Sounds.com, the “daily source for loop and samples” from Native Instruments, has expanded its initial beta launch, making its service available across much of the world. The latest version of the service adds four new currencies, a new free trial mode, and three new subscription pricing tiers.
The platform (think “Netflix for producers”) launched in the US in beta six months ago, but is now available in Canada, Australia and the majority of Europe. It has more than 650,000 royalty-free sounds – from orchestral scoring to pop, rock, and trap – and all of this is now available in a 14-day trial mode.
The three new pricing tiers – from $9.99 to $29.99/month (€9.99 to €29.99 / £8.99 to £26.99) – now “cater to a range of user needs and a growing number of subscribers who requested access to more sounds”. Native Instruments has also introduced a simplified credit system, where individual sounds are exchanged for single credits, which it hopes will help creators keep track of their downloads throughout the month.
Current sounds available include loops and sample content from Native Instruments’ Expansions – plus exclusive content from over 300 creators, including suppliers such as The Loop Loft, MVP Loops, and Symphonic Distribution. Furthermore, artists and labels such as Grammy winner Latroit and prolific hip-hop producer Kid Capri have made content available exclusively for Sounds.com users. finally, curated collections havbe been added to provide “ready-made inspiration to producers of all skill levels and genres”.
Sounds.com says it is the only sounds subscription service of its kind to offer a completely free full access trial version. Existing Pro users will also benefit from a bonus 150 credits for free.
Sounds.com is one of the “new breed” of cloud-based, pay-as-you-go services, which of course are becoming more and more popular in all sectors nowadays. Alongside Splice, which offers a similar service to this as part what it does, Sounds.com is leading the charge for this type of offering in the world of samples for producers.
We caught up with Sunny Lee and Jean Chadwick from the company to find out a bit more.
What makes Sounds.com different from other sample services?
Sunny: In our user research, we identified certain pain points that music makers commonly experience. They often have tens of thousands of sounds in their personal libraries that they’ve built up over many years. However, many expressed difficulty orienting themselves efficiently within their amassed personal sound collections, relying on their memory or limited text-based search on their machines and not being able to effectively find and retrieve the right sound they need at the moment of inspiration. We also found that many music makers spend a good amount of money each month to acquire releases comprised of hundreds of sounds, only to end up using a few of them.
With this in mind, we wanted our users to think of Sounds.com as their own personal library that they can access anytime they want with a monthly subscription fee. Rather than relying on their memory or text-based search on their machines, music makers can take advantage of Native Instruments’ Music Information Retrieval (MIR) technology and advanced search and filtering capabilities to find the right sound they need, when they need it.
In addition, our world-class merchandising team is curating our releases and collections that we think will provide music makers with opportunities for discovery and inspiration in addition to our algorithmically generated recommendations.
What are you doing to attract the best creators?
Jean: From the start, we have prioritised our efforts on supplying our platform with a diverse offering of content in order to invite more creators to push sonic boundaries and inspire users. It’s our belief that creators should not perceive the platform as a Native Instruments only service, but as a platform that helps users to find the content they want in more precise and intuitive ways. Communicating our vision for democratising music production through access to high-quality sound content resonates with our creators. Our innovative approach regarding sample packs, such as offering smaller and more focused packs for users, has given creators a whole new way to think about sample creation. We believe that the communication of these values all contributes to attracting high-quality creators that share our passion for music.
More recently, we have started to work very closely with notable artists, producers and labels who are excited about new ways of marketing their brand through joint promotional efforts centred around a sound pack. In today’s fragmented music industry, we believe we can offer a very established marketing channel through Native Instruments that allows artists to engage more deeply with a passionate fanbase of music producers and performers, while creating value for themselves.
Do you see your service as a “one-stop shop”?
Sunny: We want to find ways to add convenience and ease in the music maker’s creation flow but understand that music producers use different tools for different stages in their creative process. We believe we can offer them an affordable and convenient way to easily find inspiration and discover new sounds, when they need it the most. There are many additional features we envision and plan to get to in subsequent releases of Sounds.com that will take us closer to offering users a more holistic experience.
What have you learned in the time leading up to this launch?
Sunny: We quickly learned that our Free and Pro price plans did not provide enough flexibility for our users. Without tools to track their usage, our subscribers were sometimes surprised when they found out that they had hit the 1GB limit. We also had plenty of users who loved the service and were willing to pay more, but we didn’t have price plan options to allow for this upgrade.
Some users also reached out requesting the ability to download releases in bulk. As mentioned above, we want users to think of Sounds.com as their personal sounds library that they can access for a monthly fee whenever and wherever they want. Users can download the sounds they need, when they need them without having to build up giant personal libraries that are challenging to manage. This however is a behaviour change we are encouraging among our users and we correctly anticipated that this will take a bit of time for adjustment.
Lastly, we knew from our experience at Native Instruments that there are users in many parts of the world that want to benefit from Sounds.com. In fact, many users outside of the US requested to be able to access and subscribe to Sounds.com along with their US-based peers which was incredibly encouraging to us. Music is global and we are excited to offer Sounds.com to many more users around the world and are looking forward to learning from their experiences.
Who are some of your biggest beat/sound-making partners?
Jean: We strive to offer diversity in our content, and to enable music producers of all genres and styles to have a valuable experience with Sounds.com every day. For this reason, we are working with a large variety of partners, from big sample houses like MVP Loops, The Loop Loft or True Samples, to individual artist contributors like 2018 Grammy winner Latroit, emerging talent OddkidOut or hip-hop legend Kid Capri, to name some examples. Our partner team is constantly looking for opportunities in all genres to enrich the experience for our users.
…and most famous/successful users?
Jean: As Native Instruments, we are in the fortunate position to work with some of the best and most innovative music producers in the world. We have been inviting these users to help us grow Sounds.com from the start, and have actively sought their feedback to make the service better every day. Keep following Sounds.com for some exciting artist and tastemaker announcements in the very near future.
What can we expect next from sounds.com?
Sunny: We are constantly thinking of ways we can add convenience to the creation workflow and also lower the barrier to entry for new music makers getting their start. With this in mind, we continue to improve our MIR technology to make search and filtering faster, more robust and intuitive. Additionally, we want to enable users to discover and be inspired in new and interesting ways – through personalisation, thoughtful curation by a knowledgeable team, and machine learning. We also want users to be able to organise the sounds that inspire them in ways that fit their workflow.
We are excited about learning from our new users from around the globe, and will continue to listen closely to their feedback to drive the development of Sounds.com.