A Sound effect, resource for independent SFX libraries: interview with founder Asbjoern Andersen

Asbjoern Andersen

A sound library today is like gold: we need sounds. A Sound Effect is a new website dedicated to promote and make available the SFX libraries created by bold and independent Sound professionals all over the world. The time is right: we interviewed its founder Asbjoern Andersen.

Hi Asbjoern, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us more about you and your work?

My name is Asbjoern Andersen and I’m a composer in Epic Sound. It’s a company I founded in 2002 along with my colleagues, sound designer David Filskov and orchestral composer Simon Ravn.
We deliver music, sound design, voices and localization – so we do our best to deliver the full package when it comes to sound.

Just some days ago you launched a new project called A Sound Effect, a resource for independent sound libraries, can you tell us more about this project?

Sure! Simply put, A Sound Effect is a catalog of independent sound effect libraries (the first in the world, as far as I know). It allows sound designers to show case their work – and sound users to browse, search and preview libraries to get the exact sounds they need.

But why did I start it in the first place? Well, I think there’s some really impressive work being done within the indie sound effect community – but getting a proper overview of what sounds and libraries are out there is very hard.

I’ve always liked a good challenge, so as a side project, I decided to put together a new site that would fix this. And, as is often the case, it turned out to take a lot longer than expected – especially since this was done in my spare time, with most of my waking hours being spent composing in Epic Sound.

But it’s finally up and running, and I’m thankful for the very positive response it’s received so far!

A sound effect logo

There are some competitors in these field of the web, then what is the added value for Sound professionals and their libraries to be featured on A Sound Effect?

I think there are many advantages to this site.

As an individual library creator, it’s a challenge to get your work and site to be seen as an alternative to the established libraries if you’re only offering, say, three to four specialized libraries.

Why? It has nothing to do with the quality of work – far from it, in fact. But buyers tend to gravitate towards places where they have a good certainty of finding what they need. And if you’re offering those three libraries, your site probably isn’t first on the list.

When you take a look at A Sound Effect, it becomes apparent just how rich and varied the selection of libraries from the indie sfx community really is. United, the indie sfx libraries suddenly become a vastly better proposition for sound users, as chances that they can find what they need are now much higher.

Showcasing these great libraries in one place makes them much more accessible – and I think every indie sound designer stands to gain from this. That’s my hope, anyways.

On A Sound Effect, I’m also featuring some of the latest releases in the blog, and in the newsletter – giving sound designers another way of bringing more attention to their work. So if you’ve just released a new sound library, be sure to let me know about it.

Finally, another advantage is that sound designers manage their own libraries and profiles. I leave it to them to present their libraries, set prices and handle the actual sales, by sending visitors directly to individual sites. Of course, I may suggest tweaks here and there to ensure consistency across the site, but that’s always done in dialogue with the sound designer.

There’s a large degree of freedom on the site, which I think is important to the whole independent aspect of this project.

And for end-users, well, there’s now an easier way of finding unique sounds for their projects, created by some very talented sound designers.

What are the rules and conditions to have sound libraries admitted on the website? Did you build a process to validate quality of assets or something similar?

To be listed, you’ll need to have actual sound effect libraries for sale, have your own store, SoundCloud demos and a few other technicalities. Of course, it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that there’s some quality material available on the site, so I do my best to check out the work of new members. But largely, it’s an open platform, so there are few restrictions.

Before the site was launched, I spent some time researching what was out there and working with a handful of sound designers to get their libraries listed.

So what’s currently on the site is mostly stuff I’ve hand-picked. Many of the sound designers I knew (and knew of) beforehand, so I had a very good feeling that they were doing quality stuff.

I guess the web is the ultimate place where Sound designers and Recordists will promote their products, but maybe some new ideas like crowdsourcing, mobile/portable recorders and recording applications could give innovation here. What do you think about this? What could be the future of Sound FX in the digital era?

Well, I’m a composer, not a sound designer, so there are probably people out there who can answer this better than I can. But in general, crowdsourcing is an interesting approach, especially with so many capable recording devices available to people.

What’s crucial for it to work, though, is that the framework and direction is clearly defined before starting a project – if you ask people to participate, you really need to know where you’re going with the project and what you’re looking to accomplish with it.

From a composer’s perspective, I’ve seen many music briefs that simply weren’t clear enough, and this ultimately ended up wasting everyone’s time.

So make sure you’re very clear in what you’re asking people to create, or you’ll risk ending up with loads of… well, useless stuff. Quantity is not a means it itself. You want stuff that works for your purpose.

I read from your Twitter profile that one of your last projects was for Nokia on brand sounds for products such as the Lumia 920. Can you tell us more about this project?

Yes, it was a really interesting. We were brought in by the sound team at Nokia to create some very unique orchestral sounds for the whole Nokia Lumia range. The aim was to give the sounds a much more organic, living quality than you normally find in product sound. The response has been great and it’s been very exciting to be part of such an ambitious project.

What is your ordinary day of work? Do you use a regular process to work at projects, some kind of defined workflow to be more effective while designing and building sounds and music with clients?

Our work is project based, so it actually varies a lot. But I pretty much always get in at 8 am, get an overview of the day’s tasks and then get started.

I do my best to compose every single day, even when it’s mostly a planning / paperwork day in the studio – I find that it keeps me on my toes, composing-wise. I’m also really glad to be working with such talented colleagues. It takes a lot of stress of your shoulders when you can help each other out – and it allows me to focus on what I do best.

When it comes to workflow, I think there’s tremendous value in using examples to understand what the client needs. This avoids a lot of misunderstandings and saves you hours of going in the wrong direction.

So in my book, continuously honing your craft, surrounding yourself with talented people and using examples to pinpoint where you need to go are three important approaches to getting great results.

If people want to support A Sound Effect, what can they do?

The site has just launched, so we obviously need to get the word out about it. Please share the news about the site with your friends, colleagues and media contacts.

If you’re a sound designer who wants to have your libraries featured on A Sound Effect, you can contact me – this also goes for questions and feedback.

And finally, if you’re a blog owner, we’ve got an RSS feed up featuring the very latest library releases. By adding the feed on your site, you’re giving some important exposure to the newest libraries from the indie sfx community.

Thanks a lot for the response so far, and hope you all enjoy the site!

Gianpaolo D'Amico

Gianpaolo D'Amico is an independent creative technologist for digital media. He is the founder of sounDesign and a music lover since he was 0 years old.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. hzandbits says:

    Thanks for this one, Gianpaolo.
    I was surprised when Asbjoern sprung ASound Effect on the world, but pleasantly so.
    it seems like a very idea – something for which a need exists. Maybe I should submit some of my own work…

  2. Hi hzandbits, I guess Asbjoern made a great work in building a platform like this and needs support by all of us, and yes, I listened to your SFX packs and I think you should submit your work for sure!!!!

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