Thursday, March 26, 2015

Audioblocks: Royalty-Free Music, Sound FX and Loop Library

A common question people ask me is where they can find royalty-free music. There are some good sites out there that will let you use lots of stuff for free (,, but there are also subscription-based services, that can streamline the process of content creation for single digit dollars per month.

One such site is Audioblocks. I was recently contacted by them and asked to make a video explaining their service, which as it turns out, is pretty good. For a yearly rate of $99, you have access to their entire sound library which includes music of all varieties, sound effects and loops. The site is supposed to receive new material regularly and boasts the fastest preview system I've ever seen. This last item is a real selling point for me as you can audibly scan a huge list of search results in record time. This preview option is also free to anyone surfing the site, while only subscribers can actually download the files.

Audioblocks is also offering a seven-day free trial to Frugal Filmmaker viewers. Once you sign up, you can download up to 20 files per day for seven days. Once the trial is over, make sure you cancel or you'll automatically be rolled over into the $79/month plan. I suggest if you want to continue the service, enroll in the $99/year plan which gives you full access and unlimited downloads for $8.25 per month.

If you create content on a regular basis (like I do), I can see how beneficial a service like this can be. No, it's not free, but it's free to try and it's very affordable if you do choose to sign up for the yearly plan. I also really like that speedy preview system. It will save a ton of time and anyone can use it to check out what Audioblocks has to offer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

YouTube Cards: An Annotation Upgrade?

The current annotation system on YouTube videos is pretty cool and allows you to embed custom text and links in your videos, which can help drive traffic to other videos. Text can add metadata that aids with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the "spotlight" feature lets your draw boxes around objects in your video (such as graphics you added in post), which can also be links. It' a somewhat flexible system that lends to minimalist creativity.

The largest drawback to this system has always been the lack of these links to work on mobile devices. With more and more traffic coming from smartphones and tablets, it only makes sense that content creators would want these users the same click-through options as computer viewers.

YouTube is touting "YouTube Cards" as the next step in annotations, that will eventually replace the old system. While it finally allows embedded YouTube links to work on mobile devices, it also eliminates a lot of nice flexibility of the former system. This could lead to a lot of similar looking links across the YouTube space.

While I go into further examples of this problem in the video, I'm left asking some questions to those in charge. Why not just make the old system work on mobile devices? If close captioning works on mobile platforms, why not text pop-ups and text linking? Why move the branding mark to the bottom of the screen where lower-third graphics have always lived, which is why they are called "lower-thirds"?

Why, YouTube, why?


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