Audio: Soundwhale founder Ameen Abdulla
Issue: September/October 2019

Audio: Soundwhale founder Ameen Abdulla

Ameen Abdulla is the founder of Soundwhale, a creative platform for audio collaboration and review. Here, he details his early career in audio and the steps that led him to found the Soundwhale subscription service.

I started my career in audio production doing sound for agencies and corporate clients, bouncing around different studios in Minneapolis. Over time, I started to get calls from friends in video production or at ad agencies, asking me to mix this or that, and eventually started my own audio post studio. Things were changing a lot at that time. The budget for projects collapsed and I had to hustle and make things faster and cheaper. I also learned a lot about client management. Ad clients don’t want any bullshit. Spots are expensive, schedules are tight. You can’t head in the wrong direction - even once.  

With a turbulent economy, studios were worried about being able to get enough work to survive and were at the mercy of local agencies and production companies to provide work. Around this time, I went looking for a stable gig and got lucky enough to work at a studio that had a constant flow of work and a great atmosphere. That’s where I got into long-format TV, where you have to be a well-oiled machine to maintain speed for production schedules and consistency of programming. 

There is a lot of work to be done before the final mix review. At that point, you essentially need a mix to be finished and just press play. However, should anything come up, you have to be prepared to mix and edit on the spot. Showrunners and post supervisors are on tight schedules, so going to a local studio and making quick changes is usually the most efficient way to work. Waiting for files and decisions via email can take a whole day. And attempting remote setups usually failed because they were too complicated or didn’t provide the results that clients were used to. 

Being in a session is a special thing. When someone’s behind you in the studio, your actions have to feel like an extension of their mind. A client feels good when they can direct - when they are creating with you. During that moment, the client may not realize that it’s a collaboration, and that you’re making a lot of decisions.

These realizations got me thinking about what would become Soundwhale. I wanted engineers to be able to work the exact same way, while giving clients an effortless way to review a mix remotely. This would only happen with a bridge to an already existing workflow. A bridge that would merely transfer what you see and hear to your clients or collaborators. But it had to be simple, comfortable and high quality. Most importantly, it had capture that session vibe. 

I wanted to reach a wider audience and allow people that don’t have backgrounds in audio, a simple and intuitive way to record and manage takes, but at the same time create more value for existing studios to reach more people through remote sessions. Mixes can be synchronized to picture in realtime, keeping feedback and changes instantaneous, unlike waiting a few seconds for files to populate in the cloud and missing the creative spark.

Soundwhale offers three subscription plans. Level 1 is a streaming solutions that allows users to connect with contacts in virtual sessions. The free plan allows them to communicate with audio, video or text chat, and offers direct file transfers. Level 2 is a recording solution that allows users to record uncompressed audio over a network and route audio back to the user’s software. Priced at $17.99 a month, it includes all of the Level 1 features, as well as synchronization capabilities. And Level 3 is an audio post solutions that includes all of Level 1 and 2’s features, along with features for remote editing and mixing with video synchronization. There is also the ability to stream a video file, synchronized to a live audio mix. Pricing is $29.99 per month.