Asbjoern Andersen is a composer in Danish audio production company Epic Sound (www.epicsound.com), where he works with sound designer David Filskov and orchestral composer Simon Ravn on audio for games, film, television and for product branding. He’s also the founder of A Sound Effect (www.asoundeffect.com), a site for independent sound effects, and he’s the co-founder of Soundlister (www.soundlister.com), along with Zdravko Djordjević from The Audio Spotlight (www.theaudiospotlight.com). We got a chance to ask him about this latest initiative and how it might help the audio community.
Designing Sound: How would you describe Soundlister?
Asbjoern Andersen: The idea with Soundlister is to create a hub – or directory – for the audio community: A place where you can gather your online presence as an audio pro, showcase your demos, highlight your accomplishments – and be featured alongside other audio talents so you’re easy to find.
It’s for everyone in the sound community, whether you’re a sound designer, sound editor, audio director, recordist, foley artist, re-recording mixer, composer, voice actor, etc.
And as a talent seeker, it gives you that overview of the community which is so hard to get otherwise, and lets you search and filter – and, importantly, listen – to find the talents you need from around the globe.
Our aim with the site is give an easy overview of who’s out there in the sound community, and what they can do – and then let audio pros and talent seekers take it from there, without us getting in the way.
DS: What drove the creation of the site?
AA: Zdravko and I had both toyed with the idea for quite a while. And the spark to actually get it done came out of real-life situations: Separately, we’d both tried finding some sound designers who could help out with projects we were working on – only to discover that there simply wasn’t an easy way to do that.
There are lots of talented sound people out there, for sure, but most just had a demo reel up on a Vimeo or Soundcloud page, and those were nearly impossible to find unless you happened to stumble across them.
Back when I started A Sound Effect, I noticed just how many cool things came out of bringing a lot of creative sound people together on one site. And Zdravko has spent years interviewing and highlighting a lot of the talents out there in the community. With all this in the back of our collective minds, we both agreed that creating something to make it easier to find people in the sound community simply had to be made.
And after many months of working on Soundlister behind the scenes, well, now it’s out there! We’re incredibly excited to see the level of interest, the enthusiastic response, and the amount of people joining the site. It’s still very early days, of course, and we’re continuously doing a lot of tweaking, thinking and polishing to improve it – but we’ve both got a good feeling about how it’s coming along.
DS: The Soundlister site says “How do you find audio professionals for your projects – and as an audio pro, how do you showcase your work? That’s actually been a lot harder than it needed to be, as things have been spread out over so many sites and platforms.” Does one more site not just exacerbate this problem? How does Soundlister distinguish itself from other portfolio / job board sites such as Onoise, Audiodraft, Behance and Mandy?
AA: While those are great sites in their own right, I still think it’s much too difficult to get an overview of the audio community. As an experiment, try asking someone to help you find, say, a sound designer. My guess is that you won’t be pointed to any of those sites you mention, but to a demo on a Soundcloud page or a showreel on Vimeo instead.
The way audio pros present themselves today is very fragmented, which means that a lot of talent goes unnoticed. That’s what we’d like to help change with Soundlister. And with an audio pro-only focus, filtering, a hub-like approach, easy access to demo material and no other aspects like marketplaces etc built on top, I think Soundlister definitely has its place.
DS: Is there any vetting process to ensure a certain level of quality of those listed?
AA: Blatantly fake/suspicious or misleading-looking profiles are of course weeded out, but we’re generally taking an open approach on the site and welcome both beginners as well as veterans (and everyone in between). One vital thing for us, though, is that people accurately report their level of experience when they set up a profile.
The Experience criteria has turned out to be a very good (and surprisingly accurate) indicator of the quality you can expect when browsing the results on the profiles. And when you’re searching for audio pros on the site, experience is something you can filter by, to easily hone in on the types of talents you’re looking for.
For example, if you’re a student working on a film, finding sound people who are just starting out too may be the first place to look. At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re doing a big-name Hollywood production, you might want to search for sound industry veterans specifically.
DS: Do you worry that a bad client experience might reflect poorly on the site/community?
AA: Yes, definitely. But our idea with the site is not so much to be active middle-men in the communication between talents and talent seekers. We want to present who’s out there, and then let audio pros and talent seekers take it from there between themselves. That being said, if we hear about any bad experiences for either audio pros or talent seekers, that’s something we do take seriously for sure, and will address on a case-by-case basis if it happens.
DS: What does a typical Soundlister profile consist of and what does the talent experience consist of?
AA: For a talent who’d like to be listed on the site, it’s essentially a question of creating a user account, then filling out a form which then generates the profile page, and you’re up and running. You can of course tweak your profile at any time after it’s gone live, to keep it up to date or add more info.
To a large extent, a profile can be as complete or as spartan as you’d like. There are just a couple of key elements we do ask about, such as your primary field of work, location, and a demo of some sort. The demo can be anything from a showreel on Youtube or Vimeo, a Soundcloud demo page, to a trailer from a project you’ve worked on etc. Basically something that makes it possible for talent seekers to get a feel for what you can do and/or have worked on.
DS: What does the site look like to those who are seeking talent, how do they reach out and are there any limits on the kind of work people can enquire about (music/sound, paid/unpaid)?
AA: The site features an overview page with the most recent profiles listed, and you can then filter results by various criteria, such as primary field of work, specializations, location, experience and more. You’re also able to preview demos/showreels straight from the front page.
Once you’re at an individual profile, you can hear demos, read about the audio pro’s experience and projects. You can also reach out to them via a contact form on the page (if the given audio pro has enabled that functionality), or visiting their social media pages or their own web page.
As for the topics at hand, we have quite a hands-off approach, so we don’t regulate what people can ask about.
DS: How is the site getting itself in front of eyes outside of the audio community?
AA: We’re already seeing some good organic growth from people who are actively looking for audio pros for their projects. We’re also using our other sites (A Sound Effect and The Audio Spotlight) to get the word out, and then we have several plans for partnerships in the works as well. If you run a blog or news site, you’re also more than welcome to spread the word. And again, it’s early days for the site, so we’re always open to good ideas and input from the community too.
DS: How many people currently use Soundlister to promote their services?
AA: There are currently more than 400 profiles from around 50 countries.
DS: How many people currently use Soundlister to source audio talent for their projects, do you have any indication as to how many people have found work through the site?
AA: We don’t have any specific details to share on that just yet. So other than the great feedback we’re getting from users, and the growing visitor numbers, it’s actually one of the trickier things to measure, since we don’t get in between audio pros and talent seekers. It’s something we’re thinking about how to be able to quantify better.
DS: The site is currently free to use, do you expect that to change / how do you plan to sustain the site?
AA: Yes, Soundlister is completely free, and we don’t have any plans to change that. It’s something we’re running in our free time as a community project. As for sustaining the site, I’m sponsoring it via A Sound Effect.
DS: What plans do you have for the future of the site, where would you like to see it in the coming years?
AA: We’re seeing some good momentum for the site at the moment, so we hope to keep that going – as (unsurprisingly) the bigger Soundlister gets, the more useful it becomes. And then we’re looking at partnership opportunities; places where we can get all these great audio pros presented to even more people.
That being said, we haven’t launched the site with a grand, five-year plan in place. We’ve got some general ideas as to where we want to go, and then we’re very much taking it as we go along. Right now we’re just excited to see how things are going, and we’re hoping more talented audio pros will set up a free profile – please, join the fun :)