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AudioBlocks offers unlimited access to thousands of royalty-free music and sound effects.
The digital media world that we live in today is thriving, and user-uploaded content is becoming more common as each day passes. YouTube is currently the largest resource of streamable video and has strict legal standards for using copyrighted music within content hosted on the platform.
The easiest way to avoid any legal mess and ensure your video will not be removed is to utilize royalty-free music. The downside is that royalty-free audio can get expensive with some sites selling the rights for YouTube use at an upwards of $40 per track.
When faced with this situation and a limited budget, I often made my way to SoundCloud where you can find audio suitable for use under the Creative Commons license. This license allows the content to be used by others although there are often further stipulations and usually without any commercial use that is a gray area for use with monetized YouTube content. After YouTube had flagged some of my videos with Creative Commons audio within it, I decided to look for a better option.
This was when I discovered AudioBlocks, a unique service that offers unlimited access to download a wide library of songs and sound effects for a low monthly or yearly cost. Better yet, each audio piece within the service comes with a lifetime license for royalty free use meaning you can download a track for use and still maintain the rights to use the song after your subscription period has ended.
Subscription Pricing Models
AudioBlocks offers one of two subscription types for the average user. The first allows for month-to-month billing that initially sounds like a great option for anyone who doesn't want to pay for a year's worth of audio ahead of time.
However, going this route can get significantly more expensive as the monthly rate is $49 whereas the annual subscription is only $99 per year. You'll receive immediate value with the yearly subscription should you intend to subscribe for two or more months.
The $99 per year option is what I ultimately went with for the reason stated above. Considering that I get twelve months of unlimited access to royalty-free music is quite a deal as this is still less than the cost of buying the rights to only three songs from other some higher-priced competitors.
Now those of you who are on the fence as to whether the service is right for you can sign up for a free 7-day trial. You are granted unlimited access for a 7-day period and retain royalty-free rights to any content downloaded within that time-frame even if you don't continue your subscription further once the trial has commenced.
However, there are a few things to take note of with the trial. First off, the trial does require a credit card to initiate. Frankly, this is common practice in today's world and popular services like Spotify and Netflix do the same. While requiring a credit card upfront can be a hassle for the consumer, it ultimately leads to higher conversions and less abuse of the free trial, so it makes sense from a business standpoint
The free trial for AudioBlocks has an odd structure. If you simply sign-up for the 7-day trial and then leave it to automatically convert into a full membership once the period is over, you'll be transitioned into the $49/month plan.
For those of you interested in continuing the service after your trial yet you want to take advantage of the $99 per year subscription, you'll need to log into your account and cancel the trial before the rebill period ends. From there you'll be prompted as to whether you want to “really” cancel your trial and then they will try to entice you to stay with the $99 per year option of which you can accept.
Should you just choose the $99 per year option from the start, you'll skip the 7-day trial period entirely and meaning that your subscription and billing period will begin immediately. This is a tricky and somewhat deceiving way of doing things, but for right now it is just the way it is.
Audio Library Variety & Selection
One of the largest reasons why the AudioBlocks service is such an alluring investment is the wide variety of content found within the library.
Unfortunately, the AudioBlocks interface doesn't have any way to determine the total amount of songs within the library, but from what I can tell it is vast for only being around for a short time. According to their website, new content is said to be added daily.
The content is highly organized which makes the interface easy to navigate and find precisely what you are looking for. As of now, it is structured like the following:
Online Interface & Ease Of Use
Like I said earlier, navigating through the service's web-based interface is easy and straight forward. You have the ability to filter you results by several different criteria such a mood, genre, instruments, tempo, or duration. Once a list of results has been generated you can also sort these results by rating, download count, relevancy, date added, and popularity.
You can preview each piece of audio simply by hovering your cursor over the track name, and it will begin to play automatically. Each piece of audio displays the waveform so you can foresee any changes to the pitch or tempo throughout the track.
I appreciate the choice of format for downloads, but you still don't get a choice in sample rate for the audio files. All files are delivered and downloaded in 44100 Hz which isn't a big deal in my case although it may be a deal breaker for those who are overly picky with their audio needs.
Albums within AudioBlocks are playlists that you can save content to for easy reference for future use. You can create multiple albums and store audio files for different purposes. In my case, I have one album of background music and another of sound effects that I'll eventually use for shot transitions.
Use Of Content
Unlike most Creative Commons content, the royalty-free audio files found within the AudioBlocks service are able to be used for both commercial and non-commercial use without jumping through any hoops.
According to their website, the service's royalty-free license allows the following uses:
“Our content may be used for nearly any project, commercial or otherwise, including feature films, broadcast, commercial, industrial, educational video, print projects, multimedia, games, and the internet, so long as substantial value is added to the content. Once you download a file it is yours to keep and use forever, royalty-free, even if you change your subscription or cancel your account.”
Prohibited use of their content only comes into play during the following instances:
Our content may not be:
- Resold or redistributed as standalone files;
- Used in any work which includes pornography, condones violence, or violates the privacy or publicity rights of any third party.
In regards to YouTube use, I no longer have to worry about attribution within the YouTube description. I am also now 100% certain that I am within my legal rights to my music selection. This is in contrary to the use of Creative Commons content whom can become a tricky legal battle fast, should the author ever question the use of their content within your production.
Ultimately, the AudioBlocks service offers a great deal of value for anyone needing royalty-free music while remaining easy on your wallet. With an affordable flat yearly subscription fee, you can enjoy unlimited access to thousands of royalty-free audio files for both commercial and personal use. I ended up signing up for a paid account once my trial period ended, and I can ultimately envision myself being a customer of the service for many years to come.