How about a regular BBCSO Discover / LABS challenge?

When I came here, I was looking for people, who would do tracks done only with LABS just for the fun of it. Then I discovered Discover and that made me wonder even more, why there wasn't a nice, dedicated thread for those here.

I soon started thinking about KVR's monthly "One Synth Challenge", where participants are asked to create a whole piece of music, using only one given (mostly free) VST synth. It carries itself to some degree by forcing all participants to rank all entries at the end via a dedicated voting website, if they wished to get qualified for the final charts then. The top 5 of each month then can choose some price, if they wanted to.

A version of that here could be similar, but possibly only bi-monthly and instead of a free vst as limitation, a theme of sorts might be given, which could be anything from movie styles such as action, romance, mystery, horror, etc... to more abstract themes like a season, rage, love, friendship, the ocean, space, sewer blues, whatever and maybe even every now and then a little clip to score. Maybe the winner of the last round can set a theme for the round after the next?

Anyway, I think, this could be a marvelous exercise for everyone, fantastic teaching/learning environment and most amazing advertising for Spitfire Audio, especially if they were putting up a little price like any $29 "Original" or the like?! I imagine, this could draw quite a crowd, whilst being of manageable effort, since it would need just some moderation, announcements, the voting/ranking website. Half a month to evaluate the voting results and preparing the final presentation should allow for it to be rather a relaxed task.

So, yes, there is the question: How about a regular (monthly or bi-monthly) little challenge around SA's freebies? πŸ€“

Best Answers

  • calebjtoth
    Answer βœ“

    Even outside of any rewards, just having a regular "I need to produce music by this deadline" situation is incredibly useful. Completing projects regularly and on time is a vital skill.

  • GeorgeCM
    Answer βœ“

    Tbh it's a good idea but this shouldn't be about any prizes imo.

    From a business point of view, what is Spitfire's gain in this? A lot of effort around their free libraries, which means more "losing" money. They already host a website for LABS, which require someone to maintain it, they already have to pay for hosting those libraries and a lot of downloads happening all over the world, and we get one free LABS library every month or so, and someone is getting paid for that. In the end it's for marketing and a snippet of what the paid libraries might be like, like in the case of Discover, although Discover is less than 200MB compared with 1TB of the full product so it's a very big difference. Well, it's working. As much as I enjoy free stuff I'm set to buy some of these when I'll have money in the future. I'm up for more contests but imagine how much effort went into watching thousands of videos on YouTube for Stargirl, which is only possible if you have multiple people doing it. So doing the same thing more eften is quite a drain of resources. And I forgot, about more free stuff, Christian Henson is also involved in Pianobook.

    From a participant point of view, there will be a lot of stress around creating something "to be the best", although music is quite subjective. I've seen many contests and in the end some people that worked in the field for years and have a lot of experience behind keep winning, not the enthusiasts like us that barely have LABS or Discover to play with. Those who invest have more to gain in the long run. And I've seen some of these pros live, they can cook up in 1-2 hours what I'm unable to do in a couple of weeks, so free libraries is not their limitation. Btw, there are contests all over the place, check metapop and other places, with lots of useful stuff for you. I'm up for these challenges but a prize isn't necessary.

    This is just my personal opinion and input, I don't want it to sound criticizing or negative, just some food for thought.

    In case people don't know, there is a monthly LABS community playlist on SoundCloud, where you can submit your tracks made with at least one LABS instrument (and whatever else you want) and you get a change to be in the monthly playlist. You gain some popularity and exposure, which is some starting artists need. So you get to combine LABS and Discover and even libraries from other brands and participate.

  • Angus
    Angus admin
    100 Answers 500 Likes 500 Comments First Anniversary
    Answer βœ“

    Hi @Taron

    If you follow LABS Community, you'll see that we have regular LABS Community Playlists. Whilst this isn't a specific competition, it allows for our community to get creative with LABS and share their compositions in a meaningful way.

    Additionally, Pianobook have a monthly demos highlight, where the best submissions are given a gift from Spitfire Audio.

  • GeorgeCM
    Answer βœ“

    I only knew Bandlab makes a DAW, not that it's hosting things like that. I learn something new every day.

    I guess it's because in Europe there is SoundCloud that is a lot more popular than anything else and even the big composers use it, a lot of others for their portfolios, so you don't have to switch platforms for listening great stuff, discovering new music as a listener, or participate into contests or do whatever else. And for new people, others keep recommending it, so it gained popularity over many years. It can search very easily by hashtags and get the list and you can give feedback if you want and create nice public playlists and a lot more. Some of the other brands contests have been held through SC. The tracks can be very easily embedded into Discord chats or any website, as you can see lots of big companies, even in the US, use SC for their demo track showcasing their product. I guess what I'm saying is that for a lot of people SC is quite familiar and it might hard to switch to something else just for a contest, only because of familiarity or convenience, even if something like Bandlab is possibly better.


  • Bandlab might be a good place to coordinate this. It's a lot more listening friendly, and we could link up our works with a common hashtag. This would both make it easier for us to find each other's submissions and help increase generally visibility/discoverability for all involved.

  • I have never checked bandlap, but it sounds interesting. Not like SC wouldn't have hashtags and is free if you want to, but sweet, why not.

  • *bandlab, sorry. Rough day, haha.πŸ™„πŸ˜

  • calebjtoth
    edited September 2021

    No problem! I've used SoundCloud as well. I've settled on mainly posting to Bandlab because people seem to be more active there both in posting and feedback. There are also no track limits and an online mastering service. Bandlab is very navigable and makes it very easy to crosspost to YouTube, etc. They also have a pretty fully featured DAW called Cakewalk, which is the one that I've used for almost a year now (although I've started using Dorico a lot, and am trying to learn Cubase). My only sort-of complaint about their site is that the list of genres is fairly small. And they have a mini DAW built into their mobile app, so if you upload your stems, for example, you can mix on the go. It's pretty nice.

    I hope your evening and tomorrow go much better. πŸ™‚ (Edit: Went to your Soundcloud page and realized the massive difference in timezones - I'm in the Eastern US. πŸ˜„ Have a great day!)

  • Oh, snap, Cakewalk? Jeeez, this was one of the first DAWs I used on PC well, well, well over 20 years ago. I used to love it. Cool, I must have a look! πŸ˜ƒ Thanks, Caleb! πŸ‘οΈ

  • Thanks, George, all good points, which inspire clarification.

    The idea revolves around our love for creating music, for connecting to each other over it and thereby learn from each other and share pieces of our ideals. This is not so easy when it comes to orchestral composition, especially finding some sort of solid, common ground. But libraries like BBCSO Discover and LABS allow for this, are easily available and thus have the power to bring vastly different musicians together with the same tools, showcasing intangible qualities of everyone in a way they can relate to, not dazzled or confused by tools, but moved by musical understanding and sensibility of each other.

    I'm already bouncing the idea around in my head to create a little website for that myself, thinking about user management, submission and voting system, challenge presentation, result showcases, possibly comment system, whatever will become necessary along the way. Could be good fun and should be rather comfortable at the end. Not like I have endless amounts of time, but I'd just love the idea of us having this kind of deep experience together.

    I generally dislike the whole competitiveness when it comes to any and all forms of art. It should never be a struggle to be better than another. That's just ugly. But the idea to recognize greatness and find inspiration, to learn how to improve ones own skill by hearing and acknowledging what skill sounds like, this is beautiful. It comes with a number of intellectual and emotional challenges to have all that in a seemingly competitive setting, but it is on us, all participants, to recognize what it really is about and for and understand the privilege it is for us to have something like that and use it right.

    I wouldn't want to put that on Spitefire's head, but I feel like they have provided one of the best- if not the best- platform/tool to achieve all of the above in an orchestral/symphonic style of music and therefore wonder, how they might feel like something like such a regular "challenge", possibly interested in sponsoring it. The main idea for that is that they do not have to do any judging, but that it is virtually carried by the participants themselves to the largest degree, just requiring some moderation and minor organization. With the right kind of website, this could be possibly pretty pleasant without taking up much time at all. That is why I'm thinking about setting something up.

    Anyway, nobody is forced to do anything. This is for the joy of music and community, nothing else. Will there be discussions? Heck, yes, it's just how things go, but if we keep reminding each other what it is really for, I hope, most of us will have the capacity to go beyond themselves to realize what they are truly getting in return, if they allow themselves to.

  • @Angus , thanks, that's awesome! George just mentioned the playlist, something I definitely have to look into. Sounds like what I was looking for earlier regarding LABS.

    My point with this challenge idea is really based on my experiences with the "One Synth Challenge" on KVR. Hundreds of musicians have rolled through it over the years and dozens have been sticking around, constantly sharing their love for music, their understanding of techniques and continue to inspire each other. It's probably one of my favorite past times over the last few years. The reason for why it is so attractive is, because it creates a clear basis for everyone to apply their unique abilities and focus on ingenuity, skill and- above all- their musicality.

    My main excitement is in regards to the use of Discover, because it is so very limited (rare case where that is beautiful) and therefore asks for almost pure musicality, clever usage and allows showcasing the real magic that is unique to everyone, who uses it. In return, people can truly begin to understand how certain things are accomplished, recognize techniques, arrangements, composition and get to appreciate the special talents of the other musicians. It is literally like a musical game with tremendous potential benefits.

    Anyway, I most certainly will go and check out your suggestions, that's great and again, thanks @George-Ciprian , too for the playlist hint! πŸ‘οΈ

    Clearly I haven't been bouncing around the web enough for all these things, but it looks to me there still room for new opportunities.

    PS: Pianobook I just found out about a few days ago... so, yeah, that's tragic of me! ☺️

  • @George-Ciprian , I do agree, regarding SC, but I'm curious about Bandlab. It's very inviting:

    • You can use your google account to instantly sign up.
    • It seems rather friendly to manage your profile and settings.
    • The website appears rather fluent and well programmed at first glance. (I need to roam around a bit more)
    • The inside DAW is an entertaining idea. I have to goof around with that at some point! πŸ˜€

    Certainly seems worth exploring and it also offers a direct link to your SC profile, seemingly enabling a rather direct connection. Overall I would already say: good call! 😎

  • So that we don't get lost in discussion and never get started, does anyone have any genre suggestions for round one? We can make this up as we go.

  • Taron
    edited September 2021

    @calebjtoth Oh, there would be quite a lot left to organize, but if we wanted to, we could just have a sort of soft start for the general idea to share a topic/theme based collective Discover "challenge" thread for fun. See, who else would join in. If it would draw enough attention just like that already, it might then inspire to go further and deeper with the concept.

    One thought I had for a topic could be a picture as inspiration. This would leave the genre itself open and allow for open interpretation as long as it was truly inspired by the picture, you know.

    Then, of course, film score based, picking a certain genre.

    We could and should collect suggestions! Let's start with you and go: What would you find exciting to start with?

    Halloween themed? "Creepers" - "A Haunting" - "Boneyard"?

  • calebjtoth
    edited September 2021

    Halloween/scary themed sounds good!


    Our October Challenge: Making the Ordinary Extraordi-scary - Or Better Title

    (Please, someone suggest a hashtag.)


    Pick something ordinary - in your house or work, or school or elsewhere - and make a scary track themed around that object. You can work abstractly and/or even make a new instrument from the object. (Bandlab's free mobile app features a mini-sampler - so this is very do-able.)

    The track must be a minimum of two minutes. You can go longer if you like.

    You can submit as many tracks as you like.

    Do your best to comment on all tracks submitted. This may turn out to be a monumental task, but if we all work at it, we should be able to get several cases of feedback on each entry. This is the best part, honestly.

    If you like it, hit like and check out what else that artist has done. You might even want to subscribe!

    The track must feature original cover art of the object chosen. If you don't have any photo-editing software already, I recommend Autodesk Sketchbook. It's free and easy to use. The reason for this is to develop some skills in this area. Album art is marketing and your first point of contact with your listeners. You can inform their perception of what your music is about even before they hit play.

    Outside of object sampling, stick to BBCSO Discover or LABS instruments. Borders promote creativity.

    For now, upload to BOTH Soundcloud and Bandlab. Both are free and we can sort out which one works best for this later.

    Deadline: October 30th! October 30th! October 30th! (We'll be flexible, but November 1st would be a bit silly.)


    Once we actually decide on the specifics, we should start a Spitfire page for the October theme.

  • calebjtoth
    edited September 2021

    Oh! And Bandlab songs are embeddable!

    Hmm. Although the forum isn't playing nice yet.

  • Taron
    edited September 2021

    @calebjtoth Caleb, I really love your energy, very motivating, good fun. I would've wanted to keep it rather simple, but as I see myself calming down, I realize this forum does serve a different purpose, you know. It's really a wonderful place for customers. I put myself in SA's shoes and recognize the kind of clutter this might end up producing.

    Maybe I'll have a look at starting something outside, if I find the time and then I'll drop a note here. πŸ˜‹

    Well, we shall see what the future brings! πŸ™‚