Interview: Bil Bryant, CEO of Power FX on their new online DAW….
I recently stumbled across Soundation after learning it was one of the most rapidly evolving cloud based recording apps available and was suitably impressed enough to send its developers – leading loop and samples producers PowerFX – an email about the product and how they were looking to develop it in the future.
Following a very open and friendly email debate about the merits of their new tool their CEO Bil Bryant agreed to answer some questions about Soundation and his perspective on the future of cloud based recording. I think his answers offer a fascinating insight into the thinking behind what I believe will become a major player in the online music production space -
1.What inspired you to create Soundation and how close are you to achieving the tool you originally planned?
After licensing loops and samples to all the major music making applications like GarageBand, Logic, Sonar, Acid, Live, Reason and Cubase, it has been a dream to have our own software. We have been looking at online music making applications for a few years, but it has only been with latest version of Flash that things became realistically possible.
I would have to say we have exceeded our original plan already. Our programmer, Einar Andersson, has done a great job making new additions very quickly and he is working closely with Andreas Tyson, our production manager on the needed and requested functionality for Soundation Studio. We still have a lot of development and improvements we would like to make, not only from within the sequencer but with the shop, more content, better documentation, plugin presets and project collaboration.
2.Who are your target audience and what does Soundation offer them over existing or emerging cloud based recording services?
Our initial focus is on people who have always wanted to make music but have not tried because they cannot afford to purchase existing software or didn´t really know how to begin. Having a web application that includes many of the tools professional programs have, and can be accessed for free on any computer with an internet connection gives everyone the opportunity to make digital music.
The difference with Soundation is that PowerFX is behind it, we have over 10 years experience producing samples and loops and distributing them digitally. PowerFX.com was the first site to sell loops, samples and sound effects in one place in 2000. We have experience and passion for music production and technology.
3.What new features do you have planned over the next year?
We would like to add recording into the program, more virtual instrument and improve the time stretching functionality. We also will have a developer SDK that would allow 3rd party developers to create plugins and instruments for Soundation Studio.
4.Your business model, offering sample packs and Audiolocker to allow users to manage and import their own files, is certainly a compelling one. Are pleased with the reaction to it you’ve had so far?
Yes and we are just beginning to tap into our sound database. We will be adding more Sound Sets, instruments to SAM-1 for purchase and other paid services. That said, the basic version and latest version of Soundation Studio will always be free.
5. What do you think the future holds for Digital Audio Workstations – do you expect a major shift towards online DAW’s and sequencers in the future?
Yes, I think more DAW´s will become web applications, as well as “hybrid versions”, with existing desktop DAW´s using “cloud” functionality to connect to content, collaboration and distribution.
6. Why did you choose Flash as your platform for Soundation and what benefits does it bring and what restrictions?
Soundation uses Flash as a front end, but the heavy lifting is in C++. There are certain problems with Flash like latency, but it is the de facto standard for web applications on the web and you certainly could not do a program like Soundation Studio in HTML5.
7. What role do you think mobile devices and platforms have in the future of online music production?
I think simply porting over existing DAW´s and the current DAW structure will not work as a mobile application. I think music making apps that are designed specifically for mobile devices will be better and I imagine new musical genres will develop with the new tools at hand. Then it will get exciting!
8. How important do you feel social network integration and online communities are for services such as Soundation?
Very, but building a social network around an application is tough because most people do not want to invest the time to be on multiple communities. Most likely we will work with existing online communities rather than create a full-fledged community of our own. Right now we are focused on developing Soundation Studio, creating content and how users would like to get that content.
If you’ve not experienced Soundation yet then you can try out the ever evolving beta version for free at http://www.soundation.com – it currently comes with over 400 loops as well as a selection of soft synths and FX to play with. You can also purchase additional loops for your tracks from the Soundation store as well as an innovative tool called Audiolocker that allows you to manage existing loops and even import your own.
Soundation also have a YouTube channel if you are interested in learning how to use the tool or just want to see it in action.