Studying Interactive Media Production, playing guitar, drums and Cubase, loving the piano roll editor, and hating the idea of “fix it in the mix”. This week we meet Sam Speakman (SoundFix) from AudioJungle.
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Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Hello, I’m from Portsmouth, UK, but I have been living in Derby for the last 3-4 years as a student, studying Interactive Media Production. I also work on the weekends as a Coin Processor to earn some extra cash, which unfortunately means I get up at 4:30 am on Saturdays and Sundays!
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I belong to AudioJungle and so far I have uploaded some idents/logos, corporate/motivational, Halloween and cinematic tracks.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
Well, I played guitar and drums from about the age of 11, but was introduced to Cubase and the magic of sequencing when I was 13/14 in GCSE music class. I spent most lessons making catchy tunes, I found it really addictive.
Unfortunately I got an F on the music theory exam at the age of 16, but the songs I wrote in Cubase dragged my GCSE music grade up to a C. At that time, I couldn’t understand why music theory was important so I just didn’t even try to learn, all I wanted to do was write computer music with the piano roll editor, play guitar and drum. Anyway, I’m rambling on a bit here, sorry.
Fast forward a few years. At the age of 20 I started writing music with the aim of it sounding like film or television soundtracks after investing in a MIDI keyboard. Until this time I had always used the piano roll to draw all instrument parts.
I uploaded a few tracks to SoundCloud and found many great composers, some professional and some amateur, that really inspired me in many ways and shared advice about the industry.
One year later, here I am, selling music on AudioJungle.
Describe your home workspace.
So I have this big desk in my student room, and on this desk sits a MacBook Pro 15″, Mbox 2, Sony MDR V600 headphones, KRK Rokit 5 monitors, an M-Audio Oxygen 49 MIDI controller and two external drives. I sit behind this desk in an insanely comfy chair from Staples.
I desperately need a stand for my laptop because as you can see in the pictures, I have to awkwardly lean over my keyboard to type, drag things around in Logic etc. It’s very annoying, so sometimes I just put the keyboard on my lap.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
That is a very very very tough question. For AudioJungle I guess I already have a category in mind, so I pick an instrument and start noodling around and hopefully find a melody or set of chords that I like.
Then I’ll build on the initial idea, add other instruments, harmonies, and whilst I’m doing all this I am panning, equalising compressing, adding reverb etc. as I go along. I don’t like the idea of creating music and thinking ‘fix it in the mix’, I tend to make everything sound its best during the process of composing. I think this is just a natural part of composing in the box with sample libraries rather than writing a song and bringing it to the recording studio.
Anyway, after I’ve written a piece I will then mix it properly, which doesn’t really take long unless I have some issues which I’m struggling to understand. I make sure it sounds great on my monitors and headphones and compare it to similar tracks on AudioJungle.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Well, I haven’t had much success yet but my advice would be: Use top quality sample libraries and/or microphones to record your compositions, spend a lot of time learning about mixing through YouTube videos, books, practicing etc., listen to lots of music including stuff on the Jungle because your creativity will dry up if you just try and write music constantly without any outside influences, and finally, keep it simple.
You can’t be a master of one aspect of music creation on AudioJungle and think that’s enough to be successful. If you can compose beautiful music but the instrument samples used are out dated and the overall sound quality is poor then the buyers really wont be interested. A simple, catchy piece of music with a well done mix really does stand out. If you want some good examples, just look at last weeks top selling tracks.
What do you do to market your files?
I have a Facebook band page which I share new tracks on, I also upload my AudioJungle preview files to SoundCloud with buy links built in to the players, I tweet about once or twice a day with a link to one of my tracks or a VideoHive project featuring my music, and that’s about it.
When I save up some money I’m going to pay someone to build a website because I think this is a very important part of the professional appearance of anyone selling their skills, whatever they are.
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
In no particular order:
This is my first track featuring lots of live recorded guitar and I think it’s one of my best mixes and most commercial sounding and sellable tracks to date, but it’s brand new so we’ll have to wait and see!
My first ever corporate/motivational track and my best seller so far. I like its simplicity and the arrangement.
Really proud of this one, despite the fact that it’s got only one sale after nearly two months. I think just the overall sound of this piece is great, lots of ambience from the ‘Frozen Piano’ and also, this style was completely new to me, so it was a fun challenge to create.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
That’s a really, really tough question. Even narrowed down to just AudioJungle, there are a lot of awesome composers that I really admire.
Okay, I know, I’m going to say someone who I think has a lot of skills in composition, particularly in the motivational category and also in producing great quality mixes. Since being on the Jungle a short amount of time they already have uploaded 21 items and had 56 sales, but every item is top quality, they haven’t just rushed their work and uploaded a load of semi-decent tracks.
Florian Wunsch (Florian_W) definitely deserves some more recognition here on the Jungle. Here is a link to Florian’s profile.
What do you do in your spare time?
Play guitar, write music for AudioJungle, watch Pensado’s Place, listen to music, go to gigs, jog, watch TV and films…