As a YouTube creator and videographer working on both corporate and personal projects, I’m always interested in sites offering either royalty free music or tracks that can be purchased at a reasonable price and used for commercial use. TunePocket is fairly new on this scene and describe themselves as,
“a collective of independent music producers creating professional music for promotional videos, films, games, documentaries, and other media. For a small annual fee, you can download and use all our music in personal and commercial projects.”
…but before I take a look at their offering, let’s talk about what options you have today.
JUST WANT EVERYTHING FOR FREE
If you’re on a budget (meaning you don’t really want to pay for anything), there are a number of channels on YouTube that offer copyright free music and YouTube itself has a relatively extensive library. The number of tracks available is growing but equally so are the number of people using them. It’s a great option but is not without its problems.
Firstly, there’s a much higher chance of using the same songs as everyone else. Secondly, production and composition quality is not always top notch. Finally, you’re using these for free so you have no comeback of any kind. Whilst they’re offered free today, there is nothing to stop the composer changing this in the future and content id matching a bunch of your videos further down the line. It’s not your music and is totally out of your control.
At the other end of the scale are the likes of BMG Production music, Audio Network (though the current licensing structure of Audio Network embraces the needs of YouTube creators more than it used to), Music Bed and No Sheet Music. The quality of the music on these sites is generally excellent with professional studios and live orchestral recording used in some. Much of what you get suggests that this is from experienced composers with honed skills in their field. However, with that comes cost. They’re aimed at professional projects making considerable sums of money from the final production and where spending £500 on a song license is just part and parcel of the budget.
I’d be remiss at this stage if I didn’t mention the team at Filmstro under professional productions. Their offering is somewhat unique and you can find out more about that on this video here.
In between these two come the likes of Audioblocks and TunePocket. I did a review of AudioBlocks some time ago and I must be clear here that I am not implying that TunePocket is the same in every way. My review of AudioBlocks was a little scathing so that would be a bit mean. It’s just the general business model is similar. You pay a subscription which gives you access to a library of music that can be used in YouTube videos without any concerns over copyright. These services have come into their own with the explosion of online video content creation and offer something that a serious YouTuber can afford.
WHAT IS TUNEPOCKET?
In a nutshell, TunePocket is exactly that. The subscriptions offered are simple. If you’re an individual creating videos, it will cost you $99 a year (presumably for me that would be $99 in british pounds but with a chunk of standard tax on top). If you’re a business, you pay $199. This difference is a licence thing. It’s not about extra features. Businesses making money quite rightly pay more for the products that help them make that money.
They also have a sister site at safemusiclist.com that allow access to the same music but licensed by track so if you only want one of their songs, you don’t need to bother with a subscription at all.
Where TunePocket differs from some services is that the library is created by a small selected list of composers. The site is US based but composers are worldwide. This list naturally limits choice and reduces the size of the library. Don’t be put off by this though. Give me this ANY DAY rather than other services who have a library of a gazillion songs with only a few gems amongst them that are impossible to find. Quality over quantity is a big plus as far as I’m concerned.
HOW’S THE MUSIC?
Well, this is difficult to answer. Rubbish to me could be amazing to you.
When it comes to searching for and selecting music for a video, the sheer quantity out there makes for a fairly ruthless filtering mechanism. The sound, feel or hook of a song has to grab me within about 5 seconds or I’ll just move onto the next one.
When I use a site like AudioNetwork, I’m getting a pretty high percentage hit rate using this method. With AudioBlocks it’s often down in the under 5% region and is often so low that I just go elsewhere. With TunePocket I’ve found that to be around 50%. Whether a song fits will depend entirely on your taste and your needs but overall the hit rate is pleasing. It makes me feel like I’ll be able to confidently go to the site and find something that I can use….and that’s what counts.
CONTENT ID ON TUNEPOCKET
Content ID on YouTube is something that TunePocket clearly takes seriously. It’s kind of what they’re all about, it would seem. They are absolutely aware of the struggles that YouTube creators have and try to cater for it. If you can manage to navigate their search…more on that in a moment…there are specific options to only list songs that are completely content id free. This isn’t to say that you can’t use the other songs. In fact, let’s be clear on the options open to you…
- Content ID Free Music – Use it wherever you like and YouTube won’t even notice it. No-one needs to do anything here.
- Copyright Music – Can lead to claims (not strikes…this is a very different thing) which mean that ads will appear on your video or, if you monetize, means some revenue goes to the copyright holder. Remember though that as a user of the service, TunePocket will remove these claims if you wish and can also whitelist your channel to prevent it reoccurring.
They will also provide you with a simple text license with details of the piece to provide that extra layer of assurance if you ever need to provide evidence that the piece of music is being used correctly and legally.
Now this isn’t revolutionary. It’s fairly standard for this type of service. What’s different is how transparent it is and it’s nice to see effort being made to consider the pain of users under constant dictatorial pressure of Google.
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
I can’t really decide for you whether this music will work in your projects but I can list the things that I believe would make TunePocket a better experience. Hopefully TunePocket will see this and either comment or maybe even make some changes.
The simple website makes for a nice user experience but the search facility needs a rethink. Now I do not want to go on about this too much because I contacted TunePocket about this and they have assured me that this is a number 1 priority. Right now though it’s just a massive bunch of checkboxes, some useful and some less so. The search fills the sidebar and requires you to scroll down and down way beyond the main content to get what you want. What we need here is the combination of an elegant shopping site search (show EBuyer) together with a few more of the options available on e.g. AudioNetwork where things like the root note and key can be specified and extra search categories exist like the genre of the production you are looking to create. I must add that I have noticed that Tempo and Duration have been added in recent days. I was going to have a good old moan about those essentials being missing but there’s no need now.
The audio watermark definitely does its job. It’s so loud and intrusive that it gets annoying when demo’ing tracks. As a member signed in, there needs to be an option to preview a track without that irritating watermark because at the moment, looking for music soon becomes a bothersome affair. This one is a big deal and really kills how easy the site is to use otherwise.
NO MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION
I was surprised to see this missing from the plans and contacted TunePocket to ask them about it. With a modest catalogue of songs, a monthly subscription means users can go online and download every single song and then cancel. Now some of you out there with probably think, “well what’s wrong with that?” Technically, probably nothing but I fully understand why this is not sustainable for them. It’s not exactly fair use and restricts how they can fund their composers. They don’t want to introduce quotas on downloads so the monthly option had to go. The annual pricing is fair and competitive so this makes sense to me.
For some reason, a download has to be a zip containing both the mp3 and wav. I can see that mp3 should be an option but I’d like to bet that many people want and need only wav. I’d like to see an option to just download the wav directly to my desktop.
Previews are too big. It’s nice to have the waveform to see the dynamics of the song but each ‘offering’ takes up way too much real estate. it would be nice to see these smaller allowing more to be seen on one screen. Also, there’s currently a pagination limit of 10 files per page. Thinking about the comments from support, this could be related to ripping content from the site but it does hamper previewing material.
The ‘cover art’ on the previews looks a little rushed and amateur. I thought initially that each mood had its own style but that doesn’t seem to be the case with a big mix of clip art style covers reducing the otherwise professional look of the site. Maybe that’s just me. I’m a big fan of minimalist web design so this just turns me off.
In conclusion, it’s worth considering whether you actually need a service like this or whether you are purely experiencing what I call Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate syndrome. It’s nice to have access to a huge library but how much will you really use it. In reality, I use the same music in many of my vids because it’s my sound and I like it. I also compose music myself which is also very rewarding. For other projects across a year I could both buy and license 3 or 4 tracks for the price of an annual subscription. Songs that would perfectly fit my needs without compromise.
That said, as you’re watching this video, let’s assume you are interested in this. If I temporarily switch this video to be an AudioBlocks vs. TunePocket race, TunePocket wins hands down. Not only is it $50 cheaper, but the whole sign up process and simplicity of the site wins me over. It doesn’t claim to be something it’s not and doesn’t confuse users with signup ‘offers’ that are ridiculously cheap and mentally kill the value of the product only to revert to a much higher priced service further down the line. The music is largely much higher quality and also, my communication thus far with TunePocket has been great with replies and support being positive and quick. Tagging is far superior with searches actually revealing useful results. I cannot stress how important accurate tagging is for a site like this. If I look for rock music, I do not want 1 rock track and the next song to be some ukelele feel good garbage mistagged by a service that either does not suitably moderate content or mistags its own content to promote anything and everything.
TunePocket is growing. It may only be 1000 tracks now but it’s music you can find and you can use. This is worth a lot and I look forward to seeing how it grows in the future. I will not be continuing my Audioblocks subscription but I would certainly consider a TunePocket subscription.