Type specialist Monotype has broken new ground with the launch of its Foundry Program. Two years in the making, the initiative is free to join, and gives type designers increased visibility, a range of analytics and marketing tools and an enhanced royalty model intended to provide a consistent revenue stream.
Foundries and type designers using the Monotype Foundry Program get a dedicated, brandable page on MyFonts and Monotype Fonts, a 'business hub' analytics dashboard and self-service tools to upload and manage type designs. With over 1,500 foundries and type designers already signed up, we spoke to Mary Catherine Pflug, Monotype's director of partner product and operations, to learn more. See our guide to the best free fonts for more type inspiration.
How did you create the Monotype Foundry Programme?
We spent an extensive amount of time conducting research and planning for the Foundry Program. A major part of this was our survey, where we reached out to our thousands of existing type partners to understand their pain points and priorities as well as the status of the type industry more broadly. As we were creating the program, we tested a few different structures and got direct feedback from foundries that work with us. I used to be a type designer myself, so I also had a good understanding as to some of the challenges foundries were currently experiencing.
The top requested item from foundries was being able to include their fonts in our subscription service, Monotype Fonts. This aligns with the shift we’re seeing in the type market where customers are preferring the simplicity of subscription, so this became a major part of the program, and importantly, creates a new revenue stream for type designers. Additionally, we learned that foundries want more analytics, resources, and tools to help with the business and marketing side of type.
We launched the program with a set of new features, directly based on answers from the survey, including brandable pages so foundries have more control of their online presence at Monotype, centralized dashboards to track earnings across all of Monotype’s channels, new ways to merchandise their fonts, and resources based directly in our learnings about the business of type, including how to optimize their font pages for SEO, what images are resonating with customers, and more. We also have an extensive roadmap of features and resources to come that can only be accessed by foundries that are part of the program.
Why did you feel there was a need for the programme?
The Foundry Program helps the independent type community respond to rapidly changing customer needs and wider trends within the design software industry. The ways that customers prefer to license, use, and purchase fonts in their workflow is changing quite dramatically; there is a customer-led market shift away from perpetual licences to subscriptions, and that shift is reshaping the way companies choose and experience typography.
It was also evident that there was a growing need for more support within the independent type industry as a whole. We wanted the Foundry Program to facilitate growth and make it more viable to earn a living by making type. The program aims to facilitate and grow a healthy ecosystem of type designers and customers, where there is a symbiosis and type designers can scale their businesses and flourish.
What are the benefits for foundries and customers searching for fonts?
Type designers can upload their fonts and add merchandising straight away - metrics around performance appear later, once the fonts have been purchased or are being used by customers. The merchandising and metadata that foundries add about their typefaces feeds our search technology, and the more complete a font family’s and foundry’s merchandising is, the better the fonts will perform in search because we can deliver the most accurate results.
All fonts are checked for quality automatically in-platform, and type designers can see the results of over 30 technical checks on their font files. Our team offers designers real-time human advice including guidance on customer preferences, trends, and recommendations to maximise visibility on the platform; this gives the fonts the best possible chance when they reach the market. Fonts on the platform have the potential to reach over 100 million customers!
How does the royalty model compare to previous arrangements?
In 2022, 433 independent type foundries shared their feedback with us through a survey, and half indicated that the royalties paid to them by Monotype represented 50% or more of their total revenue; it was therefore imperative that we got the royalty model for our subscription just right. We created a new royalty model specifically for the subscription Monotype Fonts because it works very differently from the old way of selling fonts, where you know exactly what fonts were sold at that transaction.
In Monotype Fonts, a user purchases a set of license rights and subscription up front, often before they know which fonts they’ll end up using. That’s what makes it a great customer experience – the customer can worry about licensing once up front, they are free to test and choose fonts without worry. Since this is such a different workflow, we knew we had to create a new model that looks at a variety of factors to ensure that fonts are receiving a share of earnings proportional to how popular they are and how much they are contributing to the customer’s experience in Monotype Fonts.
This allows us to be extremely clear about how much each font is earning, how they are performing on the platform, and provide more predictable earnings to our partners. In our testing phase, one of the major takeaways was the lack of clarity and predictability around getting compensated for being in Monotype Fonts, so we knew this needed to evolve for the Foundry Program.
What has the feedback been like from font foundries?
We have over 1,500 independent foundries and type designers active on the platform a month after its initial launch and right now we are seeing about 40 foundries joining the program per week. We’ve gotten great feedback on the new merchandising tools – foundries can now create font playlists and group related families together to help customers discover more fonts. We’re also seeing foundries rapidly adding logos and other imagery to build out their branded pages.
In general, with this program, we have been able to grow the font selection in Monotype Fonts, and recently hit a new milestone of 150,000 fonts in Monotype Fonts. Last Week, I was at Adobe Max talking to customers about their font needs, and many were blown away by all the choices available – from familiar foundries they know and love to being able to discover new type brands. This directly leads to more earnings for the foundries participating in the Foundry Program with their fonts in Monotype Fonts. And the great thing is the need for fonts isn’t slowing down; customers want even more!