Boston has always been a hotbed for musical talent, but over the last decade it has also come to incubate some of the most unique technology startups in the country. So what could be better than when the two come together at a crossroads? SoundBetter, an online platform and database designed to facilitate home recording musicians ability to seek out production talent through a classifieds-inspired online setting, stands firmly at this intersection.

SoundBetter was born from the frustrations creator and Boston-native Shachar Gilad encountered as he, through word of mouth, attempted to find engineers to master his songs when he worked as a musician and later when as a producer he looked for musician’s work to master. Gilad decided to bridge the gap between the two sets of people by providing an easy means for mutual discovery through an online marketplace of talent. Listen up aspiring musicians and music engineers – SoundBetter’s platform may provide exactly what you need to polish that demo or the consistent production work to pay the bills.

Many songwriters are beset by a finished quality problem. They have all the skills to record a brilliant track but lack the computer and engineering expertise to see it through to a well-mastered MP3 fit for consumption. What is a person like this to do if they don’t happen to know someone with that skill? That’s where SoundBetter comes in to the tune of opportunity.

SoundBetter is the leading online platform and database for home recording musicians to find producers, mixing and mastering engineers and session musicians or vice-versa in one classifieds-inspired destination. It connects talent no matter the location, but Boston has a wealth of it.

Gilad describes the site as a “ or Yelp for music production talent.”

In a world where getting noticed amongst all the noise is a large part of the daily battle, SoundBetter gives musicians and producers a way to find each other without needing to go through all the trouble of setting up their own website or relying on word of mouth. SoundBetter helps production talent market themselves by emphasizing criteria such as specialty, genre, previous credits, price, location and past reviews,  the latter of which is the best way to get noticed along with an old-fashioned good profile picture according to Gilad.

“It solves a problem for musicians…making the circle of talent available to them much bigger,” explained Gilad.

The circle of talent is a wide one indeed, as music production has increasingly become something that can be performed remotely, the options for musicians have grown wildly with the limiting factor often being finding them, and the right one at that. But Gilad pressed further, noting that SoundBetter doesn’t just solve problems for musicians but also, “for all the music production professionals who didn’t have a good place to market their services.” Gilad explained that engineers and session musicians often have a busy month followed by a very slow month, so a place that is continually providing new leads is a must. This lack of consistent leads led many to attempt listings on Craigslist or to start their own websites, which can be a lot of work and doesn’t guarantee much traffic if it’s not optimized for discovery.

“With SoundBetter freelance service providers can create a good looking mini-site in a few minutes and we promote it on their behalf. We bring traffic…so they get leads for work,” said Gilad. Clearly it has been working, because Gilad pointed out that it is the leading platform of its kind in the music production world, generating just over 2,000 leads last month, a number which has been steadily growing.

Gilad, a musician himself who also worked for many years as an engineer and producer, felt the pain that he designed his platform to address. “I remember asking friends for referrals for a mixing engineer for my first album and being totally dependent on who they happened to know”, said Gilad. Later as an engineer, he attempted to help a friend build a personal website to generate leads and realized that, “finding a good designer, a good developer…hosting provider, payment gateway and then of course getting the site to be found on Google…was way too much work.”

It was then that Gilad had the “eureka” moment to drop everything and begin working on SoundBetter. With online marketplaces becoming increasingly popular, Gilad identified a gap in the music production market: a “destination site that allows freelancers, creatives or small business owners to get presence online easily and be discovered by clients that wouldn’t discover them otherwise.”

This “discoverability” is one of the database’s true novelties. Individual home producers with specialties and skills that may be hard to market appear just as often in a search as an actual studio. Gilad notes that over the last 20 years, most large format studios have shuttered their doors, leaving it to individuals to pick up the slack which in many cases may end up saving musicians money while increasing the number of opportunities for engineers.

“The platform is democratizing in that it increases transparency. So by being able to compare prices, to read reviews, and to not be bound by geographical constraints, that naturally leads to a more balanced pricing scale,” explained Gilad.

While most of the talent available on SoundBetter comes at a price, the Knowledge Base, a section of the site dedicated to music production tutorials, comes entirely free and is provided by the very same engineers who are vying for your attention via their listings. The Knowledge Base not only provides visitors to the database with a way to learn some tricks of the trade but also an especially good way for the engineers on the site to market their talents.

“It gives professionals a place to share and showcase their know-how and draw more attention to their listing,” said Gilad. SoundBetter doesn’t publish any of the articles, but rather curates them which means they have to be original to both the author and to SoundBetter. The tutorials span a wide breadth of content from the technical “Adventures in Parallel Compression” to the absolutely clutch “Getting a Good Kick Drum Sound” or even the more philosophical “Effectively Working with a Mix Engineer”.

SoundBetter has also hosted live events where musicians and studio engineers can be brought together in places like Berlin, New York, London, and Mexico City. At these events, well known producers, such as 5-time Grammy winning mixer Manny Marroquin, are brought in via Skype or Google Hangout to take questions; so, not only can those present participate but also those that are logged in remotely.

SoundBetter is a quickly growing platform that plugs a key hole for musicians and studio engineers. Gilad has plenty of plans for the future and indicates that a streamlining of the process between musicians and freelance talent is on the way – rather than simply connecting on the platform they may even be able to get to work via it.

Gilad grew up in and went to college in Boston while also previously working for Berklee and says he feels a “strong connection” with the city. Gilad is often on the road – in fact he conducted our interview from Tel Aviv – but Boston is always one of his main stops, and a place that is glad to call his startup one of their own. If you’re a musician of any level or a sound engineer living in Boston (or anywhere – that’s the beauty of an online service) Gilad espouses that SoundBetter, “solves a problem for both sides,” by providing an elegant platform for communication between two sets of very intertwined but often just out of reach sets of people. Check it out Bostonians – it may just provide the impetus for your best song yet.

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