The popular stock photography service, iStockphoto, sent out an email to contributors today that it will begin offering a new subscription model to customers in April 2014. While iStock did not reveal the customer pricing for the subscription model, it is likely to be similar to Shutterstock’s plans, which allow 25 image downloads per day for a flat rate of $249/mo.
Clients will be able to choose between a Monthly and Annual Image Subscription, which are offered in two tiers. One tier gives customers access to the Main collection only, and the other gives access to the Main, Signature, and Signature+ collections. Image Subscriptions include Photos and Illustration only (excluding Vetta).
In order to make sure that our Exclusive Contributors can adequately participate in both Image Subscription tiers, we will be moving some of the more basic images that are underperforming in Signature, to Main. We think they will compete more effectively that way and have the added benefit of exposure to new customers through Image Subscription. We want to be sure our exclusive contributors have an opportunity to participate in the full range of products we offer at iStock.
The payouts to contributors range from $0.28 per download to $2.50 per download, depending on whether you are an exclusive contributor and which collection the images are in at the time of the download.
The change has sparked a lively discussion in iStock’s forums. One user noted that he just netted over $14 for a single download, which would have netted him less than $1 if downloaded under the subscription model.
The ability to purchase images one at a time will continue alongside the new subscription model, which means those larger sales won’t go away completely. It remains to be seen, however, just how much the subscription model will eat into regular sales. Alternatively, iStock suggests that the more affordable subscription plans will bring more eyeballs to contributors’ portfolios.
You can read the full announcement and reactions here in the iStock forums.