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Sunday
Dec092012

Sound Collector's Club

Do you know about the Sound Collector’s Club? If you don't, you should.  Here's why: it's awesome... in theory.  The Club has the potential to be a fantastic tool to build up your SFX library with new sounds from all around the world, and at an extremely low price point.  In order to join the club, a new member only has to pony up 20 British pounds, or around 30 dollars American/Canadian.  Which is so little given the number of effects you get in return.  Yet in order for it to be as great as it can be, we, as a sound community, have to support it and not take it for granted.

For those of you out there that are not familiar with what I am talking about, you can thank me later, because you are going to be so glad once you are in the know.  The Sound Collector’s Club (SCC) is a collective of sound editors and field recordists from around the world, that crowd-sources collections of SFX based on monthly themes.  Everyone who contributes to a given theme gets access and permission to use all the other sounds contributed by everyone else.  This is a win/win situation for all involved.  The small fee to join up simply covers the server fees. Other than that, this whole endeavor is essentially community-run.  British sound supervisor Michael Maroussas is the mastermind behind this project and he has put a lot of work into getting it up and running.  He deserves a ton of credit for pulling this all together.  Bravo Michael.

A selection of past themes from the Sound Collector's Club.

Here is why you should join, and join NOW:

  • You'll build your own SFX library quickly, in two ways.  First off, in order to get everyone else’s sounds you have to add your own original recordings to the pot.  So it'll force you to get out your gear and head out into the world to record.  So you'll get your own new sounds plus everyone else’s sounds as well.  
  • You'll  sharpen your skills by recording things you might not have thought about otherwise.  You'll also get to hear how others recorded similar subjects and learn from those recordings as well.
  • You will be forced to up your game and come up with quality recordings.  Because you'll be sharing with other professionals, and you wouldn't want your sounds to be disappointing, right?  So you'll stay focused and work hard to get great results.
  • You'll get access to international sounds.  I live in Canada; if I need original ambiences from South America or Africa, I can't go get them myself.  Yet I have a bunch of these sounds in my library because of this club.  Same goes in reverse.  The African recordists now have some ambiences of winter in Canada.  Specific ambiences and other effects like these can otherwise be very hard to source, so easy access to these is an invaluable asset.
  • This is a fantastic networking tool.  If you're an up and coming sound editor looking for a gig, the SCC could really set you apart. Lots of established audio post professionals from many different countries are active in the Club.  If one of them is interviewing you and you can tell them that not only have you been busy building your own library but that they already have some of your sounds in their library - you might just get their attention.  It shows you are out interacting with professionals and have at least a basic understanding of recording techniques, metadata, and file management.  All things employers are looking for.
  • It's great for networking for even the most established sound people as well.  Say you are working on a project that has a scene taking place in a country far away from your home base and you need a specific sound that you can't find in your library or any other commercial libraries.  You can go on any number of forums to ask for help, but who knows what you are going to get? With the Sound Collector’s Club you can look for someone in the club from that area and listen to what they have already contributed and judge for yourself if you think they will do a good enough job before you even contact them.  

This train and many others passing at full speed are in the Trains: Designed theme

All these reasons plus countless others make the Sound Collector’s Club a really great resource.  Yet sadly I don’t think the SCC is living up to its potential.  This is in no way the fault of its creator, Michael Maroussas.  He's done all the ground work for us (legal, technical, promotion, testing and improvements, etc.) and set up a fully functional system - all we have to do is use it.  Yet I have felt recently that the momentum the club had built up over its first year has started to dissipate.  Michael’s personal career seems to be taking off with his own big new projects, so his time he can devote to the Club will be lessening.  It's up to the rest of us to follow through on our end of the deal.  We have to help spread the word and recruit new members because the more people that take part, the more sounds become available for everyone.

I have sounds in the Night & Day theme of Toronto in winter.

So what can we do to help get this fantastic crowd sourcing project to new heights?  I have a few ideas:

  • Revive talking about the club on social media.  When the SCC first arrived I saw it pop up on quite a few blogs and explode all over Twitter.  In the time since, I don’t see it mentioned as much.  So when you upload a new sound to the club, let everyone know!  Send out a message on Twitter, write a blog about how you recorded your new sounds.  Tell anyone who does not know about the club how great it is and how much greater it could be if they joined up too.  New blood in the club will lead to new excitement about the whole thing.
  • Think hard about some ideas for new monthly themes.  This is one of the hardest things for the Club.  A great theme engages everyone to grab a microphone and hit record. But original themes get harder to come by after a couple years.  So try to think in new ways that might play to the strengths of a crowd sourcing project: what's missing from your library that we could all go out and record?  What kinds of things might yield different sounds depending on where in the world they were found? What sounds so cool that everyone will be excited to go record it as soon as they can?  Ask your friends in audio post if they have any ideas. Get talking to people and brainstorm together.  Then share your ideas with everyone. The best way to get people involved will be to come up with great themes that will inspire people to go out and record (and then come back and share!)
  • Everyone in the club should make an effort to find one new member.  If we all do that, we double the club right there.  That seems like a reasonable goal.  I'm not saying we go door to door like we are selling Girl Guide cookies, but rather simply spread the word to people who are already in the field.  For the price point and the amount of sounds available, the concept should sell itself to the right people.
  • The members in London, England have had a couple of meet-ups based around the club. A bunch of recordists gather together to record new sounds for a specific SCC theme.  They socialize, learn from each other’s techniques, try out differnt gear, and leave with a ton of new content that they can cut up and post to the club.  I have never taken part in a meet-up like this but it sounds like it could be a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Recently Shannon Penner of Plunk and Boom in Toronto reached out to me with a similar idea; hopefully we can come up with something concrete in the new year.  (Any Toronto area sound people who are interested - please let me know and I will keep you in the loop.)  See if something like this might work wherever you are.
  • If you have better/more ideas let me/everyone know.

The sound of rain hitting my tent while in Iceland's interior in included in the Rain theme.

I feel like if we as a community can breathe a little new life into the whole project it will even better than it already is.  Young people, recent graduates and hobbyists alike should get all over this.  It's a fantastic way to add a bunch of gigabytes-worth of quality material to your personal library.  If you are the type that is out recording sounds anyway, you could be using the club to multiply your library many times over.

I have added winds from the Grand Canyon to the Wind theme as well as many train and car passes to those collections.

It's impossible for everyone to contribute every month.  Life gets in the way, workloads don’t permit the time...  I've disappeared from the club for months at a time when large projects are on my schedule, but I always come back.  I'm always glad I did when I get access to a new theme and listen to the new sounds I get as a result. 

I am not saying the Club needs to change the way it works -  it's chugging along just fine.  I just feel like it could become a whole lot more if we can get more people involved and renew the excitement and buzz around it. 

Just by the way, I am not associated with the club other than being a regular member; I don't benefit personally by promoting it and I don't mean to step on anyone’s toes with this post. I just hope that a resource as special as what has been created with the Sound Collector’s Club does not lose the momentum that others have worked so hard to build up.

OK, rant over! Thanks for swinging by.  Now get out and record something!

The cheers of this crowd at a political rally I have added to the small crowds theme.




References (20)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: real estate agents
    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Response: Belinda Broido
    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    This is a great thought to start a community for some sound collectors which would help out a lot of people searching some rare and unique sounds arounds us. I might wanna join this group very soon. Thanks for the share.
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    Response: perth cctv
    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Response: cctv shop
    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Response: gold buyers
    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    After going through the above article and listening to the soundcloud clips, I've simply decided to join this club to master my SFX skills and the price of around thirty USD was simply affordable. Hope I'll join you people, very soon. Thanks for the share.
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    Sound Editing - Azimuth Blog - Sound Collector's Club
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    Oh My god! I'm really excited to these photographs! They look fantabulous! I would like to appreciate the photographer and also the author for sharing it! Keep sharing.
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    Response: Renacen
    This design is wicked! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost�HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!
  • Response
    So this is the apt place for e to get my desired tracks and store or even create my own things with playlists. I am very much excited and pretty good to join this club as i have read you article, and came to understand the perception. Looking forward to it. ...
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