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.

Ten Great Scary Sound Effects for Halloween

Halloween is one of our favorite times of year. Not because we love playing dress-up, but because there are so many great ways to use royalty free sound effects to cause a little trouble. Whether you’re creating a horror film, or just scaring the neighborhood children this All Hallows Eve, here are a few of our favorite stock sound effects that you can use in virtually any project:

Scary Sound Effects

1) Demons: Demon or Devil Speaks (348862) – Demon, Satan or Alien Creature speaks backwards with a dark, sinister & scary distorted voice. Perfect Sound Effect/Background for anything that has to do with Horror or Sci-Fi. 2 takes one wet and one dry.

2) Zombie Walking Dead (351598) – Halloween is never complete without the walking dead. This sound effect is ambience of a zombie walking and dragging chains, moaning and growling. Mmmm. Brains.

3) Woman Screaming (351240) – We know it’s cliché, but you have to have a shrill, high-pitched scream from a terrified woman.

4) Intestine Squeeze (359236) – Incredibly gross and unnerving are the sounds of blood and bones, cracking and squeezing. Great effect for stepping on bugs or crushing human flesh…

5) Guillotine (374342) – Off with their heads! This sound effect of a guillotine being used is loud and scary. Great for all sorts of scenes involving a guillotine.

6) Ghostly Whispers In Radio Static (377784) – If you listen closely, you can hear the voices of the dead in whispering in the radio interference. Eerie and haunting.

7) Evil Laugh (243018) – Deep and sinister male dastardly evil laughter. Multiple scary sound effects for the price of one.

8) Horror Show Intro (383950) – It may be a little cheesy, but it’s quite perfect for use as source material for someone watching a horror flick on television, complete with thunder and lightning, pipe organ, and screams. We told you not to watch that movie before bed — it will give you nightmares!

9) Long Door Creak (379218) – Reminds us of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Quintessencial creaky wooden door gradually opening. Household audio can be so sinister when used the right way.

10) Metallic Cinematic Swell (377177) – Foreboding and mysterious, this stock audio clip is great sound design that has uses beyond Halloween, from transitions to sci-fi.

Using Royalty Free Sound Effects to Create High Quality Location Sound

If you’ve ever filmed a scene on a windy day or outside on a busy street, you know how valuable sound effects are for recreating or even creating ambience and the audio landscape from scratch. If you’re a seasoned sound editing pro, or a beginner looking to get in on the basics, follow these three tips to create a vibrant soundtrack for your film or video using royalty free sound effects.

royalty free sound effects1) Start with variety, avoid looping. It can be tempting to put sound effects on loop. But if you need to create a soundscape of a busy intersection with lots of cars passing by, select several different cars and different “car passing by” sound effects. Why? Think about it: when you’re on the street, does the same care pass you by 30 times in 2 minutes? No, they’re all different. So find as many different drive-by sound effects as you can, and do your best not to loop the same one over and over again. You can vary timing of entrances, stagger multiple, even mess with the eq or tone of individual effects if you only have a couple to work with. This will enhance realism, and give you the most realistic sound.

2) Pick dry sound effects over affected effects. In other words, add your own reverb (echo). No two sound effects are going to have been recorded in the same space, so to make your audience believe their ears, you’ll have to tweak the reverb a bit. In a cave? Add some echo. On a windy mountain top, go as dry as you can. In a tiled room, put just enough reverb on the effect to make it sound like the noises are bouncing off the tiles. When you do this, be sure to take note of your reverb settings, and try to get a consistent sound when you’re creating sounds in the same “room”.

3) Use your ears in real life. Go out to the ocean and listen. Really listen. What do you hear on that shoreline? Is it realistic to put a barge passing by in your soundbed in a beach scene? Not likely. Listening closely to the way rooms and locations sound in real life will help you create better, more realistic sounding atmospheres. It will also get your creative juices flowing. Can you hear construction outside an office window? How about the sound of kids playing in a park — the rub of a slide, or the thud of falling to the ground? Getting a grasp on the individual elements that make up chaos is an important step in the soundtrack creation process.

Scary and Mysterious Stock Music Pick of the Week

With Halloween right around the corner, we put together a spooky little pick of the week featuring a royalty free stock music theme by Premium Trax combined with some haunting stock footage of a mountain sunrise along with a stock photo of a pile of skulls with some fancy vintage effects. We figure all that’s left is a few horror sound effects from the Productiontrax library, and you’ve got yourself a nice piece of media to scare the neighborhood children.

Scary and Mysterious Theme features deep and dark orchestral strings, an almost-cliché bell-like synth sound, big drum hits and scary sound effects. It dark, mysterious character makes it perfect for dramatic suspense movies and videos. We combined this track with stock footage clip 372369, an otherwise harmless video of a mountain sunrise, and immediately felt something sinister brewing. We recommend pairing the track with other clips of fog and shadows to achieve a similar fee.

For the stock photo, we chose a photo that’s disturbing on its own — photo ID 325152: a pile of skulls. We affected it with some aged film effects, and it added that horror picture feel right in. The beauty of this track is in its ability to creepify even the most mundane of images. We recomend taking some shots of a city street at night and affecting it the same way. You’ll see what we mean.

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.

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.

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.

Sell Stock Music and Sound Effects on Your Own Site

Now you can turn any webpage into your own personal royalty free stock media store, complete with production music, sound effects and audio, stock footage, and stock photos, thanks to our brand new remote store widgets. While setting up your own remote store widget it super simple, we’ve put together a short tutorial of how to get up and running in a matter of minutes.

admin menuStep 1: Log in to your Productiontrax contributor account, and click on the “Remote Store Widget” link in the main menu bar on the left side of the page. Don’t have an account? Create one — it’s simple and it’s free. From there, click the link to create a new widget, or select one from your widget list if you already have one set up.

Step 2: Once you’re in the widget editor, add a catchy title and tag line using the editor options on the right hand side, and select the contributor logo image you want to use on your widget. As soon as you make changes, your changes will save, and the widget will update automatically.

search filtersWe’ve added some display filters to the widgets that make them uber-useful for any contributor. First, you’ll notice a menu that allows you to either show media from just your account or show media from all of Productiontrax. The former will come in useful for those wanting to sell just their own stock audio files, while the latter option is great for leveraging the entire Productiontrax royalty free library, essentially creating a complete copy of the library on your site. You’ll also notice that you can specify which kinds of media to display in your widget – either royalty free music, sound effects, stock photos, or stock footage. You can select one, all, none, or any combination in between.

When designing your widget, remember that you can create as many widgets as you like, and put them on as many websites as you like. So, you might want to create a separate widget for your stock music and sound effects (or one for each), one for your stock footage, and a separate one for your stock photos. Figure out if multiple stores works best for your media, and if so, set your filters accordingly.

darkhive skinStep 3: Select your colors and theme out your widget to match your website. In most cases, you’ll need to use our color pickers or you’ll have to know the hex color codes to match your website’s look. Our editor allows for both, and we have some pre-styled buttons to match. Here’s where you can take a little shortcut, and use one of our pre-set themes (check out the dark hive theme at right). Using these themes are what we like to call inline style overrides — so any changes you make to your widget’s colors will be changed at launch time when a visitor happens on your your site. To use a style override, just scroll to the bottom of the editor, and pick the style you like.

checkoutStep 4: Get your code and paste it in to your website’s HTML. We provide the code you need to display your widget on your website seamlessly. And it’s a single line of simple HTML. Simply copy and paste from the code box at the top of the editor (or from the selected inline style override panel at the bottom, if you’re using one of those. Then launch your website, and bask in the glory that is your remote store widget.

Some features to note:

All credit card processing AND file downloading is done via SSL right in the widget. Your visitor never leave your site for any part of a transaction. The widget is a fully-featured track preview, shopping cart, checkout and download tool. We recommend strongly that you use HTTPS on your site, and an HTTPS connection is required in the widget’s src attribute.
• The widget is stretchy horizonatlly. It will expand to fill the space if you change the widget’s width attribute in the HTML code. The widget will not change height at this time.
• As of this writing, video playback may not work on all browsers due to a browser security restriction. We’re working on this, but the widget plays video on most browsers to a barebones extent.

Five More Great Ways To Use Royalty Free Music

royalty free musicThirsty for more ideas on how to incorporate royalty free music into your next project? Here are five more great ideas that will give you the power to create complete filmscores in minutes, enthuse children everywhere, and even maximize your next marketing campaign’s ROI.

1) Create and Entire Indie Film Soundtrack. The royalty free music tracks from Productiontrax.com are so powerful and so complete that they can easily be mixed and matched together to form a complete film score for an indie film production. Go for a cohesive, thematically linked sound with a music package, or just pick out cuts that match each scene — either way, using royalty free music in your independent production is a great way to save some money and keep your film on budget.

2) Add Pizzazz to a Mobile Smartphone App. Whether you’re developing on Android or iOS, royalty free music and sound effects (especially sound effects) can be a huge asset to your final product. Whether it be a track that plays as an underscore to a game, or a simple beep effect to enhance a button click or alert, your next mobile application will appreciate the low bandwidth and storage footprint of quality compressed royalty-free MP3s.

3) Make a Children’s Toy or Game Even More Fun. Creating a multimedia board game or a dancing flower pot? Using royalty free music is a great way to get your product to market faster and without legal hassles of product-placed music tracks. Add sound effects to a plush toy, music to a light-up bouncing ball… the possibilities are endless.

4) Keep Your Boss Awake During Your Next Powerpoint Presentation at Work. Adding a background music track will keep your coworkers’ attention on your presentation at your next big board meeting. Add sound effects for transitions and music beds for inspiration, and your next powerpoint might get you a promotion. Better yet, take your trade show exhibit to the next level with some royalty free music and watch your sales soar.

5) Create Brand Identity in Advertising or Marketing Campaign. A catchy jingle can be the difference in brand recognition, and help you stand out from the competition. Leverage the cost savings of royalty free music in your next marketing campaign or television advertising campaign, and increase your effectiveness and maximize your ROI.

Are your sound effects and stock music tracks legal?

I came across this story the other day talking about how Warner/Chappell Music is being sued for demanding royalty payments for the usage of the song “Happy Birthday,” and it brought to mind some important misconceptions about what it means for a sound effect or stock music track to be in the public domain.

As much as I personally dislike large music publishing conglom-a-corp-a-plunderbunds because I think large companies don’t have artists’ best interests at heart, but the fact remains that the song Happy Birthday is still under copyright. Just because the song is popular and well known doesn’t make the plaintifs case that “the song should be dedicated to public use…” Under that logic, MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” should be public domain because it is both popular and well known. Not true.

With that in mind, the question both video production companies and stock music and sound effects producers alike should ask themselves when considering a piece of stock audio for purhcase or sale is “Is everything in this track legal?” Of course, if it’s 100% originally composed and produced, like most music on Productiontrax, then of course it is legal. Even though the tracks are under copyright, they’re still licensed royalty free. But, if the sound effect or music track has audio in it recorded live, you have to check it for copyrighted sounds before uploading or downloading (uploading content that contains copyrighted sounds to Productiontrax is against the terms of service).

For example…
Is there a snippet of copyrighted music in it? Not legal.
Uses sample software or sampled sounds to produce the track? Legal.
Contains a sound of a tv or radio playing a copyrighted song? Not legal.
Contains a human singing Happy Birthday? Not legal.
Contains a piano playing a Chopin Waltz? Legal.

You get the idea. The key here is to double check your work. We triple check at Productiontrax when we can to make absolutely certain that the media you find here will be 100% licensable and not get you into a legal battle with a plunderbund, but keep these tips in mind when looking for sound effects from your favorite sound effects sharing site, or from some other music library that has some hard to find stock audio clips from 1950s television. Your legal budget will thank you.