Expanding Your Production Music Library

Ideas for composers for increasing the number of clips in their music library.

Would you like to have or need more clips of your production music along with a wider range of time lengths and potential applications for your music? Here are some relatively simple and good ideas.

One thing you can do is to use pieces of music that you already have as completed works. Let’s say, for instance, that you have a five minute film score with a spacey ambient string section intro, a main full instrumental chord progression, a catchy melody theme, an energetic driving drum break, and a calm serene melodic interlude. It is not very difficult to have all these related individual sections edited into separate stand alone music clips. If you were to take for example the percussion break, this can easily be edited and turned into two individual clips, one as a percussion phrase with a distinct resolute ending and the other one as a loop.

Production Music EditingAlways remember you must be sure to check that the loop loops seamlessly before making it available for lease. All too often what sounds great in your audio editing software will have noticeable seams when actually looped. These loops can have noticeable clicks, timing errors, artifacts, or dynamic inconsistencies. It is always a good idea to make sure and check the rendered file before making it available for licensing! The same technique holds true for the chord progressions, ambient interludes, and melodies.

Two more benefits of this are:
1) the producer who is licensing your music can now have more options for time lengths and choices for dynamics of the original piece to use in their related project, and

2) you will have many more clips for a wider range of applications even if they are not related to the same end production.

Another way to have more clips can be by using different dynamics for the same passage. For example, one version can have only chord changes, another will have the melody line, and another without any percussion.

And yet another way is to make different time lengths of the same piece. One easy way to do this with MIDI produced tracks is by increasing or decreasing the tempo. For instance, a sixty second track at 60 beats per minute will become a thirty second track at 120 beats per minute. Yes, it will speed up the tempo but it does work for some things like ambient and certain kinds of melodic ambient and can have some interesting results. Of course there is always “copy and paste” too.

Well, I hope these suggestions will help a bit because they have worked for me!

Zoid Proteus “Interstellar Music”
http://www.productiontrax.com/profile.php?id=8215&sentby=13561

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.

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

Royalty Free Music Pick of the Week – Trippy

A little off the beaten path, some quirky, psychedelic royalty free music lurks in the shadows, waiting to be brought to light in crazy, trippy projects. And that happens to be the name of this week’s production music pick of the week. This production music track boasts sitars, tablas, and ethnic and a hybrid trip-hop electronica undercurrent that will make your next multimedia production feel a little high.

While we’d probably classify this more as a world music track, the trance and electronica underpinnings make this a superb background track for any type of project needing an ethnic flair. We could see Trippy used as a sound bed for video games, or establishing shots, even as an eerie theme or film underscore. According to the composer, the track was inspired by The Beatles track Within You, Without You and Tomorrow Never Knows.

Trippy is track ID 384563, and for our video showcase, we’ve combined it with stock footage clip ID 300554 of a nice kaleidoscope effect to enhance it’s off-beat nature.

License the track here: http://www.productiontrax.com/royalty-free-music/384563

Overlooked Production Music Categories for Composers: Opera

A lot of production music composers focus their energy on creating royalty free music for just a few specific categories. Typically, composers will say, “I’m a film music composer,” and subsequently post music to the film music category. Or they might be really familiar with corporate videos, and therefore only classify their music as corporate. These categories are not only well known, but also have a lot of competition as a result. This practice leads many composers to overlook production of music for different genres, which are equally as necessary for the licensing needs of many a multimedia project.

Stumped on what style to write in? Here this series explores genres that are extremely useful for customers of royalty free music, but tend to go neglected over the course of a composer’s production schedule.

Opera
operaThis sub genre of classical music is often overlooked, usually because of its complexity, and the resources needed for production. Opera requires orchestral composition and recording, which, ironically enough, is the easy part, given the higher quality and lower cost of orchestral samples for digital workstations. The difficult part? Finding a good live singer to float over the orchestra.

Opera tracks are exceptionally useful in places you normally wouldn’t expect. Car commercials, fragrance commercials, even cleaning supply commercials. Opera tracks can add an element of sophistication, mysteriousness, even comedy, depending on how the track is used. And yet, this category is strikingly relatively empty.

If you’re a composer, you have a few strategies for approaching production. Public domain operas are an excellent choice (not to mention one of two legal approaches). Be sure the composer is long gone, and that the lyricist is, as well. Note that some more recent operas by Vivaldi are not in the public domain, not because of Vivaldi, but because the lyrics belong to the estate of the lyricist. So do your homework before selecting one to produce to make into usable royalty free music. That said, however, the scores to most operas are easily accessible, so with the right samples, and a good strategic approach, you can create realistic, and by-the-book production music opera tracks. Dig in to an old public domain opera like Mozart. Select a couple of popular or not so popular movements, and team up with a great singer.

You can also write something original — no need to write a full opera, just something that has the same sound and feel. Keep the music sounding classical to impressionist, lush and stringy. Pick a language, any language, and write some lyrics. They don’t even need to make sense, especially if your singer has some great technique and vibrato. The point is that making a statement isn’t necessary here, simply creating the sound and feel of an opera is all that a commercial production needs. Have fun, and treat it like any other production project. It’s just another song, in a slightly different style.

My Friend – Nostalgic Folk Pop Royalty Free Production Music

This week, we’re featuring the Production Music track My Friend, ID 378834, a nostalgic folk pop cut that is great for peaceful, reflective moments in any type of multimedia project (such as the stock footage clips we paired it up with). This piece of royalty free music isn’t your typical stock music track: it’s packed with emotion and pensive thought, with gentle acoustic guitar strumming and interspersed piano melodies moving the piece forward while reflecting on all that is and was.

For demonstration purposes, we’ve combined this track with some amazing nature stock footage: clips 350535 (a large tree branch dripping from rain) and 350306 (a stately tree with autumn-colored leaves gently flowing in a fall breeze). The clips are peaceful and reflective, and show off the emotional nature of this week’s royalty free music pick.

Pro Tip: Good Sound Effects Evoke Emotion

by Bruno Strapko

Any situation is the right situation to record whatever you hear. And sometimes what you don’t.

We all have an emotional response to sound effects. Take footsteps. Are they fast and sharp, like a woman in heels on a hard surface getting away from something? Does your heart beat faster? Or ocean waves crashing on the rocks. Calming?
Good effects evoke emotions.

Good sound effects evoke an emotional response from the listener. When producing effects, keep the resulting feeling in mind.
Good sound effects evoke an emotional response from the listener. When producing effects, keep the resulting feeling in mind.

An example is my recording in Chicago of a busy shopping area in December. What one thing defines the season more than anything? The charity bell ringer on almost every corner. Makes you think of the warmth of a roaring fire and holidays with family. But what if you need everything in your ambience except the bells? For after the holidays? What to do?

I often record with a Soundfield microphone. Soundfield mics record 360 degrees on 4 channels which can be decoded into almost format – mono, stereo, 5.1 and so on. And is steerable. So in making a stereo version on the recording, I steered away from the bells to make a more “generic” track. New software allows for even greater directional control.

Using the many tools available to record and prep thick, dense, interesting backgrounds makes for sound effects that producers, sound designers and editors want to hear and want to use.

Sonic Branding – Using Music and Sound Effects to Create a Brand

by Bruno Strapko

The idea of using sound for branding is not new, but particularly in Europe, is considered an important marketing speciality. Using all of the usual marketing techniques of research, trial and retrial, entire agencies target sonic branding. It is the least used branding method and considered the technique with the most growth potential.

Contributing audio and music to marketing and branding campaigns can be a lucrative source of income for the stock music composer.
Contributing audio and music to marketing and branding campaigns can be a lucrative source of income for the stock music composer.
At the 2012 Audio Branding Congress at the University of Oxford, virtually every research project and branding development came from Europe. Speaking to other attendees, they were surprised at the lack of American participation when they felt American development was extremely mature. Cases cited included Harley-Davidson’s famous exhaust tuning studio, Intel Inside, and the omnipresent McDonald’s audio logo. New work presented at Oxford included sound design for the atmosphere in Harrod’s famous toy department in London featuring regenerative soundscapes, audio logos for two famous European companies, and an entire suite of sonically different logo-based music for use throughout the Dell Computer organization.

Recent literature that sum up current directions in sonic branding include “Sound Business” by Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency and “Audio Branding”, a compilation of articles and studies representing all issues associated with creating effective audio branding.

While considered a niche, sonic branding can be a differentiating part of the portfolio of a sound designer and/or composer. The unique chances to present their work from typical broadcast and the Internet to prestigious and renowned public spaces can be a fulfilling and challenging opportunity. Presented properly, any sound design student can be introduced to opportunities very closely tied to the main thrust of their education track. With awareness of jingle writers and sound designers in studios for traditional advertising media, adding the potential in sonic branding is worth investigating.