StockUnlimited wants to be Spotify for stock images

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The “Spotify of this”, “Netflix for that” model is growing more popular all the time where creative content is concerned. It’s no wonder, really; unlimited and easy access to a boatload of content for a low, flat fee? Sign me up! Even as chinks are beginning to show on Spotify’s armor, the model keeps popping up for other kinds of services, like Singapore’s Bookmate. StockUnlimited has decided to apply it to stock images.

Stock imagery has long been the purview of providers like Shutterstock and Getty Images. There are a few free solutions out there, but most either require endless trawling through sub-par images or questionable licensing practices. And there’s Google’s image search function, which… well, let’s just say things don’t always end well there.

StockUnlimited CEO Christian Toksvig knows these waters well. Previously head of business development at Getty Images, he felt the company wasn’t making things easy for its customers. “Content was difficult to find, expensive, and came with a lot of restrictions,” he tells Tech in Asia. “I have always been obsessed with making things simple for consumers. After leaving [Getty], I started looking for partners who were trying to solve the same problem.”

One of those partners was Andy Sitt, founder of Asian stock photography company 123RF, whom Tokvsig already knew. Working with Sitt, who is now chairman at StockUnlimited, Toksvig learned that by basing the company in Malaysia, he would have better access to a vast number of creators on whom a large part of the stock imagery business relies. All artists working with StockUnlimited are currently based in Asia. And Malaysia’s food and weather didn’t hurt either!
Battling piracy with convenience

Users can sign up to StockUnlimited’s service for a monthly subscription of $9.99, which gives them unlimited access to a library of vector graphics, illustrations, and clipart. There is also a 14-day free trial available for anyone who wants to test drive the service. All the images are created specifically for the site by professional artists. Working with its own content creators allows StockUnlimited to manage quality control on the images it provides and also resolve licensing issues with the content.

Toksvig believes that above all, convenience is the way to reach consumers who still consider pirating content as the simplest solution to acquire it. “People don’t use pirated content just because they don’t want to pay. Convenience is a major driver too. We try to deliver such value and convenience that people won’t bother pirating,” he says. At the moment, most of StockUnlimited’s customers are from Western markets, but the company hopes to gain more traction in Asian territories as well.

The startup is still relatively young, having been founded in 2014, but Toksvig says its library is currently home to more than 500,000 images. While that number doesn’t sound impressive compared to other services, the company has reached a point where more than 50,000 new pieces of art are added every month.

While StockUnlimited faces quite a bit of competition in Asia and worldwide, it hopes that the combination of convenience and affordability will be the key to gain a foothold in the market. Its vector- and illustration-rich content also sets it apart from other, photography-focused services. Additionally, it’s exploring other avenues to grow its userbase, such as the possibility of providing bespoke content on request, and potential partnerships with other platforms.
Editing by Nadine Freischlad and Steven Millward

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