Artists Still Control the Music Economy

Artists can still make money making music.

Taylor Swift’s album, 1989, which racked up 1.287 million copies sold in it’s first week, is proof of that. But Swift’s story tells us more about the so called “new music economy.”

In the week prior to her album release, Swift and her record label removed all of her recordings from Spotify and other music streaming services, which have been notorious for shafting artists on streaming royalties, paying the average copyright holder somewhere in the range of $0.60 to $0.84 per payout. It is safe to say that, had Swift chosen to keep her music available for streaming, her album sales probably would have been cut in half. Instead, the decried move to step away from the streaming model resulted in a huge payoff for Swift and her label.

la-et-ms-first-week-for-taylor-swifts-1989-128-001Spotify urged Swift to be a part of what they called “the new music economy,” arguing that everyone should have access to Swift’s product. But what Swift, and other artists are beginning to realize is that the freemium model is centered around nothing by hype and Silicon Valley market disruption without a clear path forward for the artists and musicians who create music. Swift’s success shows us that music does not have to be free for artists to succeed, and that artists have a say in their financial success.

Artists and labels should be strongly considering moving away from free streaming, $1 stock music licenses, 29 cent downloads, and performances “for publicity.” Similarly, songwriters and composers should stop working for free and devaluing their work by giving it away for minuscule fractions of a penny. Artists and copyright owners have the power and ability to shape the future of the music business, and don’t have to feel pressured to conform to the tech industry’s sharing economy. Rights holders have just as much right to profit from their intellectual property as tech companies do from their technology patents. Whether an artist is selling albums, production music, or giving a concert, their hard work, training, and investment should factor into the retail price of the product they produce.

The fact that paying artists and musicians their fair share of royalties for streaming and downloads would undermine business models for free streaming and low-cost download providers sounds like a “you” problem for those companies, not the musicians whom they are trying to exploit.

Taylor Swift’s actions and subsequent success should be a wake-up call for musicians and record labels trying to compete in a music business that has been redefined by a bunch of 20 somethings in a warehouse loft in San Francisco. Stand up for what is yours – what you create is valuable, start acting like it.

Production Music and Content ID: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

With production music venturing more and more into the online space, content ID and musical fingerprinting programs are becoming evermore necessary, evermore prevalent and evermore obtrusive. Fingerprinting and content recognition is vital for combating piracy, but at the same time creates headaches in a crowded and quickly-changing creative field of royalty free music production.

audio fingerprinting
The Good
Content Identification is great for maintaining order in an industry that sees more piracy every day. With the increasing availability of high-end but low-cost audio software, more and more people are expressing their creativity with music more than ever. While accessibility drives innovation in the arts, technological progress oftentimes comes at the expense of time-honored copyright laws. For content owners and the artists who create, content ID programs offer a way to monitor and be properly compensated for your work. Content Identification systems can recognize your music in a video, on a website, or in an app, thereby giving you the opportunity to exercise your right as first exploitation. No matter your distribution and compensation strategy, all artists benefit from knowing who is using their music, and where their music is playing.

The Bad
On Youtube especially, Content ID is soulless. The systems in place do not recognize people, and cannot infer circumstances, nor does the system attempt to try. Some may argue that this is by design — an attempt to leave authoritative control in the hands of the copyright owner. However, without fully grasping common licensing practices, especially in the stock media and production music industries, these content scans are an all-powerful guilty-until-proven-innocent judge and jury. Customers of stock music sites often find themselves harrassed by the YouTube Content ID system for using music that they have properly licensed, oftentimes with threats of closing down the user’s channel. So much for doing things the right way, and ignoring pleas from the licensor, no matter how much authority was granted to them by the original copyright holder, requiring full licenses from the original owner in order to fully satisfy its documentation needs.

Additionally, content identification systems don’t have real ears. While fingerprinting and sonic imaging have come a long way in recent years, true content matching can only be done by a human being — especially when it comes to production music. Think about it: every composer out there is using the same sample libraries as the next guy. OF COURSE THEY ALL MATCH SOMETHING ELSE, it’s because the instruments are identical. Only a human can make the distinction between a fair use of a lick or sample kit, a common harmonic progression, or a loop pack.

youtube content idThe Ugly
The YouTube Content ID system contractually requires the content owners who provide the data to be exclusive rights holders. Yes, exclusive. Read the terms. All of those Ad Rev and Ad Share companies out there? Yeah, they’re all claiming that they own your (the composer) work. Worse, they’re collecting ad revenue on your behalf and chances are, unless you’ve signed a contract with these companies, you’re not seeing a dime. We know of a bunch of music libraries who made deals to provide huge databases of music tracks to these companies without telling you, and without paying you. What winds up happening because of this, in addition to someone else making money off of your hard work who is not you, is that tracks are getting improperly attributed. Confusion abounds as to who really owns what — and usually, to satisfy the DMCA, service providers are forced by the law to turn a blind eye. Some protection.

How Productiontrax Uses Content ID
Productiontrax.com does not submit song data to Content ID programs. We do, however, scan our library against the content identification databases to identify songs, and we match this data to the data provided by our users. Why? We do this for two reasons:

1) To make sure that our clients are properly licensed when they purchase music on Productiontrax.com. Scanning, fingerprinting, and identifying songs uploaded help us to keep the promises we make in the end user license, representing and warranting that we have properly and adequately obtained rights to license all of the work posted to our site. This protects our customers, protects us, and helps protect you.

2) To protect composers. Through content identification, we can spot fraud, illegal uses, and stolen music — not from us, but from you. We can also spot errors in the content identification database, where your music is being attributed to another musician, composer, or fraudster, when in fact, it belongs to you.

Ultimately, Content ID, when used and maintained properly is an excellent tool, and should be used by copyright owners. But for your sake, do it without the middleman.

Recording Public Domain Songs for Production

Classical music and other public domain songs make for excellent source material for production music. But utilizing these compositions and then legally licensing your recordings can get tricky. With a little forethought, research, and knowledge of copyright rules, you can avoid inadvertently infringing on another composer’s copyright. Give your tracks a copyright tune-up. Here are some things to consider:

copyright1) Research the song. First and foremost, you need to know exactly when the song was written and published. Take careful note of this, as copyright terms expire after a specific time, as determined by where the music might be used. In the United States, works published prior to 1923 are currently public domain. For example, the common song Happy Birthday was written and published after 1923, meaning that song, as common as it is, is still under copyright and cannot be used. There are some caveats, however. So…

2) Research your composer. Know some basics about your composer. Is he still alive? This is important as copyright status depends largely on the composer’s date of death. Find out when the composer died. If he or she is still living, chances are you cannot license any of their music. In the United States, for all works published after 1922, if the composer is no longer living, the copyright expires 95 years from the date the song was written and published. That means that any work published in 1923 will enter the public domain in 2019.

3) If there are lyrics, the lyrics must also be in the public domain. This makes operas, arias, and classical songs a royal pain. You cannot reproduce a song with its lyrics unless the lyrics are also in the public domain, as the lyricist still has rights in the piece. Research this carefully if you are considering producing a recording of any popular operas. Puccini operas are a prime example of this — depending on the lyricist, some operas are now public domain, and some are not.

4) Never, EVER, sell or license a recording you did not make. Period. Don’t do it. Because of the complexities of copyright law, absolutely NO SOUND RECORDINGS are currently in the public domain. Sound recordings have their own copyright, so all recordings must be licensed from the producers or owners of the recording, i.e. the record label that produced them.

Considering producing a classical work for your next round of library music tracks? Be sure to carefully research every aspect of a song before you dive in. This will save you huge headaches, legal trouble, and lots of time.

Great Expectations – Wintery Royalty Free Production Music

Winter might be on the thaw, but you can instill that icy chill into any multimedia project with this week’s royalty free production music pick of the week, Great Expectations. With choirs, bells, and orchestral strings, this track has a layer of intrigue and motivation that combines with sounds traditionally heard during the cold winter months to create a character all of its own.

It sort of reminds us of a Harry Potter sequence — a dark sinister stroll through enchanted woods, or in the deep recesses of a medieval castle. A suitable theme for an evil villain, sorcerer, or fantasy role playing game, this piece has moments of huge muiscal epic-ness and quiet contemplation (or brooding). But don’t let that pidgeon hole you to the fantasy genre. Ad campaigns for companies ranging from security systems to banks and insurance companies could find creative use for these tracks. We feel a sports car commercial would probably make great use of this production music track.

For our pick of the week video, we paired this short piece with stock footage of nighttime snow and fog filmed from a moving car in an eerily empty parking lot. Notice how the creepy feel transfers over to the second stock footage clip, establishing a winter scene haunted farm, demonstrating the music’s versatility.

Get the stock music: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/341353
Get the driving stock footage: http://www.productiontrax.com/stock-footage/304231
Get the winter farm footage: http://www.productiontrax.com/stock-footage/304737

Overlooked Production Music Categories for Composers: Australian & Digidiroo

For our next installment in examining the the most overlooked production music categories, we’re turning to world music. Specifically, Australian & Digidiroo. Royalty free music libraries around the globe tend to be lacking in the extremely useful and oft neglected compositional genre, representing a huge opportunity for composers involved in stock music production.

australian digiderooAustralian music has a long, rich, and diverse history, and spans a diverse range of tastes and cultural sounds. Heavily influenced by European colonization, Australia’s classical music and folk music mirror the styles common to Europe in their respective eras, while modern day pop and country genres are largely consistent with trends in the United States.

But most notably, and probably the most recognizable, is the use of digidiroo in aboriginal and folk music. Similar in sound generating function to the trumpet, the digideroo is a long wooden wind instrument that creates that quintessential drone pipe sound. If you’ve ever seen a film with a chase scene through the jungle, or a pan across a hot desert, you’ve likely heard the low, buzzing drone of the digigeroo.

Why is Australian music so useful in production? The characteristic digideroo sound can be used in a wide variety of film and video genres, most effectively to set foreign scenes in harsh environments. Commonly, the sounds tytpical to Australian folk genres create excitement in advertising, hinting at the new and different. The drone can be used to create tension, either in concert with other tribal percussion, symphonic strings, and brash brass stingers, or on its own as a minimalist score.

The Art of Dreaming Up an Ambient Royalty Free Music Film Score

Texture is a necessity in your audio when creating quality film scores and soundtracks. This week’s royalty free music pick of the week is a beautifully horrifying collection of sound and stock audio layers that could easily be a track of all trades (so to speak). Whether creating a mellow, hypnotic soundscape or something a little more scary, this nifty little piece of production music has the texture you need, adding depth and suspense to any project.

For this week’s pick, we’ve paired The Art of Dreaming by Russell Harris (track ID 388196) with a serene stock footage clip of a sunset over the ocean (footage ID 234247). The piece is a sad and reflective contemporary piano track, evolving into a dreamlike mood of isolation and confusion with haunting strings and electronic textures. The pristine and calming nature of the footage matches the ambient and spacey soundscape provided by the first 45 seconds of the track. Like any good soundtrack, however, the music turns dark and foreboding at 0:45, and we highlighted this with a quick shift in the video effects (ok, so we used the same effect again… but it looks so good!). The result, however cookie cutter, is haunting.

We heartily recommend this production music track for reflective underscores in TV drama, fantasies, and games. It would also fit well in documentaries and mysteries.

Get the track: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/388196
Get the footage: http://www.productiontrax.com/stock-footage/234247

Take a Vacation with Funky Bossa Nova Stock Music

Feeling the need for some sunshine? Get away this winter with the help of this stock music track by George Christie: Funky Bossa Nova – Instrumental. The perfect royalty free music track for warm weather and vacation themed projects, this upbeat and refreshing soundtrack takes a new spin on a classic latin jazz genre.

Funky Bossa Nova features acoustic guitar, funky bass and drums, traditional Brazillian percussion, and a strong melody. Its breezy and positive nature makes it ideal for travel, comedy, and sitcoms. The track brings a cheerful vibe to any imagery. The track features some quirky human whistling for some character, and is reminiscent of Ipanema without getting too cheesy. A full version is available with ID number 369337.

For this week’s stock music pick of the week, we’ve combined it with a loopable stock footage clip (ID 168239) of a tropical plant swaying in the breeze overlooking a beachfront city somewhere warm in Benalmadena, Spain. The footage is only 11 seconds, but loops seamlessly to fill the time of this stock audio track.

Get the music here: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/369336
Get the footage here: http://www.productiontrax.com/stock-footage/168239

Achieve: Corporate Production Music

Our production music pick of the week features the royalty free corporate music track Achieve by Dan Foster. Modern and emotional, this track is uplifting and motivational. Ideal for commercial work, and perfect for times when presenting a positive corporate image is key, this brave and encouraging piece is a must-have for producers creating multimedia projects and videos for businesses and organizations.

We selected three stock footage clips to accompany this corporate track. As the soundtrack opens with a determined tone, prominently featuring electric keyboards and a percussion loop, we chose business stock footage clip 194408, which is a simple 3D animated clip of entering a business through glass doors and a modern, clean hallway. This matches the modern, clean feel of the music, with the movement of the video mirroring the forward motion of the track.

As the production progresses, our video changes to a clip of what could be a busy call center or online support center (video ID 288622), showing numerous workers at computer terminals. The leading, encouraging feel of this corporate music track brings energy and a sense of focus and determination, highlighting the motivational yet professional nature of the track.

We close this week’s royalty free music pick of the week with a pan of a city skyline at dusk, showing the track’s versatility as a potential candidate for business montages and scene establishment. The pulsating rhythm and modern harmonies come together with this city skyline stock footage clip (ID 155156) capturing the motion and life of a city at the end of a hard day of work. The addition of strings into the mix at this point also reminds us of some detective or action-drama productions.

License Achieve for your next corporate video: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/384525

Royalty Free Christmas Music Pick of the Week – Santa In A Hurry

The holidays are right around the corner, and christmas video production projects are in full swing and nearing the finishing touches. Add a little Christmas cheer with this fun royalty free music track, Santa In A Hurry. Our pick of the week this week, this piece of Christmas production music (music ID 325147) is perfect for children’s projects and holiday themed work. A perfect mix sleigh bells, woodwinds, and brass band, this track combines cheer and wonder with a sense of simplicity. We picture elves working in the workshop, or a goofy romp through a winter wonderland.

Our stock music pick of the week video features stock footage clip 388130, a looping 3D animation of a night journey over snowy hills decorated with Christmas lights, cookies, presents and candy canes. We think it adds the childlike fun and holiday character to complement this music track. We looped the video to fit the short length of the music.

License the track online: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/325147
Get the stock footage: http://www.productiontrax.com/stock-footage/388130

Using Stock Music at Trade Shows to Create a Multisensory Experience

Enhance your trade show presence with stock music for a display people will remember.
If you or your marketing team are regular exhibitors at trade shows, you know the value of standing out from the crowd. Stock music, when used correctly, can enhance your company’s marketing efforts at industry shows and events, increasing the ROI of your marketing spend.

stock music for trade shows
Key Stats
With the typical trade show boasting on average 2.2 attendees per square footage of floor space, marketers realize the potential audience they can reach in a single event. With attendees spening 9.1 hours per show in 2012 viewing exhibits, it’s become increasingly important to create memorable and attractive experiences for audiences, to ensure standing out in a potential customer’s memory. Another key metric is Exhibit Attraction. Exhibit Surveys, Inc. calls Exhibit Attraction the percentage of an exhibitor’s Potential Audience who remembered visiting a company’s exhibit. Exhibit Surveys estimates Exhibit Attraction at approximately 81%.

If that’s true, trade shows are becoming more and more successful, but at the same time more and more competitive. “The function of the physical exhibit is to selectively attract its potential audience from among the total audience at the show. Factors which most often determine success in this regard include: awareness for the company and its products among the audience, pre- and at-show promotion, exhibit design and graphics, demos and attention-getting techniques, interest in products or services exhibited, and exhibit size. Over the past several years, exhibitors have been more successful in selectively attracting their potential audience,” says Exhibit Surveys website in presenting key metrics.

Creating a Multisensory Experience
If everyone is using eye-catching displays and graphics to attract their potential audience, companies are going to have to turn to new and innovative techniques for attracting visitors to their displays. This is where stock music comes in handy. Music and audio engages other senses that may be being neglected in the trade show environment, which is a typically sight- and touch-centered environment. By strategically playing stock music and even occasional sound effects, companies can increase their displays’ overall appeal and effectiveness. Here are a few ways you can successfully integrate stock music into your trade show displays:

1) Background music for live presentations and product demos. If your booth involves regular demonstrations by staff members and how-to sessions, you can spice these up with a little background music. Set the tone and grab attention with a “demo theme” track that you play before and after the demo starts. Include high-energy music softly underneath product demonstrations to keep the energy up and the presentation moving forward. Or just sprinkle in some sound effects for comedic effect (though that will take some rehearsing).

2) Soundtracks for promotional videos. Have tons of HD tvs and monitors surrounding your audience with moving images and recorded demonstrations? Add soundtracks to your videos with corporate, pop, and commerical stock production music tracks for a memorable viewing experience and keep your viewers watching those screens.

3) Sound effects as regular calls to action. Signal deals, raffles, or specially scheduled events to show attendees by playing a chime or cool sound effect for just a couple seconds. This can be a cash register sound effect to signal special giveaway at the top of every hour, or a boxing ring bell to signal a live demo or panel discussion.

4) Ambience for the entire booth. You can set the mood by continuously playing energetic or ambient music to create a multisensory experience for your visitors. Just remember to heed your shows’ volume regulations.

No matter how you do it, utilizing royalty free stock music can dramatically increase your memorability factor at a trade show, and draw attention to your display without a huge increase in cost, making the time and money at your next trade show better spent.