500px Prime: A New Licensing Marketplace that Promises Photographers a 30% Cut


Earlier today, 500px announced that it would be getting into the licensing game with a new commercial licensing site dubbed 500px Prime.

Announced on the image sharing site’s blog, 500px is painting Prime as a revolutionary commercial licensing marketplace that will “fundamentally change the way photos are licensed.” The company makes this claim for three reasons, at least one of which is nice to hear.

  1. The site is promising not to join what they’re calling ‘the race to the bottom.’ Licensing fees start at $250 and go up from there.
  2. 30% of the proceeds from each and every photo sold go straight to the photographer off the top. No matter what license is purchased or who purchased it.
  3. The information that 500px keeps tabs on — such as “vitality, hero status and visceral reaction” — will help buyers determine how a photo will be received before they even purchase it and should make the marketplace more appealing.


Of course, many believe that self-marketing is still a much more lucrative way to make money off of your photography — after all, 100% is a lot more than 30%. But for those photographers who don’t have the time or maybe have never even thought of making money off of their popular 500px profile, 500px Prime could be a viable option.

To learn more about the service — including how you yourself can get involved as either a buyer or seller — head over to the 500px blog or check out the Prime website directly. But before you go and do that, drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you think. How will 500px Prime stack up against the other options out there?

(via The Phoblographer)

  • Caron

    “The site is promising not to join what they’re calling ‘the race to the bottom'”

    They’re certainly joining the race to screw photographers though. 30%?

  • Treesintheforest

    Terrible for photographers but great for iphotographers and others to make some coin for their efforts. Of course 30% is better than nothing but what exactly do they do to warrant 70%? It kinda devalues the photographers skill or image, does it not? Is it only ok in the photo field to give the individual who does all the work to produce the item sold or licensed a smaller cut than the salesperson? Let’s just continue to undervalue photography and look forward to doing more jobs for credit or ‘exposure’!

  • Richard

    I’d hate to think that image editors licensing images are going to use social popularity to help them sort through images. We are quickly sinking to the bottom it seems.

  • sean lancaster

    I don’t know what Getty pays photographers, but I did receive an invitation and remember thinking it was pathetic. 30% for 500px doesn’t seem great either. On the other hand, on my own I am making 0% because I am not marketing or selling anything . . . hmmm.

  • Rob Elliott

    Getty is 30% as well.

  • Tim

    Beats Getty’s 10%…

  • Rob Elliott

    I’m still not sure what I think about this. I know they have been asking photographers for photos they want to include. I don’t know how many have signed up.

    it will be interesting how they do compared to other sites.

    The issue is they need to be competitive. I’m think the “not a race to the bottom” is that they aren’t going to under cut anyone to get business… I just don’t believe that there is at least $175 of up keep or even $100.

    They are trying to stay competitive with out doing anything game changing.. but are counting on a higher quality of photos (which is still the current rep) to garner interest… at least that is my assumption.

    I’ll be interested to see if they have better terms in a year.

  • Mike

    Oh it’s not a race at all. They all stand in place with their pants down and the photographers have the option to go there, turn around, bend over and take it.

  • Craig

    I think this is voluntary … if you don’t like the terms, just say no.

  • Carl Meyer

    People don’t understand that photography sites are full of completely mediocre images not worth the space they took on the server they’re hosted even for free. The only way to sustain those sites is by having a continuous stream of exclusive high quality content that atracts new users. Licensing is just another way to keep some worthy users on board as long as they think they can make some easy money. But at the end of the day commissioning is the real money maker.

  • K S B

    I’ve been getting 20%.

  • Mason Pelt

    This could be big for a lot of less established photographers (not necessarily iphotographers as someone said). 30% on a commercial licensing is the same a Getty, that said Getty does do a lot of work to prevent copyright infringement. I will need to see what 500px gives you.

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  • kitneyi

    It’s a hell of a lot better than Dreamstime…

  • yopyop

    Yep, you’d better prepare now to over-process your photographs even if you don’t like it.

  • Richard

    If social popularity is what they’re using to choose high quality content, god help us.

  • Bert Newton

    Minimum fee to Photographer $75. They would have been better off splitting 50/50 and starting at $150 per shot. Same starting fee for the photographer, 50/50 sounds much more appealing to people with the shots they want, which would lead to more quality stock coming their way, and lower prices would attract more business. So more photographers, more photos, and more sales would equal more profit overall, a missed opportunity methinks. When corporations get too greedy, the talent walks. I have seen it many times in many industries.

  • nkorths

    I think there are way too many over proccessed photos as it is. Many are stunningly beautiful but empty of soul because they not real. Give me the spontaneity of unaltered mobile anytime.

  • bb

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Yours is that anyone that puts in the extra time to try and create art is in your words – soulless. You sir, are the fast food of photography.
    iPhone with a motordrive, lol.
    Over-processing is a problem much like putting on too much makeup. A little goes a long way… but would I rather take away the option from those that care to attempt it well? Not me.

  • Joe Pepersack

    30% is outright theft.

    Kiss my ass. I’d rather make NOTHING than let you get rich off my labor while you feed me the scraps.

  • yopyop

    “Yours is that anyone that puts in the extra time to try and create art is in your words – soulless.”

    Where did you get that from Nkorths ? You are manipulating what he said to fit your statements

  • nkorths

    You are right in that a little processing goes a long way.

  • kyle

    Too bad 500px is garbage and even flickr is better now.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Getting into Getty?

  • Titus-Armand

    They’re not empty of soul because they are not real, they’re empty of soul because the post processing is all they have to offer.

  • madmax

    The minimum should be 50%. This is an insult. Poor photographers!

  • mahadragon

    I think by only giving photographer 30% they are opening the door wide open to competitors. When others see how popular the website can be someone else will want to do it, but will be able to offer fair compensation.

    I think they should do like Apple, give the photographer 70% of the revenue, that seems to make sense for me. I think even 70% may not be enough but it’s much better than 30%. I think 30% is flat out high way robbery, there’s no way I would participate in that.

    I also think it’s stupid to charge people $250 just for licensing fee. 500px is already getting 70% of the profits and they want to charge a fee on top of that? It doesn’t sound like a company that wants to stick around for the long term, typical for an east coast tech company. It’s why you don’t see any of them around, short term mindset.

  • me2

    It would be interesting to know if the owners, managers, programmers and lawyers are going to accept 30% of their salary / profit, or is it ONLY the photographers who need to compromise and live on bread and water, while giving their work away?

  • Random Joe

    For photographers with programming/web experience, I think it pays to make your own site and do the work yourself. For others, sites like these (and not the microstock sites) may be a viable option. Programming and Photography are both hobbies I enjoy so I opted to make my own.

  • Pano DeFano

    SOunds like a pretty solid deal to me dude.
    Anon-Works dot Com

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  • nemophoto

    The “royalty” the photographer gets blows. Wow, instead of 30-70, the split should be 70-30. Even the worst case is normally 50-50. This is maybe a good deal for photographer who are truly amateurs and could/would never sell a photo. It sucks for any prop who should venture there. Stay way.

  • nemophoto

    Sorry for the typos. Don’t you love autocorrect?

  • Rob Elliott

    I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what is happening.

    500px is set to have a service where photos on Prime will be available for licencing by third parties for commercial purposes. The Minimum fee a third party will be charged to licence a photo is $250 and can be substantially more.

    30% of the fee (at least $250) goes directly to the photographer (at least $75).

    Right now 500px is contacting 500px users about specific photos and asking if those people would like to include those photos in Prime.

    This is very similar to Getty images deal with Flickr where Getty will contact Flickr users about including one or more of their photos in the Getty mircostock library and those Flickr users get 20%, but have less transparency about the fees or deals Getty makes.

    Microstock has been around for a while, 30% is on the high side of what sites pay out.

    500px isn’t charging people to put photos on Prime.

    Think about it this way Apple makes about $1600 of profit every second. A Mac genius makes a little less then $40k a year. Apple doesn’t pay them $90k a year even though giving every Apple Employee an extra $50,000 a year would still result in $48 billion a year in profit. The reason is they don’t have to. There are lots of people that can do a Apple Genius job.

  • mahadragon

    Great idea! Nobody will ever know who you are or find your site, but that’s a very noble thought and great idea.

  • Graham Marsden

    I think it depends on the situation of each individual. If you are a pro and very likely to sell a number of your photographs then there may be better outlets for your work. If you’re like me, an enthusiastic amateur, then it offers a chance to sell a picture or two that otherwise I wouldn’t have had. I am not actively trying to sell images, but if someone comes along and offers a marketing outlet I’d be a fool not to take it if the terms are reasonable, which I think they are from 500px.

    I can understand why some pros are upset, but they, like me, can say “no, I’ll go my own way or I’ll go elsewhere.” Simple as that.

  • Jrose

    Mine elaborate how is Flickr much better than 500px? In what way?

  • Ed

    I think some pros would be upset because unlimited usage rights for quality images are selling in market for 1000-10000% more than what 500px has established.

    Also to clarify for some folks above… the photographer keeps 70% of the fee collected… and from what I can tell by joining 500px Prime today… every single image is priced at $250.. there is no “and up”.

  • Nikonron Digitaldude

    ok … it 30% or 50% as i just read.?????