Recording Nature Sounds as a Side Hustle

Travelers and nature lovers often take pictures and videos documenting their experiences. Most people just share them on social media with friends, family members, and followers, and that’s the extent of their reach. But what if those videos have the potential to make money as a side hustle?

Phonography offers a chance for users to make money as they find and capture the various soundscapes naturally occurring in the world.

That’s the driving force behind Earth.fm, billing itself as “Like Spotify but for natural landscape,” a non-profit streaming platform developed by Digital Partnership for Regeneration and Reconnection MUT, a non-profit registered in Estonia. Earth.fm is a free repository of pure, immersive natural soundscapes and a fundraising platform for local, grassroots charities that support the restoration of our natural world.

As their site states, “Our project is inspired by the Earth Holder Community created by Zen Master Thich Nhat Manh and by our passion for soundscape ecology.”

They say they showcase the work of soundscape ecologists all over the world while highlighting charities from those very same places.

As they state, “We aim to develop partnerships with local charities in the regions where nature sounds are found most valuable and best represent the importance of preserving and healing our mother nature.”

How To Do It

First, check out the diverse locations on the interactive map on their homepage. Then gather what you'll need – equipment that can cleanly pick up sound, a love of nature, and plenty of patience

As it's explained on their online community, “The process to submit new recordings is quite manual at the moment, as we want to curate the recordings one by one to ensure their quality and adequacy to the site.”

Before sending new recordings for evaluation, they ask you to consider the following criteria.

  • The recording must be completely antrophony-free: this includes gear handling sounds or the recordist's footsteps as well as distant sound sources.
  • The signal-to-noise ratio should be very low to unnoticeable.
  • No mono recordings and the balance between the left and right channels should actually be balanced. The balance is essential because the listener may feel disoriented if there is too much content on one side versus the other.
  • Only locations in wildlife (no zoos or similar).
  • Minimum length per recording: five minutes to 30 minutes are preferred.
  • 100% original content, with no loops.
  • No man-made sounds (including self-noise or the gear, any distant music or traffic sounds).
  • Full resolution file or careful conversion to the mp3 format, 192 kbps ready.

Payment

The compensation for soundscapes they accept and use on the site is typically between $100 to $300 per hour of sound recorded. Artists and travelers can submit their works for consideration by signing up on the site and then filling out a form here.

Anyone wanting to gain some inspiration can browse the page of current contributors who hail from all over the world and contribute sounds like frogs in Japan, bears snoring in the forests of Russia, and waves crashing in the Gulf of Mexico.

The platform already features an existing 500 nature soundscapes on their site, ready for anyone who might want to enjoy. The contributors are both nature enthusiasts or have professional experience recording the natural world.

For those who already love being out in the world and listening to nature sounds, it's an excellent way to relax and de-stress while making some money on the side. They invite and encourage all travelers and outdoor enthusiasts to submit and contribute their recorded nature sounds from all parts of the world — from a national park in the U.S. to a waterfall across the globe.

There’s a section on their site that features resources for those interested in learning more about nature sound recording. Additionally, there is a newsletter, blog, and podcast that users can follow.

The Charity Arm

Earth.fm also aims to support charities in the regions where the soundscapes are featured. They mention that they keep an open mind but also consider the diversity in cultures and worldviews from around the world.

Their considerations are as follows: they work with local communities with deep knowledge of local context, minimize overhead costs and bureaucracy, use science-based methodologies, are easy-going and transparent, and lastly, do not view nature as a machine.

The site also features a page of recommended charities that feature conservation or reforestation projects in each country.

Travelers, artists, and anyone with the equipment to do some recordings should consider using these soundscapes as a side hustle. These recordings can add extra income to the submitter and provide joy and stress relief for the site’s users for years to come. So consider getting out that recording device on an upcoming nature outing or trip. It just might bring some cash toward your future adventures.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Kelley Dukat is a freelance writer, photographer, and event planner currently based in the United States. She has spent the last year as a nomad traveling and house-sitting. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and previously served as a trade magazine editor. Her favorites include dog-friendly travel, road trips, and nomad life. She is currently working on a memoir and a series of personal essays.