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Topic: Sample Library Development

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  1. #1

    Sample Library Development

    Hey guys -

    Trying to get some thoughts together on sample library development. My partner and I were discussing an idea for a library (in addition to our composing work).

    I am trying to get a handle on a few things:

    - What an average library costs to develop
    - What an average number of sales totals are, etc

    Now obviously, I don't expect everyone to chime in with their real data - I am sure that is close-hold for all the companies involved in something like this.

    But what would be a ballpark for production expenses - 10 - 20k?
    And sales - maybe a few hundred?

    I guess where I am going with this is - is it worth it?

    Thanks!

    Eric
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media
    www.moondogmedia.net

  2. #2

    Re: Sample Library Development

    I am not a developper, so I won't pretend my thoughts on the matter have any kind of ultimate authority - but without knowing what kind of sample library is in question, I would think it is impossible to give even a ball park... After all, if your partner plays the instrument, and you hold the mic, you do the programing, and you already own a mic - then the cost is pretty much zero, except for your time.

    On the other hand if you plan on bringing out a full orchestral set to rival the best, you are going to be in financial trouble.

    The cost will mostly depend on how many people you need to hire, and for how long (be they musicians, programmers, etc.).

    I would also be curious to know what kind of sales an 'independent' developper can expect... if the library you are producing fills an empty niche, or does something particularly well that the others do not then I would think it can be well worth your while.

  3. #3

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Good points - ok, figure less than 5 'content contributors', studio time (1-3 days my guess).

    We are just getting through a group buy with DIVA, for example which will go over 100 units. So I am guessing total sales are a couple hundred so far, but I could be way off. QLSO, I have no idea on
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media
    www.moondogmedia.net

  4. #4

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Good points, Lee - I agree. It may take a 'release' just to see what happens out there. It does seem to be more competitve, but not as competitive as trying to get scoring work

    It seems there's an element of people scoring projects, and then releasing libraries for supplemental income.

    Eric
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media
    www.moondogmedia.net

  5. #5

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Hi Eric,

    While I agree with Lee that it is getting tougher nowadays to break the market, in some ways, it is actually easier to market it. It still costs some money but it is possible to promote via the internet as well which makes things a bit easier.

    Where it is tougher is where there are already established libraries. For example, would you go out and do an orchestral library today? You'd be crazy since VSL and QLSO have the high-end and mid-end market cornered and GPO and QLSO Silver have that market cornered.

    If your future library will fill a void that is currently under-represented, then you have a good shot or if your library will be priced on the low-end in order to compete with larger libs that are distributed by big names.

    So, yes, it will be very difficult to determine your future sales without taking an initial stab at it. However, you *can* figure out to a certain extent what the production costs will be. There are some things that you do know up front. You know that you have recording to do, rental of gear/studio/why, you know that there will be editing of audio involved, you know that there will be programming involved, you know that there will be marketing involved, etc.

    Map out your project based on your knowns, make estimates as to the costs, add some more for some unknowns that inevitably come up in all projects, and you'll be closer to figuring out if it is worthwhile or not. I would recommend doing this in as much detail as you can for planning purposes. That will help you avoid just going in with a "gut" feel of what it is going to cost you.

    HTH,
    FV

  6. #6

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Hi Eric,

    I also forgot this too. From your initial post, you're looking to see if this is feasible or not for your particular situation. After you've figured out your production costs, you'll probably want to throw around some numbers for pricing to see how many units you need to sell in order to just break even.

    ie, How many units at $99, how many at $199, how many at $995, etc. Based on what you plan for the library (ie how many articulations, size in GB, etc.) will dictate to a certain extent where in the market your library will fit. After that, determine if you need to sell 50, 100, 500, 1000, etc. units in order to break even and start making money.

    I have no doubts that it can help bring in some extra dollars if done right and people like your library. However, it can also be a huge pain in the butt with dealing with customers too. As you can see by some opinions that come up on various forums, there may be no winning with some people. ;-)

    Best of luck if you decide to pursue this.
    FV

  7. #7

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Eric,

    I like to see perspective developers and people with the ideas and courage to give it a try. The most important thing to me when looking at the purchase of a new library is the sound. Sure there are a couple of big orchestras out there now; you have VSL, EWQL, Kirk Hunter and Garritan's works... and most of the people that own one of those, own one of the others too. I wouldn't let that be of concern.

    Everyone's approach will be slightly different and unique and its the sound that will sell it - not the name or the size.

    Internet advertising is cheaper than print, but still quite a cost to consider, and I wouldn't "put all your eggs in one basket" considering internet banners and advertising. Hit up some of the magazines if you can and especially send out alot of press releases to places that print them and of course NFR samples sent to reviewers and demo makers, etc help.

    Everyone will approach it different - I think the best approach for someone just starting may be to make a smaller instrument and allow downloads from your site with a paypal option for donations. This will allow others to see the quality you are offering and when you record a more detailed collection for retail sale, they will know of you and the quality/useability you offer.

    Just my three cents. None of which are proven...

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  8. #8

    Re: Sample Library Development

    I'm thinking about creating a commercial sample library in the future, but I might need some more tools. For instance, what's the most obvious microphone arsenal for a starting sample library developer?
    Also, does anyone know a secure payed-download system?

  9. #9

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Thanks, guys, for the comments!

    Yes, it would be something that is currently not represented much, if it all. But it is something we feel would be a good library to produce, as well as one we would want personally. I believe it was the Sam model which had them releasing a small sample to the world, kind of getting their feet wet, before moving on to full production (Sam Horns).

    We would need to hire programmers, yes, to handle Kontakt/Giga/etc production as well. In fact, if there are any of you out there that have opinions on chromatic sampling, pitfalls to look out for, your rates, etc., I'd love to hear from you !

    Thanks!

    Eric
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media
    www.moondogmedia.net

  10. #10

    Re: Sample Library Development

    Eric,

    Firstly I would like to point out the existence of tons of indie sample developers who people have never heard of because of how difficult it is to get people into your product. Secondly, production expenses are directly proportional to the cost of musicians, studio and scope of the library.

    Thirdly I would also point out that a good way to market a library is to sell it through an established distributor such as East West, House of Samples or Ilio. If you can get your product sold through those channels, you will sell a lot more than just the word of mouth. Of course this also means that you'll have to give a percentage to the distributor and hence your profit margin will go down.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that there are tons of great products out there and only so many $$$ to go around. Stylus rules the loop market right now, QLSO and GPO rule the orchestral, Scarbee and Hardcore Bass rule the basses, DFH and BFD rule the drums and so on. You have to find a niche that is desirable and not overly crowded....I'm not even going to go on about all the pianos out there.

    Lastly, pricing is a biggie....too high and people won't trust your new developer status, too low and people won't take you seriously.

    Good luck....if you'd like some ideas I can share some privately!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

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