Monotype Introduces New Font Subscription Services

Miles NewlynMiles Newlyn Posts: 141
edited January 2016 in Type Business
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160125005126/en

I don't know anything more about this at the moment, but it's limited to the Monotype library at the moment.


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Comments

  • I've got a long email from Bill Davis with 2016 news, and one item was:

    SUBSCRIPTIONS

    We saved the best topic for last. So congratulations on reading this far -:)
    It seems that “subscriptions” can be a controversial topic for a lot of type designers and foundries. Probably because a lot of attention has been paid to the music industry and how subscriptions like Apple Music and Spotify have impacted musicians. While we also believe there are a lot of similarities between the music and font business, there are also significant differences.

    At Monotype we have been offering subscriptions for over five years. We first started with a subscription product at Fonts.com for our Web Font Service. Customers benefit from access to a library of fonts, providing an expanded range of creative options. And type designers/foundries benefit from a continuous revenue stream, versus the one-time payment model. This approach has proven to be very successful for Fonts.com – which has seen significant growth of web fonts each year.

    Over a year ago we added desktop fonts as a premium feature on the Fonts.com Web Font Service. This allowed subscribers to access the exclusive Monotype Libraries via the secure SkyFonts technology – to install desktop fonts for design purposes. (One of the benefits of using SkyFonts is that when a customer cancels a subscription, any downloaded fonts would automatically disappear.) We also started selling a subscription to the Monotype Libraries separately from the Web Font Service.

    We want to make it clear that today we do not offer any kind of subscription for our 3rd party fonts. This is only for our exclusive Monotype Libraries (Linotype, ITC, Monotype, Bitstream, and Ascender).

    We believe that subscriptions will become another option for customers, whether as desktop fonts or web fonts. And thus another opportunity for our type foundry partners like yourself to consider as our business evolves.

    I can provide the entire mail if necessary. 

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,688
    edited January 2016
    Didn’t they already launch a subscription for their library last year? This seems like they just lowered the price.
  • Ok, Monotype launched an enterprise font subscription service last year. I’m not sure if this is a replacement for that or an inexpensive option for individuals and small studios.

    Maybe the reason Monotype wants to cut MyFonts royalties is to fund development of these cloud services.
  • James, if you are confused, I imagine the font market in general, is also.  Which isn't a good thing for Monotype - I'm lookin' at you, Bill Davis.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 787
    edited January 2016
    This is essentially Monotype’s cheaper answer to Typekit, but specifically for their own fonts and only for desktop use. To me, it is yet another way MT is undercutting indie foundries who sell on MT platforms. Fonts that are part of the service are clearly promoted to MyFonts customers (see two screenshots below), presenting a stark contrast to the pricing of third-party fonts. We cannot deny that it’s a great thing for users. Is it good for foundries (and the overall health of the industry)? Not so much. 

    I’d support such a product for font trials (akin to the Fontstand model), but this pricing for fully licensed fonts is a steep dive.




  • It’s not clear to me why this is different from Spotify etc. Do they let it more clear how type designers will benefit from this in the rest of the email, Fernando?
  • I think that this might undermine indie type foundries for a year or two. 

    I think that's the key here, isn't it? A company the size of Monotype can lower their prices below the level of making any profit and maintain that for a couple of years without taking a major hit. But if a small foundry tried to do the same thing to compete, they wouldn't be able to survive that way for a couple of years. Alternately if they hold their prices at an acceptable level of profit, they might lose much of their business to Monotype's new undercutting pricing scheme and end up going under in a couple of years. 

    It seems that Monotype is using their size as leverage against their smaller competitors, just as the big companies did 100 years ago. Isn't this the sort of thing that the SEC was created to stop?

    I might be mis-reading this, so please stop me if I'm wrong. I hope I am. 



  • Fernando DíazFernando Díaz Posts: 119
    edited January 2016
    @Daniel Sabino here is the complete mail of Bill Davis:

    (Sorry for the long post)
    WEB FONTS
    2015 was the year that the web font adoption rate achieved a significant milestone: 50% of the top 1000 websites use web fonts on their home page! It has been impressive to watch how web fonts have evolved and improved. They have become a vital tool for web designers and developers, who now recognize the importance of type and typography.
    Here is a presentation from ATypI 2015 that captures the current state of web fonts:  https://goo.gl/65f2Pq. The presentation highlights some of the interesting opportunities ahead for web fonts include addressing more complicated languages and scripts, and usage in email and HTML5-based digital ads.
     
    PROMOTIONS
    This past year we were quite active working with our type foundry partners to explore new ways of promoting your fonts in our websites and through our newsletters.
    On our Vendor Portal, we have recently introduce a new feature in the Promotions area. Now you can create a sales promotion for Linotype.com (previously it was limited to Fonts.com). The Vendor Portal gives our Foundry partners real-time visibility to sales on Fonts.com and Linotype.com.
    We encourage all our foundry partners to create an account on the Vendor Portal. If you haven’t already, then sign up today at: https://vendor.monotypeimaging.com
    Another successful activity we are proud of is partnering with a growing range of type foundries to participate in “Flash Sales” and other limited-time offers. With Flash Sales we work together to curate a special selection of typefaces and set a compelling discount price for a limited quantity (typically 400 purchases) and very limited time (24 hours). We have also opened up more of our monthly newsletter space to our foundries to feature new releases and special sale items.
     
    FONT TESTING/FREE TRIALS
    Our customers continue to provide us with excellent feedback on how to improve the experience of browsing, testing and shopping for fonts. We continue to make significant improvement with tools for customers to try a font before buying it. In addition to the standard preview tools on the websites, we have made fantastic progress with our SkyFonts technology.

    SkyFonts is a secure method of allowing a font to be downloaded to a Mac or Windows computer, and instantly appear in the fonts menu. More importantly, we can automatically remove the font after a specified period of time. Recently we improved SkyFonts to make it even harder to steal a font, keeping honest users honest. For example, InDesign users cannot export a font with its ‘package’ feature.

    In the coming weeks we will be increasing the free trial period from ten minutes to one hour on Fonts.com and Linotype.com. This change will allow our sites to match the time period of offered by other distributors. While we believe that free trials with SkyFonts is a secure, proven method of enhancing the customer experience to drive sales, we want to give our foundries control of this option. Thus if you want to opt-out, please send an email to [email protected] and let us know.
     
    GOODBYE POSTSCRIPT TYPE 1 FONTS!
    It might be hard to believe, but 30 years ago we began selling PostScript Type 1 format fonts on floppy disk. What other software product is still being sold 30 years later? This is a good trivia question to ask your friends -:)

    The good news is that almost everyone has updated their fonts to TrueType (TTF) or OpenType (OTF). For the few of you that still have some obsolete PS Type 1 fonts in your inventory, this is your final notice to update your data. We are in the process of cleaning up the last of these old fonts, and removing them due to customer support nightmares with Mac OS X and Windows.
     
    NEW FONT LICENSING MODELS
    The EULA that we use for fonts in our Monotype Libraries still focuses on traditional desktop use: allowing customers to install fonts on their computer(s) for design purposes. In general terms, customers are not allowed to transfer the font files outside of their desktop computer. So over the past few years we have introduced a variety of license extensions, to give customers the rights they need for new uses beyond the desktop.

    Examples of license extensions include web fonts, ebooks/epubs, mobile apps, and servers. These are now available as shopping cart options on Fonts.com and Linotype.com for fonts in the Monotype Libraries, and for all our type foundry partners (where you have granted us the necessary rights).

    In addition to generating additional income for our foundry partners, this has proven to be an excellent educational tool. Customers are becoming more familiar the terms and restrictions of font licenses, and are more often asking us about their particular usage to ensure they obtain the proper font licenses.
    We are continuing to listen to customers, and identifying new usage categories to solve the font needs of our wide range of global customers. This may lead to new font license models, or changes to existing models.
     
    SUBSCRIPTIONS
    We saved the best topic for last. So congratulations on reading this far -:)
    It seems that “subscriptions” can be a controversial topic for a lot of type designers and foundries. Probably because a lot of attention has been paid to the music industry and how subscriptions like Apple Music and Spotify have impacted musicians. While we also believe there are a lot of similarities between the music and font business, there are also significant differences.

    At Monotype we have been offering subscriptions for over five years. We first started with a subscription product at Fonts.com for our Web Font Service. Customers benefit from access to a library of fonts, providing an expanded range of creative options. And type designers/foundries benefit from a continuous revenue stream, versus the one-time payment model. This approach has proven to be very successful for Fonts.com – which has seen significant growth of web fonts each year.

    Over a year ago we added desktop fonts as a premium feature on the Fonts.com Web Font Service. This allowed subscribers to access the exclusive Monotype Libraries via the secure SkyFonts technology – to install desktop fonts for design purposes. (One of the benefits of using SkyFonts is that when a customer cancels a subscription, any downloaded fonts would automatically disappear.) We also started selling a subscription to the Monotype Libraries separately from the Web Font Service.

    We want to make it clear that today we do not offer any kind of subscription for our 3rd party fonts. This is only for our exclusive Monotype Libraries (Linotype, ITC, Monotype, Bitstream, and Ascender).
    We believe that subscriptions will become another option for customers, whether as desktop fonts or web fonts. And thus another opportunity for our type foundry partners like yourself to consider as our business evolves.
     
    ...

  • This link is broken
  • Isn't this the sort of thing that the SEC was created to stop?

    No. Monotype isn’t a monopoly. Type designers can just stop signing deals with Monotype and sell fonts elsewhere. 

  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    edited January 2016
    Frode, good call.

    It strikes me that there is a need for such a collective in order to provide a 'publisher-scale' catalog of everyone's products; since otherwise everyone will go about setting up their own shop and bearing all the costs this entails individually, but since customers love big catalogs they will continue to shop with them.

    If it were me retailing type, I'd be getting everyone to agree on a microformat, and then set up a catalog site (owned by the union/co-op/501c6/etc such that it could never be acquired by any larger entity) that is your typical font catalog web app on the front side, but on the back it works by running a spider to crawl the whole web's domains' homepages for that microformat data, starting with the domains submitted to it manually.

    Any foundry with an affiliate marketing scheme would pay out to the co-op's index site, which would pay the devops labour and server rent and otherwise grease the whole thing with cash. The technical implementation of the microformat would be made easy with plugins/templates for common blog, cms, php frameworks, shopify, etc.

    Then everyone owns their own brand, checkout process, rates, customer support costs, etc, and has leverage over other catalog publishers. But such leverage requires scale, and it seems efforts like Dinos' are hobbled by cutting off their traffic.



    (This is basically just rehashing what Aaron Swartz did for Creative Commons just after it launched.)
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 463
    edited January 2016
    Frode, how are you going to get the average user to buy union-made goods only?  Especially when they're many times the cost of the library stuff, and much more trouble to get hold of?  I think anyone in the garment business can tell you how successful that's going to be. 

    James, I agree that this move will cheapen the old classic-rock faces like Avenir and Sabon, but only among the small elite of type users that care about the finer points.  For most type users, Avenir and Sabon are a big step up from whatever they're using now, and the more of those classic faces they see in use, the more they'll want to use them.  Most people want to use what everyone else is using.  That's why bestseller lists exist, and why they're central to mass retailers like MyFonts.

    I suspect Monotype is going to own the average type user, and I can't see what independents can do to get them back.  I think independents need to focus on the sub-population of elite users who don't want tired old standbys or five-dollar quickies.  Banding together in cooperatives should help us get more eyeballs and make more sales, and Dave has a really interesting idea for one way that could happen.  But it seems clear we're not going to build a serious competitor to MyFonts or Fonts.com in terms of scale.  And any scheme where makers are decently compensated for their work is going to result in higher prices than Monotype's subscription service.  The minute you try to charge more for higher quality, 80% of your market walks away.  I think we need to focus on the remaining 20%.
  • let me throw out two further considerations, from the designers' side: designers are not going to get tired of this, and at least on the web their opinions may not matter much longer anyway.

    one of the biggest obstacles to designers getting new typefaces into use—hell, even to getting good well-established ones into use, for certain segments of the design market—is persuading clients who want or need to do in-house design work to license fonts rather than use ones included with operating systems or common software like microsoft office. a subscription model that drastically lowers at least the perceived price of doing this is going to appeal to designers (and their clients) quite a bit, especially now that adobe has dramatically reduced the number of fonts included in a creative cloud download and saved most of its library for typekit.

    as far as web goes, though: as template services like squarespace and virb get more and more sophisticated and flexible—and that process is accelerating—clients are going to be making these choices themselves, since they'll be less inclined to hire designers to code bespoke sites for them in the first place. some of those template services are already working closely with google fonts and typekit, even incorporating them directly into their design templates. i bet monotype won't be far behind, now.

    (also: i wonder how much longer fontfont's list will stay on typekit?)
  • A subscription service could be useful for gaining exposure for new fonts. The PlayStation Network Plus subscription service could serve as a model. If you're not familiar with PSN+, here it is on Wikipedia. If you use your imagination you could see how some of these features could work with fonts.
  • The email by Bill Davis says:

    "At Monotype we have been offering subscriptions for over five years. We first started with a subscription product at Fonts.com for our Web Font Service. Customers benefit from access to a library of fonts, providing an expanded range of creative options. And type designers/foundries benefit from a continuous revenue stream, versus the one-time payment model."

    Does that means more revenue? Was this model good ($) for anybody here?
  • A union could, amongst other things, help give us some leverage when negotiation fair distribution deals and royalty rates.

    Do you know of any international labor law firms that work cheap? Because unions are pretty heavily regulated everywhere in the world. You can’t just unionize people from all over Europe and the Americas and not expect all the relevant governments to get involved. And you’ll have to convince many of your own clients that working with you justifies the cost of getting a labor lawyer involved to make sure they’re not breaking the law by interacting with you.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,830
    edited February 2016
    PS. I did consider contact Modragon to see if they might like to adopt a font wing alongside their various other industries.

    [Mostly joking. I think they would politely laugh at us.]
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 246
    Or something like http://www.c3action.org/
  • Since the core of the discussion, really, is about getting paid for what you do, can I ask a question?   In Europe, don't governments provide money to finance the arts? And if so, which arts get support?
  •  When Bill says:
    While we also believe there are a lot of similarities between the music and font business, there are also significant differences.
    I'm sure there are lot of significant differences but here's a big similarity: fonts, like music are a product that buyers already have in abundance and don't really need more of. That doesn't mean people can't want more, but you can't rely on the need for new products. The want has to be created. Sure, that's always been a part of the business but now it's all that's left. Scarcity of the product is constantly decreasing and attempting to cram the genie back in the bottle makes you like a dum dum.

    What do you do if you make music/fonts in 2016? Try to make mega-hits through mainstream distributors or go outside the system and attempt something else. That's essentially how I ended up where I am now. About 3 years ago, fonts I was releasing through mainstream distributors resulted in approximately zero sales and got zero promotion. It was the distributor and customer's way of telling me they didn't need any more of my products: message received. I spent about 2 years making free fonts again in an attempt to build up what I had with my core font users between 1996 and 2001. Recently, I've started making free/pay mixed families again and making my older products more appealing for application embedding. Since application embedding is the only line on my sales graph that's going up, that's what I've been focusing on. Mainstream distributors have low conversion rates and low commission for these types of licenses. Some distributors have dumped free desktop license fonts (unless the same family contains pay fonts) so those application sales aren't even an option.

    Back on topic: it's probably going to be very similar to what streaming did to music.
  • I agree with Thierry. You can make some parallels with music (digital goods, streaming/cloud services) but not much more.

    I don't understand why type designers would rather focus on the idea of a union instead of creating an alternative distributor.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,214
    Would it really be a Union or more of a Guild?
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 246
    I don’t understand. As other have pointed out, that has always been the case on MyFonts. I actually always liked the tab “Alternate Cuts” to find other versions and names of the same or similar typefaces. Let’s keep the thread on topic and discuss the facts around and the potential implications of the new subscription service.
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 246
    Not to speak of people who indeed require one version or the other because of old documents, corporate design specifications, or just preference of company or variation, a lot of Bitstream’s digitization of the old classics were better than the versions from the original vendors. In this case, I would much prefer Dutch 766 over MT Imprint which looks too light (maybe digitized from drawings and not prints) and has sadly short descenders.
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