If you're a beginner looking to sell stock music online, you've probably narrowed down your options to AudioJungle vs. Pond 5. After years of selling stock music, I can confirm that these are the two best sites to sell music for beginners.
But I'd recommend that you only focus on one to begin with. This article will help you figure out whether you should start selling music on AudioJungle or Pond 5, by laying out the differences between the two. This way you can better allocate your time to making music and spend less time uploading!
If you'd prefer a more in-depth look at either, please check out these posts reviewing both Pond 5 and AudioJungle from the perspective of a songwriter looking to sell stock music online.
(Note that this is a referral link, meaning I get a commission if you purchase anything from the Pond 5 - but I don’t not get a referral for recommending that you sign up as an artist. It's just my honest belief it's the best site for folks new to licensing).
The Best Site to Sell Music for Beginners Isn't The same for everyone
The first thing I'm going to say as a preface is there are a lot of other sites out there for selling stock music that could be good for you but this is really tailored to people that are beginning to look into selling stock.
These other sites could be good for established musicians that have a deep catalog of high quality songs, but if you're starting out, please just stick to selling music on Pond 5 or AudioJungle.
And since you're just starting out, you'll want to know what stock music is and how to get started selling it, so check out this free five day course that will get you started right away on Pond 5. Or if you'd prefer to read an in-depth article on how to license your music for beginners, I've got you covered.
So What's the Best Site to License Music Online?
Among these stock music sites, I think Pond 5 is the better place to start to license stock music, but I think that AudioJungle could also be a good choice for the right person, depending on where you are with your journey and the type of music you enjoy making.
One last thing before we get into which is the best site to sell music for beginners: I don't recommend doing both sites simultaneously (at first). That's because succeeding on a stock music site requires you to play a different "game" for each marketplace. Each has different upload requirements, metadata rules, tools for promotion, etc.
At first, just focus on learning one marketplace and improving your songs. Once you've mastered those steps, then you can consider branching out.
Differences Between Licensing Music on Pond 5 and AudioJungle
So let's start getting into the reviews of the differences between Pond 5 and AudioJungle.
So first things first. Both are free to join. As a poor musician, that's a big plus, as they allow you to license your music for free (but they charge a commission on each sale).
The second thing - and this is super important - is that that both have a large network of buyers and sellers. That means that you're actually going to have a good chance of having your songs sold if they're any good.
I can't tell you how many sites I've joined, wasted hours and hours and hours and hours uploading my songs and then just heard crickets.
The more sales you get, the more information you get about what types of songs you should be making and how they are being received. If you were to get one $500 sale every other year from one site, it doesn't tell you nearly as much as getting fifty $20 dollar sales on various songs.
Knowing what people like will really can help you grow your business and grow your skills, because you're getting more data points. Both Pond 5 and AudioJungle are pretty equal in terms of activity, but AudioJungle might be slightly more active.
How Much Can You Earn Licensing a Song?
The next thing is how much can you make on each site.
So on Pond 5 it's a very simple system. It's non-exclusive and you get 50% of what they sell your song for. And you can set the price of your tracks anywhere from $20 up to... I don't know if there's a limit. Definitely hundreds of dollars. I've sold plenty of songs for the $60-$80 range.
And then I would've received half of that. Pond 5 also has a few different tiers of licensing in terms of liability protection which those licenses sell for more.
On the other hand AudioJungle is a much more complicated system. All songs are sold for nineteen dollars. (although they also have a tiered licensing system for liability).
If you're non-exclusive you'd get 45% of that $19 dollars. So it's slightly less than Pond 5.
Updated October 2018: Audio Jungle now lets you set your own prices, as well.
However, if you are exclusive with AudioJungle, your commission increases based on the total value of your sales with AudioJungle.
So if you've sold like, $50,000 worth of songs then they're only going to be taking a 20% commission. If you're an exclusive author and have have not sold $50,000, then they're going to be taking a 37% commission starting out, but scaling towards 20% based on your sales... or something like that.
It seems senselessly complex to me.
Why I think Exclusivity is Bad for New Musicians
So let's just to get into exclusivity for a second. Basically, it means that you grant AudioJungle the exclusive right to license your song for ever. That means they will be the only outlet where you could distribute your song. And if they went out of business then theoretically would never be able to sell your song again.
Or if you get another incredible opportunity, you can't take it. So let's say McDonald's just finds your beat to be incredible, and says I'll give you a hundred million dollars to be able to use it. You can't do it. So you lose all control of your song but you get a higher commission.
And so that's something you need to think about. I have definitely put songs up exclusively. I also have most of my songs nonexclusive. I think if you're starting out, you definitely should err on the side of going nonexclusive, because you can always convert a track to exclusive but you can never go back the other way.
Plus, you don't know what your songs are really worth what they're capable of until you've been doing this for a while. So I think it's kind of good that AudioJungle gives you that option if you know what you're doing. But I also don't urge beginners to take that.
Which Site is Best For Looking to Start Music Licensing?
To be honest, I prefer Pond 5. Especially for a beginner. Over time, as you improve, AudioJungle could become a nice part of your portfolio, too.
On the earnings side, I think for beginners especially in the first year or two Pond 5 is definitely the better call because you get slightly more per song in terms of what they charge for the song and then also slightly more in terms of commission.
But over I think over time, if you're really committed to AudioJungle and make that your main platform exclusive, it could be more lucrative because of the sliding scale.
I've been at this for over five years, working pretty diligently, and I'm just I've sold about twelve thousand of music, mostly on Pond 5 (including plenty of sales priced ABOVE $20).
So to really get to where you're going to be making an advantage from that exclusive amount, it would take a long time and a lot of work. So don't just think oh yeah I can get fifty thousand dollars. It's going to take a long time and a lot of work.
What Types of Songs Sell?
What types of songs sell on each site?
Here Pond 5 has a massive advantage. With Pond 5 the ability to get a song approved and upload it quickly is drastically drastically better than AudioJungle.
On the AudioJungle site, the reviewers are ridiculously strict and narrow-minded. AudioJungle it's really like they're looking for a specific kind of pretty-well-produced corporate music. I think is the right word kind of ... Muzak in any genre.
They don't want rough edges. they want it to have very a very specific vibe. And what I would just recommend is to go on to Pond 5 and AudioJungle and look at like the five best sellers and you'll get what I'm talking about.
I would say that the almost all of my songs get rejected from AudioJungle if I'm not trying to write specifically for them. I've even written like a little note to the reviewer being like: "Hey! I've sold 15 copies of this song on Pond 5. You should let it in because it sells!"
But then they don't let it.
On Pond 5, their main criteria for disproving a song would be either it's just really bad quality (like really really bad) or that it's just a saturated genre that they already have or that it's infringing on copyright or something like that.
So basically, as long as your song sounds ok, in terms of quality, and it doesn't really matter too much about style or if it's an objectively or subjectively good song. Pond 5 will approve it. Their philosophy is to let the marketplace decide what a good song is. That's how I've managed to make over $2,000 from one song!
Update October 2018: Some of my colleagues have said that Pond 5 is starting to be more restrictive, but I haven't experienced it personally.
Update March 2, 2022: AudioJungle has really tightened its reviewing requirements for new authors. At this point you can only upload 2 songs a month when you're starting out, which makes it really hard to build out a portfolio.
So I think that's a big feature and a big plus to Pond 5, because you get you get more songs out there and they let the marketplace decide. And it's definitely a big reason why I'd say that Pond 5 is the best site to sell music for beginners, because working on AudioJungle can be really demoralizing.
Usability and Speed
Uploading music onto AudioJungle is the biggest nightmare and headache you could imagine. It's like 1990s internet.
It takes soooooo much time.
So the opportunity cost of having spent 20 minutes to get a song ready to upload to AudioJungle and then have it rejected is just gigantic. And you add that up over five songs six songs. That's time you could have used to make a whole other song and put it up on Pond 5. So that's a big negative.
And here's how AudioJungle makes it hard to upload. Well first of all you have to create both a regular version of your song and a version with an audio mark (like a watermark). Literally every other site that I've ever used automatically does.
Then you also have to create an .mp3 and .wav version of your track. Oh, and wrap it all up in a zip file of your track. So that was another two or three minutes of your time and they allow a custom graphic for each song and you can just use the same war hero as he is. But that takes a second to put up.
If you've got multiple edits of the same song (which you should always do), this is just a ridiculous amount of backend work to set up.
Now on the plus side, AudioJungle really supports you in brand building. It let's you customize your shop, being sticky to customers. I think that's the best way of describing it and letting you sort of customize yourself and present yourself as more than just a commodity selling music.
Pond 5 on the other hand is much more like eBay. They don't really care what the seller is. It's just like: "Is this the widget that I need? Cool." On Pond 5, there's not really much of a profile there's not any like community to it.
And I think again this goes back to the long term versus short term orientation of the sites. If you want to do something long term, then I see AudioJungle being kind of the better potentially a better path because we have a chance to build a brand and get repeat customers and interact with them. And that could be really valuable down the line.
Conclusion: What's the Best Site to Sell Music for Beginners?
So now let's wrap it all up. Which one is better for beginning musicians? Well I think what this has shown is that Pond 5 inevitably is going to be better for you for your first year or two.
Audio jungle might be better down the line, but here's where I'm going to sort of change the paradigm from what I've just been discussing.
The fact is, after you've been doing this for two or three years, you probably should not be focusing your efforts on either site. Hopefully you've gotten good enough in that time to have started moving into exclusive libraries and aiming your sights higher and higher to get better more expensive placements and more opportunities to have backend royalties.
So you if you're trying to build your career by aiming to be the best at AudioJungle is like trying to be a big fish in a small pond. At this point, I think AudioJungle is probably not worth your time if you're starting out. It takes too long and places too many limits on you.
Build up your music licensing portfolio with Pond 5, then start porting your best stuff over to AudioJungle once you've got a portfolio of at least 50 songs on Pond 5.
What do you think? Any sites you'd recommend?
From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!
My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.
While I still have a full-time day job, I have created systems that have allowed me to produce dozens of songs a year in my spare time.
My songs have been on Netflix, TV shows like the 90 Day Fiance, an award-winning indie film, and NPR’s “All Thing Considered.” They've also been streamed millions of times.
In addition to being a music producer, I am passionate about teaching people how they can make professional-sounding music and earn money licensing it, all in their spare time.
Thousands of musicians, like yourself, have trusted me to guide their musical journey. My YouTube videos have been watched nearly a million times. And my story has been in Forbes, Side Hustle Nation, and the Side Hustle School.