Avery Berman and Will Manning joined forces to become Elevate Audio on AudioJungle on February 2015. They had what a lot of authors search there: an early success that helped them to live through their music.
As you will see during this interview, they transmit a very deep passion for what they do 🙂
-Hello, Avery & Will! We’ve been following ElevateAudio since the beginning because of your great music and your continuous involvement with the community. But how did it all start and why you both partner to make a career on AudioJungle?
AVERY & WILL: First, we appreciate that you’ve been following us and that you enjoy the music. Thanks!
It all started in 2013. Will and I both had previous projects that we were moving on from, and Will had just started learning music production. I used to be in a band with his brother, who recommended that Will sends me his music for production critique. The moment I heard the first song he sent me, I immediately gave him my number and we scheduled a writing session.
That week we got together, and within hours had a song finished. It’s not always easy to find the right collaborators, but there was something that worked from the first moment between us.
For the next year, we wrote together without AudioJungle, pitching music to placement opportunities as we found them.
One day, a friend of mine recommended we set up a profile on AudioJungle. We did, and uploaded our first track, “Fresh Start.” It immediately started selling. It changed everything.
-Do you work on AJ full time or you have other projects and jobs?
AVERY & WILL: Over the past year and a half, Will and I have worked on AudioJungle full time. We typically upload at least one song a week and manage the portfolio and customer support.
It’s been exciting, challenging and rewarding.
Today we are working on expanding the business beyond AudioJungle, trying to help bring paid opportunities to other artists and musicians. We realize how few musicians understand how this side of the business works, and we have discovered a passion in helping educate and help other music creators see income from their work. There is just so much incredible talent out there, it honestly blows our minds.
-Which have been your very best days in AudioJungle? Tell us about the moments you will always remember.
Will: For me, it was when I had woke up one day in the summer of 2016 and I had logged onto my computer to check our AudioJungle profile as I always do. In my groggy routine, I opened up an instance of Google Chrome and navigated to AudioJungle to find a pop up indicating we had become this week’s “Featured Artist.” I immediately took a picture of the screen and sent it to Avery. This is something we had been speaking about for our entire time working with Envato, and it was an absolute pleasure to see it actually happen. To this day, the badge makes me feel proud.
Here’s the original picture I sent Avery that morning.
Avery: For me, it was in September 2016, when Will and I went to NYC for an Envato Meetup. Actually meeting the staff and other authors was incredible. The energy was so positive, friendly and supportive. We felt an authenticity from Envato staff in their desire to help authors like us grow. We felt passion from other authors for the work that they create. It felt like we were among friends, who loved what we loved in their own ways. It was very affirming and gave us even more motivational fuel.
Both: After a writing session in Will’s studio one day, we logged onto YouTube and heard our song Rock The Party in an Uber commercial. We were freaking out. I think this was the first time we had ever heard one of our tracks being used in a commercial by a bigger brand. It was a rush.
-And the worsts? Did you felt discouraged at some time?
AVERY & WILL: OF COURSE! There was, and still are, incredible stresses at times. One of the biggest by far is the unpredictability of the marketplace. Sometimes we’d feel like we had written a perfect song that people would love. And it wouldn’t sell at all. Or it would go live on a Friday night and it didn’t get the exposure that would have helped give it life. Alternatively, some songs that we didn’t personally think were good at all would sell well. But this reality also helped us learn how to create and let go without expectation. Now we let the customers tell us what they like.
-We saw that you created your best-seller “Rock The Party” just one month after your registration on AJ. How was it? Did you expect that?
Not at ALL! That song changed our lives. We originally wrote it for a potential commercial opportunity about 6 months before we uploaded it to AudioJungle. They didn’t end up selecting it, and it just ended up sitting on my hard drive. But we knew it had potential. It was one of those tracks that we wrote and finished in an afternoon. It practically wrote itself.
When we finally ended up uploading it to AudioJungle, it happened to go live on a Sunday, which we thought wasn’t the best. However, when we woke the next morning we found that it had already sold 5-6 times, and it was “Trending.”
Within days it was climbing the “Top New Files” list. It kept climbing and climbing until we woke up one day to find it at the bottom of the Popular Items list. And then it went even higher.
The whole thing was a roller coaster of excitement. It felt like we were watching our song climb the charts on iTunes… except every purchase was being used for someone’s project! This experience really helped us feel dedicated to AudioJungle. We saw the potential of the marketplace, and we doubled down. It was the first time we were really seeing our music being used for so many projects in media. It helped give us even more understanding into what customers are looking for.
We have so much gratitude to every person who has used Rock The Party, or any of our tracks. You’ve allowed us to put our time into what we love to do.
But we’d also like to mention something else about this that is not discussed as much. For far too long, the placement of Rock The Party on the charts would determine our moods for the week. In the beginning, we were basically relying on its popularity for our income. If it was far down, we would feel anxious and worried. If it was high up, we would be on cloud nine. We would channel the energy, either way, into creating, but it was a challenge for how to best deal with this roller coaster of emotions. It was spilling into our personal lives. I acknowledge and realize that from the outside looking in, this is a nice problem to have. But it was still very real for us. One of our biggest fears was not having enough music sales from other songs to back us up the day Rock The Party would fall from the charts, which we knew was inevitable.
Luckily, the day Rock The Party DID eventually fall from the charts, it was freeing. We had come to terms with it the best we could, and we were emotionally ready for it. I’m happy to report that, like most things, our fears were mostly unfounded. The track continued to sell, and we started to sell more and more of other tracks in our portfolio. Today, the track pops on and off the charts week by week, but we don’t even glance at it. We just focus on what really matters. The music, and the customers.
For fun, here’s a screenshot of Rock The Party the first day it made it to the Popular Files list, on April 14, 2015.
And here it is months later at #6, with an updated icon.
-Your Elite Author badge is coming… When?
AVERY & WILL: Soon. 🙂 We’ve learned that we can’t realistically predict when markers like this will be hit, but we’re working hard on our music, which we know will bring us there before we know it.
-Let’s talk a little about the tools you use to produce. What’s your setup?
Will and I produce both together and separately. The Internet is a beautiful thing. Here’re our setups:
Avery: As of today, I work in my home studio, on an upgraded 2011 Macbook Pro. (Solid State Hard Drive and boosted to 16GB RAM. By the way, if you hasn’t jumped to Solid State yet… DO IT!)
My DAW of choice is Logic X. I’ve been using it for about 8 years now.
I also have my Blue Epiphone Les Paul, and my Komplete Kontrol S61 midi controller by me at all times.
KRK Rokit 6s
Apogee Duet Interface
Beyond that, I’m a big in-the-box producer. I find myself most at home tweaking synths and manipulating plugins. I love the freedom of experimentation it brings.
While talking about the setup is always fun, I want to mention that I do not think your setup really matters. I think one of the most fatal mistakes to get trapped in is thinking you need more gear to make something happen. It’s almost never the gear. The music is all that matters. You have everything you need in your DAW today. Make it happen.
Will: I, like Avery, have a very humble set up, and I think this works to my advantage. I actually use a Windows 10 computer and run Cubase 8.5 which I love to death. Beyond my DAW I have a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, which was a gift to me, and KRK Rokit 6’s, which I think are even a bit too big for my little studio set up. A lot of my writing takes place on guitar and piano, so I have an old Ibanez guitar, (which was my first electric guitar ever) an Epiphone acoustic, and an Alessis q88 midi keyboard. I did go to school for music production for a short time where I learned how to use Pro Tools 12 fairly proficiently, so whenever I am looking for a new production style I open pro tools up and give it a go.
I am also an incredibly “in the box” producer. I believe the flexibility and ability to make changes in the moment with a digital set up is much more in tune with who I am as a musician and writer than the permanent nature of recording with “real” amps and fancy outboard gear. There have been too many times in my mix where the thing that was holding me back was a guitar tone, and It simply took a few tweaks on my guitar rig 5 set up to fix this.
Here’s a pic of Will and Avery in Avery’s home studio.
-And what are your musical influences?
Avery: Whether inspiration comes from Drake, a Zelda game or Bill Evans, my ears are always open. Novel ways to express timeless ideas are what perks my interest, regardless of where it comes from.
One of my biggest “secret” influences is video game music. I was a heavy gamer growing up. Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Warcraft, Starcraft and The Sims are just a small selection of the game series and soundtracks that I can forever listen to.
My production roots are in the more underground electronic world. Very stereotypically, Skrillex helped bring me there around 2010. I’m a softy for a massive bass, driving or funky grooves and soaring melodies. You can usually find Dubstep, DnB, Glitch Hop and House on my playlist.
Some choice bands I listened to before making music myself: Daft Punk, Eiffel 65, Green Day, Gorillaz, Nine Inch Nails, Blink 182 and of course Raffi. Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, BANANA PHONE!
Will: This is always a super fun question for me to answer. Believe it or not, I actually had no taste in music until I received my first guitar around age 16. Before that, it was all just noise on the radio. As soon as I got that guitar though it was an absolute shred-fest. I was into only the hardest hitting metal out there. I listened to bands like The Devil Wear Prada, Misery Signals, and August Burns Red to start out, and eventually found myself listening to even heavier metal bands such as Impending Doom and Oceano. (If you’re in the mood for a surprise, look up some of these bands.) I occasionally still hop in my time machine and visit my metal days, but now I listen to a much more eclectic amount of music. It’s always a blast telling my metal friends what I do for a living now, considering the extreme differences between the music I compose for AudioJungle and the genres I used to listen to.
When I went to school for music I became exposed to a lot of styles I didn’t used to enjoy. Through exposure to them, I ended up loving them. Beethoven and Chopin are some of my favorites. I also enjoy film-score, which is very pertinent in our AudioJungle profile. I enjoy John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Howard Shore, and James Norton Howard to name a few.
Today I am truly influenced by all music. If it exists, and other people enjoy it, there has to be a place for it. It is part of my passion to find this place.
-What genres and styles did you intend to build your portfolio on and why?
AVERY & WILL: For our portfolio, we focus on creating music that has a specific emotional trigger. Something epic, or something uplifting, or something motivating, or something fun, or something quirky, or something that feels like a party. It isn’t about genre or style unless that genre or style lends itself to the emotion. And then we just think about WHY. Thinking this way has taken us way outside of our comfort zone, and helped us grow immensely as musicians and producers.
-This one is about marketing. We saw that you have a SoundCloud and Twitter account. What’s your approach to market your portfolio?
AVERY & WILL: This is one of the things we’re working on growing right now. We’ve benefitted greatly from natural traffic on AudioJungle, and while our SoundCloud and other outlets help, most of our sales happen from within the marketplace itself. Besides being active in the community, I think the way we title and describe our tracks is a big key.
Here’s the way I think about marketing:
The most important thing is the proper labeling and description of the music itself. Describe it the simplest and most accurate way you can. Describe it so that the person who is looking for it, can know that your track is the perfect track instantly. This is easier said than done.
If you mess this up, it doesn’t matter how much marketing you do. It won’t work as well, because your items don’t call out to the proper buyer.
The worst mistake is calling your song something it isn’t just for the sake of the search engine or trends. Call it exactly what it is, so that those looking, know it’s for them.
-Do you have any more personal or professional projects apart from AJ that you want to share with us? What are your next goals in AudioJungle and in life?
Avery: If you’d like to see where I come from, you can check out my original project on YouTube, The Ground Above here: http://youtube.com/user/thegroundabovemusic
-Hit Elite on AudioJungle and place
-Bring the dream to other artists by securing media placements for them, and empowering them to take charge of their music careers
-Discover more of myself
Will: I have a hard rock band that a few of my friends have started up. It’s mostly a studio project, but we might just release some tunes in the near future. I also play in a band called “Off Road Mini Van.” It’s a bit more “spacey” and “indie” than any of my other project. We occasionally play shows, but we’re all older now and it just ends up being for fun- nothing serious. No trying to live the rock star dream haha. (I already get to do that through AudioJungle)
My next goal as far as AudioJungle goes is hitting that Elite marker. Once we hit elite, I will feel very accomplished. Especially if we can hit it before our two year anniversary as authors on the website. That would make me really happy.
As far as my goals in life? I think I just want to keep getting better at what I do and do as best I can to teach other musicians that you actually can make a living from your music. Too many people do what they dislike every day just so they can afford to play music on the side. It would be a huge accomplishment for me to help these people stop doing what they dislike and start doing what they do like. That’s what I would like to focus on for the near future. Of course, getting better at production and creating the best product possible is also a huge goal for me. I’m always chasing the next rung on my production ladder.
-And the last one for the newcomer authors on Audiojungle and authors that don’t have many sales but are doing their best. Almost every one of them wants to make a living from what they love, but most of them are not sure that they can make it. Any advice for them?
Will: My advice would be to not give up simply because you don’t see immediate sales. If you are passionate about what you do, and you are providing the best product your skillset allows every single time you submit something, you will break through. There is no reason why you can’t. The odds can seem stacked against you, but I promise that if you take notes from other authors and keep educating yourself on how to make a great track, nothing will stop you. Don’t get married to your product, and make sure you are making BUSINESS decisions when you’re inside your DAW. Sure, that guitar lead you wrote is killer, but does it work commercially? As stock music authors, we must make sure every element is providing the greatest commercial use possible. Try your best to stay consistent and write multiple tracks a week. You will see other some authors skyrocketing on the charts and others falling off them, but I urge you to focus on yourself. You are only racing yourself in life and on AudioJungle. Finally, have fun and enjoy the ride because it truly is fun to just be able to partake in a website like this and see your art used in media. You probably do music because you love it, and don’t let sales get in the way of that.
Avery: You must define what “making it” is to you. How much money do you need to earn in order to “make it?” Is success securing placements on certain shows? Is it having the simple freedom to create when you want and how you want? If you do not define your success, you will never reach it, no matter how much money you make, no matter how many screaming fans you have. Celebrate every single win, no matter how small. It is important.
Focus on what matters. Study the masters. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try new things. Do it differently. Never, ever give up. Believe in yourself and in your music. Listen and absorb all feedback. Smile as the haters hate. Don’t force the process. Be easy on yourself. Never, ever sell your soul. (It’s hard to get back.)
Even if you aren’t making money, it doesn’t mean you aren’t making incredibly valuable music for the world. Do not ever confuse this. Remember why you got into music in the first place. Remember to have fun. The world needs your music. Thank you for creating.
INVITATION TO ENGAGE DEEPER:
If you are a musician trying to earn a living with your music on AudioJungle or elsewhere, Avery & Will are now offering private consulting to help you make your dream come true. If you are interested in chatting about your music with them, send them an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can browse Elevate Audio’s AudioJungle portfolio here.
// Well, what can I say? As I was reading the interview I was more and more amazed at how Will and Avery were explaining all that happened to them since they started this venture, the passion that they have for music, the amazing feeling that it comes from living doing what you want and how happy they are now helping other people to do the same. That says a lot from you guys! Thank you very very much for sharing and being here with us! 😀 //
Read other interesting author interviews on our music blog!