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Archive for October, 2010

Need Music? The Public Domain Can Help!

If you are creating any types of audio or video-based products, chances are like that, sooner or later, you will need music for background, intros, outros and more. There are a number of excellent royalty-free options, like StockMusic.net. But what about the Public Domain? Are there any resources for great-sounding audio in the Public Domain? YES…there are!

When it comes to finding music in the Public Domain, the research is a bit trickier than, say, books or magazines. The primary reason for this is that the copyright protection afforded to music is governed by State laws, not Federal ones. Because of that, nearly ALL recorded music is off limits…even music recorded before 1923! The good news is that there are exceptions…and the exceptions are what I’m going to share here.

There are primarily two sites you will want to explore for finding recorded music in the Public Domain. Both sites chose to place their music in the Public Domain which makes them exceptions…it’s their right to do that.

The first site worth visiting is MusOpen. Their available music is almost exclusively orchestral. I really like the approach this site takes for the music. They find musical scores that are in the Public Domain and then approach high school, college and other orchestras to perform the pieces. Once recorded, the music is then donated back into the Public Domain and made available on their website. They offer some great choices.

The second site I want to share with you today is one that is new to me. It’s called FreePD, and similar to MusOpen, the music on this site was also donated to the Public Domain…but for a different reason. The contemporary music you’ll find on this site was part of a collection of music generated by a working musician who wanted to give back some of the huge amounts of music he creates on a regular basis. The result is this website. I’ve listened to a number of tracks here and the music is quite good. You will find contemporary, rock and other genres on the site. It’s not a huge collection, but definitely worth checking out!

I hope you find these two sites helpful to your product creation efforts. If you know of any other sources for recorded music in the Public Domain, feel free to share them with all of us in the comments below! Thanks!

Easy Audio Products Using Public Domain Content

My good friend, Wendi Friesen (an amazing…and funny…hypnotherapist and teacher), contacted me yesterday through Facebook with a simple question…

Tony, if a book is in the public domain, I can read it record it without a problem, right? What else do I need to know if I want to sell an audio version?

Perhaps you have had the same question. If not, you SHOULD be asking it, or at least creating audio products of some type. The reason is that audio products are the ONLY product type that your customer can take with them anywhere! They can’t read ebooks while driving and they catch watch those training videos of yours while walking the dog. Audio, however, can be taken and listened to anywhere, and on a myriad of devices, from smart phones to MP3 players, iPods, CD players and much more! The other important piece of info I shared with Wendi was that, because you are creating a derivative product from an existing Public Domain work, it qualifies for copyright protection because recording the audio requires “minimal creativity,” a requisite according to copyright law. How cool is that?!

What I shared with Wendi, and now with you, is that the process of creating an audiobook from Public Domain content is truly THAT simple, with no other “catches” or things to worry about. Of course, you need a way to sell your audio product, but the creation process is pretty straight-forward. Pick the Public Domain book, magazine or content of your choice, read it into your computer using a USB mic (like the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB mic), record it using audio software (like Audacity, which is free), and save it as an MP3. That’s it…pretty straight forward.

Of course, you can also add intro music and other bells and whistle, break them up into podcasts, sell them through iTunes, etc., but the basics of creating audio products using Public Domain content are pretty simple!

My course, Create Audio Products, goes into great detail, step-by-step, on how to creating different types of audio content, where to FIND audio content already in the Public Domain and a LOT more. It’s time to create your OWN audio products!

Tony, if a book is in the public domain, I can read it record it without a problem, right? What else do I need to know if I want to sell an audio version?

New Publishing Options with PubIt!

Barnes & Noble just provided us with a new opportunity for profiting from our e-books (like those from the Public Domain). Their new program, just launched October 5th, is called, PubIt! and gives anyone the ability to publish e-books for their Nook reader. What makes this a worthwhile consideration is, first of all, PubIt! uses the epub format, just like Apple’s iBooks for the iPad, Sony’s e-Reader and other devices. Second, Barnes & Noble has apps to offer their books on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and the PC.

After signing up for my own account, I did some investigating to see if B&N said anything about the Public Domain. Here is an excerpt from their terms concerning copyright:

Copyright Infringing: Material to which you do not own the copyright or the right to distribute. Public domain content may be posted to PubIt!. Barnes & Noble may, at any time, request validation that a given eBook qualifies as a public domain title.

So the good news is that the door is wide open for Public Domain titles. Now before you get the bright idea to upload PD titles and load them with links to other products and offers, you will also want to consider this statement as well, again from the PubIt! website:

Advertisements: Material contained within your eBook that primarily seeks to sell a product other than the eBook itself is prohibited.

In case you are wondering what kind of profits can we make from selling our e-books through PubIt!, here is a breakdown of the royalty structure:

Publisher will be paid a royalty off the List Price according to the following terms:

1. For eBooks with a List Price at or between $2.99 and $9.99 – 65% of the List Price

2. For eBooks with a List Price at or below $2.98 or at or greater than $10.00 (but not more than $199.99 and not less than $0.99) – 40% of the List Price

So, if you haven’t figured it our yet, keep your prices in the $2.99 to $9.99 price range…grin. With Barnes & Noble jumping into the e-publishing bookstore fray along with Apple’s iBook store and Amazon’s Kindle, the future is looking mighty bright for those who choose to sell e-books (and not just Public Domain e-books…hint…hint) through these marketplaces.

Is Your Business Stagnate or Flowing?

We can often learn much about our personal life and business by being observant of the world around us. Our planet in all its glory is the most successful, most systematized and most profitable business model there is. The key for us is to pay attention. Take one of our basic and most precious resources, for instance…WATER. A simple study and observation about water and its properties can teach you more about achieving success in your business than most of the top-selling business books combined. In a word, it’s all about FLOW!

Now there are a LOT of ways that we can spin this analogy of water flow with business, but there is one specific example that may “click” for you, especially if you’re selling (or trying to sell) online. First of all, like water, we must have “flow” happening in our business to keep it fresh and vibrant. There is a reason we have terms like “cash flow.” When water begins to pool, it stagnates. Algae starts forming and it becomes home to all kinds of insects. Eventually, it evaporates and is gone. Does that sound like your business? I hope not! But if flow has stopped somewhere, stagnation has begun, and you must make the necessary changes to re-establish flow.

Selling online (or offline) comes down to just a few key components: 1) A prospect with a need; 2) A solution to the need; 3) A conversion mechanism; and 4) Followup. That’s it. If there is a breakdown in any one or more of these components, stagnation occurs. For instance, we can have all the traffic we want (prospects) with a great product (solution), but our salescopy (conversion mechanism) sucks. The result? Nothing happens…stagnation. Perhaps you have great traffic and a great sales page, but the product isn’t what the prospect was looking for. Refunds ensue and so does stagnation.

For the sake of illustration, let’s extend out water analogy a bit further to this process by looking at hydroelectric dams. You start of with a massive amount of water that is flowing slowly (your traffic). With the help of a dam, you concentrate the flow of the river into a rushing torrent, which, as it flows by, turns turbines (conversion mechanism), which in turn, creates electricity (solution). Then, the river continues its flow downstream. I want you to think about this example and consider how you can apply it to your “work flow.” The concentrated flow of the water, when directed through a conversion process, creates the solution, which, in this case, is another type of flow…electricity. And as we know, electricity is a solution we ALL need!

So let me ask you…does YOUR business have flow? Is your traffic flowing? Is your sales page or squeeze page converting? Is your product a solution people want or need? Now, with each of these questions, if the answer is “NO,” I want you to consider the following…

If flow isn’t happening, why? What steps can you take right now that will create a different result than you are currently achieving? What will change or increase the FLOW in your business in a significant way?

I hope you found this analogy helpful and I’d love to hear your own thoughts and insights concerning it. Please feel free to add your comments below. And, if you would do me a favor, could you help me increase the “flow” of this post by sharing it with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and Digg? Thank you!

The UK’s Open Government License

Public Domain content in the United Kingdom recently took a huge step forward with the release of the Open Government License by the UK Government Licensing Framework (UKGLF). The Open Government Licence (OGL) is a simple set of terms and conditions to enable the free re-use of government and public sector information.

“The OGL covers information where the relevant rights owner, or Information Provider which has authority to license the Information for use, make it expressly available for use under the terms of the OGL. This can be achieved by a clear statement in the information being licensed, or in a position which relates to the information, or by means of a hyperlink.

The OGL can cover:

  • non-personal information and works which are subject to copyright and database right (much of this information will be accessible on public sector web sites or already published by the public sector)
  • previously unpublished datasets released by the public sector; and
  • source code and software originating from public sector bodies.

Much of this information will be accessible on public sector web sites, online portals or printed publications.” (excerpted from HERE)

When a UK “work” is licensed under the OGL, the Licensor grants you a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive licence to use the Information subject to the conditions below.

You are free to:

  • copy, publish, distribute and transmit the Infomation;
  • adapt the Information;
  • exploit the Information commercially for example, by combining it with other Information, or by including it in your own product or application.

There is also attribution required as a part of the license, very similar to a Creative Commons license.

The OGL opens up a LOT of amazing content for use in product creation and more (you saw point #3, right?). One example of the wealth of content available under this license is the National Archives in the UK, which contains a massive treasure trove of documents, images and more. Make sure you spend some time reading this exciting new license in its entirety, then prepare to embark on a treasure hunt of UK proportions!

Digital Versus Physical

As Information Marketers living in this digital age, we can easily become myopic with our product creation, meaning, we often focus on creating digital products without considering the physical alternative. There are a few, extremely valid reasons for this. For one, digital products provide instant access with zero additional effort once they’re created. Certain types of digital products can also be created very quickly. I’ll be honest, nothing beats finishing a teleseminar or webinar, knowing you just created a quality product in a relatively short period of time. So what about physical products then? Should you consider adding a physical product line to your existing business? It depends…

While we cannot look at all aspects of physical product creation in this post, I would like to explore one option that is dear to my heart…image-based products. Because of our “bent” toward the digital, when we think of artwork or photographs, we often see them as playing a secondary role in our product creation. We use them for our product covers, header graphics, Powerpoint slides and Animoto videos. Seldom do we consider them as products, except as collections on DVDs or as an upload to our favorite microstock photo site.

However, a quick search on eBay will show you that image-based physical products, prints for instance, are very much alive and well. They can also be quite profitable. And that’s where the Public Domain comes in. When it comes to selling physical prints, nostalgia rules the day! I’ve seen it over and over again where individual prints of a certain image ALWAYS outsell collection CDs or DVDs that include the same image. It has been my experience as well.

So, what does it take to make and sell prints online or offline? You need to understand what people want to buy, a source for the content and a delivery mechanism. If this process sounds familiar it’s because it’s the basis of pretty much ALL successful selling. When it comes to prints, the easiest place to research to see what is selling is eBay. With 65 million people visiting per month, you can get a pretty good feel for what’s hot and what’s not. As for the source of your content…you guessed it…the Public Domain! There are many online sources for finding great, high-rez images to use for your prints. I share many of the best sites in my book, Easy Money Picture Project.

When it comes to the creation process of your prints, you have a few options. You can print them yourself using a large-format printer, although I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you’re just starting out. There are also a number of excellent online companies that can create the prints for you. If you want to go high-end with your prints (like canvas gallery wraps or metallic prints), I would recommend using BayPhoto or MPix. On the other hand, poster prints may be a great option for you as well. My two favorite sites for poster prints are Shortrun Posters and Print Pelican. For instance, at Shortrun Posters, you can prints 18″ X 24″ posters on 80lb. cover stock for $2.00 each. That’s a tough price to beat! And if you don’t need a large size like that, consider this…two 11″ X 14″ prints will fit on an 18″ X 24″ sheet. So you could get full-color 11″ X 14″ prints for $1.00 each. Hopefully you can see how HUGE this is for profit margins. Upload your digital file and in a few days, you have your prints!

Hopefully this post sparks some ideas for you. Over the next 90 days, I will be sharing more Physical Product creation strategies. Until then, get started with this one!

Finding Treasure at the National Archives

One of the greatest treasure troves of works in the Public Domain is the National Archives (NARA). NARA’s “job” is to archive Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. As you would imagine, this has resulted in a growing massive collection of materials, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 9 billion pages of textual records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; more than 20 million still photographs; billions of machine-readable data sets; and more than 365,000 reels of film and 110,000 videotapes. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens (like making money from new products created with them).

While the materials currently available online are but a fraction of NARA’s total holdings, there is still tens of thousands of works available to you online right now. And…if you want to have even MORE fun, I would highly recommend making a trip to the National Archives in College Park, MD. With 6 floors of Public Domain goodness, you will be like a kid in a candy store. It is truly an amazing experience. What is great is that they even allow you to bring in your digital cameras, video cameras, laptops and scanners…all for the purpose of duplicating the “hard copy” editions of the content. One of my personal highlights so far was being able to scan original prints by Ansel Adams taken of our most popular National Parks.

The National Archives has a comprehensive Archival Research Catalog (ARC) available online. Search the ARC HERE. Click on “Search Options” and then click on the “Digital Copies” tab at the top. Now you’re ready to search through ARC’s online records. You can also explore the National Archives online exhibits HERE and HERE.

A Public Domain Army

When people think about finding Public Domain content, they often never consider military sites for content. Honestly, most even overlook government sites altogether. Because military content is created using tax-payer dollars, most of it is actually in the Public Domain…and it’s NOT all about war or protecting our interests.

For instance, some of the best Public Domain-based content I found related to photography was found on a military site. The best recipes I found for preparing meals for large groups was from a military site. I think you get the picture.

I recent found a wonderful resource for military content…this one largely focused on history…with thousands upon thousands of documents, reports, and records. Not only does this site include recent documents, but also ones from centuries past (you should see some of the amazing photos!). To shortcut to time and effort, use the Search Digitized Material button to keep your search focused on materials that are fully available online.

Check out the Army Site HERE!

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