The Business Of Sound Design: Quick Overview, Understanding The Market

The Business Of Sound Design: Quick Overview, Understanding The Market


What Is Sound Design? What Is A Sound Designer?

In short, sound design is the process of creating and managing sound.
As far as “what is a sound designer?” This is a question with many different answers. Ask someone born in the 50s and they might tell you a sound designer is someone who records sound for film and visual media.
Ask another person and they might say “it’s the guy who programs synths”. To me, a sound designer is “anyone” who manipulates sound.
I know that answer includes a broad range of professionals, but I don’t see any other way. Look at it like this.
Mixing engineers: Constantly tweaking elements within music so it sits right.
Composers: layer instruments and synth patches to sculpt unique sounds.
Modern day producers: constantly finding ways to abuse samples
Technology: Making it easy to abuse those samples.
No matter how you look at it, everyone “designs sound” to some extent.
With that being said there are different kinds of sound designers. There are those who focus on synthesis, foley recording as well as field recording Different in their own right, and all very profitable.

The Business Of Sound Design: How Does it Work?

Short explanation: A client hires you, gives you an outline of what they need and you deliver. Like most businesses 🙂
More in-depth Explanation: We generally work with multiple clients throughout the year all on a project by project basis, there are rarely any royalties attached, and we work on flat rate fees.
NDA’s are no joke
The name of this game is “shhh” tell noone what you’re working on. It’s important that this level of professionalism is kept as most gigs aren’t publicly advertised.
Many sound designers are staff, meaning they work for a company, but majority of us are ‘freelance’ which gives us the flexibility to work with multiple clients at once.

Here are some pros and cons to both.

As a freelance sound designer, you can work with any client you want. This equates to more projects, experience and best of all more money in your pocket.
The downside is you’re responsible for making sure you have enough projects to live off of. Not always easy to do especially when starting out.
When you work as a staff designer, you have paycheck you can count on. There are times I wish I had this stability.
What does suck, however, is you can’t always work with other companies due to conflict of interest.

How Lucrative Is Sound Design?

Think about it like this, there isn’t one company out there who operates in silence.
Film/Tv – to enhance what you’re viewing. Fight scenes, car accidents, environments (settings) etc. Watch a movie with the sound off, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Video games – Similar to tv and film, they need sound to compliment the visuals and actions we control.
Toys – Yes, toys have sound. Lasers, VO, sfx etc.
Businesses – Audio branding, we all know when a Windows or Mac is booting up. We know by it’s signature sound.
There isn’t a field that doesn’t utilize audio, it’s a HUGE market.

My Conclusion

Hopefully that sparked your interest a little. If you’re looking forward to this series,  please let me know by sharing and leaving comments below. Stay tuned for part 2 of this mini series.


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