SoundCloud Creator Profile: Steven O’Brien

SoundCloud Creator Profile: Steven O’Brien

Steven O'Brien soundtracks BuzzFeed videos

Exposure, plays, even commissions. Classical composer Steven O’Brien’s music was first used as a soundtrack last December, for the BuzzFeed video True Facts About The Angler Fish. The outcome of having his work used by BuzzFeed? “Fantastic,” Steven says.

Steven released his song Piano Sonata No. 1 in F Minor with a “Creative Commons – Attribution” license, so the producer of the video, Ze Frank, included a link to the Steven’s SoundCloud profile in the description of the video. Steven saw results: within a week, the song gained 7,000 plays and attracted 200 people to follow his profile on SoundCloud.

Frank has continued to use Steven’s music in other videos. The effects of the wider exposure have been gradual but significant. Some videos impact his SoundCloud follower count and plays more. Others open up new avenues for further distribution, exposure, and networking. Speaking from his home in Clonmel, Ireland, Steven says the exposure he gets from the viral videos “…[attracts] others to start using my music in their videos, but it also attracts commissions from game developers and filmmakers who want me to write music for their projects.”

Aside from the ease of distribution that using a Creative Commons license enables, Steven feels a moral reason to use it. “I strongly believe in the freedom of information and art, and I personally feel uneasy about demanding people to pay to listen to my music, perform/record it, or use it in a project. I see myself as a sort of street performer…everyone [can] stop and listen…If people like the music enough to want to reward me with money, the basket is there for them to drop a coin or two into.” (Many of the video makers who use his music for free end up sending donations via Flattr.)

Regardless of the fact that his songs have been heard millions of times, Steven manages to keep a great perspective on things. “If you’re writing music for the sole purpose of seeking fame or fortune…you’re probably in the wrong line of work. Write music for yourself…write whatever comes naturally to you,” he says.

Here’s a set of some of Steven’s great instrumentals. Steven groups them by the mood or feeling the songs evoke. This one is “Calm/Beautiful”. Enjoy!

Next week, we’ll be profiling another of the many creators that have had their music featured in a BuzzFeed video and exploring Creative Commons in depth – right here on our blog, Tumblr, and via Twitter.