Interview with Ian Hobson: ex-Ableton freelancer in audio programming using Rust!

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For this podcast episode, I was lucky to interview Ian Hobson: a former DJ who transitioned to audio programming, worked at Ableton, and then launched a successful freelancing career.

Ian is well-known in the community for his talks on Rust at the Audio Developer Conferences and on YouTube. He’s also created his own programming language: Koto.

We met at the Audio Developer Conference 2022 and he was kind enough to agree on recording an interview with him. I must say that after recording the podcast, I respect his drive to continuously learn and improve even more!

Ian shares a ton of useful knowledge on

  • freelancing,
  • Rust for audio programming,
  • learning Rust,
  • self-organization,
  • learning DSP,
  • maintaining the internal drive in the professional career,
  • and more!

I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast in full!

Note: If you like the podcast so far, please, go to Apple Podcasts and leave me a review there. You can do so on Spotify as well. It will benefit both sides: more reviews mean a broader reach on Apple Podcasts and feedback can help me to improve the show and provide better quality content to you. You can also subscribe and give a like on YouTube. Thank you for doing this 🙏

Episode Contents

In this podcast episode, you will learn:

  • how Ian got into DJ-ing and how he then went back to the univerisity to become an audio programmer
  • how he landed his job at Ableton
  • why he started exploring Rust for audio
  • why is Rust more programmer-friendly than C++
  • how to become a freelancer in the audio programming space
  • how to stay organized as a freelancer
  • what is Ian’s go-to tech stack at the moment.

The episode was recorded on November 3, 2023.


Below you’ll find all people, places, and references mentioned in the podcast episode.

  1. Ian Hobson
  2. Max/MSP
  3. PureData
  4. Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) | Queen Mary, University of London
  5. Companies
    1. Native Instruments
    2. Ableton
      1. Ableton Live
      2. Push 2
      3. Ableton Note
    3. Lofelt (acquired by Meta, as read here)
    4. Meta
      1. Reality Labs
        1. Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) VR headset
    5. Pick Streams
    6. Super Hi-Fi
  6. Technologies
    1. Unity
    2. Nice Vibrations
    3. Rust programming language
      1. bindgen Rust bindings generator to C and C++ libraries
      2. cbindgen C/C++ header generator for Rust libraries
      3. UniFFI multi-language bindings generator for Rust
      4. Symphonia audio decoding library
      5. CPAL - Cross-Platform Audio Library
      6. FunDSP audio processing and synthesis library
      7. Tauri app framework with web-based GUI
      8. Iced GUI library
      9. VIZIA GUI library
      10. egui GUI library
      11. Slint GUI library
      12. NIH-plug framework for creating VST3 and CLAP plugins
    4. C++ programming language
    5. Zig programming language
    6. RtAudio C++ audio input/output library
    7. PortAudio C++ audio input/output library
    8. Electron app framework
    9. Qt QML
    10. Elm programming language
    11. Redux
    12. Koto programming language
    13. Lua programming language
    14. Python programming language
    15. Neovim IDE
  7. Resources to learn Rust
    1. Advent of Code
    2. Project Euler
    3. Rust book
    4. Rustlings exercises to learn Rust
    5. Online course on Rust from the Android Google team
    6. #rust-audio Discord
  8. Music:
    1. Surgeon
    2. Aleksi Perälä

Thank you for listening!