VideoBlocks is a service that offers unlimited use of royalty-free stock video. For $99 per year, video editors get access to a variety of high-quality footage, backgrounds, and after-effects they can insert into their productions. It’s an affordable option that’s not only used by small production houses, hobbyists, and freelance editors, but also major networks like NBC, ABC, and MTV. At the 2015 NAB show this week, VideoBlocks opened a new online marketplace that gives subscribers access to premium content they can purchase. And while VideoBlocks is dedicated toward video makers and editors, anyone can contribute content to the marketplace. The best part? Contributors keep 100 percent of the profits.
Since quietly announcing the marketplace last year, more than 200,000 clips have already been uploaded, giving subscribers a wide selection of unique videos to browse through – a mix of HD and 4K, each costing $49 and $199, respectively. These premium videos are a supplement to the 100,000-plus content that’s free to use, which VideoBlocks has spent more than $10 million in acquiring, and owns complete distribution rights to. Anyone can submit content for free, and contributors keep all licenses; as long as the content meets VideoBlocks’ requirements (original material, high- and commercial-quality, no nudity or questionable content, etc.), VideoBlocks is happy to offer it.
At the VideoBlocks website, users can search for a specific video or browse based on categories. A search for the keyword “Yosemite” yielded 30 options subscribers can use for free, including several in 4K. If there isn’t a suitable video, users can search through the 20 options in the marketplace. You can preview each video before downloading or purchasing.
Chasing the “mass creative class”
Since NAB is attended by professionals from video-centric industries, it makes sense VideoBlocks would announce its new service there. But Joel Holland, VideoBlocks’ founder and CEO, says the company doesn’t only cater to professionals.
“Just because you can’t afford to get good stock media, you shouldn’t be kicked out of creating good production.”
“We have a quality level that even NBC would use our stuff on Parks and Recreation, and that’s great,” Holland adds. “But at the same time, a mom-and-pop freelance team that makes videos can still afford to use us, and we’re the only company that has that.”
Holland compares VideoBlocks’ service model to how Amazon positions Prime Instant Video. For a yearly fee, Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to a library of content, but they can also purchase on-demand videos a la carte. And like a membership store like Costco, VideoBlocks is able to give contributors full commission because it profits from subscription fees, not just on the goods it sells.
Compared with a traditional agency like Shutterstock or Getty that charges a minimum of $79 per clip, Holland says VideoBlocks’ business approach reduces prices by about 40 percent, while doubling the amount contributors can make. This model, he says, allows all parties to make a profit or save money.
While Holland says VideoBlocks added the marketplace due to customers’ requests, another reason is that it helps retain customers and acquire new ones.
“All the responses we heard a lot of were, ‘We like your library, but every once in a while we need something very specific,’ and our library is 115,000 clips, but it’s not very deep,” Holland says. “And so to get something specific, they would have to jump over to Shutterstock or Getty, and pay a lot of money and they’d have to leave VideoBlocks. [The marketplace] helps with retention and customer acquisition.”
“Anybody can make extra money by using a DSLR camera they already have.”
“Anybody who has a camera and wants to shoot and upload can do it,” Holland says. “Anybody can make extra money by using a DSLR camera they already have to start shooting. If you live in Washington, D.C., go down to the Tidal Basin and grab some cool-looking shots of the cherry blossoms, upload those to VideoBlocks, and you could make a nice little bit of side cash.
“In the long run, our approach is a better approach,” Holland adds. “There’s a way creators can make more money, which they deserve to, and there’s a way content creators can save money, and we can still make money as a company.”