How To Sell Music on Pond5 | Start Licensing Your Music

how to sell music on pond5 - buyers

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure here.

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!

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18 Responses

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

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