What 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. Initially, they could use odds and ends of music production, either from memory or collections of written music, but immediately volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to fit the numerous screen actions or moods. Perhaps this is why this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is certainly a properly-known tune!
An Introduction To ‘Production Music’
Soon, music became available on discs, along with the development of TV in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was clearly a huge need for easily available music, which had been known as mood music, atmospheric music and, of course, library music. Most of this is of extremely high-quality orchestral and jazz, though together with the proliferation of synths inside the late ’70s it gained a good reputation for being cheap (yet not necessarily cheerful). Originally an American term, ‘production music’ is currently generally speaking use here in britain, as producers have wished to promote a newer generation of library music that has shed the old image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD but it is now made available via download. A production music clients are basically a publishing company, or a department of a publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The conclusion user is generally a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks may also be used for video games, sites, live events as well as ringtones. Users choose tracks they need to include in a programme and can license them in a short time, through MCPS in the united kingdom or some other licensing agencies worldwide, with a set licence fee per half a minute of music. Often this really is cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than commissioning a composer.
A lot of the television music of your ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers such as Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the conventional in this respect. Library music producers followed suit, and may corner some great jazz musicians in touring bands who were pleased to supplement their meagre club fees with a couple of sessions.
Today, a lot larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This really is due in part to some demand from modern TV producers, but another factor is the digital revolution. Producing convincing pop music is not really exclusively the field of companies with big budgets for large studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The regular still should be high and the usage of real musicians whenever you can is definitely a bonus, but it is now feasible for a person with the talent as well as a decent DAW to take on the large boys.
Production music CDs might look like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might appear to be ordinary albums…The recent proliferation of television channels has inevitably thinned out the viewing audience for most individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and for that reason budgets, being slashed. Aside from the few with the very top, TV and film composers experienced to get used to focusing on lower budgets. Often – but by no means always – this has led to 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 a brand new generation of music having much higher artistic and production values, that could be licensed easily.
My Approach To Composing
As I am commissioned to talkin music, it could either be for an entire album, or perhaps for a variety of tracks to be contained in a ‘compilation’ album that several composers contribute. We have produced six complete albums within the last several years and approximately 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 all of it, really – the background music is mad, bad and jazzy – plus a good title can obviously help with marketing, by signalling to producers what to expect in the album. The design that has dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, by using a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and merely plain bizarre.
I work closely with a couple of producers in the company (Universal – formerly BMG – in this case), who work as overall ‘executive’ producers. They have an idea of the whole concept and marketing plan of your album, and generally I’ll provide an initial briefing meeting together to go about this. Then they leave me to do the composing and production, and can drop with the studio every once in awhile, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas show up throughout production.
An album will comprise of about 16 tracks, and even though they can often be as short as you minute, I like to think of them as ‘real’ album tracks, and so i will normally make sure they are between two and four minutes long. In addition, i include various shorter versions lasting half a minute, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, as well as short ‘stings’. It’s less difficult to the producer to generate these in the mixing stage than to try to create them from the stereo master later – more details on this in next month’s article.
…but the sleeve notes are created to assist the TV editor very quickly. Note any additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, and the short ‘stings’.
…although the sleeve notes are meant to help the TV editor in a rush. Note the 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, know the way I work, the briefing session is quite much a two-way flow of ideas. I never understand what I’m going to be motivated to do, but briefs may range through the precise for the vague, for example:
Writing something that fits an extremely specific commercial demand, such as lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or to fit popular search phrases like ‘s-ex in the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from a preexisting track, composer or style, being careful never to infringe any copyright or ‘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 some fun to see what you develop, Pete.”
Fairly often I might also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for one more reason, such as cues coming from a commissioned score that has now passed its exclusivity date, demos I did so for something that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote just for fun.
I generally take six to twelve months to compose and record a total album, because i want the tracks to sound great, and not just like the stereotypical library music of your ‘old days’. I start out with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll cause them to as convincing as possible by including as much real instrumentation because i can – saxophone, flute and some guitar and bass. Whatever isn’t a live instrument has to have a reason for being there, such as a drum loop that can’t be recreated or even a particular rhythm that must be quantised to suit the genre. I also have a vast selection of unique samples recorded and collected during my years employed in studios like a producer.
Once the early drafts are approved, I print scores and parts from Logic and book sessions for musicians where necessary. This is a crucial step for me – I book musicians I realize and am comfortable dealing with. Once again, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I need to feel that the musicians are planning exactly the same way: they are contributing creatively as opposed to it being just another session.
It’s great utilizing Duncan or Jo at Universal – they may have an excellent handle on which work. It’s also really good to obtain some fresh ears on a project when you’ve lived from it within the studio for a few weeks. I remember when i presented a demo to Duncan and his comment was “great, however the saxophone is a little too in tune, sounds like library music.” This became over a ska track and he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried once or twice to play badly, difficult to get a seasoned session player that has struggled all his life to experience well. Ultimately I played the sax together with the mouthpiece on upside down, thus i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for a few weeks.
Getting the music accepted or being commissioned to create production music is every bit as competitive as any of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, like landing a record deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You have got to submit your music on the CD that you simply should make look as attractive and interesting as you possibly can, though a highly-constructed web site or MySpace site with biography and audio clips can be in the same way or maybe more useful. A couple of cell phone calls to receptionists can assist you to get the names of your right people to send your pitch to: a private letter is preferable to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The World Wide Web has changed just how production music is distributed, and most publishers now make it easy to locate and download the tracks you need.
The Internet is different just how production music is distributed, and many publishers now help it become easy to search for and download the tracks you need.The biggest thing to be familiar with that the music should grab the interest of the listener quickly. If your company wants writers, they may definitely hear music they are sent, but frequently these are inundated, so it’s possible that they’ll only pay attention to the initial 10 or 20 seconds of each track (which may well be the way their end user will tune in to the product, too).
Most important will not be to attempt to second-guess what you think ‘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 more, and in case they are doing, certainly one of their established writers will be asked to do it. If you would like create a good first impression, it’s significantly better to publish something that has some character, originality and flair; and, first and foremost, it ought to be something that you are perfect at doing. The best probability of obtaining your music accepted is usually to offer something different, fresh and different.
Very often, a piece you wrote as being a demo for something diffrent that got rejected may be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces that have actually been utilized in TV programmes might not be good for production music. Often I’ve believed music I have written to get a film on the non-exclusive basis can be accepted inside a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written into a specific scene may work well simply to that scene, and could possibly not appear sensible alone. Surprisingly, it may also be that production values for TV music tend to be not good enough, particularly 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 out with some marketing ideas. CDs or parts of CDs will wind up being categorised to assist the end user, so you may consider doing the identical for the demo. Categories can be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they can be more specific to a music genre or era – for example jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and the like. Titles are really important, not only being a description but additionally to help you with searches. It’s the identical principle as Googling: keywords and phrases or phrases inside a title can be extremely helpful, particularly for online searching. On the other hand, you will find limits to the quantity of tracks that might be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
One of the things which i still find fascinating is where my music eventually ends up. Anything you think your music will be useful for, it might show up on something quite different, be that the feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To learn how production music works, try putting yourself in the position of any stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some good music for any new part of footage the executive producer motivated to be added in into a documentary three hours before the deadline. There are numerous possibilities:
Check out a production music company site and do an online search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or even the scene that requires music.
Obviously, a skilled editor or director will already have a great familiarity with music that is available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but tend to still keep an eye out for new and refreshing material.
Many production music companies may also aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, just like any good publisher should. This might mean contacting producers of any film or TV projects that are about to go into production, along with building up close and ongoing relationships making use of their main clients, arranging all the stuff that composers would do ourselves if we had the time and cash: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays from the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
In this post, we’ve investigated the organization dimension of production music: what exactly it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, above all, ways you can get your foot inside the door. But in the composer’s standpoint there are also technical skills which are specific to production music, including the ability to create versions of the pieces which fit exactly in to the 10-second format, so the following month, we’ll look at techniques you can learn to help with making a professional-sounding production music library disc.