Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our YouTube Live Artist Town Hall. For those of you who could not attend, we hope you’ll take the time to watch the recording:
Today, I am announcing an important change that will strengthen the Pond5 marketplace and benefit the many contributors who have made us the most artist-friendly stock-media marketplace in the world. Pond5 was founded on the principle of providing artists with control over the pricing of their content and equitably sharing royalties earned from licensing that content. We are proud to say that we will never waver from these founding principles, even as we adapt to evolving market conditions.
Introducing The Pond5 Exclusivity Program
Our buyers consistently tell us they are looking for unique footage that can’t be found anywhere else. Pond5 is already the preferred destination for video content because of our industry-leading collection size; the breadth and depth of our video content; the significant investments we’ve made in helping users find video content and integrate it into their workflow; and the global sales force we have built to serve creative enterprises around the world. Yet, many of these customers also tell us that a lot of the footage on Pond5 can also be found on other stock-media websites at prices lower than what our artists list it for on Pond5.
Our biggest customers tell us they are willing to pay a premium for the best content and will skip “shopping around for lower prices” if they know the content cannot be found anywhere else. We’ve also seen this in our data where, last year, video content exclusive to Pond5 generated, on average, greater than two times more gross revenue per clip than content that is not exclusive.
Similarly, many of our artists tell us they are concerned with ensuring their footage is sold at an appropriate price. That’s why we give all our artists pricing control, the ability to determine which distribution programs to participate in, and access to a team dedicated to their success. These controls are fundamental to how we operate and core to our artist-first ethos. Some other marketplaces will sell your clips at any price — potentially far below what they’re worth — and ultimately devalue your work. Because buyers shop around, other marketplaces, including Pond5, will be expected to honor or beat these reduced prices, creating a “race to the bottom.” Our goal is to maximize the value of your work, not reduce it.
To incentivize filmmakers to work with Pond5 exclusively and preserve the value of their work, we are increasing our royalty for exclusive artists from an already industry high of 50% to 60%. We hope these higher royalties, plus access to exclusive-artist dedicated sales and marketing programs, as well as branded exposure on search results, will provide you with additional incentive to go exclusive with us.
What if I choose to be non-exclusive?
While we hope to incentivize our artists to contribute exclusively, we understand that many artists have built businesses that require them to distribute their work on other stock-media sites — at potentially lower prices and royalty shares. We understand that, for these artists, enrolling in the Exclusivity Program may not work for their financial situation. Non-exclusive video artists can expect to receive the same level of support they receive on Pond5 today. Additionally, choosing not to participate in the Exclusivity Program will have no impact on any artist’s rank in the search results.
What will change are the royalties paid to non-exclusive video artists, which will move from 50% to a still industry high of 40%. While we would prefer to keep the royalty unchanged for non-exclusive video artists, like any business, our resources are limited, and we cannot continue to pay a materially higher royalty share for the same content listed elsewhere. Ultimately, we believe this new structure appropriately balances higher royalties along with additional benefits for exclusive content with a lower revenue share for artists who prefer to sell their content across a number of outlets.
Can I continue to set my own prices?
This remains a fundamental aspect of our artist-friendly value proposition and will not change. Exclusive and non-exclusive artists will continue to set the prices of their work. Importantly, Pond5 will also continue to allow both exclusive and non-exclusive artists the freedom to choose which distribution programs to participate in, such as our Global Partnership Program (GPP), which distributes your content to select premium-priced markets around the world, and our Limited License Program, which places your work in the fastest-growing social-media tools, at lower prices, but with highly restrictive usage rights. Each of these programs grew by greater than 100% in 2018, and we expect growth rates to continue to accelerate in 2019. The freedom to choose is fundamental to the Pond5 artist-centered ethos. Only Pond5 provides artists with the right to price their own work; only Pond5 allows you to choose which distribution channels to sell your work in; and only Pond5 protects content licensed to social-media markets with a “limited use” license agreement.
The freedom to choose how your work is sold and the ability to preserve the value of your work in the world’s largest video marketplace are critical differentiators. We believe providing artists with the opportunity to go exclusive with Pond5 further solidifies our strategic positioning and heads off the “race to the bottom” we have seen many of our competitors pursue.
When does it go into effect and how do I learn more?
The above changes, including the new royalty structure, will go into effect on April 8, 2019. To learn more about the benefits of the Video Exclusivity Program or to enroll, please visit the Exclusivity Program page. We also want to continue the conversation, hear your feedback, and answer all your questions, so just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a personal response.
A significant portion of our artists are already contributing to Pond5 exclusively. We hope that you will join them and other industry leaders, such as Hotelfoxtrot, VIA Films, and ExtremeStorms, who will be part of the Pond5 Exclusivity Program and preserve the value of their work.