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Music Production on a Budget: Tracking down Fire Samples for Free

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Electronic musicians love to sample. Whether they use drum sounds from a classic breakbeat record or a bass from a dubstep drop, the repurposing of sound is widely prevalent in production.

Do you use a lot of samples in your music production? Do you often pay for individual samples or sample packs on a regular basis? Don’t unnecessarily waste your hard-earned money on sample packs as a producer. We’ll show you how to easily and quickly assemble an excellent library of free audio samples to use in your tracks. 

Most of us perceive that we lack the equipment to sample but don’t realize how easy it truly is. Because you’ll inevitably process and edit your samples, your generic samples will undergo metamorphosis. So don’t sweat the small stuff, you can always delete ones that suck and centralize your awesome ones later.

Where Do We Look for Free Samples?

It’s a common misconception that you have to purchase samples to have something worthwhile to work with. These sources have diverse yet free collections of sounds to choose from and download.

Bedroom Producers Blog is a fantastic and comprehensive resource to find free samples. They constantly update their audience with new packs and often give away expensive plugins. Their substantial collection of free retro drum sounds have proven useful for many productions across all genres. The e-mail newsletter they put out is always interesting to read. It also does an excellent job of keeping you up-to-date on production news and equipment.

Splice, the online collaboration and backup site for producers, offers the ability to download other people’s digital music projects and samples. It’s easy to preview a song on their website, then download the stems or samples if the producer chose to allow you to do so. There are thousands of samples and project files available. Splice is an excellent platform to collaborate on, or share your music with the world. You can get valuable feedback from other producers, similar to SynthShare, and other music reception and development networks. Sign up for Splice here

Organization Is Key for Efficiency in Production

So you scrounged together a bunch of samples, now what?

Just downloading sounds isn’t enough to start making music. While you can demo new sounds and samples as you need them, it’s much more efficient to organize your collection. Organization might seem daunting with so many files but it’ll save you valuable time. That way you can get right down to creating music and not get hung up on finding appropriate sounds. If you know where your kicks and snares already are, then you won’t waste your time locating them again.

A “super” sample folder, broken down into packs, instruments, and genre/style

The process of organization doesn’t have to be backbreaking; it’s important and fun. First assemble your samples, recognize, and label sounds that have potential in your mind.It’s very helpful to relabel confusing file names to “snare 1” or “bass loop 4”, etc. Put all these signature samples into a single folder and label it something memorable or eye-catching. We find you are much more likely to use a sound if it’s clearly labeled and accessible on your computer. 

Group together alike sounds (kick, snare, fx, etc.) in these master folders into smaller folders. It also is useful to put together sounds from specific instruments, genres, or styles.

Once you’ve got a sample that slaps, put it in a place that’s easily accessible on your computer. Especially in the realm of electronic music, artists will often use the same or similar sample across multiple tracks. This strategy works very well. To the listener, something has changed in the overall atmosphere of the track but the sample itself may have stayed relatively similar. Successful producers recognize what sounds are working for their anticipated audience. If a sound is incredibly muddy or doesn’t translate well to a club sound system, ALWAYS opt to change the sample first.

Expect to spend a couple hours downloading and organizing samples to get your initial library together. This session of hard work will effectively prepare you for any track you make afterwards.

How do you produce on a budget? What production techniques have you utilized to save you time or money? Let us know in the comments below!

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