication care for exclusive anymore. Time and Newsweek, for example, could never publish the same image. Today, they both use the same three source of images , Getty, Reuters and AP and could care less if they publish the same image. If they want exclusive content they just assign it .
Online, speed and volume only matter. Whether another site publishes the same images is irrelevant since whatever happens, the story can be, will be, copied.
Book publishers are tired of paying fees based on print run, language, digital , etc. With their need for multiple platforms publishing, RF is a much better model.
Advertising ? Sure, for large project. But then again, that is more the domain of assignment than stock photography.
Nothing new here.
What is really new is the amount of money being invested. Never since Getty’s entry in the market has the stock licensing world seen so much cash fire power infused so quickly.
Whatever the result, the impact on this already battered and lethargic industry will be phenomenal.