There's something very "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" about the world of music libraries. Is it the world of pop music that drives music library releases? How about movie scores? And what about that catchy advertising music? Is the answer a combination of all of them or none of the above?
Regardless of the cause, composers have all been suffering as well as benefiting from a rapidly expanding market and higher expectations for their libraries' quality. With the Internet, hundreds of additional television programs on dozens of new broadcast and cable channels, and even more corporations looking for industrial videos, the need for music libraries has never been greater. Surprisingly, says Mitch Coodley of New York-based Metro Music Productions Inc., supply is actually meeting demand. "If anything, the trend in production is to use more production music, rather than custom, simply because of the cost," he reports. "So, in a way, we have more opportunities than ever, but we have more competition. It means that we have to do a better job of marketing than we used to because we have to compete with more vendors and products out there."
Composers also have had to adjust to the fact that buyers are much more savvy about the difference between "real" and "canned" music. For some houses, Coodley points out, that's a positive. "That works in our favor, because at one point getting anything that sounded decent was a novelty, and now there's a lot of good music out there," he says. "So what separates really exciting music from usable is that spark of originality and the amount of fresh organic quality that it has."
Of course, with more demand and supply, questions abound regarding modes of delivery. Though many companies now offer the ability to audition music tracks online (companies like Megatrax have made samples of their whole 8,000-track collection available), many are not yet willing to give up customer contact altogether. "We want to have a human just for a minute to say, 'We know you're you, you know we're us, let us send you something,'" says Charly Conquest of Fresh Music.
Other companies believe that their customers would rather have something physical on hand, rather than having to search Internet sites during a time crunch. In fact, Steven Corn of Megatrax believes online downloading is still years away. "Even though people are downloading band songs in MP3 files, I think it's still a little while away from the production world to be able to beat the speed of sticking a CD in your player and hitting go," he says. "A lot of times they need that immediacy, that physicality. I think it's a couple years away until it's ubiquitous."
The following is a selection of current offerings from the world of production music libraries. Hundreds of companies exist out there-many of them custom-and we do not pretend to include them all here. Do your own search, visit the sites, call the companies and there's sure to be something out there for your next production.
615 Musicwww.615music.com888/615-TRAXThe end of the year is a busy time at 615 Music. The company will be adding discs called Contemporary Light, Hollywood Blockbusters, Smooth Country, Volume 2, and Olympic Fanfare. With Liquid Audio, visitors can listen to 30-second sound clips of every cut in the 65-disc library.
Aircraft Music Librarywww.aircraftmusiclibrary.com800/343-2514As one of the granddaddies in the music library business, Aircraft is finding that more and more clients are looking for authentic instrumentation. With that in mind, Aircraft will be adding a pair of such libraries to its 100-plus disc collection. The company has plans to enable downloadable music in the near future; in the meantime, clients can audition tracks via RealAudio.
CSS Musicwww.cssmusic.com800/468-6874CSS Music offers more than 200 discs in a wide variety of musical styles. This year, the company has released 27 new titles, including Big Screen and Super Themes. Music can be downloaded on a pay-per-cut basis with the company's DAWN (digital audio worldwide network) application.
De Wolfe Music Librarywww.dewolfemusic.com800/221-6713;(in NY: 212/382-0220)The De Wolfe composers have turned their attention to a new 20-disc collection called Millennium Series, which details the 20th century with both archival and newly recorded music. In addition to the Rouge, Hudson and USA libraries, De Wolfe is now distributing a classical 80-disc series by the name of Classical Masterpieces. The De Wolfe Web site has no audio capabilities at this point, but the company is planning to have demo services by early winter.
The Dionysus Record Empirewww.indieweb.com/dionysus/index.html;818/848-2698In addition to more traditional music library tracks, this collection features a wide range of off-kilter material, from surf to rockabilly, lounge to garage. Fall releases include updates from the Quiet Kings (pop), The Kabalas (Klezmer instrumentals) and Al Garcia & the Rhythm Kings (surf). Music can be auditioned at the company's Web site.
East-Westwww.soundsonline.com800/833-8339Rather than concentrating on conventional production music libraries, East-West has developed a series of discs that provide the foundation for music tracks. Coming this fall, East-West will release a two-disc set of drum tracks from former Journey stickman Steve Smith. The company's Web site is enabled for listening to samples.
Firstcom Musicwww.firstcom.com800/858-8880In addition to updating all of its existing libraries, Firstcom will be releasing the Hollywood Music Library, an update of Hollywood Film Music. The Firstcom library is now up to 20 discs, with heavy concentration on underscores, sports and orchestral tracks. By using Shockwave Audio, visitors to www.firstcom.com can hear samples and download music with a password supplied by the company. Firstcom also signed a joint venture with Beatnik, Thomas Dolby's company, to provide cyber-music on the Internet.
Fresh Musicwww.freshmusic.com800/545-0688Catching the Top 40 wave, the newest addition to the Fresh Music Library is a disc that blends Ricky Martin and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Fall releases from Fresh will be a "slick" disc, described as car advertising music, and a swing disc. The company will also offer a disc of long underscores. Though music can be auditioned, buyers cannot yet download sounds from the site.
The Hollywood Edgewww.hollywoodedge.com800/292-3755Fall releases from The Hollywood Edge production music library will include a new Drama category, Light Action 4, Country Western 3, Action 2, and Industry/Retail 2 and 3. There are sound bites of each song available at the Web site using RealAudio.
Impact Music Librarywww.studioland.com;800/779-6434The Impact Music Library, which is ideal for corporate industrials, has been designed as a supplement to larger libraries. This fall the Business & Industry package will get an additional disc, and there are plans for an up-tempo contemporary disc. Impact is cautiously approaching the world of e-commerce, but auditions can be conducted via Quicktime.
JRT Music, LLC212/253-8908Things are changing a bit at JRT these days, and it's more than the move to 648 Broadway, Suite 911, New York. Along with the popular Jingle Mania 25-CD package, electronic and kitsch offerings, JRT will offer custom scoring out of its studios in France. Fall releases include a newly acquired classical library, and an 11-disc set that will include a range of styles including easy listening, big band, ambient, lounge and disco.
Killer Trackswww.killertracks.com800/877-0078Visitors to the Killer Tracks Web site can now audition files, and the company has plans to offer downloadable capabilities soon.
Manhattan Production Musicwww.mpmmusic.com800/227-1954; 212/333-5766Manhattan Production Music's libraries-Apple Trax, MPM and BRg-are dedicated to the Top 40 trends in pop music. Earlier this year, swing and dramatic music were in demand, as were piano boogie and an assortment of jazz compositions. This fall's major releases will be a cinematic recording done with a 25-piece orchestra and a hard drama disc aimed toward promo spots. The Web site offers contact information only.
Megatraxwww.megatrax.com888/MEGA555Because the bulk of Megatrax's clients are promotion producers, fall is a busy time of year. So, the company will be updating its collection with another round of discs in the realm of lounge music, animation styles, sound design and corporate audio/visual. Also being released is World Beat, Volume 2, and a new collection of classical discs recently acquired from a German record company. Megatrax has made its entire library available for searching and downloading, with Music Source supplying the searching software and Liquid Audio for downloads. (See sidebar.)
Metro Music Productions Inc.www.metromusicinc.com800/697-7392Metro Music will be moving a bit beyond the world of contemporary music, as new releases featuring classical piano, Latin dance and pop vocal hits are made available. There will also be a big band disc that features a large cast of New York jazz players with nary a sampler to be found. As of yet, clients can only audition music at the company's Web site, though they are looking into e-commerce opportunities.
Gene Michael Productionswww.genemichaelproductions.com800/955-0619Because Gene Michael Productions aims at a wide variety of applications, the library features a wide variety of styles. New genres slated for this fall include Celtic folk, smooth jazz and heavy industrial. Samples can be auditioned at the Web site.
Music Bakerywww.musicbakery.com972/414-0313Music Bakery has released 21 thematic discs in a bevy of styles. The company releases something new, be it jazz, rock or country, every other month. The library, which is recorded with all real instruments, will be updated this fall with a disc featuring "large" orchestral cuts. Visitors to the Web site can sample everything in the library that's been released since 1993. For those who would like to download individual cuts of Music Bakery music for broadcast, visit www.eyewire.com.
Network Musicwww.networkmusic.com800/854-2075Visitors to Network's Web site have been able to preview upcoming fall releases 201 (small combo jazz), 202 (contemporary pop), 203 (slow tempo) and 204 (slow tempo). Other tracks are available for sampling, though the company mentions there has not been much demand for download. Other upcoming releases now in pre-production include a contemporary R&B disc, an electronica/techno disc and an up-tempo "feel good" album.
Non-Stop Music Librarywww.nonstopmusic.com800/554-6462Each year Non-Stop releases 12 to 15 new discs. This fall, those will include two new swing discs, a new Film and Stage disc, and a comedy disc. The company also distributes London's Extreme Library and the Dead Good Library. Song previews and downloads are available on the Web site.
OGM Production Musicwww.OGMmusic.com800/421-4163Over the past 30 years OGM Production Music has seen a number of changes in the library business. The company is looking forward to releasing a seventh collection, which will feature Media Music from vintage television shows. Even with distribution in 50 countries, OGM is finding the Web business intriguing. Currently, music can be auditioned at the site, and files can be e-mailed to clients.
Omnimusicwww.omnimusic.com800/828-6664Coming up this fall, Omnimusic will be releasing its second volume to the very popular World.com.There are also plans for a swing/jazz disc, which will be recorded with live musicians. The company's demo can be auditioned at its Web site, and specific tracks can be streamed via Liquid Audio (you'll need a password).
Production Garden Musicwww.productiongarden.com800/247-5317The Production Garden line includes five libraries: Music Street Library, Manchester Music Library, Tune Ranch Library, Series 100 & 200 and Manchester Special Edition/Broadcast. Fall updates will include Air Assault II and III, and there are plans for an international theme disc. Tracks can be auditioned at the company's Web site.
Promusic Inc.www.promusic-inc.com800/322-7879; 888/600-8988 in CAPromusic is one of the largest distributors of music libraries in the world, with more than 2,000 discs available in a bevy of styles. This fall the company will be introducing up to 60 new releases in a variety of genres, including classical, dance and electronica. One of the latest additions is a library from the new English label Atlantic Seven. The collection of eight discs ranges from rock to dance to dramatic to vocals. Promusic's Web site features sample listening capability for most of their libraries, and some will be available for download using Liquid Audio within the year. The company recently opened a new office in Studio City, Calif.
Radical Entertainmentwww.radicalentertainment.com212/302-0555Radical Entertainment is planning five new releases for the fall. In addition to two unnamed discs (one of light/lyrical smooth jazz and another of light drama/atmospheric), the additions include: It's a Jungle, Brother, cutting edge dance/techno music; Night Visions, electronica/trance/hip hop collection; and The Uptown Horns, swing/rock 'n' roll/blues collection from the band of the same name. Radical is also releasing Laughtunes, the official music tracks from the Laurel and Hardy series. Currently visitors to the company's Web site can preview 30 hours of music and also download files in an MPEG format.
River City Sound Productionswww.rivercitysound.com800/755-8729River City has two collections, The Broadcast Series and The Specialty Series. This fall, The Specialty Series, which also includes titles like Weddings, Nature and Sports, will be updated with a Suspense disc. That disc will include a full song length, as well as versions in :60 and :30 lengths. Suspense will be followed by Horror this winter. All of the discs can be sampled at the company's Web site.
Sonic Sciencewww.sonicscience.com800/26-SONICThe ten-disc Sonic Science Production Music Library is not scheduled for any major updates this fall, however the company will be distributing a new collection by the name of Contempo Music. While the company has no immediate plans to jump into the e-commerce business, there are samples at the Web site.
Sound Ideaswww.sound-ideas.com800/387-3030Sound Ideas, perhaps best known for its effects discs, also has six unique collections in its production music library, The Mix Broadcast Music Library. This fall the company will be releasing The Classic Comedy Music Series, which is 160 tracks of vintage cartoon and comedy music on two discs. The series will include a wide variety of styles, with music from silent films, epics, cartoons and light comedies. The company's Web site is strictly informational.
Sweetsongs Productionswww.sweetsongs.com304/428-7779The Production Library was just updated with five new discs, aimed at audio/video productions or radio/TV spots. Each track comes in a three- to four-minute version and a 30-second cut, and there are six to eight cuts per disc. Those tracks can be auditioned at the company's Web site.
TRF Production Music Libraries800/899-MUSICTRF is constantly updating its Bosworth, Cobra, Dennis, Musictrack, PowerSound, Pyramid, Stock, Supraphon (classical library) and PAN (international ethnic music) libraries throughout the year. This fall TRF will be releasing seven new discs in the Pyramid library, six new discs in the Bosworth library, five new releases in the Musictrack library, 15 new offerings in the PAN library and four new discs in the PowerSound library.
Valentinowww.tvmusic.com800/223-6278With the impending turn of the century, Valentino is releasing a collection of 20-plus discs titled 2000 Millennium Library. The collection will include contemporary, blues, techno and jazz. At this point visitors to tvmusic.com can listen to one cut of music per disc.
Video Helperwww.videohelper.com212/633-7009Video Helper prides itself in providing music libraries that the rest of the world hasn't even thought of yet. Take the summer release of Swack! as an example. The disc is an all percussion offering that includes sounds of things being hit with a hammer in a New York City playground, car sounds from Central Park Causeway Tunnel, garbage can sounds and gates being slammed. This fall Video Helper will be returning to the dance/techno world with the release of Beat Buffet 2. The first Beat Buffet featured the sounds of Adam Dorn; this disc includes electronica artist Mocean Worker. Music can be auditioned, though not purchased, online.
Who Did That Music?www.whodidthatmusic.com800/400-6767Growing up from a small company, Who Did That Music? has just released its fifth music library. This fall the company will be releasing Ignite, Volume 2; Revolucion; and an orchestral disc that has been two years in the making. Other libraries like Gravity and Mind Benders will also be receiving updates throughout the year. The site can be searched, and tracks can be sampled via RealAudio.
Yessian Musicwww.yessianmusic.com888/937-7426 (YESSIAN)Yessian Music's The Great Escape Music Library is a total buyout package with no royalties or licensing fees. Ten musical categories, from action to classical to atmospheric to hip hop, are spread over three discs. Although there are no firm plans for a fall update, the company has been preparing for another three-disc release before the end of the year. There are downloadable samples of the music at the Web site.
After building a reputation for having one of the finest production music libraries in the business, the owners of L.A.-based Megatrax decided to upgrade two of their studios, add another and make plans for two more rooms. According to Eddie King, senior mix engineer at Megatrax, the idea was to perfect the acoustics in each of the rooms while upgrading the equipment.
Fortunately, the acoustics in Studio A, which is primarily a live tracking room, didn't have to be adjusted. The room's equipment list, however, got a major overhaul. Otari RADAR 24-bit digital multitracks are now the recorders of choice. Db 24-bit A/D converters, a pair of Avalon VT37 mic pre's, an Avalon AD1224 compressor/limiter and a re-chipped Soundcraft console round out the room. The RADAR has been an important addition in King's eyes. "We love it. It works great, particularly for the type of work we do. We can jump back and forth with things and edit them on the spot very quickly."
Studio B, an editing/mastering room, got new KRK Expose 8 powered monitors and a Tascam DA45HR recorder.
Studio C, the new room, was designed from the ground up by King. He took care with the acoustics and equipment choices so that it worked well as a small mixing and MIDI room. Included in the room's equipment roster is a Mackie D8B digital mixer and a Tascam DA45HR recorder.
The upgrades in Studios A and B, as well as the completion of Studio C, enable Megatrax to work more efficiently. "The acoustic tracks that are not MIDI we'll record in Studio A and then either mix in Studio A or Studio C," King explains. "That boosts our productivity."