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SoundsLike: A New Production Opportunity for Independent Musicians
By Sydney Chatani, Program Director
When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic forced universities across america to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, young college students found themselves aimlessly sitting at home, unsure of what to do next. Kiernan Hutchinson, a first-year student at Jacksonville University, was among the displaced. Yet, as he found himself quarantined Baltimore, Maryland, inspiration struck and SoundsLike was born. SoundsLike is a start-up company in Jacksonville, with a goal to offer virtual, professional production services for independent musicians at an affordable cost. Although Hutchinson, a producer and engineer, as well as a fellow colleague of his had already been creating and producing lo-fi hip-hop beats and loops to give away to artists, the idea for SoundsLike didn’t solidify until the George Floyd protests began in late may. In my interview with him, Hutchinson stated “I felt a responsibility towards our clientele, the demographic being almost entirely African-American, to develop a customer-centric business model that uplifts those that need uplifting within the music industry…we don’t want to take percentages of royalties on client songs, we just don’t believe in that.”
As of now, SoundsLike offers a variety of services, including remote session musicianship, custom loop pack design, and all-in-one mixing and mastering, with services starting at $49.99. During a commission, clients choose which service they are looking for and pick their package — one of three price tiers that correspond to how much of the service will be required. Hutchinson offered an example: “if you’re a bedroom pop artist and want your vocal and ukulele song to have a violin added, that’s just one remote session part-write and recording priced at $49.99, one time…no contract, no writer’s shares, just the service”. He continued by stating their price is on-average, about 1/3rd the cost that a freelance player or studio-retained musician would require.
Additionally, every service at SoundsLike has a flat-rate, so clients know they are getting exactly what they paid for. As of now, the only adjustable fee is waiving the master and mix fee, if clients are interested in having only one over the other. With every service, clients have a large variety of equipment and programs they can choose from to implement into their music. They have a large collection of instruments and post-processing gear, Hutchinson stated, as well as the ability to create custom instrument design for custom loop pack curation. Additionally, SoundsLike offers an instrument bank on their website in which clients have the opportunity to look through and specifically pick out an instrument to be used.
As for remote session musicianship, Hutchinson elaborated that it is typical for artists to seek one type of instrument (such as drums), and allow the team at SoundsLike to use their discretion and pick out what set will sound best for their project. The impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on musicians and producers alike is unprecedented —no longer is it safe to meet up with other artists or producers.
For independent artists, who typically rely on either self-taught production techniques (if it is affordable) or on fellow musicians with an at-home set up, the pandemic has forced their hands.
“Our process has slowed down to a snail’s pace, which has benefits, but has definitely turned projects into pressure cookers” said Matilda, a local singer-songwriter who produces with Taylor Neal of Bobby Kidd.
However, there are unforeseen benefits — Matilda, who is working on an album, stated that they are now able to embrace intentionality and creativity when writing and composing music. Although face-to-face interactions are preferable, they went on to say that virtual production might be the safest option, and is worth exploring at this time — investment of said services, however, is entirely up to an artist’s discretion of what they are most comfortable with.
For artists interested in virtual production opportunities, SoundsLike makes their services both virtual and affordable — two of the most important factors musicians and producers are concerned with at the time. In order to sign up for a commission at SoundsLike, clients can fill out a consultation form available on their website that includes questions about genre, past work, and song/artist
References that embody the sound a client is going for. Their website, www.soundslike.studio , is due to be up-and-running on July 20th and will begin taking commissions starting at $49.99 at that time. You can also find SoundsLike on Facebook @soundslikefb, Instagram @soundslike.Studio, and Twitter @soundsliketw.