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Pond 5 changes split, adds Publishing option. Signal further shift in market?
Old 19th August 2019
  #1
Pond 5 changes split, adds Publishing option. Signal further shift in market?

Pond 5 just announced a drop in sync split from 50/50 to 35/65, and announced Pond 5 Publishing. This is essentially a re-title function.

The Ex vs Non-Ex conversation is an old one around here. Some veterans rightful warn of the problems associated with this method of re-titling and RF platform. Others say "the scene has changed, and I'm examining all options." Recently, I've seen more and more productions moving toward these low cost RF content providers. Just finished a Netflix documentary/pilot that was tempted with ArtList material, and we only scored a small amount of the show to fix the worst choices/edits coming from editor. A fair amount of that ULTRA CHEAP $16/month music stayed.... and honestly isn't bad quality.

So... kicking rocks around here to see what people think of this move by P5, and the continued trend of low-cost RF and subscription RF platforms. The industry doesn't seem to care much, and is moving closer and closer to these models. I find fewer clients hitting the single-use exclusive sources.

What do you see happening?
Old 19th August 2019
  #2
Gear Nut
 

I've been regularly uploading music content to Pond5 for a few years, with a more concentrated focus the last two years to build my catalog and sales there. I admit my sales aren't impressive and nowhere close to making a living, but I was happy with the upward trend:

2019 (through Aug 19): $911
2018: 1358
2017: 183
2016: 124
2015: 63

I have been regularly uploading, and writing with more of a focus on the types of tracks that seem to sell there. I also did some Facebook ads mostly as an experiment to see if I could affect my views and sales there. The ads did seem to help, but I'd say not enough data to be conclusive.

The announcement of going from a 50/50 split for license fees to 65/35 in Pond5's favor has me reconsidering being a contributor there at all. Over the last few years, I have also built my catalog with other small libraries that have a focus primarily on TV. Maybe focusing my energy on serving them would be more effective. I'm not sure yet, but the 65/35 split is enough that I will be exploring different options regarding the RF market. I'm strongly leading toward pulling all my content from Pond5, and I won't be submitting any new material while I contemplate how to move forward.

For what it's worth, the contributor forum at Pond5 is blowing up with some very upset music contributors.
Old 19th August 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderman View Post
Pond 5 just announced a drop in sync split from 50/50 to 35/65, and announced Pond 5 Publishing. This is essentially a re-title function.

The Ex vs Non-Ex conversation is an old one around here. Some veterans rightful warn of the problems associated with this method of re-titling and RF platform. Others say "the scene has changed, and I'm examining all options." Recently, I've seen more and more productions moving toward these low cost RF content providers. Just finished a Netflix documentary/pilot that was tempted with ArtList material, and we only scored a small amount of the show to fix the worst choices/edits coming from editor. A fair amount of that ULTRA CHEAP $16/month music stayed.... and honestly isn't bad quality.

So... kicking rocks around here to see what people think of this move by P5, and the continued trend of low-cost RF and subscription RF platforms. The industry doesn't seem to care much, and is moving closer and closer to these models. I find fewer clients hitting the single-use exclusive sources.

What do you see happening?
Well, what I don't see happening is composers walking away from P5. And that right there is the problem. The fact that the overwhelmingly vast majority of composers won't get pissed off at this and feel like they are being hosed (which they are), is far from shocking, but sad and pathetic. Where's the self-respect? Doesn't exist. Where's the I'm going to stick up for myself here, and my IP? Doesn't exist.

If everyone would just walk away, you know what P5 would say?

Hold on a sec - we changed our minds... it's 50/50 again, so everyone come on back!

That's what they would say. The issue is that, by and large, people don't understand that P5 is literally nothing without it's content. And where does that content come from?
Old 19th August 2019
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Well, what I don't see happening is composers walking away from P5. And that right there is the problem. The fact that the overwhelmingly vast majority of composers won't get pissed off at this and feel like they are being hosed (which they are), is far from shocking, but sad and pathetic. Where's the self-respect? Doesn't exist. Where's the I'm going to stick up for myself here, and my IP? Doesn't exist.

If everyone would just walk away, you know what P5 would say?

Hold on a sec - we changed our minds... it's 50/50 again, so everyone come on back!

That's what they would say. The issue is that, by and large, people don't understand that P5 is literally nothing without it's content. And where does that content come from?
I don't think people should get too upset.

Most contributors are not making a living from Pond 5.

Let these things play out and don't worry.
Old 19th August 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKMusic View Post
I've been regularly uploading music content to Pond5 for a few years, with a more concentrated focus the last two years to build my catalog and sales there. I admit my sales aren't impressive and nowhere close to making a living, but I was happy with the upward trend:

2019 (through Aug 19): $911
2018: 1358
2017: 183
2016: 124
2015: 63

I have been regularly uploading, and writing with more of a focus on the types of tracks that seem to sell there. I also did some Facebook ads mostly as an experiment to see if I could affect my views and sales there. The ads did seem to help, but I'd say not enough data to be conclusive.

The announcement of going from a 50/50 split for license fees to 65/35 in Pond5's favor has me reconsidering being a contributor there at all. Over the last few years, I have also built my catalog with other small libraries that have a focus primarily on TV. Maybe focusing my energy on serving them would be more effective. I'm not sure yet, but the 65/35 split is enough that I will be exploring different options regarding the RF market. I'm strongly leading toward pulling all my content from Pond5, and I won't be submitting any new material while I contemplate how to move forward.

For what it's worth, the contributor forum at Pond5 is blowing up with some very upset music contributors.
I'm going to do a YouTube video about this..try splitting your music into two "catalogues"...call one catalogue Platinum Forte, Golden Sonics..something with gold, diamond, platinum, premiere, luxury etc.. then double your prices for those. Check back in a year and see which catalogue performs better..
Old 19th August 2019
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Well, what I don't see happening is composers walking away from P5. And that right there is the problem. The fact that the overwhelmingly vast majority of composers won't get pissed off at this and feel like they are being hosed (which they are), is far from shocking, but sad and pathetic. Where's the self-respect? Doesn't exist. Where's the I'm going to stick up for myself here, and my IP? Doesn't exist.

If everyone would just walk away, you know what P5 would say?

Hold on a sec - we changed our minds... it's 50/50 again, so everyone come on back!

That's what they would say. The issue is that, by and large, people don't understand that P5 is literally nothing without it's content. And where does that content come from?
Agree with that completely... but also in the back of my mind, I can't help think "supply v demand" - The market is FLOODED with content, and now with content providers (libraries). I'm not making excuses for P5's dick move... but I imagine they really thought about the backlash, and did it because they are losing. Adding Publishing collection? That's another attempt to grab more cash... cause they probably need it.

In the broader look at the industry... I see P5 as still more fair than others. The subscription models seem especially draining on composer income. A few might succeed with Premium Beat or Artlist, but it's not a stable income scenario. Several years ago, there were conversations around here that hinted of the pending collapse of the re-titling RF game. That it was unsustainable, and that it would fall out of favor. Instead we see a large distributor adding that "service" to their roster. Is re-titling an industry practice that's here to stay?

Jeff's proposition would require veteran composers to educate the newbies to this unfair treatment. Instead we see large companies making the call to change, despite the backlash from current suppliers... bc they know more music will appear, and some of it will be good enough to sell. I tried protesting the RF scene several years ago, and working strictly single-use exclusive catalogs... but I did not see frequent action from these places. Placements here or there. Not a major income stream. Many tracks lost to catalogs that aren't moving stock. Plus, the majority of them are blanket deals that give literally 0% to the composer, and little information about tracking placements. That's more fair? hmm.

The old days of pay up-front, split some sync, and receive good royalty checks... the industry STILL just doesn't seem to be moving in that direction. Eh?
Old 19th August 2019
  #7
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Well, what I don't see happening is composers walking away from P5. And that right there is the problem. The fact that the overwhelmingly vast majority of composers won't get pissed off at this and feel like they are being hosed (which they are), is far from shocking, but sad and pathetic. Where's the self-respect? Doesn't exist. Where's the I'm going to stick up for myself here, and my IP? Doesn't exist.
Strongly agree. When I got the initial message on Friday my first reaction was to raise prices to compensate for the lost revenue, but now I'm strongly leaning towards pulling all my content from P5. Hell, I'm not sure if I could look into the mirror with self-respect if I just stared and watched as someone takes 30% of my income, that would be just pathetic.
Old 20th August 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
 
Paul Biondi's Avatar
Same thing for many of us about 10 years ago with PumpAudio. Speaking for myself, PumpAudio changing the deal to a 35/65 split wasn't a match for what I was planning. I felt very strongly that the quality of music I was creating for them (and that they were then placing) was worth at least 50%.

But that pay cut turned out to be a blessing for me, and I hope for other composers, because it motivated me to expand and make deals with libraries offering what I knew I was worth. I pulled my tracks from Pump Audio but of course everyone has their own reasons and motivations for sticking with a 35/65 split.
Old 21st August 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderman View Post
Pond 5 just announced a drop in sync split from 50/50 to 35/65, and announced Pond 5 Publishing. This is essentially a re-title function.
It's an inevitability. Pond5 is not a sustainable business model. They lose money every year while telling everyone how great they are doing.

They needed to change the sync split and NOW take the publishing to even try and stay afloat. They are the music equivalent to a dot com. They raised $61mil in venture capital funding and claim to make $20mil a year. But yet they now have to take an extra 15% of the sync and now take the publishing? they must have burned through the $61mil and are operating in the red and can't attract more investment until they show more net revenue.

The fact that they are doing this gives peek into what is really going on behind the scenes in the company. If they were making a lot of money and had a healthy profit margin with the 50/50 and no publishing, they would never have to do this.

This is what happens when you undervalue your own product and not understand the industry you are trying to operate in.
Old 21st August 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
It's an inevitability. Pond5 is not a sustainable business model. They lose money every year while telling everyone how great they are doing.

They needed to change the sync split and NOW take the publishing to even try and stay afloat. They are the music equivalent to a dot com. They raised $61mil in venture capital funding and claim to make $20mil a year. But yet they now have to take an extra 15% of the sync and now take the publishing? they must have burned through the $61mil and are operating in the red and can't attract more investment until they show more net revenue.

The fact that they are doing this gives peek into what is really going on behind the scenes in the company. If they were making a lot of money and had a healthy profit margin with the 50/50 and no publishing, they would never have to do this.

This is what happens when you undervalue your own product and not understand the industry you are trying to operate in.

Man, I need to start a tech company.
Old 21st August 2019
  #11
Crap sales anyhow. Just requested to close my account. The only way pond5.com would work as a decent income source is if I lived in a developing country.
Old 21st August 2019
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by standingwave View Post
Crap sales anyhow. Just requested to close my account. The only way pond5.com would work as a decent income source is if I lived in a developing country.

Pack those bags and charge $250 per cue.
Old 21st August 2019
  #13
Old 21st August 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by standingwave View Post
Crap sales anyhow. Just requested to close my account. The only way pond5.com would work as a decent income source is if I lived in a developing country.
True story... I talked to a guy from a developing country (India?) who was DESTROYED over the P5 decision. Said that it was going to seriously hurt his income, and that P5 had been a path out of poverty. (Woah!)

Crazy... but the idea that people in developing countries are churning out a lot of this stock content on the low cost sites... it's true and an interesting faucet to that whole industry. Tons of work happening through things like Fiverr and these low cost licensing sites that actually support those families.
Old 21st August 2019
  #15
It's true, globalization is taking advantage of the willingness of poor people to work for next to anything. I believe regardless of where one is from, they should be able to make a good amount of money from their labors.
We are on a race to the bottom and the large corporations will profit the whole time while the rest of the industry starves. Very short sighted business plan. Most are though.
...oh well.
Old 21st August 2019
  #16
Here for the gear
Aren't Pond5's music-based revenues pretty small in comparison to their video-based business? We would need to see their financials to be sure (difficult since they're private), but I would guess that music accounts for less than 10% of their total revenue -- maybe as low as 5% judging from their advertised product mix. Still, they seem to be taking actions to maximize profitability in even small segments of their business regardless of the impact. We know the marketplace is extremely competitive, but P5's action does seem a little desperate (going after such a small revenue segment). And unfortunately that action will hurt many composers who have invested considerable time and energy supporting Pond5 over the years.

Wondering if an exclusive option with higher splits would have been a much better approach for them to take. Any thoughts on this?
Old 21st August 2019
  #17
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck.dallas View Post
Wondering if an exclusive option with higher splits would have been a much better approach for them to take. Any thoughts on this?
I've been thinking the same. I mean, most of my RF income has come from P5, and if they had introduced a similar approach to this as the video contributors get (40/60 non-ex, 60/40 ex), I would had very likely stayed with them and even be relieved that I don't have to upload the tracks to several places.
Old 28th August 2019
  #18
Gear Nut
 

There's a very interesting thread happening at MLR regarding this subject.

https://musiclibraryreport.com/forum...t-licensing-2/

The discussion revolves around implementing a new business model where rather than splitting license fees like you would with a traditional Publisher, the composer pays a service fee to participate in a web-hosted marketplace, and keep 100% of the revenue. Apparently, BeatStars does something similar already, but aimed at beat producers.

I am very interested in this concept, especially if we can solve making video producers/stock music customers aware that such a marketplace exists, is reasonably priced, and benefits content creators.
Old 28th August 2019
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKMusic View Post
There's a very interesting thread happening at MLR regarding this subject.

https://musiclibraryreport.com/forum...t-licensing-2/

The discussion revolves around implementing a new business model where rather than splitting license fees like you would with a traditional Publisher, the composer pays a service fee to participate in a web-hosted marketplace, and keep 100% of the revenue. Apparently, BeatStars does something similar already, but aimed at beat producers.

I am very interested in this concept, especially if we can solve making video producers/stock music customers aware that such a marketplace exists, is reasonably priced, and benefits content creators.
The BeatStars marketplace idea isn't a bad one, but I think the composers' success would depend on how well the owner/operator of the marketplace markets their product. If they don't put forth a lot of money (as in, ad dollars) and time and effort into a campaign to tell the world why they should use this particular market place and it's music, and then expect the composers to do their own marketing, then what's the point. But then what is the incentive to do the marketing properly, if they don't take a percentage of the sales?
Old 28th August 2019
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
The BeatStars marketplace idea isn't a bad one, but I think the composers' success would depend on how well the owner/operator of the marketplace markets their product. If they don't put forth a lot of money (as in, ad dollars) and time and effort into a campaign to tell the world why they should use this particular market place and it's music, and then expect the composers to do their own marketing, then what's the point. But then what is the incentive to do the marketing properly, if they don't take a percentage of the sales?
That's a good point on marketing the marketplace. I believe part of the concept is this is created by composers for composers, so the incentive is presumably building a healthy, sustainable marketplace that benefits composers. How that translates to where the dollars for marketing come from and how they are spent, I don't know.

I've done some limited FB ads for my Pond5 music over the years. It seemed to help, but not enough data to be conclusive. I will say that if I was getting 100% of the revenue, I'd be even more motivated to do my own marketing.
Old 28th August 2019
  #21
kdm
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderman View Post

What do you see happening?
I see the same thing happening. RF is killing the music licensing market. It really doesn't matter whether some agree or not, the low end is filtering its way up the ladder, just as some of us predicted years ago. It is sad, but there may not be an end in sight, and even the high end could be impacted.

The problem is that new editors are learning to cut video to music, and when writing for libraries, we are asked to create music with that in mind - a self-defeating circle of prefabricated pseudo-"creativity".

It won't end until production companies decide they either want to be more creative than the average successful YouTuber, or don't want to end up like the music market - undercut by cheaper library alternatives. But that is happening as well. It is already cheaper to license a $50 RF video clip than hire a cameraman/cinematographer at the mid levels,so production companies are feeling the same pinch on their once sacred territory. Of course feature film and high end advertising still depend on original content, but the markets that feed their future talent pool are headed the other direction.

Outside of the high end, the production market is dying. Content is the main income-generator now, and to feed that market at a much higher pace and much lower cost, the production industry is headed towards a paint-by-numbers automated system.
Old 28th August 2019
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdm View Post
I see the same thing happening. RF is killing the music licensing market. It really doesn't matter whether some agree or not, the low end is filtering its way up the ladder, just as some of us predicted years ago. It is sad, but there may not be an end in sight, and even the high end could be impacted.

The problem is that new editors are learning to cut video to music, and when writing for libraries, we are asked to create music with that in mind - a self-defeating circle of prefabricated pseudo-"creativity".

It won't end until production companies decide they either want to be more creative than the average successful YouTuber, or don't want to end up like the music market - undercut by cheaper library alternatives. But that is happening as well. It is already cheaper to license a $50 RF video clip than hire a cameraman/cinematographer at the mid levels,so production companies are feeling the same pinch on their once sacred territory. Of course feature film and high end advertising still depend on original content, but the markets that feed their future talent pool are headed the other direction.

Outside of the high end, the production market is dying. Content is the main income-generator now, and to feed that market at a much higher pace and much lower cost, the production industry is headed towards a paint-by-numbers automated system.
I agree that it looks like it's just a matter of time till music is pretty much dead except for a few outliers. And that many industries are going the same way. Not just creative, not at all. Truck drivers and self driving cars. Paralegals and algorithms. Radiologists and AI. ATMs - already happened. Cashiers and self check outs. The future is a small group of lobbying billionaires with total power and a pile of plebs fighting over the last loaf of bread.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #23
Old 3rd September 2019
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFulford View Post
I appreciate your thoughts on rebranding and going for the higher end of the market, but for me that's not the whole answer. I won't participate with any publisher that takes more than 50%. And the more I consider what the RF website portals actually do, the less I think they are earning even that much.

For me, the answer is to pull all my tracks and consider a different, smarter, more pragmatic approach.

For those that think raising your prices is the answer, I seriously wonder at what percentage does it become a no go for you? If they said they were changing the split to 95/5 would you just keep raising prices? At some point it doesn't make sense. Today, for me, that point is 50/50.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #25
Deleted 5cc75a2
Guest
is daniel ek now on the board? absolutely ridiculous.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kdm View Post
I see the same thing happening. RF is killing the music licensing market. It really doesn't matter whether some agree or not, the low end is filtering its way up the ladder, just as some of us predicted years ago. It is sad, but there may not be an end in sight, and even the high end could be impacted.
I do not agree with that statement.
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