How To Sell Music on Pond5 | Start Licensing Your Music

how to sell music on pond5 - buyers

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Did you know that licensing your music can potentially become your full-time income strategy? It seems that everyone has their music on all the popular streaming platforms, but very few have considered learning how to sell music on Pond5. It’s just one of the many options out there for getting your music placed on television shows, films, trailers, video games and more!

To be more specific, we’re not just learning how to SELL music on Pond5. We’re learning how to LICENSE music on Pond5 because we’re not dealing with typical consumers. The people interested in purchasing your music want to use it in their productions. These production companies require specific licenses depending on their project to obtain clearance for the use of your intellectual property. So basically, Pond5 is your marketplace for getting your music exposed to these potential buyers. Now, let’s find out how we can get you started on Pond5 as a contributor.

How does Pond5 work?

Before creating an account on Pond5 though, we need to make sure that you understand what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re just starting out in the music licensing business, you should start by familiarizing yourself with one marketplace before moving on.

how to sell music on pond5 - music marketplace

There are plenty of these marketplaces, but rest assured that Pond5 is one of the best!

We’ll actually be comparing Pond5 with another marketplace later in this guide, but first let’s focus on this one. On the surface, this marketplace deals almost exclusively with royalty-free content. However, this DOESN’T mean that you can’t earn royalties from your placements (more on this later).

As contributors, we have the privilege to sell music on Pond5, but you can also sell sound effects, after effects, footage, images and 3D models.

One of the main advantages of Pond5 is the ability to set your own prices. There are other platforms that won’t allow this, so keep that in mind. You’ll even have the ability to offer extended-licenses that can earn you even more money.

how to sell music on pond5 - money

Another feature you’ll have access to in an Artist Profile Page.

In essence, this page will be used as your portfolio to showcase everything you have to offer. However, you’ll need to be the one actively promoting this page. Although Pond5 does run its fair share of marketing campaigns, they won’t actively be pitching your music to potential clients.

That being said, the marketplace itself is a search engine.

Your music can still be found by potential buyers if you pay close attention to metadata. We’ll be discussing strategies for success later on, but for now we’re still trying to determine whether or not Pond5 is right for you.

I personally think it’s the best platform to get started.

The forums are one of the features that make it so great for beginners. You can ask the community questions and there’s a lot of support out there for new sellers. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?

Is Pond5 exclusive or non-exclusive?

This is one of the most important questions in the music licensing business. If you aren’t familiar with these terms, you’ll need to understand them before moving on. You need to know what rights you’ll be keeping and which ones you’ll be giving away (if any).

how to sell music on pond5 - contract

In short, Pond5 is strictly non-exclusive as stated in their contributor agreement.

In layman’s terms, this basically means that you keep 100% of the rights to your music (exclusive rights). What this means is that you’ll be free to distribute your music to other non-exclusive libraries.

If Pond5 were exclusive, you would need to give away your exclusive rights.

how to sell music on pond5 - rights

Under these circumstances, exclusive libraries become the sole proprietors of your intellectual property for ever (or for a fixed period). In other words, your music would be stuck in their catalog and you wouldn’t be able to distribute it anywhere else (YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc…).

However, rest assured that Pond5 is NON-EXCLUSIVE which means you can withdraw your music at any point.

If you’re just starting out in the music licensing business, this is much more to your advantage. For example, you can keep monetizing your music wherever it currently is and you’ll be able to keep promoting yourself with it.

It’s difficult to give up exclusive rights when your catalog isn’t that big (less than 20 tracks).

how to sell music on pond5 - music catalog

So I say you have nothing to lose by learning how to sell your music on Pond5. You’ll quickly start to see which songs are selling and this’ll allow you to refine your music production skills to meet the industry’s demands.

If ever you feel like certain songs can be better placed in higher-end exclusive libraries, you can simply remove them.

However, this isn’t to say that non-exclusive libraries such as Pond5 aren’t any good. The disadvantage with non-exclusive libraries though, as I already stated, is that they’re not actively marketing your tracks, BUT… 

Not all exclusive libraries will do your music justice. There’s always a risk

That being said, the fact that Pond5 is non-exclusive is actually great for newcomers.

Now, let’s find out how much you’ll be earning (because that’s why you’re here, right?).

How much does Pond5 pay its sellers?

Before the summer of 2019, Pond5 was paying artists 50% of the Net License Revenue. However, you can now expect to make only 35% of your sales which is hard to swallow, but let’s put things into perspective.

For starters, we need to consider that Pond5 is providing you with traffic.

how to sell music on pond5 - buyers

Sure, they’re not actively promoting your music, but how many people do you have coming to your website on a daily basis? How many of those people are interested in licensing your music? You can make 35% of something or 100% of nothing.

That’s not all there is to it though!

We also need to consider that most exclusive libraries give you 0% of Net License Revenue. Some may give you more, but here’s why that shouldn’t really matter to you if you’re in it for the long run… 

In the music licensing business, you’re relying on your royalties to pay the bills.

how to sell music on pond5 - royalties

To elaborate on what I mentioned earlier, yes, Pond5 is royalty-free. However, it doesn’t mean that their clients are the ones who’ll be paying you those royalties. For example, if your music gets placed in trailers and those trailers end up broadcasting on FOX… 

FOX is the one responsible for paying “blanket fees” to performing rights organizations (PROs).

how to sell music on pond5 - broadcast

Since Pond5 is non-exclusive, you basically get to keep 100% of your writer’s share and 100% of the publishing. In these types of deals, you don’t hand over any of those rights. However, exclusive libraries have been known to take as much as 50% of our royalties (writing and publishing).

I apologize if this sounds complicated, but understand that Pond5 isn’t taking much.

Just the fact that you get 35% of the Net License Revenues is an advantage over most exclusive contracts. The fact that you also keep 100% of your royalties is huge because they’re the most important part of our income in this business.

The more placements you get, the more passive income you can earn for the rest of your life.

Can you earn your living selling music on Pond5?

If you ask me, the simple answer to that question is YES. Taking into account everything we talked about in the previous section, the answer to that question should be obvious to you as well.

The truth is that it’ll take some serious determination though, it won’t be easy.

how to sell music on pond5 - music producer

I think if you’re focused exclusively on making commissions from your sales, you’d probably give up at some point. However, if you’re willing to be patient and put at least a year or two of work into this, I think you can get your income to where it needs to be.

Of course, I’m talking about focusing on royalties rather than commissions!

how to sell music on pond5 - investment portfolio

Think of your music catalog as an investment portfolio… The more assets you have out there, the more income you can generate. It’s actually almost identical to blogging in that respect and I encourage you to focus on growing both of these assets.

If you want to earn your living selling music on Pond5, the first thing you’ll need to do is register your tracks with your local performing rights organization (PRO).

Since I’m Canadian, I decided to register with SOCAN and have BMI as my representative in the United States. Unless we’re on the same boat, I recommend registering with either BMI or ASCAP. Although they’re technically the PROs for the United States, foreigners can also join.

Similarly, you can also research your country’s PRO for more information.

This step is essential if you want to start earning royalties from your potential placements. Unlike Content ID, which I talked about in another blog post teaching you how to monetize your music on YouTube, traditional music placements still rely on cue sheets.

DO NOT register your music with any of these digital rights management services if you intend on licensing your music though. I’ll explain why in the next section.

Essentially, the production company that purchased the license for your music is responsible for filling this form out.

These cue sheets are then submitted to PROs to issue payments to the copyright owner(s). It isn’t a perfect system, so you’ll still need to do your homework to make sure you’re receiving your royalties. You can upload your music to TuneSat to monitor your placements (if any).

However, I believe Content ID-like software will soon make its way to traditional forms of media like television and radio in the near future.

That being said, you can in fact make your living by learning how to sell music on Pond5. The combined earnings from your 35% commissions and 100% royalties should amount to substantial income once you get enough tracks out there (I mean 100+ to be completely honest).

If you’re convinced that Pond5 is right for you, let’s find out how to prepare your music.

Can you use digital rights management services with Pond5?

If you were planning to or have already registered your tracks into one of the many digital rights management databases, you need to be careful. Selling licenses to your music (especially through music libraries) can become quite problematic if you use one of these services.

When it comes to Pond5, they specifically state this in their License Agreement.

The reason is very simple and is as follows… If one of your potential buyers were to license your music and use it in their YouTube video, what do you think would happen?

They’d have their video “flagged” for using copyrighted material and in their frustration, they would undoubtedly complain to Pond5.

how to sell music on pond5 - frustrated buyer

Since the music has been registered by you, Pond5 would need to directly contact you to “whitelist” that video and any other potential channels used by this buyer. Do you actually expect them to do that every single time for every single seller?

Now, what if someone who DIDN’T purchase the appropriate license to your music ends up using it?

That’s why I suggested using TuneSat in the previous section for both television and online placements. What makes them different is that they simply monitor the “airwaves” for your music. They don’t actually make any claims for you.

They provide the evidence so that you can contact your PRO and/or music library yourself to make the claim. It’s also free-to-use for up to 50 tracks.

Sure, it requires more work on your part and you’d need to be aware of who’s actually purchasing licenses to your music. However, this is the only option I know of that will help you protect your intellectual property as much as possible.

how to sell music on pond5 - searching for copyright infringement

It’s worth noting that these issues are easier to resolve with exclusive libraries because they have more incentive to help you out (part of your royalties).

If you do have songs registered with one of these databases though, I would try to get them out. It may not always be possible though (with Identifyy, for example), but you can always try.

For future reference, licensable tracks CANNOT use Content ID, got it?

What kind of music should you sell to Pond5?

What most people won’t tell you about uploading music to sites like Pond5 is that it should be “licensable”. What does that mean? It means that your music needs to be useful for people that are going to use it.

There aren’t any specific genres or styles that sell more, but there are certainly trends.

Before uploading music to Pond5, you need to ask yourself if your music can actually be used on television, films, trailers, video games and beyond. Most of the time, music is used in the background, but there are times when tracks are featured (usually with vocals).

how to sell music on pond5 - television

Here are few guidelines to make sure your track is licensable:

  • 2-3 minutes in length
  • Changing every 4-8 measures (no looping)
  • Avoiding any extended intros
  • Having a definite “hit ending”
  • Featuring a specific genre or a hybrid of two

These are just a few guidelines I followed while learning how to create licensable music.

One of the most important elements of any licensable track is its ability to “tell a story”. It needs to develop over those 2-3 minutes and if you repeat any sections, they should always sound different. I would try to have your track constantly building up and have your climax at the end.

In essence, there is in fact a specific format for licensable music that’s been proven to sell more.

However, you can always do it your way and find out the hard way. The beauty of using platforms like Pond5 is that you’ll be capable of seeing for yourself what works and what doesn’t. You’re minimizing your risks!

how to sell music on pond5 - dartboard analogy

Another thing about Pond5 is that they’re more lenient than other marketplaces.

They accept a wide variety of different genres and styles, so I wouldn’t worry TOO much. Just keep those guidelines on the back of your mind. Always try to put yourself in the shoes of someone trying to synchronize your work to motion picture.

You’re making music to serve others now, not for yourself!

With that in the way, here are a few other things you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • 24-bit/48 kHz is best
  • WAV or AIFF
  • Smaller than 1 GB
  • Less than 10 minutes

These are the technical requirements listed on Pond5’s website.

The reason I recommend bouncing your projects in 24-bit/48 kHz is because most music libraries usually ask for that. It seems like it’s becoming a standard in television and film, but I have no way of confirming that.

It’s just a suggestion.

Also, be prepared to have your tracks rejected if they’re not up to point. Every track you submit needs to be reviewed by Pond5’s team before being added to the marketplace. This included any alternate mixes of your projects.

While we’re on the subject, consider having more than one version of each track.

For example:

  • No Leads/No Vocals
  • Drums and Bass
  • 60 Second
  • 30 Second
  • 15 Second

If you’ve never done this before, I recommend getting into the habit.

Once you’ve done your homework, you should have no problem getting your music up there. If you ever have any difficulties, you can always contact me for help or check out the forums.

Pond5 vs AudioJungle

Now that we’ve become familiar with Pond5’s methods of operation, let’s take a look on the other side of the pond (full pun intended). AudioJungle is perhaps the most popular alternative to Pond5, but they have some significant differences.

For starters, AudioJungle provides both exclusive and non-exclusive terms.

They incentivize publishers to sign an exclusive deal by paying them more of the Net Licensing Revenue. However, I DON’T recommend signing any exclusive deals with AudioJungle. I wouldn’t sign over my exclusive rights to anyone who I hadn’t spoken with on the phone (or in person).

how to sell music on pond5 - deal

With that out of the way, AudioJungle’s non-exclusive terms are still attractive.

In fact, Pond5 and AudioJungle are often considered the best places to start licensing your music. When it comes to commissions though, AudioJungle is better since they give you 45% of your earnings (10% more than Pond5).

However, AudioJungle fixes the price for every track on the marketplace at $19.

Another thing you need to consider about AudioJungle is that their criterias are more strict. They seem to favour particular genres and styles of music, so you’d need to study that before having a chance at success.

If you’re into the corporate music niche (infomercials, seminars, etc…), check ‘em out!

how to sell music on pond5 - corporate

The process of uploading music to AudioJungle is also kind of outdated, to say the least. I won’t get into the details, but Pond5’s ease of use far exceeds that of AudioJungle. Even if you could make more money on AudioJungle (which isn’t necessarily the case), the time you’d save with Pond5 is priceless!

Statistically speaking, you’ll be getting tracks accepted much more easily on Pond5.

I’m not demonizing AudioJungle, I think it’s still an excellent alternative. If you keep your deals non-exclusive, you could actually try both simultaneously and have nothing to lose. You can determine for yourself which platform suits your production style the best.

If you want other options, you can search for non-exclusive libraries on Google, but trust me when I say these two are the best (in terms of traffic, that is).

Is it worth it to sell music on Pond5?

The best way to think of selling your music on Pond5 is that you’ve got nothing to lose, but everything to gain. In my honest opinion, it’s the best marketplace if you’re just getting started in the music licensing business.

You could in fact make your living selling music on Pond5, but before that happens you’ll be learning all about the industry!

If nothing else, Pond5 is the ultimate educational resource for music licensing. It’s like the testing grounds for your potential best sellers which will reveal themselves to you in the process. If at any point you’d like to sign exclusively with another music library that can GUARANTEE you placements, then go for it!

One of my favourite parts about Pond5 is that you retain complete creative freedom!

Of course, you’ll still need to consider the guidelines we discussed above. The idea is to create music that will serve the needs of others. If you can keep that mantra in your mind while you create, I don’t think you’ll have any difficulties.

Just remember that if you want to maximize your income, you NEED to register your tracks with your PRO. If you don’t do that, you won’t be earning royalties!

Another thing you might want to consider is creating a blog/website to start promoting your musical endeavors. You’re the one who’ll be responsible for the promotion of your portfolio on Pond5, so start creating content that drives traffic.

Music licensing and music blogging are both digital assets that can feed off of each other. Start growing your portfolio today!

So, what are you waiting for?

I hope you’ve finally gotten all the information you need to turn your passion into your full-time career. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. If you’ve enjoyed this guide, I would really appreciate you spreading the word to another musician/music producer. I also send out weekly newsletters to keep you informed on all our latest content (blog posts, courses, etc…), so consider subscribing. Thanks for reading!

46 Responses

  1. I’m interested in getting started on Pond5. I’m curious how it interacts with youtube. Let’s say I record a version of a royalty free song. (“Amazing grace” for example) Can I upload the song to youtube for people to listen to and also sell the same track on Pond5? And if so, should I use the “standard youtube licence” or “creative commons – attribution” option on youtube? Thanks

    1. Hello TheHuskarl,

      Great question! Short answer… It won’t change anything, you can do both.

      Pond5 is a NON-EXCLUSIVE royalty-free music library. In other words, you can have the same track on Pond5, other non-exclusive stock music libraries, YouTube, streaming services, etc…

      Also, music libraries like Pond5 REQUIRE that you don’t register your music with YouTube Content ID.

      THAT would be an issue. Without registering for YouTube Content ID, your music WON’T be monetized on YouTube.

      The trade-off with ROYALTY-FREE platforms is that you sacrifice royalties for upfront sync fees.

      I hope that answers your question, let me know if you have more!

      – Stefan

  2. Hey I just stumbled upon this page. I have a quick question if you don’t mind?

    I’m yet to begin my library music venture, but when submitting to Audiojungle, would I then need to register that work, with the corresponding title to my PRO (PRS)? And then would I need to repeat this EVERY time I upload that very same track to Pond5, only with a separate title? So essentially I need to register every title variation to my PRS…

    1. Hey Frank!

      Of course, I’m happy to answer.

      If I’m not mistaken, AudioJungle doesn’t allow PRO registered tracks (unless that’s changed recently). Assuming that it does, then yes.

      You’ll need to register your track under a different title every time you upload to a different NON-EXCLUSIVE music library.

      If you want my opinion though, I wouldn’t necessarily bother with royalties if you’re planning to license through these non-exclusive music libraries. The folks that purchase licenses on these platforms are usually in a rush and don’t want the additional hassle of filling out cue sheets. Doing so would most likely result in fewer sales on your end. That’s why most of them are royalty-free.

      If you’re serious about music licensing and paying your bills with it, please read another article I wrote on the subject (here).

      I think it’ll give you some perspective and open your mind up to the different possibilities out there.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for dropping by!

      – Stefan

  3. Hi Stefan, thank you for this good article. I found it very helpful. Do you put ISCR Codes also for all of the edits in pond5 or only for the full length tracks?

    1. Hey Peter!

      I’m glad you found the article helpful and happy to hear you’re putting your music out there.

      Technically speaking, you should assign different ISRC codes for each derivative version of your original recording (this includes alt-mixes/edits). If you ever have any doubts, this website is the most reliable source of information for anything related to ISRC codes.

      However, you use the same ISWC code for each alt-mix/edit of your musical work.

      I hope that answers your question. If you need anything else, feel free to reach out.

      Thanks, take care!

      – Stefan

      1. Thank you very much for answering my question. Could you also tell me where and how exactly I put the ISRC codes in pond5? Do I also have to embed the ISRC in to the Audio file before loading it up to Pond5?

        1. That’s why I found it strange that you were asking. I haven’t uploaded anything on Pond5 in quite some time, but I don’t remember having the option the input ISRC codes. That’s most likely because ISRC codes are used when selling COPIES (streaming, CD, etc…) of your music. In other words, ISRC codes pertain to mechanical royalties which aren’t that substantial in sync licensing (if any).

          The important code to be concerned with is ISWC when you’re licensing your music since we’re dealing with performance royalties.

          To obtain one, you need to register your tracks with your PRO (BMI, ASCAP, etc…).

          You should have the ability to input that using Pond5, but remember… Pond5 was primarily designed to be ROYALTY-FREE. They only recently added the ability to collect royalties and even then, those tracks usually get overlooked by those who come there looking for ROYALTY-FREE.

          If you value your royalties, I highly recommend looking into exclusive music libraries.

          Lastly, you can’t embed anything into .wav files and even if you’re using .mp3, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s the metadata that’s displayed on the website that matters and that’s usually entered manually (although sometimes extracted from the file itself). In short, don’t worry about it so much.

          The world of royalties is still flawed, but users of your music are legally obliged to fill out cue sheets to get you paid. If they don’t, well, then it’s up to you to keep track of your agreements.

          I know this might sound overwhelming which is why I recommend exclusive music libraries. They take care of this stuff for you.

          If you’re going with non-exclusive sites like Pond5, I’d forget about earning royalties.

          If you’re really brave, you can even consider licensing your music on your own (that’s what I do). It’s WAY more complicated though, but it’s more rewarding/profitable.

          Hope that helps Peter, let me know if you need anything else!

          – Stefan

  4. Hello Stefan!

    Thank you so much for this really informative and inspiring article!

    I’ve got a couple of questions about the PRO side of things.

    I’m registered with BMI, and I am currently in the process of registering the two works that I already have on my Pond5 account. First of all, how does BMI actually track the use of my works from Pond5? I’m interested to know because I’m aware that you cannot actually upload your BMI itself, so I’m wondering how they would find out that my tracks have been placed so that I get my royalties. These two works I’ve got on Pond5 so far have not been distributed through any other distributor such as DistroKid, they are only on Pond5.

    Also, when I register a track with BMI and state that it is for Music Library purposes, it asks me for the ‘CD Identifier’ as a mandatory field. Would this be the same as the Item ID that is listed in the description of a song or sound effect on Pond5?

    And finally, I’m still a little bit confused about ISRC and ISWC codes. How do either of these fit into the process of uploading music to Pond5 and then registering the work with BMI in order to get royalties paid to me later down the line?

    Sorry if these questions are a bit silly since I probably missed some important information throughout the article, but I would really appreciate your take on these as it would really clear things up for me.

    Thank you once again for your help!

    All the best,

    Morten 🙂

    1. Hello Morten!

      It’s important to realize that BMI doesn’t do any “tracking” for you. PROs are simply responsible for collecting royalties on your behalf.

      That being said, it’s the content creators that use your music who are responsible for submitting the appropriate information (in the form of cue sheets) to your performance rights organization. That responsibility may also be fulfilled by another organization such as the television station, network, etc… I know it doesn’t sound like there are any guarantees, but the music industry is still relying on some pretty outdated methods of collecting royalties.

      Will it be automated in the near future? I hope so!

      However, you’ll need to double-check for the time being using services like TuneSat (it’s the one I personally use). Basically, these digital rights management services track your music all over the internet and television stations so that you can see WHERE and WHEN your music was used. If you don’t see that in your royalty statements, you can use these readings as a basis for starting an investigation into the matter.

      If I’m not mistaken, “CD Identifier” should be the UPC code.

      ISRC and ISWC are codes that represent the recording and the composition respectfully. ISWC should be provided by your PRO, but ISRC/UPC codes are usually generated once you release your music through streaming services and whatnot. As far as performance royalties are concerned, you’ll only need the ISWC code.

      ISRC/UPC would be for mechanical royalties.

      Those were some pretty good questions and I hope my answers do them justice! If you’re insterested in getting more personalized guidance, you can also schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with me. Other than that, I’ve written two other articles what cover the process of collecting performance/mechanical royalties.

      Thanks for stopping by, take care!

      – Stefan

  5. Stefan!
    Thank you so much for your info!
    I just completed my 2nd Urban/Pop/Jazz CD. 9 songs. 2 originals. All licenses on the 7 covers are paid for. Though Pond5 doesn’t require I register them , all IRSC codes are registered for each song, through CDBaby Pro, Soundscan, ASCAP, Sound Exchange.

    My questions are:
    1. editing the songs (15sec, 30sec, 45sec). Does Pond 5 have an edit mechanism, or do I have to pay my sound engineer do that? And why am I editing them as opposed to just putting the entire 3-5-7min song up for the CLIENT to edit themselves?
    2. What is a Pond 5 ‘template’? I’m confused.
    3. Why does Pond5 offer me to have my songs in a ‘collection’?
    4. The automatic selling price Pond 5 suggests is $15. I notice different artists set higher rates, (equals more artist profit after Pond 5 takes 65%). My songs deserve to be used & sold for higher than $15/song! Am I right to think that way?
    5. What does pricing method ‘exclude from template’ mean?
    6. What is an “AE” template?
    7. What does ‘created/recorded with’ mean? (Instrumentation? Protools?)
    8. What is ‘seamless looping’ option??
    9. If my covers get used, all the writers, publishers get paid, right? (I was told its ok to post covers, but I notice most artists upload original music).

    1. Hello Dyan!

      First of all, congratulations for the album. These are some great questions, so I will answer them to the best of my ability.

      Pond5 doesn’t require you to register your tracks, but it’s necessary if you want to receive royalties. That being said, just make sure your tracks aren’t registered for ContentID (i.e. Youtube monetization) because that would violate their terms of use.

      1. No. You’ll need to make the edits yourself or have your music producer/engineer take care of that. It’s common practice in the “sync licensing” business because clients often need those edits immediately. The length usually correspond to the length of commercials/trailers. It’s not necessary on Pond5, but you’re decreasing your chances of making sales by not providing these alt-mixes.
      2. Pond5 templates are just templates you can create to save yourself some time when uploading multiple tracks.
      3. Collections are like playlists.
      4. You’re absolutely right and I’ll ellaborate on that later.
      5. It excludes the price from your template so you’ll always be setting it manually.
      6. I’m not sure what you’re talking about here…
      7. It means the DAW(s) used to create the track. It may be useful if the client works with the same DAW.
      8. It means that your track will keep repeating vs stopping once it’s played through.
      9. The reason people DON’T upload covers is because you only collect mechanical royalties. All the performance royalties go to the original artists which means you’re not going to have much left over for yourself. In other words, it’s not really worth it in the opinion of most people.

      Now, here’s what I suggest…

      I actually recommend NOT using Pond5 since you seem like you’ve got a product that surpasses a certain quality threshold. I ended up pulling all my music from Pond5 recently since I started licensing my own music to my own clients. It’s not necessarilly the easiest method, but I really like having complete control over my assets. You also keep 100% of the profits and it’s really fun to make business deals as a musician (I’m really an entrepreneur at heart).

      Another alternative which may suit you better is to partner with an EXCLUSIVE music library.

      You’ll need to do some research, but I think it’ll do your hard work justice. You can use Pond5 just to get an idea of how the industry works, but ultimately, I think music is worth much more than the prices advertised on these non-exclusive libraries. It’s actually kind of insulting (so no, you’re completely right to think that your music worth more than 15$).

      If you wanna discuss further with me, I can provide you with a consulation. I think you’ll benefit more from taking to me 1-on-1, so if you’re interested you can schedule that here.

      Thanks for your questions, I hope that helped!

      – Stefan

  6. Hi Stefan,

    What do you recommend regarding ISRC codes? If I am using Pond5 or other non-exclusive licensing opportunities to license my music, do I need to register for ISRC codes in order to register these songs with my PRO?

    Thanks!

    1. Hello Eddie!

      If you’ve already released your track using any given music distributor, that track should have already been assigned with an IRSC code.

      If you ever release that same track on another music distribution service and/or music library, you’ll need to insert the SAME code. In other words, you can’t have multiple ISRC codes for the same track, so make sure to keep track of these. If you haven’t released the track in the past, you’ll be assigned one if it’s required by the platform you’re uploading to. If I’m not mistaken though, Pond5 doesn’t require that.

      Your PRO issues a different code called the ISWC. That’s the code that is usually called for when it comes to performance royalties.

      In other words…

      – ISRC is for recordings
      – ISWC is for compositions

      I hope that helps, feel free to reach out if you need anything else.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

  7. Hey, great article just had my first song approved on Pond 5, I have a few questions that would help me out and I’m sure others reading this. What do you name your tracks? I have heard naming them keywords is great but wouldn’t it need the same title as your PRO registration to be tracked? Do I need to update my PRO registration title with alternate titles if I change them.

    I also have my tracks in content ID but if I get licensed seems I will have to opt out.

    1. Hey Jay!

      Thanks for reaching out and great questions.

      For starters, I keep the name of my track in the title and include the additional information like this:

      Track Title – Alt Mix (Description)

      I’ve seen others do similar, but with slight variations as well. That’s the general consensus though!

      It shouldn’t really be an issue with royalties since it’s the Writer Name, IPI# and ISWC/ISRC code that matter most. However, you should have the ability to enter any alternative titles from your PRO dashboard. I have this ability with SOCAN, but you should have something similar. That’s where you’d include the specific name you gave it on Pond5. You could even include your different alt-mixes titles, but that’s optional as well.

      Which Content ID service do you use?

      I ask because you may have difficulty getting your tracks out. It’s very important that you take care of that first though. You’ll be violating Pond5’s terms of service if any of their clients have difficulty when using your tracks (i.e.: if their content gets flagged).

      Lastly, congratulations on getting your tracks accepted! Just make sure to do some promotion, Pond5 doesn’t work itself.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and/or concerns.

      – Stefan

      1. Hello!
        First of all, thanks a lot Stefan for all your information here – It’s very helpful! 🙂

        I actually had the same question as Jay about the keyword naming thing, and I just need a little clarification of your answer.

        As an example, if you have a track you call “Let’s rock”, you could upload it to Pond5 with the title “Let’s rock (Motivational Corporate Music)”, then on your PRO you register your track as “Let’s rock” and also add an alternitive title “Let’s rock (Motivational Corporate Music)”?

        – Pierre

        1. Hello Pierre!

          I’m glad that you found the article helpful.

          To clarify, you DON’T need to register both track names. My PRO (SOCAN) allows me to input aliases, but I never use it because…

          Registering with your PRO generates an ISWC code that is unique to the COMPOSITION.

          In other words, it doesn’t matter what you composition is titled or even if it’s an alternate version. The original work is designated by the same ISWC code.

          The only exception would be if you had the same track in another non-exclusive library. It’s best practice to title it differently and register it with its own ISWC code.

          However, this is mainly done for tracking purposes (identifying which music library got you the placements).

          If you create alternate versions/edits though, you’ll need individual ISRC codes.

          These codes designate the recording, but simply changing the title doesn’t qualify it for its own IRSRC code. It really needs to be a different arrangement, remix and/or cover.

          To summarize, you should be fine just registering it under “Let’s Rock” and that’s it!

          If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate. That’s why I’m here!

          Thanks for stopping by, take care!

          – Stefan

          1. Hello again!
            Thanks Stefan – Your reply was helpful as well again!

            It’s funny that you mentioned the exception (if I was to upload the track to another non-exclusive library), because that was meant to be my next question, but now I know 🙂

            I just think that it’s important to get it right from the start and be organized for a long-term goal.

            When I saw titles like “Motivational Corporate Music” all over on Pond5 and Audiojungle I was thinking: “Sure, I could reg a title name like that on my PRO, but what happen when I have 10 or 20 tracks like this?”. But it’s cool that Pond5’s guideline is to have a combination of both creative and practical titles. That makes it easier to actually have unique titles. If I remember correctly, Audiojungle doesn’t want this kind of combination at all, so that will make it a little harder I guess.

            Anyways, thank you again for your support and kindness! I hope you’ll have a good day 🙂

          2. It’s my pleasure Pierre. You’re very welcome.

            I like your attitude, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If these articles can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made, that’s already an improvement. I’m always making adjustments to my approach though, so don’t let perfectionism hold you back.

            If anything, the titles on Pond5 make it easier to find music that fits the description.

            However, I personally think it would make the platform less cluttered if they worked with a hashtag system similar to Instagram.

            Let me know if you ever have more questions down the line, you can always communicate with me by email.

            I wish you the best in your music licensing endeavors. Keep up the good work!

            – Stefan

        2. Hi. Very useful article! Thank you. I do not use a Daw. Only to prepare the mixdown for and save as a wav. I have music approved elswere but wondered if you know if this will be a problem with Pond5.

          1. Hello David,

            Where else do you have your music approved?

            As long as it’s not an exclusive music library or other exclusive-type agreement, you’ll be fine.

            Using a DAW isn’t a requirement, but I’m curious… How do you make music then? Tape recorder?

            Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks!

            – Stefan

  8. Hi. I have been making music for 30 years now.
    I have been licensing music for maybe 5 years now.
    I sell some at game sites and their prices are very low.

    I struggle with almost no sales in Pond 5. I believe the quality is good but content is lost in the sea.
    Are there any tips on this?

    Also I have never even considered with a P.R.O.
    This is very confusing concept for me, music is royalty free but then again royalties are collected?

    1. Hello Heikki,

      I had trouble making sales on Pond5 as well which is why I eventually moved away from non-exclusive libraries.

      It’s difficult with all of them, not just Pond5 because non-exclusive libraries don’t promote your music for you. To answer your first question, you’ll need to do some promotion on your end to get your music discovered by potential content creators and/or music supervisors.

      Here are some tools you can use:

      – Your website
      – Email marketing
      – Social media (LinkedIn, SoundCloud, etc…)

      It’s more work than it’s worth in my opinion. That’s why I encourage you to consider exclusive music libraries instead.

      30 years of music making and 5 years of licensing is quite the track record, congrats!

      To answer your second question… Pond5 allows you to publish non-royalty-free music. You just need to configure that when uploading your music (or after).

      If you prefer remaining royalty-free, don’t worry about PROs. Even exclusive libraries register your tracks for you, but you should still create an account.

      I’d be more than happy to discuss further with you over Zoom if you need more guidance. You can schedule a session with me on our contact page.

      I hope that helps! Thanks for writing.

      – Stefan

  9. Hi, thanks for such a great article.
    But is what is PRO? And how do I find local PRO? What is the register process? Does it cost anything?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hey Daniel,

      I’m glad that you found the article usueful! PRO stands for performance rights organization.

      They’re in charge of collecting royalties for your music if it’s broadcasted on:

      – TV/Film
      – Commercials/Advertisements
      – Radio/Streaming Services

      Which country do you have residency with? I recommend typing into Google: [your country] performance rights organization.

      I can also be of assistance if you can’t find anything. However, you can always register with BMI or ASCAP. Those are the PROs for the United States, but foreigners are capable of joining as well.

      It’s completely free to register with most PROs, but there are some that charge a yearly fee (like SESAC).

      Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks for writing!

      – Stefan

  10. There are a LOT of non-exclusive libraries out there…are you aware of any aggregation services that will allow you to upload tracks to multiple platforms at the same time? So you can manage all of your songs and money in one location?

    Those aggregation services exist for commercial distribution, and are the only things that make streaming music worthwhile. I can see managing your library across 45+ non-exclusive libraries might be something of a hassle.

    1. Hey Anthony!

      One of the best pieces of advice I was given when studying music licensing was to avoid using the “mass approach” technique. Contrary to music streaming, it doesn’t benefit you to have your music in multiple non-exclusive libraries. That’s because YOU’RE responsible for your own marketing, not them. In other words, your name will be lost amongst the millions of other music producers…

      The reason there aren’t any aggregation services in music licensing is because of rights management. Streaming is simpler because you’re not selling licenses to your music. In other words, music libraries (exclusive/non-exclusive) are like brokers.

      However, your question indicates that you’re serious about your music career.

      I recommend looking into exclusive libraries. Then we’re talking about the possibility of falling under “umbrella companies”.

      For example, you can look up BMG Production Music.

      Get It Done Music recently fell under this so-called “umbrella” company. What that means for its artists is more exposure across BMG’s global distribution networks.

      I think that’s what would benefit you the most, not uploading to more non-exclusive libraries.

      I’m not an expert in music licensing, so I’m simply sharing my experience. You can research the companies I mentioned on LinkedIn to verify my claims.

      I hope that answers your question, feel free to reach out if you need anything else!

      – Stefan

  11. Hi Stefan 

    It’s great to see a business that is willing to think about the artist, their work and talent. You have mad6it clear on what you do, the services you will provide and explained why. 

    Many artist that write and make music don’t understand the importance of the legal area of the music business. You have shed some light into the subject without it being legal jargon. 

    I have original music on Spotify and even a contract with a publisher but like you say you have to promote yourself to be noticed. I really appreciate and like what you are doing.

    Regards, Bernardo 

    1. Hey Bernardo!

      I really appreciate the kind words. I’m glad that my website’s mission is clear to my readers. I just want everyone to realize that with a bit of hard work, having success in your music career is within arm’s reach.

      It’s true that legal matters are often overlooked with independent musicians and it shocks me. True independence comes from at least taking the time to thoroughly read a contract. Although I’m no lawyer, I make it a point to have the same understanding as one, why? Even if I were to hire a lawyer one day, I’d want to speak the same “language” as him/her.

      Since you have music on Spotify, you should give Pond5 a try sometime. I guarantee you’ll get a much bigger return on your investment in the music licensing business. You literally have nothing to lose.

      Anyway, it was nice hearing from you man, keep making music!

      – Stefan

  12. That’s awesome and great. It is really great for one to turn his passion into a full time income. I have wondered for a while on how I’m going to sell my music. This article has actually helped me out by answering a lot of question which has bothered me on how to successfully get my music sold.
    The only question on mind is this, do they permit the selling of gospel music?

    1. Hey Kenechi!

      I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve started looking for solutions. Getting the ball rolling takes some patience, but I promise you that it’s possible! You could even consider learning how to distribute your music on streaming platforms like Spotify (for free), I wrote this blog post if you’re interested.

      As for your question, they accept all genres of music including Gospel! Trust me when I say there’s room for every genre of music in this industry, especially if it’s upbeat.

      Feel free to reach out if you need any help along the way, all the best!

      – Stefan

  13. A wonderful article you have there on” how to sell music in pond5!

    I am a music writer but I just do it for fun but this article is an eye-opener! I could make some income out of my music. Although still trying to understand the licensing part. But making 35% is fair out of nothing for something I enjoy doing is cool.

    Thanks for this information.

    1. Hey Lizzychris!

      I still encourage you to give Pond5 a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember, registering your tracks with your local PRO will also allow you to start earning royalties. In time, those will surely add up to more than the 35% commission fees, you’ll see.

      I’m glad you enjoyed, thanks for writing!

      – Stefan

  14. Hi!

    I have found your post very useful. I had read a few other blogs but none had explained it was convenient to licence first. They all just rushed in to the selling part and did it in a rather hyped way.

    I’m glad I found your post and I also enjoyed the fact that you explain things with a down to earth approach. Thank you for the comparison of Pond5 with other marketplaces.

    1. Hey Ann,

      There’s a difference between selling music and selling licenses to your music. You could start with either approach and I recommend combining both. For example, you can sell your music on your website, Bandcamp, iTunes, etc…

      However, websites like Pond5 allow you to sell licenses to your music to get it on television, for instance. Besides the commissions you’d earn from Net License Revenue, you’d also earn royalties each time your music is used. This is why selling licenses is much more lucrative in the long run.

      I’m glad you found value in this guide, all the best to you!

      – Stefan

  15. Wow🤩! This is an awesome opportunity. This is actually my first time hearing about this site and it’s super awesome for me as I just concluded my new song in the studio. I can’t wait to explore Pond5, at least to take my songs to another new level.

    Thanks for sharing this with me, it’s helpful!

    1. Hey Chimmhogevagreenesnr,

      Congratulations on completing your latest song! You’re right, Pond5 would be a great way to start monetizing it. Just remember to register with your local PRO before submitting so that you maximize your income.

      I’m glad you found this guide useful, feel free to reach out if you need any help!

      – Stefan

  16. Thanks for such an awesome opportunity.I am a gospel musician and I have some songs to my credit,I believe this is an awesome opportunity for me.i would love to ask,is single song accepted or it must be an album,will pod5 promote the songs for us,if yes what’s the cost of we registering before we can earn from our songs.

    1. Hey edahnewton1,

      It’s an awesome opportunity for all musicians/music producers! Singles are accepted by Pond5, I usually upload one track at a time. You’ll need to provide your own artwork though.

      Pond5 doesn’t actively promote your music, although they do run marketing campaigns. For example, they may offer you an opportunity to provide free downloads of your music for the occasion, but you can obviously refuse.

      As far as costs, it’s completely free to sign-up. However, they do take 65% of Net License Revenue which may seem like a lot, but consider your royalties. Reread the section “Can you earn your living selling music on Pond5” for more info.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you need anything else!

      – Stefan

  17. Hello there thanks for this review. It was really helpful. I have always wanted to learn how to license a music but didn’t know how to go about it. But then I think reading your review on this platform has helped me a great deal. This is exactly what I have been looking for and I think giving it a try won’t be a bad idea.

    1. Hey Philebur,

      This is the best way to start getting your feet wet in the music licensing business. You have nothing to lose by giving it a try and if ever you find a better library to work with, you can always move your music to their catalog.

      I wish you the best man, feel free to reach out if you need any advice!

      – Stefan

  18. I love Pond5! I have made music all my life and started using YouTube and Spotify to get my tracks across, however, I wasn’t making the money I wanted. I started using Pond5 and absolutely love it. Like you said, I can see what music is selling which gives me a competitive edge over other platforms, so I can raise the price and get better engagement on YouTube and other social media platforms. Thanks a lot for this valuable information.

    1. Hey Brandon!

      I’m really glad to hear that you’ve made some significant process in your music career. It’s true that music streaming doesn’t provide much income (unless you get millions of plays, that is).

      You’ve actually got the right strategy increasing the price on your most successful tracks. You can seriously scale your earnings by doing this.

      You’ve probably already done this, but just make sure your tracks are registered with your PRO. You’ll increase your earnings even more by tapping into your performance royalties.

      I’m glad you found this guide useful, I wish you all the success!

      – Stefan

  19. Well! I have actually heard about pond5 before but never have I truly consider the tendencies of me having to leverage this and sell things to it. This is really great here and thank you so much for sharing out here. To be honest, I like everything you have shared here and I will make all possible best to  share this with my friends that are musicians

    1. Hey Ella,

      If you have music that’s just sitting on the shelves, you should totally leverage Pond5! Thanks for sharing with your friends, I’m sure any musician who hasn’t heard of these types of platforms would be thrilled. Musicians are always looking for new ways to monetize their craft.

      Thanks for stopping by, all the best!

      – Stefan

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