If you want to make money as a sound designer, learning how to sell sample packs is essential.
When I initially ventured into the business of selling samples, I was completely clueless. It took me several years of dedicated learning to grasp the various business models within this domain.
In this article, I intend to guide you on effectively selling your sample packs and assist you in identifying the most suitable model for your endeavor.
1. Become a sample pack provider
The first business model involves working as a music producer, primarily collaborating with sample pack companies. While this path may not yield the highest profits, it allows you to concentrate solely on sound design.
Sample pack companies like Loopmasters typically seek musicians and sound designers on gig marketplaces to produce sample packs for their catalog.
Since marketing and selling sample packs can be challenging, most producers opt for this route. The advantage here is that you can benefit from the insights of the companies that hire you.
They will task you with creating products they know have a market demand, essentially conducting market research for you. Your role is to craft a product according to their specifications.
To secure employment as a sample pack producer, you must showcase a portfolio of tracks highlighting your skills. All music presented must be entirely original, encompassing composition and sound design.
Furthermore, a professional presentation is crucial. If your design skills fall short, it might be worthwhile to hire a graphic designer.
Effective presentation is key in attracting clients, as a subpar presentation can project an unprofessional image and lead to failure.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll need to establish accounts on marketplaces where you can offer your services. Prominent platforms for this purpose include Upwork, Fiverr, SoundBetter, and AirGigs.
These platforms serve as the conduit through which companies interested in your music genres will contact you.
Alternatively, you can proactively reach potential clients by sharing your music portfolio through platforms like SoundCloud and your social media accounts. At this stage, having your own website is optional.
2. The DIY approach: Sole proprietorship of a sample packs business
Even if you intend to independently market your sample packs, I strongly recommend initially collaborating with sample pack providers. This collaboration will impart invaluable knowledge.
You’ll gain insights into which genres are most lucrative, how to format sample packs effectively, and ways to add value to your offerings. Moreover, you’ll develop an understanding of the worth of your time, a crucial aspect of this endeavor.
After this collaborative phase, conduct basic market research to gauge the size of your target market.
This doesn’t require an exhaustive study but should provide insights. Begin with Google Trends, focusing primarily on the United States and Japan, as these countries have the highest spending in this sector.
Google Trends reveals people’s interests, not necessarily their spending habits, so consider this while making your selections.
For marketing to Europeans, who generally spend less than Americans and Japanese, concentrate on genres popular in Great Britain and France. For instance, Great Britain retains a strong affinity for drum and bass even though its global popularity has dropped in the last 20 years.
Within Google Trends, search for genres aligned with your production skills and concentrate on those in the United States and Japan. You can also conduct a global search but prioritize data from high-spending countries.
Your aim is to identify genres with growing popularity, disregarding those on the decline. Genres with consistent interest over time, such as New Age, may offer modest initial returns but sustained income over the long term.
Now that you know which genres are trending, ask yourself whether individuals in these genres utilize sample packs for music production.
If not, it may not be worthwhile unless the genre has potential in other creative fields, like video production. In such cases, selling stock music might be a more viable option.
3. The business model of most sample pack producers and labels
As a sample pack label, it’s essential to establish your own website for product sales. This website should be your primary promotional platform across various social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Additionally, consider submitting your sample packs to database-style websites like KVR, which, though primarily geared toward plugins, also accommodate sample packs in their news feeds and databases. Once your products feature on KVR, you can start selling them there.
To attract customers unaware of your brand, regularly offer free sample packs of high quality and promote them extensively. This ongoing practice of providing free, top-notch products is the key to building a loyal fan base that will eventually invest in your commercial offerings.
Alternatively, you can explore advertising but avoid replicating the marketing strategies of large corporations. A more thoughtful approach for small businesses is to offer something for free or at a very low cost (e.g., $1).
This approach sets you apart from corporations aiming to create awareness for readily available products. Instead, focus on building your brand through valuable free offerings or affordable products.
Moreover, employ email marketing as your primary conversion method. Emailing proves highly effective when used alongside a robust social media presence and brand recognition.
However, consider the potential of subscription platforms like Splice and Loopcloud. These platforms are integral to the market, and some sample pack labels solely rely on them.
Reach out to these platforms to gauge their interest; if your content aligns with their audience, you’ll receive a positive response.
4. The third-party distribution model
This model was popular before the emergence of subscription websites and apps in the market, and while it can still generate revenue, it may not match past earnings. Marketplaces serve as platforms for one-time digital product purchases.
There are two main categories of marketplaces: those specialized for musicians and those catering to digital assets for video game developers.
Musicians can explore marketplaces like ADSR, Loot Audio, and the KVR marketplace. These platforms offer the advantage of handling advertising, resulting in sales opportunities you wouldn’t get otherwise. They also manage customer service, payment processing, and hosting.
In addition, you can explore marketplaces targeting video game developers, such as the Unity Assets Store, Unreal Engine marketplace, and Gamedevmarket.
While you may not directly sell your sample packs on these platforms, consider offering sound effects or pre-mixed music, which can find a market here.
Notably, competition is relatively lower in video game dev asset marketplaces than in traditional musician marketplaces.
Points to bear in mind
Suppose you produce music in a less popular genre. In that case, you can still generate income by selling sample packs in niche genres, but this requires a long-term strategy.
The concept of evergreen products is more challenging to apply to sample packs due to the ever-changing nature of popular music genres. However, genres like funk, soul, and jazz, which serve as popular sample sources for hip-hop producers, remain relevant.
Additionally, live performances in genres like pop music often have enduring appeal, provided they are high quality.
Organizing a sample pack
Organizing your sample pack is crucial. Categorize each type of sound into its respective folder. For instance:
- Bass Loops
- Melody Loops
- Drum Loops
- Guitar Loops
- Pad Loops
- Sound Effects
- Drum One Shots
- Instrument One Shots
Ensure that each sample file includes tempo and key information in the filename. It’s also important to export all samples at a minimum of 24-bit 44.1 kHz, as this is the current standard for sample packs.
Some creators even opt for a 32-bit 48 kHz export to future-proof their packs, even if they distribute them as 24-bit 44.1 kHz WAV files.
Providing STEMS tracks for DJs and remixers is a good idea if you sell construction kits.
Your samples are automatically copyrighted to you the moment you create them. Maintaining backup copies of your project files is important in case you need to provide evidence.
While such a situation is unlikely, it’s always better to be prepared to avoid potential regrets.
For further reading, look at our article about AI music copyright.