For many field recordists, the act of capturing sound effects is the goal itself. It’s the satisfaction of tracking down an elusive sound and ensnaring it on their recorders. It’s the experience of standing in an inspiring place and hearing the sound around them. For others still, documenting how sound unfurls is a vital part of their creative process.
Each of these experiences becomes amplified when they are shared with others. After all, if a recording remains buried on a network drive, what is it really worth? So, thousands of people upload recordings to SoundCloud, Bandcamp, HearThis, and elsewhere. Entrepreneurial recordists share packaged themes of sound effects that are eagerly downloaded by creative pros.
The trouble is that the act of sharing sound hasn’t fully matured. Knowing how to share sound effectively isn’t well understood. Where is the best place to post your recordings? How do you get others to hear them? And what about listeners? Where can field recording fans discover sounds to hear? How can audio editors find clips for their projects?
The answers are fractured. While the scene is congealing, many aspects of sharing and using field recordings remain misunderstood. Thankfully, an article posted last week took some interesting steps to unraveling how to share sound well.
Sharing Sound with Many People
One major topic that is hasn’t been fully addressed is how someone’s recordings should be used by many people.
This is easy when the experience is one way: people can listen to SoundCloud and simply enjoy the audio. Just the same, it’s easy to forget about the history of a sound while scrolling through cool animal vocalizations on a Bandcamp playlist. After all, each of those sounds was researched, captured, cleaned, and shared with creative intent.
This becomes even more complicated when sharing sound involves an exchange between the listener and the creator. This is especially important with commercial sound libraries. Simply put, while listening to field recordings is as effortless as a mouse button click, using them isn’t as simple. Notwithstanding sounds released into the public domain, every shared sound is governed by “rules.”
In the rush to meet a game audio milestone or feature film premix, it’s understandable a lot of these are forgotten. Often the only thing on an editor’s mind is dropping a clip into a timeline to meet a deadline. In the meantime, the rules of how a sound can be used and who can use them are overlooked.
They’re vital to keep in mind though. This is especially true for one that has an important effect on teams of creators that use sound libraries in their projects: multi-user licensing.
Multi-User Licensing Article
Typically, one doesn’t actually purchase the audio clips when they download a sound library. Instead, a license to use the sound is what is paid for. (The field recordist still owns the sounds themselves, after all.) The license allows for one person to use the clips. When many people need to use the same library, an upgraded license is needed: a multi-user license.
Never heard of it? I don’t blame you. It hasn’t been talked about much. Few sound shops detail these licenses. Thankfully, distribution website A Sound Effect owner Asbjoern Andersen has written an article to help.
In the article, Andersen covers what multi-user licensing is, why it is needed, and the risks of having the wrong license. He also shares solutions on getting licensing straightened around for existing collections. A valuable section touches upon freelancers using their libraries with larger teams.
The topic can be a touchy one, however the A Sound Effect article has an informative and positive vibe to it. It’s meant to help.
The post is a great primer for anyone creating sound in teams. It’s also a helpful overview for sound library creators to learn how to share their sounds properly with many people.
Check out the post How to Get Multi-User Licensing Right – And Why It’s Such a Big Deal on A Sound Effect.