It’s an exciting time to be a musician. Music crosses cultural and societal barriers, and digital distribution reaches global audiences in an instant. Eugene Kazantsev connected with the universal language of music when he was 15 years old. He was classically trained at the National Music Academy in Ukraine and now has almost two decades of performing experience. He’s a talented composer, plays an impressive variety of instruments, and is a master of synthesized sounds as well. But perhaps most impressively, he’s carved out an international niche as a creator of music box melodies. I chatted with him about his inspirations and his journey with Fiverr.
Nico: First of all, thank you for participating in this interview. For those who don’t know you, can you give us a little background about yourself and what you offer on Fiverr?
Eugene: Hello, I’m 35 years old. I live in Kiev, Ukraine, with my wife and seven-year-old daughter. I’m a professional musician, composer and music producer.
I have been working as a musician since I was 15 years old. I play balalaika in a Ukrainian band and I also play piano and ukulele and record and produce my own music for audio markets. I invented the only electric Rock Balalaika in the world, and last year I started working on Fiverr. I offer several services: studio session recording of balalaika, ukulele, and piano, as well as audio editing, mixing, and producing children’s music. But my most successful gig is for making a printable music box strip of any song.
Nico: As a classically educated professional musician, how did you begin offering music box melodies on Fiverr? Where there any challenges you needed to overcome before being successful, or was it pretty straightforward?
Eugene: Recently I came up with the idea of becoming an independent freelance musician. My goal is to be able to live where I want, work as much as I want, and at the same time to have a stable income for all my needs. I decided to offer all my talents in music to all the freelance marketplaces on the internet.
The first and only one I’ve needed is Fiverr. I found it through a Google search and liked it so much, especially for its funny offers, like “I will dance to your music” or “I will sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for you.” So I thought, people want to be happy and I will help them to make each other happy.
Of course, the most beautiful and romantic musical gift is a music box. First I offered to play any song with a music box sound. I played the ordered melodies with a virtual music box instrument and delivered the audio file. Then one of the customers asked me if I could make a paper strip for a DIY music box, and I started the order without answering.
I didn’t know what a DIY music box was at all, how it worked or even what it looked like, but the order was already started, and I had no choice but to find out. I spent all day researching information on the many shops that sell these kinds of music boxes and the different music box mechanisms that create different tunes and different numbers of tones. I watched all the possible YouTube videos on how to create a strip for a DIY music box and finally I found an online editor for DIY music box melodies on Musicboxmaniacs.com. Then everything was easy. I just played the melody with my keyboard, recorded a MIDI digital song to the editor, got my first printable paper strip, and successfully completed the order.
After that, I immediately started a new gig on Fiverr. I ordered a music box for myself because I like with all my heart how it looks and sounds. Now, after making more than 200 melodies, I’m absolutely sure that the DIY music box is not a toy or just a souvenir. It’s a real musical instrument with a unique sound and special beauty. And, of course, a music box with a custom melody is a very romantic and touching present. I have made many melodies for wedding proposals, for anniversaries and birthdays or for people who just want a special way to say “I love you.”
The most interesting thing about my service is that there is a musical part and a programming part. I create notation for the music boxes and create a PDF file with the right notes. Then my customers print it out, punch the holes, and glue strips together. It takes time, meaning they are involved in the process and they make it with their own hands.
Nico: What’s your typical creative process when making a printable music box strip? Can any tune be played?
Eugene: First there is always a conversation with a customer before the work starts. We talk about whether it’s possible to play the melody they want with their music box model. There are different types of music boxes. Some have 15 or 20 notes on a diatonic scale – it’s like only using the white keys on the piano. Not every melody can be played with these models. But a 30-note model has chromatic tuning and can play almost anything.
Then I listen to the sample of music they provide for the melody. It could be a song in any style from classical music to hard rock. I try to imagine how a music box with a little ballerina on the top would play this melody and how people would stand around this music box and listen to the melody. Then I play that melody with a virtual music box sound on my keyboard and record a MIDI. After that I edit MIDI notes to make the melody fit the music box scale and import it into the online editor. I get a PDF printable strip and an MP3 audio preview.
One of the extras I offer with this gig is to make a high-quality audio file with the customer’s melody. I play and record it with the music box sound so they can use that audio for their needs. I have even had some orders to compose music with a music box sound for movies, cartoons, and podcast intros.
Nico: What’s your role within Music box maniacs exactly? Are you using other online channels to promote your freelance music services?
Eugene: I’m very thankful for them. We have become partners and their team does a great job. Anyone can create their own melody absolutely free with the online music box editor they have built. And now this website has the biggest online catalog of free melodies for DIY music boxes on the internet. They like the melodies I make, and if the visitors need professional assistance in creating a melody, they refer them to my Fiverr gig.
I also use social media to promote my gig. I started a channel on YouTube, where I have recorded videos on how to make a music box melody, and I’m going to regularly post the most popular melodies I make. On Facebook I started a group called “DIY music box” and it grows every day.
Nico: As a professional musician you own a band that you frequently travel with. How do you combine your freelance activity on Fiverr with your professional life as a touring musician?
Eugene: Last year I worked with my band in Vietnam under a five-month contract. We performed just two hours every day, so it was very easy to combine with my freelance work. Now when I’m on even a small two-day tour, I don’t use Vacation Mode and stop working on Fiverr. I always take my small piano keyboard, audio interface, and computer with me in case someone orders extra-fast delivery. I can work on a train or in an airport. And I use the Fiverr app on my smartphone because chatting with customers can happen at any time – and it’s fun. The only problem I have is finding a balance between working and resting.
I noticed that making music box melodies helps me grow as a concert musician too. Every day I learn new songs from all around the world. I play melodies from Korean pop to African folk as well as worldwide super hits, retro music, and even classical.
Nico: Lastly, how has becoming a freelancer on Fiverr changed your life?
Eugene: I feel like I got a new dream job and I really love what I do. The last couple of months on Fiverr were quite successful for me, and I have started taking my freelance work very seriously. I’ve bought a new powerful laptop and upgraded my home studio. It’s enough money to support my small family. Now, working on Fiverr seems even more stable than my concert work. I have orders every day, I have fun, and I make people happy.
Our new friend kazantsev is a multidisciplinary marvel. Instead of focusing just on classical performance, he applied his tenacious love for music, along with curiosity and passion, to break into the world of music box melodies. He refused to turn down a challenge, and his dedication paid off handsomely. By being open to new possibilities, he found a market of eager customers who are making beautiful music on even more beautiful boxes. It’s a great way to help people create gifts with handcrafted appeal and genuine affection, and a perfect example of the power of a global marketplace.
Has Fiverr helped you discover a new talent? Tell us in the comments below!