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SUBSCRIPTIONSWe 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.
Is it good for foundries (and the overall health of the industry)? Not so much.
I think that this might undermine indie type foundries for a year or two. But graphic designer are going to tire of this service quickly. By offering this Monotype is admitting that the bulk of its library—which is still dominated by hasty digitizations of phototype revivals of metal type—is no longer worth paying for on a per-font basis, or even in a deep-discount collection on DVD.
And by making these fonts available inexpensively Monotype is making them even more pedestrian. In five years the new editions of typography textbooks will have stopped teaching the old fonts as classics all designers should use. Instead they’ll teach them as tired old fonts nobody ever wants to see again, just like Comic Sans and Papyrus. When clickbait sites crank out ten typography tips for 2020 the list is going to include and item like this:
Don’t even think about using the fonts from the Monotype Library subscription service. Every chop shop on Earth can use those tired old fonts for low-budget direct mail and takeout menus. Do yourself a favor and buy something that won’t look so cheap.
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.
Stephen Coles said:
yet another way
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.
A union could, amongst other things, help give us some leverage when negotiation fair distribution deals and royalty rates.
While we also believe there are a lot of similarities between the music and font business, there are also significant differences.