Sample subscriptions services are nothing new, I personally subscribed to my first sample subscription when I was around 15 years old in the form of Computer Music, before the advent of the age of digital audio production in the form of beatmaking applications like FL Studio and Reason, producers, DJs and beatmakers alike loaded floppies or CDs into their favorite samplers, sequencers or MPCs to start on their next masterpiece. Now the art of crate digging is left to vinyl trueists and hiphop heads, but for the rest of us, we have the internet or something like a literal million different drum hits ready to go on an array of hard drives or cluttering our desktops.
If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, these 5 sample subscription services will get you to where you need to be, if you are included in any of the aforementioned categories these sample subscriptions will be a welcome tool that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.
Every producer wants more sounds; whether it’s the new clap to hit the radio or an 80s tom fill, a producer can never have enough sounds and these sample subscription services will cure your itch for that new sound in the latest earworm.
The blueprint for the modern sample service with a genius UX that is so straightforward that it seems insane that people ever did it any other way. Splice boasts exclusive packs from music production heavyweights like Just Blaze (Jay-Z, Lenny Kravitz), MdL (Justin Bieber), Deadmau5, KSHMR (Selena Gomez, The Cataracs, Dev) and Dot da Genius (Kid Cudi) to name a few. Backed by a few new money music industry tycoons, Splice shows no signs of slowing, and it might be one of the best things that ever happened to modern music production.
- Type of Sounds: Every genre imaginable powered by some of today’s biggest names in a multitude of genres.
- Number of Sounds / Plugins: A library of over 1,000,000 sounds including one-shots, drums samples, loops and array of presets for VSTi like Massive and Serum
- Who is it for: Producers at any level of their career, DJs who use triggers and even sound designers and soundscape artists.
- Monthly Packages:
- 100 Download Credits Plan: $7.99
- 300 Download Credits Plan: $13.99
- 600 Download Credit Plan: $21.99
- Great search engine and filtering: If you’ve ever had an idea of a sound that you wanted to find and you just wanted to type in whatever that keyword is, before Splice you would be hard-pressed to find what you’re looking for, and that feature alone is worth its weight in the price of a cheap cocktail. Beyond search you can also click on preset filters like the “Loop” button and then secondarily choose the “Drums” button
- Cloud access: Not at your home studio, or working out of a place you’ve never worked from before? No problem, Splice can be used from any device you can log into your
- Superior sample sound designers: The power of Scooter Braun (the man who both manages and discovered Justin Bieber & Ariana Grande) is really what sets Splice over the edge of most of its contemporaries. The power of having access to some of the most sought after producers and sound designers in the industry is a bit unfair to its competitors, but to the victor goes the spoils.
- iOS App: Splice is the ONLY app that is iOS ready, I’ve yet to use this feature, but it is there
- Rinse-repeat-repeat-repeat: Though Splice may be the foremost tool for individual sample searching, some sounds are far too similar. Some packs half multiple sounds that are nearly identical, and that is something that still needs to be addressed years into their subscription model.
- Not DAW Connected: The perk of being the second to market in an emerging sector is market share by learning from your predecessors mistakes; the problem with being the leader of a market is everyone will learn from your mistakes, successes and missed opportunities which is exactly what every major Splice competitor has up their sleeves
The newest kid in town of the sample subscription service industry is actually a pretty old player in the world of sample library creation, Samplephonics. Picking up where Splice left off, Samplephonic’s Noiiz takes the UX of the former and amps it up a notch heavily promoting the libraries from which their sounds are sources, mainly things that have long been forgotten from the company’s illustrious catalog.
Most-likely heavily undercutting whatever deal they struck with Splice, as I am sure will be done with whatever agreement was made for Loopmasters original content, Noiiz offers plans that allow subscribers to outright download their entire library, for fractions of its original cost with its Unlimited plan. Even with Noiiz’s monthly plan, the company’s lowest tier, the outright cost of one of Samplephonic’s single packs would cost more than the monthly subscription, while still leaving another gigabyte or so of downloadable data still to be desired. The best thing about Noiiz is that you can cancel at any time and still keep everything that you downloaded, forever.
If you love what Samplephonics does, and they do a lot, this could be the perfect sample and preset subscription for you.
- Type of Sounds: Everything from Future Pop to found percusion.
- Number of Sounds / Plugins: There isn’t a number that I can find but under preliminary searches it’s somewhere in the ballpark of 150,000+.
- Who is it for: Music Producers, Composers, Sound Designers, Foley Artists and everyone inbetween.
- 2GB Monthly Plan: $29
- Unlimited: $199/year
- Enterprise: $999/year
- Comprehensive: Noiiz should not leave you for want of any specific genre or style, everything is hear from loops to drones, there isn’t a genre that is heavily under represented and Samplephonics has a quality all its own.
- Great Value: There is probably not a better deal on the market, for instance, though the highest monthly plan for Splice may be $10 dollars less Noiiz’s base plan, but if the average one shots is around 100 kilobytes, you would in theory be able to download nearly 20,000 normal length one-shots within Noiiz’s 2 gigabyte plan; if you prefer loops that’s still nearly 1000 loops, about 300 more than you could get with a similar plan you could get with Splice.
- Content added daily: Samplephonics is heavily opening up their arsenal to make sure they steadily deliver a relevant current of sounds
- Cloud Access: Like most of its other competitors, Noiiz is fully in the cloud which means your samples are available where you are
- Content creators you’ve heard, but don’t yet know: One of my favorite moments explore the in and outs of Noizz was seeing LNDN on the payroll as a sound designer. Any company that uses boutique sound designers will always have my vote. Some of the best sample packs on the market are being created by people who are virtually unknown to the public like Sound Oracle, Julez Jadon, Vanity’s “In the Style of,” Output Sounds and many others.
- DAW Ready: Port sounds directly into your favorite DAW with a concise search feature with drag-n-drop functionality.
- Sustainability: This was once an issue for Splice, so it will be interesting to see how Noiiz deals with the level of output the will need to maintain to keep sampleheads and veteran producers alike engaged.
- UX: The individual sample expansion is definitely a highpoint of the User Experience that Splice definitely missed the ball on, but Noiiz’s clumsy handling of its filtering section is not only cumbersome, but annoying.
3. Loopcloud by Loopmasters
I know what you’re saying “Loopcloud hasn’t even come out yet, how could it possibly be number 3 on your list?” That, for me, is a no brainer. Before Splice, there was one audio sample marketplace that reigned supreme, and that was Loopmasters.
- Type of Sounds: Loopmasters’ Loopcloud will probably be a bit lacking in its housing of pop kits since it has always had a primary focus on dance music, but with the current state of music that shouldn’t be a problem. Loopmasters has always been on the cutting edge of genres, so it there should be no problems.
- Number of Sounds / Plugins: The power of the full Loopmasters library, i.e. millions of sounds.
- Who is it for: DJs & Music Producers
- Packages: Have yet to be released but we’ll update and go over the full system the moment we’ve finished a beta run.
- Cloud Connected: I assume this will be something very similar to Splices functionality.
- DAW Ready: Port sounds directly into your favorite DAW with Loopmasters sorting functionality that will probably take a cue or two from Noiiz and Splice as it will be the last to market.
- Specifically for your Loopmasters account: There is no sign that this will actually work with ALL of your samples, but none of the options do.
4. Rankin Audio
Probably the least known company on the list unless you underground house music is your premier production focus. Rankin is really “best-in-class” when it comes to all things Bass Music, and the darker side of House. If you need something that is always forward thinking, Rankin is the place for you.
- Type of Sounds: Unlike the “mix and match” quality of all of the sample subscriptions services thus far, Rankin Audio has split up its subscriptions by genre. The genres originally available for subscription were House, Dubstep, Garage and D&B with the latter 3 being condensed to Dubstep and D&B which then allowed for the addition of their Complete Package which is a mix of both.
- Number of Sounds / Plugins: The number of monthly sounds is completely unknown, but it is pre-curated monthly and only available to those on the subscription plan for a minimum of 3 months before it will be publically on sale. All that is given about how many sounds come in their monthly care package is that there is no less 200MBs of material included, which is seemingly doubled in the Complete subscription package.
- Who is it for: DJs & Music Producers specifically in the realm of dirtier House, and UK imports like D&B, Garage and Dubstep.
- Genre Subscriptions:
- Monthly Subscription: $12.41
- Quarterly Subscription: $31.13
- Annual Subscription: $112.22
- Complete Subscriptions:
- Monthly Subscription: $19.90
- Quarterly Subscription: $47.35
- Annual Subscription: $179.59
- Genre Subscriptions:
- Exclusive Samples: There is something refreshing about knowing that you and a select group of people have access to well crafted samples for months before they are released to the masses.
- Curation: As the only sample sets that are curated monthly this means there should be no repeats nor throwaways.
- Bonus Sounds: Upon entering your subscription you get a bonus pack, and also have access to the teaser pack that is already free and based on the plan you select.
- The Unknown: Unlike the final service in our list, the unknown for Rankin Audio isn’t completely flying blind since you get to choose the preference of your genre.
- Pricey: Out of all of the subscription services you definitely get the least amount of samples for your buck, but that is mostly due to the fact that your samples are exclusive and curated to save you time and disk space.
4. Future Publishing’s Computer Music or Future Music
My first sample subscription, and also countless gigs of space taken up on my hard drives that I will probably never use. If you are looking for a place to start your bought sample library but also jump headfirst into the world of music production Future Publishing’s Future Music and Computer Music are a great place to begin and can be picked up at your local Barnes & Noble or local big box bookstore.
- Type of Sounds: Because Future Publishing is based in the UK their sample libraries tend to lean toward UK styles like Dub, Grime and the like but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot here to really explore. Every month comes with a baseline of about 4 gigabytes of samples a month, sometimes going all the way up to 10 gigs of amazing content including samples, sound design tutorials and masterclasses of their own.
- Number of Sounds / Plugins: Ranges from issue to issue, but generally 4 gigs of content.
- Who is it for:
- Future Music: With a bit more of a hardware angle, Future Music is definitely not for beginners and leans towards people who use outboard gear with their computer rather than just one or the other.
- Computer Music: is focused on working “in the box” and typically has more of a feel that is it is aimed at novices.
- Quarterly Subscription: $9
- Annual Subscription: $36
- Quarterly Subscription: $38
- Annual Subscription: $158
- Quarterly Subscription: $43
- Annual Subscription: $179
- Learn: Both magazines have a wealth of knowledge about specific production techniques. Each issue comes with video tutorials and a host of timely articles about the hows and whys major producers are creating the hits of today.
- Writing Prompts: With each issue generally giving production tips on 3 different genres each, you can be creatively inspired to work outside of your standard comfort zone.
- The Vault: Even though ever Future Publishing magazine comes with a DVD, The Vault is a digital companion to the magazine that allows a subscribers to download all of the content on past and current issues.
- The Unknown: Though both magazines give previews about what the next issue will be about, you never really know what content you will end up getting in the next issue, so it may make more sense to just buy issues one at a time, especially since the discount is basically void when shipping to the United States.
- Slightly behind: Sometimes I feel like Future Publishing is a tad to slow to cover some of the trends happening in music, but the UK and US have never quite been in sync with the same trends at the same time.