If You Want To Be Productive, Learn to Have Fun

principles of fun movie posterI was following a trail of breadcrumbs from the site Change This! (http://changethis.com/) that led me to more information about the book “Do More Great Work,” when I stumbled across this delightful little animated presentation from Box Of Crayons’ YouTube channel. I highly recommend the Change This! site, the Box of Crayons site and the Box of Crayons’ YouTube channel.
The addresses are http://www.boxofcrayons.biz and http://www.youtube.com/user/BoxofCrayonsMovies?feature=watch.

They provide a great deal of high-impact information and education — gratis. They have, for example, a free “Great Work Kickstarters” 7-week eCourse. But that’s just a small sample of the goodies they give away. If you want to become a better performer, more productive in your work and be enjoyably creative doing your work, you can learn a lot from them.

Also, look at their site design and their YouTube channel movies as exemplary models of how to design a site, a channel and movies. They know excellence and provide it. They understand performance and productivity and teach it.

Legal Music for Your Videos, Part 4 — Music generators and “easy composing” apps

Music Generating Software (or Online Apps) and “Easy Composing” Apps

If YouTube’s own AudioSwap, or the free and royalty-free music available doesn’t meet your needs, you can always make your own.  No, wait!  You really can!  Even if you don’t play an instrument and you can’t read music, you can make your own video soundtracks with the resources below.

There are apps that actually generate the music for you.  There are “easy composing” apps that let you mix samples and loops into complete, coherent songs.

And the makers all have plenty of instructions and tutorials on how to do it.

Go try them out.

First, the music generating apps: (Please note that these are in random order.)

1. Abaltat Muse and Tunepresto.com.  Although you can’t get Muse (the desktop software) directly from Tunepresto any longer, you can download the trial from MacUpdate (http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/26059/abaltat-muse) and presumably buy it through the app itself.

Both Muse and its online version Tunepresto.com do the same thing.  They take a video, analyze it, and algorithmically generate a soundtrack matched to it.  It looks like the owners have decided to try to offer it only as an online service.  Tunepresto is asking 10 Euros per download of the finished music, but actually making the music is free.

I have Muse for my desktop and find it helpful.  However, I almost always have to edit the track.  The last price I saw for the software was $99.  Wikipedia has a good article explaining it in more depth at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaltat_Muse.

2. Musicshake.com — http://eng.musicshake.com/#!/faq.  Start with the FAQ to understand a bit of what you’re getting into.  This online app easily and quickly generates a wide variety of tunes from numerous genres and digital instruments.  You can make some very good music with it.  The drawback is that it is expensive to use commercially.  Right now it costs about $20 per tune to download for commercial use.

But the big advantage of it is that it is your own unique creation and you can do anything you want with it.  Not to mention that the price is still a lot better  deal than most of the royalty-free stuff you can get, when you consider license restrictions in using other people’s work.  Also, Musicshake will even sell copies of it for you if you want to post it in their store.

3. Chill — http://bitnotic.com/chill.html.  Chill serves a dual purpose of acting like a radio station playing stress-reducing ambient music and making editable ambient music tracks for mixing into mp3’s or video backgrounds.  Very easy to use and understand.  Very easy to modify the music to your taste.  Infinite new unique music for whatever your desired use.

I purchased a copy of Chill after trying the free download to review it for this article.  After working with it a bit longer, I had some questions and concerns and found out they have excellent customer communication and service.  Just remember, they call it “Chill” because it’s designed to be relaxing, soothing, calming, gentle ambient music.  Don’t expect to make loops to add to hard rock guitar.

4. SonicMood — for Mac only.  Unusual software that plays ambient music with natural sounds and a number of synth instruments.  You can edit the sounds in many, many ways.  Like Chill, it serves two purposes.  You can just listen to it create unique, unstructured background music that soothes and blocks out distracting conversations or noise around.  You can also record it with its built in recorder and make your own sound tracks.  There’s a free trial and it’s very inexpensive.  At the time I’m writing this, it only costs $12.95.  I’ve used it for a couple of years and value it greatly.  I’d pay more.  A lot more.

5. Mixtikl and Noatikl — from Intermorphic.com, http://www.intermorphic.com/ — for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, VST & AU — these folks practically define generative music — their prices are outstandingly reasonable and there are free versions.  See their history of generative music at http://www.intermorphic.com/tools/noatikl/generative_music.html.  There is so much you need to know about them that I’m not going to try to cover it.  You owe it to yourself to see what their products can do for you, and you need to try the free versions to get a feel for them.

Now, the easy composition apps: (Please note that these are in random order.)

1. Garageband — for anyone with a Mac, I hope I don’t need to tell you that Garageband is one of the easiest ways of putting together music.  You can start a melody track you’ve created, purchased or snagged for free.  Throw in some compatible loops and you’ve got music.  You could also just create the whole thing from loops, if you want, especially if you’re doing ambient or new-age-organic type stuff.  Of course, you must be willing to learn the software and have a reasonably good ear.

(Memo — This goes for Garageband and the apps recommended below that use loops and mixes: You’ll also have to be aware of the licensed use of royalty-free tracks — some won’t let you re-mix. So read your licenses before mixing.  And, if you use only loops to create the music, you need to make sure that you have changed or truly mixed them sufficiently.  Please check with your lawyer about legal issues.  It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but you do have to double check legalities when using other people’s music to make your own.  If you are just getting started in making your own music this way, read the Wikipedia article on Loop Music at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loop_%28music%29.)

2. FlexiMusic Composer — http://fleximusic.com/product/fleximusic-composer.  Regardless of your music knowledge, you can use this $20 software to create music from loops.  You don’t even have to learn to play an instrument.  Windows only.

3. Magix Music Maker — http://www.magix.com/ca/music-maker/detail/ — Ditto on the description of FlexiMusic mentioned above.  Lets you easily combine loops to create an unlimited variety of songs.  More expensive than FlexiMusic, but appears to have more features and options.  Both of the apps are rather like Garageband but for Windows.

4. Soundation Studio — http://soundation.com/.  Web-based app that lets you create from loops and mix your own voice or instrumental tracks online.  Runs as a membership site and seems reasonably priced.  The highest premium access account costs less than one buy-out album of royalty-free music.  And the music you make here is your very own.  You can do whatever you want with it. You can try it out for free.  It runs on both Mac and PC.

All of the above are good tools.  I don’t particularly recommend any above the others.  Like the visual arts, making music is very personal.  You have to try to find what “fits” for you.  Take free trials.  Do more research.  Find other tools that I haven’t written about.  Just know that the tools are available to make music no matter what your ability or starting point.  Above all, enjoy yourself.  Making music and making videos should be fun.  It makes the end product so much better.

Legal music for your videos, Part 3 — Royalty free music vendors

If you don’t find everything you need in free music for your videos, it’s time to turn to commercial royalty-free music.  

There are many thousands of choices in royalty free music vendors.  The list below is of the ones I think represent the best of the field.  I’ve tried to find the ones that are easiest to navigate, easiest to understand, have top quality music, have a reasonable pricing structure and have reasonable or at least average terms of use.

[Disclaimer: I have no relationship to any of the following vendors.]

PartnersInRhyme — http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/ — Has one of the best sets of terms for using their music available.  They offer music of every kind, sound effects, nature sounds, and video loops.  They have a number of free selections of music, sounds and video.  Their prices are excellent for the amount of content they provide and its quality.  The only problem you might have with them is that you have to buy an entire “cd.”  You can’t just find one track and download it. (You can download the “cd” or “collection” or “library.”)  But most of the time, you’ll be using the same genres of music over and over in your videos, so a collection of the same kinds of music is a good idea.  And considering the number of companies that charge $30 for just one track, buying a “cd” with about 19 tracks for $90, for example, makes the music very inexpensive.

Rumblefish –http://www.rumblefish.com/index.php –licenses music to go with videos and is a YouTube partner.  Works with all video sites.  Licenses for personal and commercial.  Very inexpensive for non-commercial uses.  Moderately priced for commercials uses.  Has a function that allows you to upload your video and sync your music selections to it to try it out before you buy it.  Very useful.

NEO Sounds — http://www.neosounds.com/#!/?mod=default — Moderately priced. Easy to browse and search.  You can browse by music genre, production genre, moods/emotions and instrumentation.  You can buy a whole collection or a 30-second loop.  Good previews.

Stock Music Boutique — http://stockmusicboutique.com/ — much more limited selection than others on the list, but very high quality.  The license is generous and the cost is moderate compared to most.  Some free selections and they are as high quality as paid-for.  Easy to use and understand site and terms.

StockMusic.com — http://www.stockmusic.com/ — Well-known site. Easy to browse and search.  Has music, sound effects, and production elements.  Average pricing.  Previews available.

iStockPhoto — http://www.istockphoto.com/audio — iStockPhoto is great for people who want one-stop shopping since it has photos, illustrations, video clips, audio (music and sound effects) and Flash animation.  Again, average pricing for stock.  I find it annoying that you have to join and buy “credits” rather than dealing with real money.  Terms are average (which means not nearly as good as PartnersInRhyme.)

Audiomicro.com — http://www.audiomicro.com/ — Easy to navigate and understand. Good music. Large selection. Average terms and pricing.

Premium Beat — http://www.premiumbeat.com/ — excellent music, reasonable license terms, moderate pricing.

All Stock Music — http://www.allstockmusic.com/ — works on the membership with credits type plan.  Not very expensive and has a pretty good stock of music.  

Music Bakery — http://musicbakery.com — average pricing — maybe a little more expensive than others on this list that I’ve called “average” but only by a few dollars.  Good selection and easy to use and understand site.

RoyaltyFreeMusic.com  — http://royaltyfreemusic.com — one of the better-known sites. More $$ than I want to pay, but has top-notch music.  Terms are about average.

So, go forth and shop for music.  If you have any suggestions for other links, contact me through my contact box on this page or sign in and comment.