"I’m the most successful indie musician in the country, and no one has a clue who I am.”
Gavin Dunne is sitting in his recording studio; a shoebox spare room in the two-bed apartment he shares with his girlfriend in Cork.
Last year, under his working title ‘Miracle of Sound’ he had over 6m streams on Spotify. His YouTube channel has, at time of going to press, over 54m views — a figure soaring by the month.
So why does no one know who he is?
Based in Cork, Dunne has managed to tap into a fanbase that is niche but boasts a massive worldwide audience.
“The thing about the Miracle of Sound project is that a lot of it is based on other subject matter. I would say about 60%-70% of the songs I’ve released are based on character stories from movies or games or TV shows. The music I make for each song has to fit somehow with that theme, or that world or that universe. The genre is completely different with every song,” he explains.
Gamers, sci-fi fans and fantasy enthusiasts from across the world have been lapping up these musical homages in their droves, streaming his tracks online and buying his albums from iTunes and Bandcamp. All these revenue streams add up, and mean he has been able to make a living solely from the ‘Miracle of Sound’.
“On the internet, because it’s so popular, people assume I’m in this big fancy studio with huge desks everywhere and guys pressing play for me. I do everything myself on this screen here,” he says, gesturing to a computer monitor.
About half a dozen guitars of various types are propped against the wall and a music keyboard sits on the desk. Using software, Dunne can use the keyboard to record a wide selection of virtual instruments.
By way of demonstration he randomly bashes his keyboard and an animated drumkit on his screen responds. Working alone, he records each instrument and vocals separately, and lays them over each other to form a single track.
“I just did a Guardians of the Galaxy one that sounds really like a late 70s, early 80s rock-pop kind of sound which would tie in with the soundtrack of the movie. So I had to use a lot of tricks to make it sound old. But then if I’m doing something for a big fantasy song, like something from Game of Thrones, that would be with much more cello and strings and dulcimer — all the stuff that they would have from the show. I love that, it means every single song is a new challenge. How do I overcome this? How do I make it sound right for the subject matter?”
Dunne’s success emerged from a past failure. He happened upon this unconventional way of making a living when Lotus Lullaby, his previous band, broke up.
“I had put a lot of time and passion into it, so I was pissed off and upset and I was playing video games to cheer myself up. I wrote a stupid song, for the laugh, about one of the characters and put it on the internet.
“It got some attention and I thought, maybe I’ll do another one. So I did a song about a character from a game, Mass Effect, called Commander Shepard and that song just exploded.
“It went viral and I thought maybe there’s a niche here worth exploring.”
Now Dunne’s body of work of some 120 tracks has proved so successful game companies are sending him advance footage from upcoming releases so that he will have a song out to coincide with the game’s launch. It’s a mutually beneficial deal that gives him new material and the game some publicity.
He has also signed some marketing deals, all off the back of his viral success.
“The YouTube views have doubled every year. Right now I’m doing anything between 2.5 million-3 million month, which is insane.
“It’s like half of Ireland every month. Some months I’ll get more than U2 and I have more subscribers than Jedward, and nobody knows who I am,” he laughs.
Having provided a track for the soundtrack of one video game, Dunne says it is an area he would like to do more in as a ‘bonus’.
“I have no reason to stop doing what I’m doing now. I love it. It’s pretty much my dream job,” he says, adding that the income is enough to get by, and is more than he earned in any of his previous day jobs in retail.
“It’s clearly doing pretty well but you never know. You’re only as good as your last song, so they say.
“But I love it, I absolutely love it. Who wouldn’t?”
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