I sell music online on several websites, but in this Pond 5 review, I want to share why it is the best sites for licensing your music. And the only stock music site I’d wholly recommend for musicians.
(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)
First, a little background on my experiences selling music on Pond 5 before jumping into this Pond 5 music licensing review. I joined Pond 5 around April 2015. I licensed my first royalty free song, an energetic classic blues rock intro, for $15. However, I've raised the prices now that I actually understand the value of my songs. Sales slowly trickled in and started building from there.
Since then, I’ve made over a $1,000 selling music on Pond 5. Lately, I've been averaging about $200 every month. And I've earned over $300 a month and with total earnings over $4,000. (Updated June, 2017).
I've now earned nearly $10,000 through sales on Pond 5 (updated November 2018).
You can check out one of my detailed earnings reports here.
Just a note – Pond 5 does not give me any fees for referring artists. This is my honest to goodness warts and all review based on my experience as an artist on Pond 5. However, I do earn a referral feel from any purchases people make on Pond 5. But almost every major stock music site offers referrals).
Why I think Pond 5 is the best site for licensing music online
A major factor for choosing to sell music on Pond 5 is that there is a large market of serious buyers. That means that when I upload good music to Pond 5, it will sell. I’ve uploaded the same version of songs to other sites, where they’ve got lots of views but no purchases. So if you’re serious about selling music online, you need to work with a website full of serious buyers. If I had to guess, I'd say a good song gets a sale for every 20 to 25 views on Pond 5.
If you're wondering where to sell your music online, you want to make sure that the website looks active and regularly updated. For example, on other sites, like Audiomicro, the same song has had 200+ views without a single sale.
And what Pond 5 review would be complete without noting that Pond 5 offers artists a 50-50 split of the revenue.
In the summer of 2019, Pond 5 announced that it would be lower its revenue split with musicians. Now, instead of making a 50-50 split, artists will only keep 35% of the sales. This is a major blow and a thoroughly negative development. No way to spin it well.
Plus, buyers are supposed to file cue sheets, which means artists should earn broadcast royalties (what are these - click here to learn about the royalty types?), if applicable.
I've earned about $3,000 from these broadcast royalties (updated October 2019).
Pond 5 has also announced the launch of Pond 5 publishing, which will handle some of the publishing work for artists. However, I think Pond 5 Publishing is a terrible idea for artists. For my full take on why Pond 5 Publishing is a bad idea, check out this video. (updated October 2019)
Another major factor in choosing to license my music on Pond 5 is that the website is easy to use for musicians. You can batch upload your songs (and Pond 5’s server is fast, usually). You can also use batch templates, and make batch edits to songs quickly and easily. Pond 5 automatically inserts watermarks so you don’t have to waste time (I’m looking at YOU AudioJungle).
Pond 5 also includes a suite of artist friendly resources, like this blog and it also offers artists extensive data on sales trends. And Pond 5 does not require an exclusive license, meaning you can also sell your music on other websites.
It also allows you to set the price of your songs.
Pond 5 has friendly and responsive customer service and active forums. It seems to be working more and more to improve the artist experience.
When it comes to Pond 5’s standards of review, I think it's pretty fair. It's not uncommon for Pond 5 to reject junk and some average music that’s in an over-saturated category (like shitty ukulele music). But good music always makes it through. Recently I've heard from some readers that Pond 5 is tightening it's standards, but I haven't experienced it (updated November 2018).
Pond 5 also provides the best statistics on listens, likes, and add to carts This allows artists to see how buyers are reacting to our own songs.
Update November 2018: I'v had my songs placed on multiple TV shows, an award winning indie short, and a Netflix documentary through Pond 5, which I think is super cool!
So that’s the good stuff.
Selling music on Pond 5 isn’t all wine and donuts.
My major gripe with the site is that it allows artists very little control over our portfolios and songs. Contrast that with the way AudioJungle allows artists to create all sorts of on site content. I think it’s fair to say that Pond 5 offers only an average amount of creative control.
I really appreciate that Pond 5 gives musicians the freedom to set the price of our music. However, it would be nice to have the option of setting the price for multiple types of licenses (individual, commercial, broadcast). I think this would be better for buyers and sellers. It looks like Pond 5 is heading in this direction, though, so I may have to update my Pond 5 review. Update November 2018 - Pond 5 has created new license types that a based off of the initial price you set.
The Pond 5 review time fluctuates. In my experience, music usually gets approved in less than two weeks, and often in just a few days. Sound effects, however, can languish for months. It’s been a growing problem. As an established artists, it’s only mildly frustrating, but if I was new to the business, I’d probably find it infuriating.
There are a host of websites like Pond 5, such as AudioSparx and AudioJungle. Those are the only two I'd really recommend for beginenrs. For writers of corporate music, AudioJungle may be a better place to focus your efforts. Click here for a comparison of AudioJungle vs. Pond5.
Pond 5 Review, in summary
In sum, though, I’m incredibly comfortable using Pond 5. It’s an easy friendly service to rely on. The rewards (financial and in terms of exposure) are there.
Even despite the fact that royalty rates are falling, I still think that Pond 5 is the best site for beginners to start licensing their music. But more experienced musicians really need need to move beyond Pond 5 as soon as they can.
Some competitor stock music sites, like AudioJungle, are a pain in the ass to use and offer artists paltry payouts. Other royalty free music sites, like Production Trax or Audiomicro, are easy to use, but don’t lead to any sales.
So instead of wasting much time on the other sites, I spend the time writing and recording new music. Then I upload to it to Pond 5.
Plus, Pond 5 does a good job of fostering a community of musicians and artists, which makes the process more inspiring.
So what are you waiting for? Start licensing your music today!!!
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