How to Choose Where to Sell Sound Effects – Part 2


Last week we looked at reasons to sell your sound effects library on many websites. This week we’ll look at why exclusivity or scarcity can be a good idea.

Selling on one or a few websites

  • Higher royalty rate
  • Non-exclusive contracts are typical when partnering with downloadable sound effects websites today. Before 2005 exclusive contracts were more common. They offered an additional 10-15% on top of the regular royalty rate. A few websites still offer this option. If your library is large and has valuable sound effects, this can be a better route to follow.

    Another option is to build your own website and collect 100% of every sale. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

    Of course established websites have worked hard to find traffic, customers and spend on marketing. If you choose to work alone you’ll have to create these things yourself. In the long run collecting 100% of your sales may be worth it.

  • Scarcity makes your library elite
  • Does Ferarri sell their cars on every corner? No, it chooses luxury car lots because these partners will represent their cars the way Ferarri wants to be perceived.

    Selling your library on only a few websites makes it appear special and valuable.

  • Supporting a website for a long-term benefits
  • It is understandable to only think about sound effects partner websites in the light of the money they can make for you.

    However, a successful partnership is ideally mutually beneficial.

    I’ve been selling sound effects on the web for almost 10 years now, and I’ve noticed a troubling trend.

    Consider the website Soundz 4 U’s perspective. Let’s say that Bob’s Sound Effects Library is on every sound website. Soundz 4 U can’t stand out with their sounds since everyone has Bob’s Sound Effects Library. What can they do to attract customers?

    One option is to improve the customer’s website experience. This takes time and vision.

    If a website is feeling competitive pressure they’ll look for the quick fix: reduce prices. This can come in the form of cheap sounds, discounted sound packages or subscription plans. These ideas draw a lot of traffic and sales.

    In the long run, however, the effect is problematic. Customers start to expect to spend less and less for the same thing. And, as I’ve witnessed over the last four years, sound effects are becoming devalued. It’s already difficult for people to assign a value to a non-tangible things such as sound effects files (more on this another day). Credit-based websites such as Audio Micro, iStock and Audio Jungle are teaching customers that sound effects have little value.

    Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote recently that “Cheaper is the last refuge of the marketer unable to invent a better product and tell a better story.” Do you really want to align your library with a site that can’t come up with a better way to promote how great your sound effects are?

    Discount prices as a concept are a great idea. The problem is that, as any recordist knows, it takes immense effort to plan, record, polish and deliver quality sound effects. The lower prices fall the less viable it is to sell sound effects at all.

    If you sell on fewer websites you create scarcity for your library. In turn, you and your partner websites can demand fair prices that your sound effects deserve.

  • Control
  • Have new sounds you want to post? Need to modify your logo or bio on a partner site? Turning the battleship around, so to speak, on a dozen sites is a complex, time-consuming matter.

    Publishing your sound effects on just one website allows you more control of how your sounds and brand will be represented.

  • Build stronger relationships
  • Some large websites have hundreds of partners. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

    Focusing on fewer partners, or partners with fewer libraries, ensures that you’ll be given attention when you need it. You’ll have the chance to build long and strong relationships with website owners.

Ferrari or Honda Accord?

Ferraris have prestige and power. They are well respected but are not accessible. They are expensive and the performance is worth it.

Honda Accords on the other hand don’t have the same dazzle perhaps, but they arguably have a broader impact on the population. They sell often and more people use them. They’re also known to be reliable.

So, which do you choose: more websites to host your library, or fewer boutique stores? What you decide may depend on whether you see your sounds as the universal Honda Accord of sound libraries or as the Ferarri of field recordings.

Leaning exclusive or non-exclusive? Feel free to share in the comments.

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3 responses to How to Choose Where to Sell Sound Effects – Part 2

  1. Enos Desjardins 2011/02/23 at 12:05

    Hi Paul! Just stumbled onto this site through a link on Twitter and thought I’d say hi! As a fellow sound FX recordist this seems like a very interesting site so thanks for that and I look forward to more! All the best!

    • Hi Enos, thanks for the good wishes! I’m planning on updating the site regularly with recording field reports, reviews, ‘how to’ posts and more. Stay tuned!

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