A hoy hoy my Sunday funday crew! It’s a hot hot spring here in Montreal, so why not throw down some hot hot takes on the whole “selling sounds on the internet” thing? EXACTLY. Lets talk dollars and SENSE.
Sorry. Can’t help myself.
Take the Secret Oath. Earn Six...ty American Cents
It all started with this little book. A friend of my recommended it, The Bedroom Super Producer, and although my sassy photo caption would say otherwise, I really liked this book.
Essentially, my man J.T. runs through techniques to compose and produce music for sale on the internet. He’s got some good chapters on organizing your sounds, and the book is a nice motivator. Sort of a “hey, I did it, why can’t you?” sort of book. And the message resonates.
The reality of selling tunes or sounds on the internet is a little different than the book makes it seem. I would never say that cha’boi J.T. would lie, because he never once says it should be easy.
But I took the secret oath, and I have a few complaints. First, I never got my membership card. Which actually makes sense for a secret elite order of composers. They probably don’t do membership cards. Maybe a brand or something?
Also, as far as I know, I’m working my 9-5 shift tomorrow (10-6 actually T.J., better luck next time). And you can tell me how close I am to six figures:
Ain't So Bad Though
I like to think I’m funny, and positivity ISN’T funny. So I’m gonna cut the mustard and get down to brass tax.
You probably can make money if you dedicated yourself to this, because it really becomes a numbers game. For a site like Pond5, they are happy to house as many sounds as I want to pump out. If they have 1000 guys like me, selling one sound every 5 months, they’re doing good business. And there are TONS of sounds out there.
But, there are a few things you can do to stand out, I think, and while I haven’t tried them yet, I’m going to throw them down here. Maybe posting them to the internet will help others, and force me to follow my own advice.
Doing one thing well and sticking to it isn't bad advice...but being good at a few things isn't a bad idea either, and it will afford you more opportunity.
You like making Hip Hop beats? Record some one shot samples in the same vein, and sell those separately. Bring a microphone outside, record some ambient noise in the park. The more you have to offer, the better your chance to be viewed, meaning a better chance at having your sounds purchased.
Never diversify at the sake of quality though. If you’ve got some great sounding one shot samples, but your longer more expensive tracks are lacking polish, take the time to polish. No sense in getting someone to listen to your sounds, only to have them walk away unimpressed.
I personally branched into creating UI (user interface) noises for computer applications and video games. That little “click” noise you here when scrolling through your potions list in Skyrim? Someone had to make that. And that person was paid to make that sound.
Stick to it, even when it's not paying off. Keep putting away sound.
This is one I find tough to stick to, but it is important. If you want to get noticed, you have to be constantly pumping out stuff. Even if it isn’t the best, make it, put it away, and start making something else.
If you want to seriously give this a shot, make yourself sit down every day for an hour or two, and aim to produce something. A loop, a riff, the body of a song, a simple “bleep” or “bloop. Eventually, you’re going to have a library of sounds to work with. Bad ones, and good ones. The great thing about having “bad ones”, is going back to them. Most of the time, there’s something there you can use, or maybe something you can re work into a “good one”. Which leads to my next and final tipperino.
Be organized, and use your organization to accomplish some kind of goal.
So that’s great, you’ve decided to make Hip Hop beats, some one shot samples of different items in your house with crazy EQs and effects all over them, and now you have a hard drive filled with a bunch of disjointed sound. What now? Well, the best thing to do would have been to start with a goal in mind, but sometimes inspiration doesn’t strike until you’ve already got going. So what is a boy to do?
Start organizing! Organize into categories that make sense for your sounds. Are you making drum samples? Why not make a folder called “Dirty Kicks”. I bet you can find some of your one shots laying around that fall into that category, and maybe you’ve got some ideas to “dirty up” some samples that don’t quite fit into that category.
Organize, organize, organize. Have some things that don’t fit anywhere? Throw them into an unsorted folder, and keep making new categories until all of your sounds have a home.
Examples from my hard drive include a folder just dedicated to “Video Game Sounds”, with sub-folders for “Jump Sounds”, “Collect Sounds , “Menu Loops”, “Battle Loops” etc… Another folder is named “Sci-Fi Sound Effects”, nestled alongside my “City Ambience” Folder.
Maybe it’s not easy to see where this tip can pay off, but trust me when I say being organized can help fuel creativity. Sometimes I have an idea for a new “category folder” before even starting to make a sound. And when I do that, I’ve created a new goal for myself by keeping organized: fill that folder with sounds that match its category.
Also, after you’ve created a vast library of sound, you can package these entire folders up for sale. And good news! Your meticulous categorization, folder structures, and file names have left you little work to do on the back end.
So...is it worth it?
Yeah, I think so. Because when it comes down to it, I would be doing this anyways. I like to make sounds, I like to make music. If someone wants to pay me to do that, all the better. If not, I’ll still enjoy it all the same.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t aspire to be one of these six figure cult leader recording yoga gurus. I really would like to make enough money to quit my 10-6, but for now, I’ll stick to sound design on weekends… and when my boss isn’t paying attention.
Anyways, thanks, as always. I swear I’ll build something again soon. I’m sure you haven’t seen ALL the build diaries. Sure, everyone loves the SMR build, but did you check out the Westlicht Performer build? Also, go check out my poll, if its still going. I’m going to build either Deckard’s Dream or a Buchla 208p clone. I can go either way, so I’m leaving the choice up to the people! Have a beauty week out there folks.