Whatever we now call ‘production music’ has become through various stages of evolution. Its origins are most likely in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the movie and offer a live accompaniment. Initially, they will use bits and pieces of talkin music, either from memory or collections of sheet music, but very soon volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to put the various screen actions or moods. Perhaps that is why this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is unquestionably a highly-known tune!
An Introduction To ‘Production Music’
Immediately, music became seen on discs, and also the introduction of TV from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was a big need for readily accessible music, that was referred to as mood music, atmospheric music and, obviously, library music. A lot of this is of very high-quality orchestral and jazz, though together with the proliferation of synths within the late ’70s it gained a track record of being cheap (yet not necessarily cheerful). Originally an American term, ‘production music’ is now on the whole use here in the united kingdom, as producers have wished to promote a newer generation of library music which has shed the existing image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD however it is now also available via download. A production music clients are basically a publishing company, or even a department of your publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The final user is usually a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks can also be used for computer games, websites, live events and also ringtones. Users choose tracks they need to use in a programme and might license them very quickly, through MCPS in the united kingdom or any other licensing agencies worldwide, at the set licence fee per half a minute of music. Very often this is cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than commissioning a composer.
Much of the TV music from the ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers such as Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the regular in this way. Library music producers followed suit, and could corner some very good jazz musicians in touring bands who had been very happy to supplement their meagre club fees with a couple of sessions.
Today, a much larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This is due in part into a demand from modern TV producers, but another factor is definitely the digital revolution. The production of convincing pop music is not exclusively the field of companies with big budgets for big studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The standard still should be high and the application of real musicians wherever possible is definitely a bonus, but it is now feasible for a person with the talent and a decent DAW to contend with the large boys.
Production music CDs might seem like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might appear like ordinary albums…The current proliferation of television channels has inevitably thinned out your viewing audience for many individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and thus budgets, to get slashed. Besides 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 – it has led to either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing a chance, the library music companies stepped in with a brand new generation of music having higher artistic and production values, which could be licensed easily.
My Strategy To Composing
When I am commissioned to talkin music, it might either be for an entire album, or even for any number of tracks to be included in a ‘compilation’ album in which several composers contribute. I actually have produced six complete albums within the last a decade and about another 30 or 40 single tracks. My first commission was for the jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which presently has three sequels. The title says all this, really – the songs is mad, bad and jazzy – and a good title can obviously assistance with marketing, by signalling to producers exactly what to expect from the album. The design and style which 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 few producers from your company (Universal – formerly BMG – in such a case), who function as overall ‘executive’ producers. They have an idea in the whole concept and marketing plan from the album, and usually I’ll provide an initial briefing meeting with them to go about this. Then they leave me to accomplish the composing and production, and definitely will drop by the studio every so often, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas show up over the course of production.
An album will contain about 16 tracks, and while they is often as short as you minute, I love to imagine them as ‘real’ album tracks, therefore i will normally get them to between two and four minutes long. Also i include various shorter versions lasting half a minute, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, as well as short ‘stings’. It’s less difficult for the producer to generate these at the mixing stage than to try and create them coming from a stereo master later – much more about this in next month’s article.
…although the sleeve notes are made to assist the TV editor in a hurry. Note the additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, and also the short ‘stings’.
…however the sleeve notes are meant to assist the TV editor in a hurry. 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, be aware of way I work, the briefing session is very much a two-way flow of ideas. I never really know what I’m gonna be inspired to do, but briefs may range in the precise on the vague, such as:
Writing a thing that fits an incredibly specific commercial demand, like lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or even to fit popular search phrases such as ‘s-ex inside the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from a preexisting track, composer or style, being careful to not infringe any copyright or perhaps to ‘pass off’ as something copyrighted.
Taking inspiration purely coming from a generic film scene, for instance a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Developing a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have some fun to see everything you come up with, Pete.”
Often I might also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for another reason, for example cues from the commissioned score containing now passed its exclusivity date, demos I did so for something that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote simply for fun.
I generally take six to 1 year to compose and record a whole album, because i want the tracks to sound great, and never like the stereotypical library music from the ‘old days’. I begin with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll cause them to as convincing as you can by including as much real instrumentation when i can – saxophone, flute and a little bit of guitar and bass. Something that isn’t a live instrument has to have grounds for being there, say for example a drum loop that can’t be recreated or even a particular rhythm that must be quantised to fit the genre. I in addition have a vast variety of unique samples recorded and collected during my years working in studios like 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 in my opinion – I book musicians I know and am comfortable working together with. Yet again, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I have to think that the musicians are thinking exactly the same way: they are contributing creatively instead of it being the next session.
It’s great working with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have an outstanding handle on what works. It’s incredibly good to have some fresh ears on the project when you’ve lived from it from the studio for a few weeks. I remember when i presented a demo to Duncan along with his comment was “great, however the saxophone is a bit too in tune, sounds like library music.” This is on a ska track and then he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried a couple of times to try out badly, quite difficult to get a seasoned session player that has struggled all his life to try out well. In the long run I played the sax together with the mouthpiece on upside down, thus i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for several weeks.
Getting your music accepted or being commissioned to write production music is every bit as competitive as some of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, like landing a record deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You will have to send in your music with a CD that you 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 equally as or even more useful. A number of cell phone calls to receptionists can assist you to discover the names of your right individuals to send your pitch to: your own letter surpasses ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Internet has evolved just how production music is distributed, and the majority of publishers now make it easy to find and download the tracks you want.
The World Wide Web changed how production music is distributed, and many publishers now ensure it is easy to search for and download the tracks you will need.The most important thing to pay attention to that the music should grab the attention of your listener quickly. If your company wants writers, they are going to definitely hear music they are sent, but frequently they are inundated, so it’s possible that they’ll only listen to the first 10 or 20 seconds of each and every track (which may very well function as the way their end user will tune in to the merchandise, too).
Most essential will not be to attempt to second-guess what you believe ‘they’ want, or what is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The chances are it’s already with their library and they also don’t need anymore, and in case they generally do, among their established writers will have to do it. If you want to create a good first impression, it’s much better to publish something which has some character, originality and flair; and, especially, it needs to be something that you are good at doing. The most effective chance of getting your music accepted is usually to offer something different, fresh and different.
Often, a piece you wrote being a demo for another thing that got rejected may be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces who have actually been found in TV programmes will not be best for production music. Often I’ve considered that music We have written for the film on a non-exclusive basis will be accepted in a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written to your specific scene may work perfectly simply to that scene, and may possibly not appear sensible by itself. Surprisingly, this may also be that production values for TV music are frequently not suitable, particularly with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The production music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is not any harm in aiding out with some marketing ideas. CDs or sections of CDs will become categorised to help you the conclusion user, so you might consider doing exactly the same for the demo. Categories is often as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they can be more specific into a music genre or era – for instance jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and the like. Titles are extremely important, not just as a description but in addition to help you with searches. It’s the identical principle as Googling: keywords and phrases or phrases inside a title can be extremely helpful, especially for online searching. On the other hand, there are limits to the amount of tracks that may be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
Something that I still find fascinating is the place where my music winds up. Anything you think your music will probably be utilized for, it could be visible on something quite different, be which a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To comprehend how production music works, try putting yourself from the position of any stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some really good music for the new part of footage the executive producer required to be added in into a documentary three hours before the deadline. There are numerous possibilities:
Visit a production music company site and do an online search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or maybe the scene that needs music.
Needless to say, an experienced 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 may also aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, 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 using their main clients, arranging everything that composers would do ourselves when we had the money and time: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays inside the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
On this page, we’ve checked out the organization dimension of production music: what it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, above all, ways you can get your foot in the door. But through the composer’s viewpoint there are technical skills which can be specific to production music, including the power to create versions of your pieces which fit exactly in the 10-second format, so next month, we’ll be looking at techniques you can study to help with making a specialist-sounding production music library disc.