Tools of the Trade: Michael Kotch from HiFi Project

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Michael Kotch, senior composer at creative music studio HiFi Project.

Michael Kotch of HiFi Project touts Arcade software as a source of creative inspiration for his compositions.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

Music production software brand Output has a software called Arcade that is a loop-based virtual instrument that has been great as a source of creative inspiration. They have such great loops and samples for anything that you may be looking for. When I’m stuck on a direction that I’m looking to take a project—when I’m searching for a very distinct sound and can’t quite get there—there is a wide range of styles to give me motivation. In my process, I try not to be too precious with my sources of inspiration and I find that you can often find gems in the most unsuspecting places. I’m always trying to search for something that works and pushes me in the right direction, so to me, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

Why is it your favorite?

If I’m getting writer’s block, I’ll open Arcade and just start listening. I can often find tracks that inspire me. They put it together in a really thoughtful way. It’s easy to use and laid out across your keyboard. It gives you that instant spark of inspiration and gets you going. I use it as a place to find the direction that I’m looking to go. I often find that when I get to that place, I can really get moving quickly in my writing process.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

I owned prior products from Output that offered more standard sound effects. Arcade was sent to me to try and I was struck by how cool it was. I also read different industry sites and follow various trade outlets that had talked about its launch and I’m always curious to try the latest tools hands-on, so I was excited to give it a try.

How does it help you be successful?

Before I had Arcade, sometimes I would think about something specific I wanted to create, like strings with broken synth in a ’70s style. But, how to get there? With Arcade, there is such a wealth of sounds that it was a candy store of everything I wanted. Before, I would always find my way to the style that I was looking to build towards, but these kinds of tools can be helpful to get you to iterate a bit faster.

Sometimes it’s good to be bored and a worthwhile endeavor to have a block and work your way around it. Other times, when I need to work fast, I know I can key into instantly with tools like this.

Does it have sentimental value?

No, not really. Just a piece of software.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

No, I don’t think so. It’s too specific to be built into the kinds of software that we use to write the tracks. If there was an easier version, there may be opportunities for it to be used on a broader level, but that’s not what its current iteration is designed for.

Some other apps offer solutions that are much more accessible to those who don’t have professional-quality software. There are developments happening so quickly that will allow virtually anyone the ability to create whatever they are able to dream up. Logic is on the iPad now. There are soon going to be tools for anybody that wants to create.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.