Playing in a band in Glasgow, building a home studio with money earned from AudioJungle sales, having a knack for catchy guitar melodies, and “My inspiration comes from buzz of being able to create a piece of music from thin air and someone likes it enough to spend money on it!” This week we meet James Grant (sweetwaveaudio) from AudioJungle.
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The AudioJungle community have added some great questions to this interview. A big thanks to everyone who asked, and to James who gave some brilliant and detailed answers.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
My name is James Grant, a 27 year old musician from sunny Scotland. I have been involved with music since I was 12 and main talent is as a drummer and private drum tutor. As well as AudioJungle and teaching drums, I play in my band Seed (from Glasgow).
I have always written music, but about a year and a half ago started to put together my home studio mainly to record my band. I was chatting to a friend at a wedding in September 2011 and he said I should start selling music on AudioJungle. I didn’t even know what stock audio was!
I decided to give it a try and started my profile in late November. I have since had over 400 sales, had a featured item and had my track rank as high as number 2 on the weekly sellers. In December I was the 12th best selling author! Blown away is an understatement.
I came in here with no real knowledge or game plan other than to write good music and I’m glad it seems to be working. Yesterday I discovered I had a song used in a Leurre Lingerie video which was really cool to see.
I hope to be around on AudioJungle for a long time and aim to keep building my profile up so I can maybe be one of the top guys. We shall see!
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I sell music on AudioJungle. I have a wide range of styles in my portolio but currently do best with upbeat indie pop/rock tracks. Basically, solid drum grooves with catchy guitar hooks is what I’m best at.
I also have a strong ambient collection as well as a romantic/sentimental collection. I even have a few jazz, country and folk tracks selling just for good measure!
My questions is: “What were your expectations when you joined AudioJungle? Did you have a great start or your sales came later?” (Skanoir)
I came into AudioJungle with zero knowledge of selling royalty free music. I didn’t know if $50 or $500 a week was good.
I uploaded a few tracks a they started to sell after a couple of days. I didn’t know if it was luck or whatever but I continued to work hard and things have gone well since then. Sales risen since I started (especially after my track was featured) but I think I’ve reached a level that will take even more hard work to get beyond. But I’m looking forward to it.
I don’t know the reason my tracks have sold other than I think I have a knack for catchy guitar melodies! (Even though I’m actually a drummer!)
Hey Sweetwave. I know you are a drummer since you’ve said on your profile page that this was what you’re doing when you’re not recording. Are you using real drums or programmed drums? What percentage do you use real drums/programmed drums? Do you/would you always prefer real drums or do you have situations where you actually prefer programmed drums? (Basspartout)
I would love to have all live drums on my tracks, but due to space (and noise!) restrictions I need to use programmed drums. I think I’m pretty good at giving the programmed drums a human feel though as I just visualise myself playing it, so I know which notes should be loud/quiet etc.
I have used my acoustic drums with my band in the studio and they sound great but for my AudioJungle tracks programmed drums will need to do for now! The only time I would prefer to use programmed drums is for my ambient tracks as they are mostly electronic. Or if I write a 350 bpm death metal song…
One author here has to ask this silly question as you are known to come from Scotland! In fact you seem to be a multi-instrumentalist, so I would really like to know if your musical skills also include playing the world famous Great Highland Bagpipe or other pipes? (QuadraphonixAssociation)
Yeah I play the bagpipes. All Scottish children require bagpipe lessons from the age of five, so Ive been playing for 22 years. Only joking….
Ive only ever had a go at playing bagpipes once about two years ago and it wasn’t easy! I can play snare drum so I’ll leave the piping up to you! If you love bagpipes listen to guys called Red Hot Chilli Pipers. (Actual band!)
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
My background in regards the skills required for AudioJungle start back at school. I started drumming when I was 12 and I am a self taught guitarist. I then started using Cubase at around 14 and found I had the knack for it.
I went onto music college in Edinburgh and learned a lot in the recording part of the course. I started using studio mics, Pro Tools etc. After college I played in a previous band for a few years before recently setting up my home studio.
I record using Logic and I basically worked out how to use it myself through trial and error and a little help from Google/YouTube. My Mac had Logic installed when I bought it but no instructions! I am still learning my craft but enjoying every minute of the AudioJungle roller-coaster!
Describe your home workspace.
My workspace is in my bedroom and started as a Mac Mini with a M-Audio Fast Track. I then got my hands on a decent vocal mic, a MIDI keyboard and a multi-input interface to replace the Fast Track.
From my first AudioJungle wage I purchased a pair of Yamaha HS-50 monitors and Beyerdynamic headphones. Believe it or not my best selling track was actually recorded and mixed using iPod headphones and small hifi speakers! Its all I had!
But my little studio is coming along nicely and I recently added a nice big managers chair!
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
My process usually involves a melody appearing in my head so I either start up the computer or I sing it into the voice recorder on my phone. When I’m ready to write the song I write and record it at the same time. I often do a rough drum track and guitars will follow. Bass next. Then synth/extras.
When I have a rough song in place I will then go through it in fine detail and makes necessary changes, whether it be adding, taking away, editing the length, arrangement. Then I leave it until the next day and if I like what I hear I will upload it to AudioJungle.
Hi Sweetwave. Could you describe your approach to working on a new piece? From loading up your DAW to a finished idea. What inspires your work? (Kerosene-Music)
My approach varies from time to time but I usually decide which genre I will write in before I start. After I decide, I just sit down and mess around with melodies/chords until something jumps out at me.
I often start with the drums, followed by guitar chords, followed by guitar melody, then bass and then strings/piano/synth if needed. I usually write the track as I record it until its roughly finished and then I will add little details such as drums variations and guitar hooks until I am happy with it.
My inspiration comes from buzz of being able to create a piece of music from thin air and someone likes it enough to spend money on it! Any way to make a living through music inspires me to do it again.
Hey Sweetwave! Do you use rare traditional instruments in your projects? If yes then which one is your favourite? (travengraven)
I don’t have a wide range of live instruments at my disposal, so I don’t have any rare traditional instruments, although it would be fun creating some unusual sounds. I have an electric guitar, acoustic guitar and a ukelele! (I have a drum kit but currently don’t have the facilities to record live drums.) So at present, no I don’t have anything too much out of the ordinary.
Hi Sweetwave! What do you use to get that “jangly” guitar tone in your tracks? What instruments do you record and what instruments are virtual instruments? What does your recording setup look like? What mics, preamps/interface, instruments, software? (JamesonGerdon)
Here is a list of everything I use! It may seen like a long list but when its all together its not much. At present its just a small bedroom studio.
- I use a Mac Mini with Logic Pro.
- I have an Alesis io26 interface,
- an M-Audio Keyrig 49 MIDI keyboard,
- Beyerdynamic DT100 headphones,
- Yamaha HS50 monitors,
- an SE220a condenser mic,
- an old Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar,
- an even older beat up Hohner acoustic guitar
- and a cheap ukelele!
I only started putting together the studio about a year ago but my AudioJungle income is allowing me to upgrade bits and pieces as I go.
As for acoustic guitar tone, Logic has a few presets and one works great for me. Stereo Doubler i think its called. It gives the acoustic a double-tracked sound. The acoustic guitar is pretty average but I’m lucky it sounds pretty good when recorded.
For electric guitar its much the same. The guitar is pretty cheap but one pickup gives a great sound so I always use that and mess around with amp simulators/effects until I find something that works. But it’s probably a magic guitar. My friend has named it The White Wolf!
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Being so new I don’t have a whole lot of advice but I must be doing something right as I make sales. For me, it just comes down to the quality of the music.
I didn’t really do any self promotion to begin with. I have only recently started a Twitter, Facebook, website etc. I would say the same as what everyone else seems to say. Only release your best material. I have even been guilty or rushing a song or thinking “that will do” but it’s the wrong attitude. If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t upload it!
What do you do to market your files?
I have recently started my homepage www.sweetwaveaudio.co.uk and I have set up Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I try to remain active in the AudioJungle forum and I also try to link all my similar tracks together with picture links to try and get buyers browsing my portfolio. Another area I’m learning as I go!
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
I assume you mean my own files…
Number 1 has to be Seeing Is Believing as it was the first track I uploaded and it has been a big success for me. The track was a featured item and is a regular in weekly sellers so it’s sort of my star pupil! I never get bored of this track as it’s very uplifting and catchy. I also think its a pretty cool track which for me is important.
Number 2 would be Daybreak because I love the vibe I managed to create. I don’t really remember much about writing or recording it but it’s one that makes me think, “Wow, did I do that!?”
Finally I would say You Sweep Me Off My Feet. This track doesn’t actually have any sales but it was written as a Valentines track and features my big sister on vocals and I think she done a great job. Basically, I think it’s a nice track and we had a lot of fun recording it.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
I’m guessing a lot of people say this guy but for a few reasons I would say Mr Tim McMorris. Firstly, his tracks sell consistently so he’s a good person to use as inspiration and measure your tracks against his as they are of such high quality sonically and musically.
Secondly, instead of keeping his cards close to his chest he is very willing to help other authors. I emailed him a couple of questions but didn’t expect a reply but he sent a very helpful, in-depth answer. He also emailed me off his own back to offer tips on how to maintain the success of Seeing Is Believing. So he gets my vote for being a great author and also one of the good guys.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to gig with my band. I play a lot of football (or soccer!) and I like hanging out with my friends and winning at Xbox! I am also partial to a bit of adrenaline and have done the highest bungee jump in the world!
Boxers or Briefs? No, but seriously you have good stuff I gotta get out to Scotland and see those big green rolling hills. (SkyProductions)