In March I posted an article regarding VCG's acquisition of 500px, the well known photo sharing site. At the time, the announcement of the acquisition indicated that changes might be on the way for 500px members. It read, in part:
"By joining forces with VCG, we’ll be able to consistently deliver more innovative features to help you amplify your personal brand, connect with millions of like-minded creatives, and inspire you to improve your skill set as a photographer, as well as reward your talent and creativity with new incentives."
It seems the first changes are now being made. In another announcement 500px last week advised its members that on June 30th it will be shutting down Marketplace, the royalty-free (RF) stock photography licensing platform established in 2014, "to meet customer demand for a broader range of content and prices."
According to the new announcement, 500px member photos will now be marketed exclusively through the parent company VCG (in China) and Getty Images (everywhere else). Obviously, this move will impact members' sale of photos and the income derived therefrom. Although 500px claims that the move will "represent a significant revenue opportunity for the company and its contributors," it's questionable whether members will see any immediate increase in income. In fact, they may even experience a loss. 500px more or less admits that this when it cautions: "As with anything new, it will take time. Please bear with us."
The announcement sets forth the bottom line very succinctly:
"500px has recognized that Marketplace hasn’t performed as well in the stock photography space as hoped. As a result, we had to choose between investing resources in building on and further promoting 500px Marketplace, or considering a distribution-only model for 500px, a revenue model that has been growing in recent years. With significant brand loyalty, great customer bases, and very positive momentum as they continue to expand their reach within the stock photography industry, both Getty Images and VCG are the obvious choice to represent 500px exclusively, worldwide."
The advantage to VCG is obvious. Whether 500px members will also benefit remains to be seen. While photographer royalties will remain the same, i.e., 30% for non-exclusive images submitted and 60% for exclusive images submitted, these photographs will now be part of a much larger pool at both VCG and Getty and so will necessarily face increased competition for buyers.