At the end of 2019, I embarked on an experiment and created a profile on the content platform Audiojungle. In this post, I want to share my experiences and also express my opinion about it. To put it simply and summarize: Audiojungle prioritizes quantity over quality, and operates in an opaque and inconsistent manner.
What is Audiojungle?
Audiojungle is part of Envato, specifically the Envato Market. Envato Market consists of various platforms where you can search, access, and license content from different audio or visual fields. The platforms I was most familiar with (when I started my "experiment") were Videohive, Themeforest and Audiojungle. At Audiojungle, you can use a (in my opinion, good) search engine to find and organize content based on specific criteria. As of 29.11.2022, the homepage of Audiojungle shows that there are over 1783600 items available. For comparison, at that time Tagirijus Music had 492 tracks.
Why did I want to join Audiojungle?
The motivation to join Audiojungle arose from the suggestion of another composer. I had the hope that I could increase my passive income with the help of this platform. Passive income refers to income generated, for example, through royalties. I already touched upon such a topic in the blog post Listening to music should be free.
Furthermore, I was attracted to this platform because it provided me with the opportunity to independently release my tracks. I could decide when to upload and could also add all the metadata myself. However, the final decision on when the track would go online was still made by Audiojungle, as they had to accept it first. There was a possibility that something could be completely rejected. Overall, the technical system for uploading and managing tracks is very user-friendly and straightforward, which was another plus point for me.
What have I experienced on Audiojungle?
Now onto the crucial point of this post. From 18.11.2019 to 20.01.2022 I had 26 music tracks and 15 sound effects on this platform. To me that seems like very little for this period, but it is also due to the frustration I experienced towards the end. I uploaded my last piece on 04.10.2020. Therefore, I produced approximately 26 new tracks for the platform in less than a year.
Quantity over quality
What I noticed early on is that a large amount of new music is released every day. On 29.11.2022 I used the search filter to list the number of tracks released in the past week: 3260, averaging 465 per day. That means Audiojungle releases almost as many new tracks daily as my entire music archive currently contains. I have no comparison to determine whether I produce little or a lot. My assumption is the latter. At least, I believe that this quantity of new (daily) music is enormous.
When I listened to these tracks, I noticed everytime again that many of them sound extremely similar and have identical metadata. The harmonies are very simple. For example, they don't feature many different chords, often sticking to basic major or minor chords without additions, and consistently using basic and repetitive scales and functions. The time signature is almost always 4/4 and rarely 3/4. The instruments are frequently ukuleles with claps, bells, a rock band with someone shouting "Huuuuaa!", epic orchestra with simple string sections playing a repetitive ostinato, or a guitar with electronic beats and an "epic corporate" sound. All of the titles I just linked were initially produced for Audiojungle. The typical Audiojungle title names are likely chosen to appear more frequently in searches. Thus, the title names often include terms like "Motivational, Inspiration, Upbeat, Corporate" or "Uplifting". Diversity definitely looks different to me.
Another point that caught my attention early on is the pricing. As a musician, you can set the prices for your tracks yourself. In the backend, the platform calculates how much it will take and how much will be left for you. Therefore, musicians have a responsibility to set prices sensibly.
After a second research on 18.12.2022 I found that the price range of the 30 titles displayed for the "last week" ranged from $1 to $49. The average price was $17.40, and the median was $15.50. Overall, I consider these prices unusually low. For example, the smallest license on Proudmusic Library costs €53.50 and on Soundtaxi it's €35.00. On these platforms, prices go up to €250 or even €1284 depending on the license type. Therefore, I consider Audiojungle relatively inexpensive. I also remember from the Audiojungle forums how other musicians regularly complained about titles being offered so cheaply.
In my first year on Audiojungle, I earned €98. After that, I received a few small orders, which earned me another €22 before the orders completely stopped. What I learned from this was that I would have to continuously produce and release a lot in order to make any sales. However, for various reasons, that was no longer possible for me. On the one hand, I could not (and still cannot today) compromise on quality and simply produce "junk". Overall, I spent 80 hours on all the music tracks (including their versions) and sound effects that I produced for Audiojungle. And these 80 hours do not include the time spent on uploading. Based on that alone, with 80 hours of work and €120 in earnings, the hourly wage would be €1.50. If I had dedicated my full-time capacity to Audiojungle, working 40 hours per week, I would have only made €240 per month based on this calculation. Therefore, it was not sustainable and not an option for me. After all, it was just an experiment.
Of course, it could have been possible for my earnings to eventually increase over time. But at what cost? Maybe I would have started to sound more and more like the rest of Audiojungle and had titles that were dull copies of themselves. I wouldn't consider that right.
Quality assurance is an illusion
Audiojungle has curators who are supposed to listen to and review uploaded items for quality. These curators are also sellers, musicians, or sound designers themselves. The problem for me was that these curators started rejecting pieces at some point. And these were pieces that, in my opinion, were not bad. The feedback I received upon rejection was consistently a copied text that roughly said: "This item does not meet the commercial quality standards." Audiojungle has guidelines regarding technical standards, which I had strictly adhered to, of course. I had easily met these aspects.
However, the specific details of these "commercial quality standards" were nowhere to be found in a concrete and transparent manner. There is an FAQ that includes points to avoid to prevent item rejections. For example, a piece should be "useful to customers." Or a piece should not be "compressed to the point where aesthetic quality suffers". A piece should also be "well-constructed" or as "compatible" and "customizable" as possible. However, nowhere is it mentioned what these points specifically mean. To me, as they are formulated, these points are purely subjective and therefore cannot be reliably implemented.
I could never learn from a rejection because there were no specific indicators. Instead, it was extremely frustrating for me that my pieces were rejected by a budget music platform. At the same time, I occasionally listened to new releases that, according to my assessment of quality, were simply terrible. This experience was extremely disillusioning for me.
And then I had an idea. I simply opened a project of a track that had been accepted before. I made minimal changes to it. For example, I changed the tempo, the key, the melody, and slightly adjusted the rhythm here and there. And I did this twice, giving the supposedly new tracks similar names. And behold: both tracks were accepted!!
The original track was Uplifting Motivating Ukulele and the modified versions were Motivate Me Please and Cheerful Motivation. Enjoy listening and comparing. Even the names are obviously nonsense and simply ridiculously similar. However, it was good enough for the Audiojungle curators. For comparison, here are some tracks that were rejected: Future Bass Fun, Hopeful Vibes, Frantic Adventure, Meditative 80s Circles, Halloween Logo, and Ambient City Flight.
Audiojungle also advises that one should try to upload a certain diversity of titles. This is completely in contrast to what I have experienced, both with the rejections of my own tracks and the aforementioned similar titles that can be found on the platform. My accepted duplicate tracks are literally copies of each other with minimal variations, while the rejected tracks are diverse in terms of genre, mood, instrumentation, and many other musical aspects.
Purchases and Payouts
I'm someone who likes to keep detailed records of when and for what price each of my pieces was purchased. Unfortunately, there is no notification on Audiojungle when a piece is purchased. As a result, I had to manually check the system regularly to see how and what was ordered. Furthermore, finding the price that a piece has achieved requires tedious clicks through various submenus and then calculating it.
In addition, over time, I had to accumulate the money in my Envato Market account, and it was only paid out once it reached $50. What's really outrageous is the account closure policy, which causes payouts to expire, potentially resulting in losing a significant sum. I find this practice highly questionable.
My concerns for the future
I am worried that platforms like Audiojungle (or Pond5 or perhaps even Premiumbeat) are becoming increasingly popular, and buyers are completely unaware of the circumstances behind them. At least that's what I gathered from conversations with other creatives who license music on such platforms. There is already a lot of opacity surrounding the conditions for creatives. I consider this a very poor foundation for fair business.
Furthermore, I fear that many creatives feel pressured to release their work and are increasingly ignoring quality in order to produce a large amount of content – something that was not an option for me. Especially beginners could learn that it is completely normal to succumb to this pressure and undersell themselves or neglect quality. In this, I also see the danger of an increasing production of low-quality music, resulting in a decrease in audience expectations.
In all of this, I see a lot of potential for an extremely unhealthy competition among creatives. I understand and am familiar with the fear of not being able to sustain one's own existence. However, I firmly believe that succumbing to such a race to the bottom in terms of price and quality is absolutely wrong in the long run.
My hope is that I can counteract this phenomenon, if my concerns are correct, through education and insights. It's perfectly fine to offer or purchase on such platforms, of course. I just think it's important to be aware of the kind of system you're supporting and the consequences it has for creators.
I recommend that creatives reflect on which distribution partners they want to collaborate with, especially in the long run, and consider the alternatives. For instance, I operate my own platform called Tagirijus Music to offer my music. However, there are many other options, even without creating an entirely separate website, with various platforms and agencies. Personally, I now only want to enter into contracts with agencies that give me the impression of acting fairly, transparently, and consistently towards artists.