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

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.

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

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.

3 Reasons to Use Royalty Free Stock Music In Your Film Production

The words royalty free and stock music might have a negative connotation in some filmmaking circles. But the reality is that using stock audio strategically and appropriately within your productions can have a positive impact on both your creative output and your bottom line. Here are three great reasons to use some royalty free music in your next film.stock music

1) Stock music is cheap. There we said it. Stock music is cheaper than most sources of music, whether you’re looking at custom composed tracks (which can run you several hundred to several hundred thousand dollars), library music (which carry license fees per use, per second, and based on the size of your production), or even licensing a popular song through a publisher (can we say, pricey?). Stock music requires a one time fee, usually $50 to $100 for commercial usage, and that’s it.

2) Stock music actually sounds good. It’s true. More and more professional musicians and artists are realizing the value in contributing work to the royalty free music scene — it gives them more exposure, allows them to make more money from their music, and gives them some control over their careers. That means that gone are the days when stock music sounded hoakey or cheap, so you can put asside any pre-conceived notions that stock music will make your project sound bad. You can get some really great sounding tracks that work with your visuals seamlessly and have great production value and in any style you could dream of. Combine it with some sound effects, and people will think you had custom top-of-the-line audio work in your production.

3) Royalty free music saves you time. With the help of powerful online search functions, keyword tagging, and lightboxes, you can put together a soundtrack in mere minutes without spending a dime on music supervision services or waiting for cues from a composer. And time is money. You can go from concept to final product in hours instead of weeks. Throw in some HD stock footage for good measure, and take care of some of your shot needs, as well!

5 Ways To Record Better Sound Effects

sound effectsRecording sound effects or building a catalog of sounds to sell on some royalty free music or stock audio library sites? Follow these five tips for maximizing your library’s size and overal success. You’ll find that, with just a little careful planning and organization, you’ll be able to curate the sound library that your production business needs to succeed.

1) Make a list in advance. Just as film producers create a list of shots they need to complete a scene or a video, and optimize their lists to minimize shooting time (equipment rental is expensive, man), so should the professional sound designer. Whether your goal is to get a single animal sound, or a collection of city ambiences, know what you’re going for before you get on location. Make a list, and be specific! Do you need footsteps? Howling? Traffic? Once you’ve got your list, you can then optimize your locations — for example, you can get footsteps on a sidewalk, and at the same time get some traffic sounds if you record on a busy street. You can save time, and at the same time, get creative with your catalog. A little pre-planning can go a long way.

2) Invest in a high quality microphone and DAW. While technology is getting better and better, and cheaper quality equipment is becoming increasingly available, it’s still important for sound effects producers to invest in great gear. Do your homework, because just like quality gear is becoming cheaper, cheap gear is becoming more and more prevalent. Find microphones that have excellent reponse at all frequencies, a solid hard disk to store your takes to, and don’t skimp on your editing software. A quality digital audio editor such as ProTools or Logic can save you time and make your audio sound great.

3) Edit, Edit, Edit. Getting rid of extraneous noises is key in creating quality sound effects that are ready to use in production. No one wants footstep sounds with dogs barking in the background when they’re searching for footstep sound effects. Cut the extra sounds, and your clients will thank you for it. Reduce the ambient noise as much as you can, as this will allow your sound effects to be used in as many different projects as possible without much editing. Separating your sounds this way will also pay off big in the size of your catalog.

4) Master your recordings and create high-resolution mixes. Invest in some quality mastering plug-ins. This will make your recordings have the loudness they need, along with the equalization required to make them sound their best. But remember, don’t over-master. Chances are that whoever is purchasing your audio is likely to edit the effects to suit their specific needs. You can coun’t on them adjusting volume, changing reverb, or mixing with other sounds. The key is to give them the best base material possible. Along these lines, don’t forget to bounce to uncompressed formats like WAV or AIFF, which have far superior sound quality than a highly compressed MP3.

5) Tag and Describe your Sound Effects accurately. When you’ve completed your mixes, don’t just label your files Car 1, Car 2, Car 3. That doesn’t tell your customer anything about the sound they’re looking at, and wastes their time. If you’ve recorded a Ferrari Testarosa revving up it’s engine, label the file that way. People searching sound effects libraries have tons of material to go through, and need help finding things quickly. Similarly, you can save yourself numerous headaches when you need to dig up a file from your archives a year from now. With a little forethought and organization, you can build a better sound effects library with minimal effort.