Overheard By SoundCloud: Oliver Sadie

Overheard By SoundCloud: Oliver Sadie

Every so often we stumble upon SoundClouders who are creating interesting ways to engage with other members of the Community. Overheard by SoundCloud is a new blog series for which we’ll ask these SoundClouders a couple of questions and hope that their answers will inspire others as well. Today’s kick-off post is with London-based composer Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie.

Hey Oliver, what made you join SoundCloud in the first place? How has SoundCloud been treating you since?

I discovered SoundCloud through a 3rd party app about a year ago, using NanoStudio on my iPhone to compose some ambient piano electronica. That genre, plus the contemporary classical genre in which I produce piano and orchestral music, are fairly niche relative to the wider world of rock, pop and dance music, so I generally never expect a large potential audience. But a few things occurred to me about the nature of SoundCloud that spurred me on, to create more and to hear more music.

Firstly, it is online and anytime, so it immediately breaks the geographical and time constraints faced by live musicians – suddenly the 100 people in my town who like my specific genres, plus the 1,000 in the rest of Britain, plus the 10,000 in the rest of Europe etc., are all a potential audience at any time in any location, and for zero cost to me or them. But you could argue that other online music social networks offer the same thing, right? I think not. The thing is, the other major sites make the user work really hard to hear what they want and to be in touch with the musician. SoundCloud gives you music in a brilliantly simple and elegant way. I can hear my choice of music with far fewer clicks and far less visual clutter. It is a compelling and addictive activity to listen to new music on SoundCloud.

Secondly, it is highly interactive. The timed comments are a killer feature. I can have a direct conversation with my audience and they are free to drop their thoughts all over my music. Generally the comments are encouraging and give me confidence to sharpen my skills. So it is a compelling and addictive activity to also make new music on SoundCloud.

So SoundCloud as a giant playlist, and SoundCloud as a giant potential audience, have both given me an amazing experience. But SoundCloud as a company has also thrown in something special – a single tweet in recognition of a project becomes a tremendous boost for that project’s chances of success.

With “Ask SoundCloud“, you’ve come up with really nice ways to engage with your Community on SoundCloud. What has sparked these ideas? Why do you do it? What do you get out of it?

Haha, thanks. I guess I engage in two ways, by direct collaboration with fellow ‘Clouders and by crowd-sourcing for ideas.

SoundCloud makes direct collaboration a doddle with private tracks and I’ve had a lot of fun with that format so far, with more works in progress as we speak.

The crowd-sourced projects were born of necessity. For the first one, I was really stuck for a name, so I asked SoundClouders and got over 100 name suggestions, which I narrowed down to a shortlist and picked a favourite. Woot!

The second project was a little more ambitious. Many of my tracks start off as a piano improvisation, which I then use as the basis for an orchestral or electroacoustic composition. For one improv, I was stumped, and thought, hey, this community is chock full of creative minds – let them suggest the instruments, timing, style, whatever, using timed comments. The ideas that listeners put down blew me away, they were incredibly inspired. I was as faithful as I could be to the commentors’ intentions and shared the work in progress for feedback as I went along. And when Zefora popped up with 18 layers of an original choral vocal track, composed against the latest WIP, the track was complete. I love it.

SoundCloud Sinfonietta: You Composed This (please read description) by Oliver Sadie

What I get out of the community response is a musical result that I could not possibly have achieved on my own. It’s like I’m playing in the world’s biggest band.

Who are your favorite SoundClouders?

Oh dear, I hope I don’t lose some friends with this question haha. Please browse the list of people I’m following for a truly diverse list of musicians I like.

Number 1 recommendation, without hesitation, is bluffmunkey. Besides making amazing music, not only did Geoff set me on the right track with DAWs, VSTs, recording kit and personal technical tuition, but he also runs his own community with music partner citizenkained over at Robot Seven where he invites people to submit their works in progress for technical feedback (which he provides freely and prolifically).

For a joint second recommendation, I love what zefora and cyramorgan have done by freely sharing their gifted voices for the SoundCloud community to use, cross-genre! We definitely need more of that.

If I can be cheeky and squeeze in a joint third recommendation, the chilled sounds of dgreening and myristica keep me sane while I plug away at my geeky day job.

Why do you think composers like yourself should get involved in the Community?

I think anyone who is passionate about making music and about honing their craft, and who also has something beautiful to bring to the party, is really missing something rather special by not getting involved.

The Community-led culture of SoundCloud is not only the planet’s richest resource of musical ideas and breeding ground for up and coming talented musicians, but it’s also making my own dreams come true.

What’s been your favorite SoundCloud moment so far?

Man, tough question, I’ve had many good moments. I’ll give you three and ask your readers to choose the best.

1. Honestly, I could not contain my excitement when SoundCloud tweeted that my track naming question was a neat idea. I still wonder what my colleagues at work thought of the limb-throwing, air-punching, 160bpm dance I did for about 10 seconds.

2. When my debut album Finding Stars went live on iTunes and Amazon, it was a life goal achieved. All 17 tracks were born on SoundCloud and remain free to download here.

3. One idea that came up in the SoundCloud Sinfonietta project was from Yanzii, who suggested “a silent cello here”. It is such a great idea that I’ve put it in all my tracks now. Go, listen carefully.

What’s next?! :)

See prior response :P but in all seriousness, the next idea will probably also pop up when I least expect it. When I’m bent over my piano at 2am thinking how on earth I can solve a particular problem, I’ll pop the question to SoundClouders and see what happens. Five million+ musicians can’t be wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Oliver! Keep up the great work.

(Photo credits: Oliver Sadie’s Facebook)

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