What we should now call ‘production music’ is through various stages of evolution. Its origins are probably in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the film and offer a live accompaniment. At the beginning, they could use pieces of talkin music, either from memory or collections of written music, but very soon volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to fit the many screen actions or moods. Perhaps this is why this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is unquestionably a properly-known tune!
A Review Of ‘Production Music’
Very soon, music became on discs, with the introduction of TV inside the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was clearly a huge requirement for readily accessible music, which had been known as mood music, atmospheric music and, needless to say, library music. A great deal of this became of extremely high-quality orchestral and jazz, though using the proliferation of synths from the late ’70s it gained a track record of being cheap (however, not necessarily cheerful). Originally a united states term, ‘production music’ is currently on the whole use here throughout the uk, as producers have planned to promote a newer generation of library music containing shed the previous image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD but it is now made available via download. A production music company is basically a publishing company, or even a department of any publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The end user is usually a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks could also be used for computer games, websites, live events and also ringtones. Users choose tracks they need to include in a programme and may license them very quickly, through MCPS in britain or any other licensing agencies worldwide, at a set licence fee per 30 seconds of music. Often this is cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than commissioning a composer.
Much of the television music of your ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers for example Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the conventional in this way. Library music producers followed suit, and could corner some excellent jazz musicians in touring bands who have been happy to supplement their meagre club fees with a number of sessions.
Today, a lot larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This is certainly due to some extent into a demand from modern TV producers, but another factor may be the digital revolution. The creation of convincing pop music is not really exclusively the arena of companies with big budgets for large studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The regular still needs to be high and the application of real musicians whenever you can is undoubtedly a bonus, but it is now possible for a person with the talent plus a decent DAW to compete with the big boys.
Production music CDs might appear like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might look like ordinary albums…The recent proliferation of television stations has inevitably thinned out your viewing audience for most individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and therefore budgets, being slashed. In addition to the few at the very top, TV and film composers experienced to get used to working on lower budgets. Often – but in no way always – this has resulted in either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing an opportunity, the library music companies stepped in with an all new generation of music having higher artistic and production values, that could be licensed easily.
My Procedure For Composing
As I am commissioned to music production online, it can be either for an entire album, or numerous tracks to get contained in a ‘compilation’ album to which several composers contribute. I have got produced six complete albums in the last 10 years and about another 30 or 40 single tracks. My first commission was for a jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which has three sequels. The title says it all, really – the music is mad, bad and jazzy – as well as a good title can obviously aid in marketing, by signalling to producers exactly what to expect through the album. The style which has dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, with a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and just plain bizarre.
I work closely with a couple of producers from your company (Universal – formerly BMG – in this case), who serve as overall ‘executive’ producers. They know of your whole concept and online marketing strategy of the album, and usually I’ll offer an initial briefing meeting along with them to go over this. Then they leave me to perform the composing and production, and definitely will drop from the studio every so often, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas appear throughout production.
An album will consist of about 16 tracks, and even though they can be as short as one minute, I like to think about them as ‘real’ album tracks, therefore i will normally make sure they are between two and four minutes long. Also i include various shorter versions lasting 30 seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, in addition to short ‘stings’. It’s much simpler for your producer to produce these at the mixing stage than to attempt to create them from the stereo master later – a little more about this in next month’s article.
…however the sleeve notes are designed to help the TV editor very quickly. Note any additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’.
…nevertheless the sleeve notes are designed to help the TV editor in a rush. Note an added one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’. Because my producers at Universal, Duncan Schwier and Jo Pearson, understand the way I work, the briefing session is extremely much a two-way flow of ideas. I never understand what I’m gonna be motivated to do, but briefs may range from the precise towards the vague, such as:
Writing an issue that fits a really specific commercial demand, like lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or to fit popular search phrases for example ‘s-ex from the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from an existing track, composer or style, being very careful to not infringe any copyright or perhaps to ‘pass off’ as something copyrighted.
Taking inspiration purely coming from a generic film scene, like a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Creating a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have a little bit of fun to see what you put together, Pete.”
Very often I may also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for an additional reason, for example cues from the commissioned score which includes now passed its exclusivity date, demos I did for a thing that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote only for fun.
I generally take six to one year to compose and record an entire album, when i want the tracks to sound great, and not such as the stereotypical library music from the ‘old days’. I start out with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll make sure they are as convincing as is possible by including all the real instrumentation because i can – saxophone, flute and some guitar and bass. Anything that isn’t a live instrument should have a reason to be there, for instance a drum loop that can’t be recreated or perhaps a particular rhythm that should be quantised to put the genre. I also have a vast assortment of unique samples recorded and collected during my years doing work in studios as being a producer.
When the early drafts are approved, I print scores and parts from Logic and book sessions for musicians where necessary. It is a crucial step for me personally – I book musicians I am aware and am comfortable dealing with. Yet again, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I need to believe the musicians are planning exactly the same way: that they are contributing creatively instead of it being the next session.
It’s great working with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have got a great handle of what works. It’s also very good to get some fresh ears with a project when you’ve lived by using it from the studio for a couple of weeks. One time i presented a demo to Duncan and his awesome comment was “great, but the saxophone is a bit too in tune, may sound like library music.” This is over a ska track and that he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried a few times to play badly, challenging for any seasoned session player that has struggled all his life to experience well. Ultimately I played the sax together with the mouthpiece on upside-down, and so i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for several weeks.
Getting the music accepted or being commissioned to create production music is every bit as competitive as some of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, including landing an archive deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You will have to submit your music over a CD you should make look as attractive and interesting as is possible, though a nicely-constructed internet site or MySpace site with biography and audio clips may be just as or maybe more useful. Several cell phone calls to receptionists can help you to find the names of the right people to send your pitch to: a personal letter is superior to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Net has evolved the way production music is distributed, and the majority of publishers now make it easy to find and download the tracks you will need.
The Internet has evolved the way production music is distributed, and many publishers now help it become easy to locate and download the tracks you will need.The biggest thing to understand is your music should grab the eye from the listener quickly. If a company wants writers, they are going to definitely tune in to music that they are sent, but frequently they may be inundated, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll only pay attention to the very first 10 or 20 seconds for each track (which might well become the way their consumer will listen to the item, too).
Most critical is just not to try to second-guess your opinion ‘they’ want, or what is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The chances are it’s already within their library and they don’t need any longer, and if they are doing, among their established writers will have to practice it. In order to produce a good first impression, it’s much better to write something that has some character, originality and flair; and, first and foremost, it ought to be something that you are perfect at doing. The most effective potential for getting your music accepted is always to offer something different, fresh and unique.
Fairly often, a piece you wrote like a demo for something different that got rejected can be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces who have actually been found in TV programmes is probably not beneficial to production music. Frequently I’ve thought that music I actually have written for the film on the non-exclusive basis will be accepted in a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written into a specific scene may work well merely to that scene, and could not necessarily appear sensible alone. Surprisingly, additionally, it can be that production values for TV music tend to be not sufficient, especially with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The production music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is absolutely no harm in aiding by helping cover their some marketing ideas. CDs and parts of CDs will become categorised to assist the conclusion user, so you might consider doing the same to your demo. Categories may be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they can be more specific to your music genre or era – for example jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and the like. Titles are exceedingly important, not merely as a description and also to aid with searches. It’s a similar principle as Googling: key words or phrases within a title are often very helpful, specifically for on-line searching. On the other hand, you will find limits to the amount of tracks that may be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
One important thing that I still find fascinating is where my music eventually ends up. Whatever you decide to think your music will likely be useful for, it might be visible on something quite different, be that a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To learn how production music works, try putting yourself within the position of a stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs good quality music to get a new piece of footage the executive producer motivated to be added in to a documentary three hours prior to the deadline. There are several possibilities:
Go to a production music company website and do an on-line search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or the scene that needs music.
Needless to say, a skilled editor or director will already have a good knowledge of music that is certainly available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but could still be on the lookout for brand new and refreshing material.
Many production music companies will even aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, just like any good publisher should. This could mean contacting producers for any film or TV projects that are about to enter production, along with strengthening close and ongoing relationships because of their main clients, arranging everything that composers would do ourselves whenever we had the time and expense: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays in the Caribbean, that sort of thing.
In this article, we’ve checked out the company dimension of production music: what it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, most significantly, ways you can get your foot within the door. But from your composer’s viewpoint there are technical skills that happen to be specific to production music, for example the power to create versions of the pieces that fit exactly into the 10-second format, so the following month, we’ll look at techniques you can discover to help make a professional-sounding production music library disc.