July 22, 2014
Inc. 30 Under 30 Alum Joel Holland unveils AudioBlocks to keep up with the demand for music and audio files. Something’s in the air.
Love ’em or hate ’em, stock images blanket the Internet. Joel Holland is hoping that audio clips will follow suit.
As the founder and CEO of the Reston, Virginia-based VideoBlocks, a leading online stock footage vendor that boasts more than 100,000 customers in the television and video production industry, Holland has a good sense of the Web’s appetite for content. And he’s convinced that audio is the next big thing.
“Music is to video what filters are to photos,” says the Inc. 500 CEO who was also featured on last year’s 30 Under 30 list. Today, Holland is putting that belief to the test with the launch of a new stock music sharing site dubbed AudioBlocks.
Like VideoBlocks, AudioBlocks offers a subscription-pricing model–that is, $99 a year grants users unlimited access to more than 100,000 royalty free tracks, sound effects and loops. An added enticement: If consumers cancel their subscription, they still own the rights to everything they previously downloaded.
Not sure if the Web is all that ravenous for music? Just look at the latest acquisitions in the music streaming world as something of a guide. In May, Apple snapped up Beats for $3 billion. The next month, Amazon launched its own music streaming service for its Prime members. Then in July Google acquired music-streaming service Songza for an estimated $15 million. (The exact purchase price was never disclosed.)
Obviously, there’s a gulf between music streaming and sound effects, but the writing is on the wall, says Holland.
Before launching AudioBlocks, Holland surveyed VideoBlocks’ customers about what the site was missing. The resounding response was music. And though there are competitors already in the space, Holland thinks AudioBlocks has an upper hand. In the survey, consumers had three issues with other stock music options that AudioBlocks seeks to eliminate:
Price – VideoBlocks consumers are cost conscious and pay less than $1 per clip, and they wanted to see a similar option with audio. (A single audio clip on Shutterstock can start at $49, which is doable but not ideal, according to Holland.)
Complex licensing – It can be confusing what consumers pay for when they download a track, Holland says. They may be paying for rights only in the U.S., rights only on the Internet, etc. Other stock music sites price out the little guy if they want complete rights to use the music Holland said. With AudioBlocks, consumers get full licensing.
Ability to discover the right track – It is hard to search for the right music. A consumer can’t always easily search for music to fit the mood of the particular project they are working on.
Current customers helped AudioBlocks come up with an approach to searching for appropriate music. Customers can choose a mood and even select the beat per minute they feel would be appropriate in the clip and narrow their search.
“It is a really cool time in the evolution of the Internet in terms of content creation,” Holland says. “I am pumped to be along for the ride.”
VideoBlocks launced in 2010, after it was noticed that there were more content creators coming out of the woodwork. Many people that are creating these videos are doing so for fun or are freelancers, trying to make some money. It was unaffordable for some users to get quality stock media, and VideoBlocks was launched as an alternative to Getty and Shutterstock. Today, VideoBlocks, along with GraphicStock, has seen 30 million downloads, with about 30,000 per day.