Sample Pack Creation Tips & Contest

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Creating and selling sample packs can benefit electronic musicians in a variety of ways. Besides acting as a new possible revenue stream for you, distributing sample packs can help you promote your name, establish your sound, and repurpose the material from unfinished tracks or sketches that you like but don’t plan to release.

With Sample Tools by Cr2 teaming up with Splice to hold a Sample Pack Creation Competition, this figures to as good a time as any to highlight the booming world of sample pack creation. Below the details of this contest, you’ll find some pointers on creating packs and suggestions for DIY sample-pack distribution.

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Two winners of the competition will possibly have their pack released on the Sample Tools by Cr2 label, distributed exclusively by Splice. Sample Tools by Cr2 will judge the winners in two very specific categories: Main Room House and Underground House.

There are also very specific requirements for the sample pack you turn in. It must be all original content between 150-250 MB and include folders for:
• 15 Bass Hits
• 15 Bass Loops
• 10 Drum Loops
• 15 FX & Fills
• 15 Synth Hits
• 15 Synth Presets for either Serum, Spire, Sylenth or Massive.
• 2 Songstarter construction kits
• 2 Demos

The deadline for sample pack submission is May 22, 2017.
See the contest page for additional important details.
The two winners will each get:
• $500 USD cash
• 1 year FREE subscription to Splice Sounds
• Platinum Producer Membership (Sample Tool by Cr2)
• 2 x FREE Mastering & Feedback services (worth £85 each!)
• Exclusive Sample Tools by Cr2 branded USB stick containing 3GB genre specific video tutorials created by the Sample Tools by Cr2 producer community

Sample Pack Creation Tips
1. Use high-res audio and labeling
Your sample pack will be more professional when you use industry-standard audio formats and labeling. For most sample packs, that means 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV files, but 24-bit/48kHz is also good. Whichever you choose, make sure your DAW sessions for creating the samples are set to that audio resolution from the beginning, and do not dither down from a high audio resolution.

Label all your WAVs with their key and bpm they were recorded at whenever available.

2. Triple-check your loops
Your loops must play back impeccably, without any pops, clicks, or glitches when they loop. Check all your loops in your DAW to make sure they are the precise length they need to be and that they loop flawlessly. Use micro fades at the beginning and end of the loop if you have to in order to silence pops or clicks.

3. Use analog processing and/or re-amping
Many of the top audio content houses take pride in treating their samples with one or more analog mixing boards, tape machines, EQs, preamps, filters, etc. If you’re just starting out, you probably can’t rival the vintage/high-end gear chains of those studios, but if you have any analog processing gear, send your DAW audio out of an interface, through your processors, and back into a new DAW channel. If the new track is too affected, experiment with mixing the two channels together into a blend that you like before bouncing them down to one file.

If you don’t have analog processors but do have a guitar or keyboard amp, send your DAW audio out to the amp, mic it and record it back into your DAW. Again, you’ll probably want to mix the original track with the amped track and bounce it down.

Finally, if you really don’t have any external hardware, try experimenting with tape emulation plug-ins, amp/cabinet plug-ins, and/or other channel strip, compressor, EQ, saturation, distortion, and dynamics plug-ins that were modeled after analog gear.

4. Normalize, rather than compress
If you use analog or digital compressors on your samples, use them mainly for coloring the sound, rather than for flattening the dynamic range of the samples’ waveforms. The end user can compress your samples all they want for their own purposes. However, I do recommend that you normalize your samples, so that you keep the samples’ dynamic range, but they will still be as loud as possible without clipping.

5. Focus your theme
If you’re entering the Cr2/Splice Sample Pack Competition, the genre and sample requirements are very specific. However, if you plan on just making your own sample pack, get creative and focused on the theme of the pack, and try for something original that concentrates on your strengths. Not every sample pack has to pigeon hole itself into a popular genre or include a little of every type of sample. There are arguably enough of those sample packs out there already.

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If what you like best is creating glitchy drum loops or thick, layered synth chord stabs and pads, your pack can include just those things. If you have one specific piece of gear that is rare, special or your specialty, feel free to build a pack around that one piece. If you play a particular instrument well in a particular style, you could make a sample pack of funky guitar licks and rhythms or live drums for hi-hop, for example.

Look for themes that are unusual, yet creative and useful. If you focus on what you love to do, that will help you stay motivated to finish and distribute the pack.

Places to Distribute Sample Packs
You can always try to shop around your collections to stock audio companies and established sample production companies. There are many of them competing with each other. However, if you prefer to just get your samples out there by yourself and maintain full ownership of your products, here are some options.

Most of what’s sold on Bandcamp is original music, however, plenty of people use it to sell Zip files of sample packs. Bandcamp also allows you set a flat price, minimum price, or make your product a “name your price” download.

You can essentially sell any digital asset, as well as physical prducts, on Gumroad. Besides hosting your products, it gives you a technological backend for ecommerce, including setting prices, coupon codes, checkout, analytics, email lists, and more. Its pricing starts at $10/month plus a fee from each sale. Many established sample-pack makers, such as Puremagnetik, use Gumroad.

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Another option for creating an online store for digital and physical products, Selz positions itself as an alternative to Gumroad but with even more features. One nice thing about Selz: You can get started with a free membership, where you only pay when a product sells.

If you don’t mind giving away your work just to get your name out there, Audiobombs lets you upload collections of samples, as well as synth presets, effect presets, Ableton Racks, Reason Refills, and Bitwig content. Everything on Audiobombs is free to download, so you won’t make any money. However, it’s a great way to showcase your proficiency with a plug-in, DAW, or sample creation.

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