Everything we now call ‘production music’ has been through various stages of evolution. Its origins are probably in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the movie and provide a live accompaniment. In the beginning, they will 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 match the numerous screen actions or moods. Perhaps that is why this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is unquestionably a properly-known tune!
A Review Of ‘Production Music’
Immediately, music became located on discs, with the introduction of TV inside the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was clearly a huge requirement for readily available music, which was generally known as mood music, atmospheric music and, of course, library music. Much of this was of extremely high-quality orchestral and jazz, though together with the proliferation of synths within the late ’70s it gained a good reputation for being cheap (but not necessarily cheerful). Originally a united states term, ‘production music’ is now on the whole use here throughout the uk, as producers have planned to promote a newer generation of library music which has shed the previous image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD however it is now also available via download. A production music company is basically a publishing company, or possibly a department of a publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The final user is generally a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks may also be used for video games, web sites, live events as well as ringtones. Users choose tracks they wish to include in a programme and may license them quickly, through MCPS in the united kingdom or any other licensing agencies worldwide, in a set licence fee per thirty seconds of music. Frequently this is certainly cheaper, quicker and less complicated than commissioning a composer.
A lot of the television music of the ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers like Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the typical in this respect. Library music producers followed suit, and can corner some great jazz musicians in touring bands who have been happy to supplement their meagre club fees with a number of sessions.
Today, a far larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This is certainly due in part into a demand from modern TV producers, but another factor will be the digital revolution. The creation of convincing pop music is not exclusively the world of companies with big budgets for big studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The regular still should be high and the usage of real musicians wherever possible is definitely a bonus, yet it is now easy for a person with the talent and a decent DAW to contend with the important boys.
Production music CDs might appear to be ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might look like ordinary albums…The recent proliferation of television channels has inevitably thinned the viewing audience for most individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and thus budgets, to be slashed. Besides the few on the very top, TV and film composers have had to get accustomed to concentrating on lower budgets. Often – but by no means always – this has resulted in either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing the opportunity, the library music companies stepped in with a brand new generation of music having better artistic and production values, which may be licensed easily.
My Strategy To Composing
As I am commissioned to talkin music, it might be either on an entire album, or perhaps for any number of tracks to get incorporated into a ‘compilation’ album which several composers contribute. We have produced six complete albums within the last several years and about another 30 or 40 single tracks. My first commission was for any jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which now has three sequels. The title says everything, really – the music is mad, bad and jazzy – and a good title can obviously help with marketing, by signalling to producers what to expect from your album. The design and style which has dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, having a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and just plain bizarre.
I work closely with 1 or 2 producers from the company (Universal – formerly BMG – in cases like this), who work as overall ‘executive’ producers. They know of the whole concept and marketing plan in the album, and customarily I’ll come with an initial briefing meeting with them to discuss this. Then they leave me to complete the composing and production, and often will drop by the studio every once in awhile, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas appear throughout production.
An album will comprise of about 16 tracks, and though they can be as short as one minute, I love to imagine them as ‘real’ album tracks, thus i will usually get them to between two and four minutes long. Furthermore, i include various shorter versions lasting thirty seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, along with short ‘stings’. It’s less difficult to the producer to generate these on the mixing stage than to try and create them from the stereo master later – more details on this in next month’s article.
…but the sleeve notes are made to help the TV editor in a rush. Note the extra one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’.
…however the sleeve notes are designed to assist the TV editor in a big hurry. Note any additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, as well as the short ‘stings’. Because my producers at Universal, Duncan Schwier and Jo Pearson, be aware of way I work, the briefing session is extremely much a two-way flow of ideas. I never know what I’m gonna be required to do, but briefs ranges from your precise for the vague, including:
Writing a thing that fits a very specific commercial demand, such as lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or fit popular search phrases for example ‘s-ex within the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from an existing track, composer or style, being careful never to infringe any copyright or perhaps to ‘pass off’ as something copyrighted.
Taking inspiration purely coming from a generic film scene, say for example a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Building a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have a bit of fun and find out the things you develop, Pete.”
Frequently I may also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for one more reason, such as cues from a commissioned score which has now passed its exclusivity date, demos I have done for something that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote exclusively for fun.
I generally take six to 1 year to compose and record a complete album, when i want the tracks to sound great, rather than just like the stereotypical library music of your ‘old days’. I usually start out with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll make sure they are as convincing as is possible by including as much real instrumentation because i can – saxophone, flute and a certain amount of guitar and bass. Everything that isn’t a live instrument should have reasons as being there, like a drum loop that can’t be recreated or even a particular rhythm that needs to be quantised to suit the genre. I in addition have a vast variety of unique samples recorded and collected during my years working in studios like a producer.
After the early drafts are approved, I print scores and parts from Logic and book sessions for musicians where necessary. This can be a crucial step for me personally – I book musicians I know and am comfortable utilizing. Once more, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I have to think that the musicians are planning the same way: that they are contributing creatively as opposed to it being merely another session.
It’s great working with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have a fantastic handle on what will continue to work. It’s incredibly good to acquire some fresh ears on a project when you’ve lived by using it inside the studio for a couple of weeks. I once presented a demo to Duncan along with his comment was “great, nevertheless the saxophone is too in tune, sounds like library music.” This became with a ska track and the man wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried a couple of times to perform badly, challenging for any seasoned session player who may have struggled all his life to experience well. In the end I played the sax together with the mouthpiece on upside-down, and so i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for a couple of weeks.
Getting your music accepted or being commissioned to write down production music is every bit as competitive as some of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, such as landing a record deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You will need to send in your music on the CD that you simply should make look as attractive and interesting as you possibly can, though a nicely-constructed site or MySpace site with biography and audio clips may be just like or maybe more useful. A number of telephone calls to receptionists will help you to get the names in the right men and women to send your pitch to: a private letter is better than ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Internet has evolved just how production music is distributed, and most publishers now make it easy to look for and download the tracks you want.
The Net has evolved just how production music is distributed, and the majority of publishers now allow it to be easy to search for and download the tracks you need.What is important to understand that the music should grab the eye from the listener quickly. When a company is looking for writers, they may definitely pay attention to music that they are sent, but frequently they may be inundated, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll only listen to the 1st 10 or 20 seconds of each and every track (which can well end up being the way their consumer will tune in to this product, too).
Most important is not in order to second-guess what you believe ‘they’ want, or what exactly is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The likelihood is it’s already within their library and they don’t need any further, and in case they do, one among their established writers will be asked to undertake it. If you wish to come up with a good first impression, it’s far better to write something which has some character, originality and flair; and, especially, it ought to be something that you are perfect at doing. The best chance of having your music accepted is to offer something different, fresh and different.
Frequently, a piece you wrote as being a demo for something different that got rejected might be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces who have actually been found in TV programmes is probably not good for production music. Many times I’ve believed that music We have written to get a film with a non-exclusive basis will be accepted within a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written to a specific scene may work perfectly merely to that scene, and may not really appear sensible alone. Surprisingly, additionally, it can be that production values for TV music tend to be not suitable, especially with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The development music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is not any harm to help by helping cover their some marketing ideas. CDs and sections of CDs will become categorised to assist the conclusion user, so you might consider doing the same to your demo. Categories could be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they can be more specific into a music genre or era – as an example jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska etc. Titles are really important, not only being a description and also to aid with searches. It’s the same principle as Googling: key words or phrases inside a title can be very helpful, specifically for online searching. However, you can find limits to the amount of tracks which can be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
One important thing that I still find fascinating is when my music winds up. Anything you think your music will probably be useful for, it could possibly be visible on something quite different, be a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To know how production music works, try putting yourself within the position of your stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some really good music for the new part of footage the executive producer asked to be added into a documentary three hours just before the deadline. There are many possibilities:
Go to a production music company site and do an online search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or the scene that requires music.
Naturally, a skilled editor or director will already have a good knowledge of music which is available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but tend to still be on the lookout for first time and refreshing material.
Many production music companies will likely aggressively market their music production blog, just like any good publisher should. This can mean contacting producers for any film or TV projects which can be about to enter production, in addition to building up close and ongoing relationships with their main clients, arranging all the stuff that composers would do ourselves whenever we had the time and money: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays in the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
In this article, we’ve investigated the company dimension of production music: what exactly it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, most of all, how you can get your foot inside the door. But from the composer’s viewpoint additionally, there are technical skills which can be specific to production music, for example the capacity to create versions of your respective pieces that suit exactly in the 10-second format, so the following month, we’ll be looking at techniques you can study to make a specialist-sounding production music library disc.