The Democratization of Content Creation

Play episode


They say two heads are better than one. So how about more than one million heads —that would make you unstoppable. For stock image provider, Shutterstock, there are 1.6 million people who are contributing content to the company every single day and it’s about time that this goldmine of talent was put to use in new ways. At least, that’s what Aiden Darné believes. Aiden is the Global Head of Shutterstock Studios and on this episode of Business X factors, he reveals how Shutterstock is democratizing the content creation industry and completely shifting how the industry views Shutterstock and its network of creators.

Main Takeaways:

  • More Bang For Your Buck:  When you have assets that are being underutilized, there is a lot of upside in finding a way to reposition yourself and your assets to get more out of them. But this can often take a lot of work and rebuilding of a brand, so it’s critical to lean on your reputation and the trust you’ve built up in order to move further.  
  • Give Them A Chance: Too often, industries can become set in their ways and tap into the same wells over and over. As a result, things like content creation, production and more can become insular and exclude new and emerging talent. It’s important to stay open to new ideas that might come from unexpected places.


Key Quotes:

“Describing us as a creative agency, it does us a bit of a disservice because we’re actually a lot more than that. We like to position ourselves as a solution for our partners and whether that is for straight production services or creative strategy and content strategy or through the network or through a director network or through a global production team. We’re hopeful that it’s one area that’s going to prove helpful for our partners.”

“Out of that 1.6 million… We have about 20,000 of those that we’ve qualified as part of this global creator network. It’s photographers, videographers, producers, directors, writers, animators, illustrators. So, at our lowest investment level, we function as a marketplace connecting creators with a brief, and we’re getting to a point where that is scaling even bigger.” 

“We have relationships with the biggest networks, streamers, media companies, agencies in the world because they’ve been a client of ours and they’ve been working through us looking for a stock and for ready-to-use assets. That’s also why this was such a natural evolution for the company for us to be able to then go and produce original or custom work for them.” 

“As a result of the pandemic people couldn’t go out and shoot for a long time last year globally. So, I think being an archival and stock company, we probably, in some ways really benefited. There’s a higher demand for content without the ability to go and shoot it themselves. So, I think that again is a huge positive. It really set a level playing field, because particularly in emerging markets, there’s amazing talent, amazing producers and amazing cinematographers and especially directors.  I say this all the time that a huge positive that’s come from COVID is that everyone’s Rolodex is broadened and everyone’s eyes have opened up.”

“The post-pandemic era is going to be great for production and advertising. I think the world’s going to open up… Why would you want to spend 20, 30% on the budget on travel when we can all do it remotely and even for meetings, why would I need to fly to LA for that quick hour-long meeting? I think that’s a real benefit to the industry and for the environment, especially.”

“Within Shutterstock Studios, we are looking this year to really get into producing original documentary programming as well and that is really special and unique for us because we’re using all of the archives as a starting point to spark the idea. We have about 350 million assets now as part of our archive and library that we have been mining through for 20 years.  It’s a bit of a treasure chest in a lot of ways…So we’ve been using all of that as a starting point to look at original documentary and potentially even fiction as well down the line. I was drawn to this because we’re challenging the notion of what a global production studio is. 

“There’s so much amazing content in there. … So if you think at the core of the business we’ve been receiving and reviewing content for nearly 20 years, it’s a very natural fit, not just for us to be creating original programming, but for us to be a studio because who knows content better, as good as us, given that we have 350 million assets that we’ve been mining through for 20 years.” 



Aiden Darné started out at Michel Gondry’s Partizan Entertainment and eventually worked as an executive producer at many of the most celebrated commercial production companies in the industry. He was the VP of Production at ViacomCBS where he ran the production studio within Viacom Digital Studios. VDS was responsible for producing the digital originals and integrated marketing for Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount. From Viacom, he moved to VICE Media, where he launched their internal brand production studio and he was part of the leadership group that launched the TV Network Viceland. He is credited in a number of TV series documentaries and shorts including Beerland, Black  Market, Gaycation, and Night Porter. Aiden became the Global Head of Shutterstock  Studios, a new creative arm of Shutterstock in November 2020, where he oversees global production and strategy. 

Business X factors is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by Hyland.

For over a decade, Hyland has been named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, leading the way to help people get the information they need when and where they need it. More than half of 2019 Fortune 100 companies rely on Hyland to help them create more meaningful connections with the people they serve. When your focus is on the people you serve, Hyland stands behind you. Hyland is your X factor for better performance. Go to Hyland.com/insights to learn more.


Episode 5