Please introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.
I’m a freelance composer for film, TV and games, and a pianist who records live piano for myself and other composers. My home studio is based just outside of London.
The style of my work varies according to the demands of the client but is mostly contemporary classical orchestral, often with the piano at the center. Outside of that genre I have written a bit in rock, pop, jazz and that annoyingly catchy corporate marimba sound.
I have sole composer credits for a few US and European independent films, including both feature lengths and shorts. I also have co-composer credits for similar, as well as piano performance parts. No big theatre distribution yet but the gigs are getting bigger and better, so who knows.
One long term project I’m working on which is close to my heart is a new zombie film/TV production called After Hell, filming in 2015 for 2016 release, created by Visual Kings Media in Austria. I also write for custom corporate gigs with end-clients including Sony, Microsoft XBox Music and DM (German pharmaceutical giant).
I’m also excited about my debut game scoring gig for indie studio ‘Grand Arc Designs’ in the US, something for 2015.
How do you use SoundCloud?
I’ve used SoundCloud as my primary music sharing and collaboration platform since near the start, in 2009.
Most of my 400 or so tracks are private, which is how I like to share works in progress with my clients or colleagues for feedback. I do enjoy sharing work publicly when allowed, and I try to remain engaged with anyone who is kind enough to leave a comment.
I used to do quite a few things in the community space – open collaborations, developing other SoundClouders’ themes into full pieces, arranging local meetups and that sort of thing. A good flow of gigs in recent years has taken up a lot of that time I used to have but I still like to remain connected to the many great music makers I’ve met on SoundCloud over the years.
I like my customized embeds for websites etc., and enjoy reposting others’ tracks (selectively). Playlists are great ways to showcase your own and others’ work in an organized way and I’m beginning to use that a lot more.
Describe your creative process. What is your home set-up like?
I run Cubase on a Mac Pro. It’s hooked up to 3 mics – 2 for the piano (Weber baby grand) and 1 for general use including vocals and other instrumentals.
I don’t have much in the way of hardware processing but I have a good set of sound libraries accumulated over the years for orchestral instruments, ethnic instruments, synths, drum kits and sound effects. For production, I use a lot of the in-house tools in Cubase, plus a few 3rd-party essentials like reverb (Valhalla) and pitch correction (Melodyne).
My piano is often at the centre of my creative process. I love the art of improvisation and have put many years into refining my skill in that area. It’s useful not only for solo performance but also for composing. One way I work is to record a piano improvisation, chop it up, use the best bits as a basis for a more structured composition, then layer it up with an orchestral or electronic arrangement.
I love having live players in my work and often collaborate with other composers who inject their own creativity or I pay a remote session player to play what I’ve written.
Once I’ve got all the parts down and mixed, I do my own mastering when budget is tight, or hire a mastering engineer for higher value pieces.
I do all this in my home studio, which I’ve affectionately called Red Room One Studio, owing to how I like to keep it lit when working.
How have you reached certain goals or steps in your career?
My journey is certainly not a solo one. I have learned a great deal about various aspects of the business and creative process from many generous people on the way. And as I’ve grown, I’ve taken opportunities to pass these on where I can, and generally offer my own advice freely.
Geoff Heade, who goes by the stage name of Bluffmunkey, gave me some terrific starting blocks on the production side many years ago – advice about best software and hardware for what I wanted to do, plus some tips and tricks for good mixing and production.
Deane Ogden is a composer and recording artist who has been a great leader for myself and many others in the community and creative business aspects.
Emmett Cooke is another name which comes up high in my list of influences, a composer who writes well about how to sell your music in the library space.
A list of composers too long to name exhaustively have provided great advice about aspects of composing and producing professional music, these include James Semple, Richard Chance, Russell Bell, Steve Brookfield, Matt Bowdler, Panos Kolias and so many others who I apologise in advance for omitting here but who know I’m grateful.
There’s no silver bullet for approaching editorial outlets or music industry professionals, and honestly I’m still low on the learning curve in this respect. What I have learnt though is that persistence pays, courtesy pays, respect pays, honesty pays, and patience is essential.
What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?
I am grateful for the opportunity to be presented as a premier partner for SoundCloud.
The monetization program has beaten my Spotify and other streaming income. It will never pay the rent but it’s nice to fill my kids’ stockings a little more this Christmas.
The support from the SoundCloud team is always of such great value to me, with opportunities that I would never have otherwise seen or had a chance to participate in. I’m looking forward to the future rollout of this so more and more music makers can enjoy the benefits of partnering with SoundCloud.
Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?
Collaborating with a skilled instrumentalist, vocalist or composer can be an exhilarating experience. What comes out of it is so much more than the sum of what any individuals put in because of the creative feedback loops that happen when you do this iteratively. Bounce a track back and forth with someone who has original ideas and the result is magic.
I have a long history of collaborations on SoundCloud, almost all of which with people I met right here on SoundCloud and with whom I have productive working relationships in my professional music spheres.
I don’t want to single any out for fear of “naming favorites” but scroll down my track list and you might recognize a few names, music makers who also take as much pleasure as I do in collaboration.
In the past I have spoken out both for and against changes which have divided some communities, but SoundCloud have only ever been professional and rigorous in their response, and in my opinion have all participants’ best interests at heart, when viewed as a bigger picture.
With development focus shifting from creators to listeners to distribution partners and everything in between, I believe the team are doing all they can to ensure the best experience and value for all who are part of this picture, all in good time. That includes you, so if you’re feeling hard done by any of the evolution of SoundCloud as a platform, partner and service, it will pay to sit tight and show good faith. In my humble opinion.
I love music, I love SoundCloud.
You can hear Oliver’s Best of 2014 playlist below.