To say that the market for independent sound effects has exploded is something of an understatement. When I started A Sound Effect back in 2013, there was a small but great selection of SFX libraries available from the community. Fast-forward to today, and the amount of content from independent sound effects creators is simply staggering, both in terms of quality, quantity and coverage.
With that much quality-content out there, if you want to stand out, you need to do some thinking first
For the end-user, this is great news, as there’s so much excellent content to choose from. For indie SFX creators, the equally great news is that more and more people are becoming aware of indie SFX, and the interest just keeps growing.
There’s a challenge though: With that much quality-content out there, if you want to stand out, you need to do some thinking first.
Creating an indie sound effects library is no simple task, and it usually takes a lot of time, effort and energy, requires quality equipment, and can often cost you out-of-pocket money too (for props, gear, access or transportation, for example).
That’s why I’d wholly recommend you take one crucial step before beginning your SFX library adventure. It may seem like common sense, but I know from first-hand experience it’s something a lot of people tend to forget:
Research what’s available already – before you start
1. Want to know what’s already out there? Try searching through the vast number of libraries on A Sound Effect to get an idea. Try some variations on your topic keywords to get a feel for the current coverage.
2. Looking for inspiration for new sound effects libraries? The results of our most-recent survey on sound effects that are hard to find can be found here (new survey coming soon).
Running A Sound Effect, I’m often contacted by new indie SFX creators who are looking to have their sound effects libraries released. And more than often, it’s a whoosh library, a futuristic UI library, an electromagnetic field library, a (vegetable) gore library and similar.
While many are great in their own right, when there are numerous similar libraries out there already, standing out and getting your library to gain traction can be a huge challenge. Think about it this way: Why should someone pick your gore or UI library (or any other crowded category) over the, say, 10+ quite similar libraries out there?
And even if you manage to put a different spin on a SFX library in a crowded category, you’ll need to do some thinking on how to make that easy to understand for customers (who are looking at a large number of seemingly-similar libraries). That’s not always easy.
If you’re going to be spending hours, weeks and months, thoughts, talent and resources creating a new sound effects library, you owe it to yourself to familiarize yourself with what’s already available
Of course, for many, getting into indie SFX is just as much a passion project as it is about making money on the sounds. There’s a lot to be learned – and often, a lot of fun to be had – from coming up with an idea, recording, editing, packaging and publishing a library.
But once it’s out there, for the vast majority of SFX creators, it’s definitely rewarding to have people noticing your library, and to make some money off of it too. And the more crowded a given category is, the harder that’s going to be.
So if you’re going to be spending hours, weeks and months, thoughts, talent and resources creating a new sound effects library, you owe it to yourself to familiarize yourself with what’s already available, so you won’t end up disappointed after all that hard work.
This isn’t to say what you should and shouldn’t make, but after you’ve researched what’s already out there, you can make a much better-informed decision on how to proceed.
This isn’t to say what you should and shouldn’t make, but after you’ve researched what’s already out there, you can make a much better-informed decision on how to proceed
You can then decide whether to go ahead creating a library in an already-crowded category – or if you should do a bit more thinking to see if you can put a different spin on it, find a less crowded category, or see if you can downright spot a hole in the market instead.
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If you want to do some more research before having a go at your first sound effects library, I recommend checking out these fine reads:
+ free sounds with every issue: