Production Music Libraries In 2004
Apr 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
By Sarah Benzuly
You’ve heard production music libraries everywhere: in this year’s Super Bowl television commercials, trailers for Hollywood blockbusters, dramatic themes on evolving Flash intros online, creative radio spots; you name it, they’ve been there.
Production music libraries are big business, bringing in top-tiered talents (composers, musicians, orchestrators, arrangers, engineers, producers and the like) and cashing in on up-and-coming artists, producing at big-name studios or the company’s own state-of-the-art facility, recording at 24-bit/96k and taking full advantage of the quick accessibility of the Internet. The last time we visited production music libraries, watermarking and licensing were at the forefront of these companies’ minds. While these issues remain a part of business, library creators are embracing the Internet, providing editors with quick access to searchable databases, auditioning files and downloading — right there and then in the midst of a heated editing session; no more waiting for FedEx to arrive. Moreover, library collections are expanding to include thousands of styles, ranging from mainstream rock/pop/rap/hip hop/classical/children’s themes to wacky/off-the-wall/atmospheric/Star Wars — influenced/comedic categories that can be used in anything from demos, records, remixes, commercials, jingles, post-production apps, soundtracks for film, theater, musicals, live performance, computer games and multimedia productions. We scoured the top libraries to bring you some examples of your options.
Geared toward the filmmaker, broadcaster, multimedia developer and video producer, 615 Music (www.615music.com) releases three to six new discs each quarter, with the content based on current styles and client feedback. Each disc offers 12 to 17 themes in addition to alternate mixes — which feature less melody, thinner texture and/or no vocals — for narrative and underscore applications. Recordings are created in its brand-new 615 Studios. (Take a tour at www.615custom.com.) Online, Mac and PC users can search, preview and download the company’s entire 175-CD library (including edits and alternate versions). 615 Music expands on its fully orchestrated film score — styled Hollywood Premieres with Volume 2. Other new releases include Techno/Dance/Remix, an all-live Big Band and Hip Hop.
Produced by Soundtrack Recording Studios (Boston and New York City), Aircraft Music Library‘s (www.aircraftmusiclibrary.com) newest releases include The Latin Compilation, Ads Up! (designed for retail), American Music Series (a seven-CD collection chronicling the States’ musical heritage), Cinemusic, designed specifically for the long-format producer, and Rock Sweepers and Ids to add a hot rock riff and effect to any production. Now seating CDs 65 and higher, these releases offer Co-Pilot, a slew of submixes to create custom combinations of instruments, taking out the melody, bringing in the strings, etc. Connecting Flights, found on each CD’s inside cover, displays notes connecting the user to other cuts in the library with complementary tracks. Editors can search for tracks and titles online; auditioning requires RealPlayer and a 58kbps or faster connection.
Like The Turban’s quirky rendition of “Jingle Bells” on Six Feet Under? Boutique production house Amusicom Record‘ (www.amusicom.com) recently renovated studio has also hosted Rudy & The Surf Kings, the Top Hatters and Swingin’ Steve Lucky, among other top-notch musicians contributing to the company’s more than 1,000 available pieces of music. The library’s entire catalog can be easily searched by genre, style, instrumentation and description via the Online Music Search System; auditioning requires the Windows Media Player.
This month, APM (www.apmmusic.com) launches its MyAPM, an expanded online music-management portal where users can choose from 54 main categories that break down to 2,018 subcategories — accessing more than 175,000 different tracks (more than 20 libraries) for use in film, television, radio and new-media production. In addition to recordings by Ireland harpist Turlough Carolan from West One Music; libraries from major labels, including EMI Group and BMG; the surround-ready Sonoton; flavors from across the globe, such as the French-infused Kosinus, Australia’s Castle and German-based Gerhard Trede; sports programming on NFL Films Music Library; and the Producer’s Music Library, which offers contemporary cues created by Emmy Award — winning and Academy Award — nominated composer Barry DeVorzon and conductor Richard Hazard, APM adds about 25 collections to its library each month. New releases from the catalog include Sabrason, featuring Cuban recording artists; the ambient, progressive Mesmerise; and recordings from composers Patrick Murdoch, Michael Rheault and Tim Willis on Route 66.
Focusing on radio customers, Bob Mithoff’s Bob’s Music Café (www.music forradio.com) offers the four-CD 101 Classic Themes: Broadcast Edition, which is divvied up into 14 categories (rock, blues, wacko, jazz, pop, etc.). With voice-over, promo and “theater of the mind” productions, each track was created with subtlety in mind. While Net surfers can only audition 30 of the library’s tracks, interested buyers must contend with snail mail to receive their set.
Utilizing the talents of outside composers and musicians and third-party studios, Canary Music‘s (www.canarymusic.com) library is geared for radio and television/video production, educational purposes, music-on-hold and new media. The ubiquitous yellow discs are available as an audio CD or Mac/PC hybrid CD-ROM (free with audio CD), and the library is updated with five to 10 new CDs every six months. Users can only preview the audio online.
Targeting specific demographics, budgets and producer needs, CSS Music‘s (www.cssmusic.com, www.dawnmusic.com) 17 libraries are available on CD-ROM, single-track or bulk downloads, or the company’s UltraEdit hard drive system (Mac/PC), where editors can perform a search via an onboard database, instantly play a selection, locate the file, build a custom playlist, burn a CD and create cue sheets — all in one handheld Plug-n-Play Avid-friendly system. UltraEdit comes in MP4 (AAC) or .WAV versions; CSS also offers MP4 files in its Q-Tune — format CD-ROMs (225 CDs’ worth on 26 CD-ROMs with a keyword database). Both CSS Websites feature a keyword database and full-length, low-resolution streamed samples, including the new David Wurst — composed Super Themes Library for film and TV.
The first volume in the Cycle Series from Cycling ’74 (www.cycling74.com), the dual-disc Sustained Encounters was produced/curated by Ron MacLeod (creator of the Poke in the Ear libraries) and features long, evolving environments and unfolding atmospheres. The library’s 24-bit/48k .WAV files are prepared for film, DV and multimedia productions; 44.1k versions are included. The high-capacity DVD-ROM and standard audio CD release also includes a sampling of 5.1 multichannel pieces. The files are seamlessly looped end-to-end for laying down beds that are imported directly to a DAW, playback in loop sequencers or manipulation by samplers.
Tapping the state-of-the-art equipment at Angel Studios (London), DeWolfe Music Library (www.dewolfemusic.com) offers the DeWolfe, Rouge, Hudson, Millenium, DeWolfe USA and Commercial Breaks catalogs, with more than 45 different categories. Online, editors can search, sample and order music from the entire catalog, including nine new releases such as the spiritually infused Classically Chilled, which was composed by Troy Banarzi.
Founded in 1988 by Doug Rogers (Gold and Platinum-winning engineer, as well as “Recording Engineer of the Year” Award), East-West (www.soundsonline.com) has amassed a library of more than 500,000 titles from such artist/producer/engineers as Prince’s rhythm section, Bob Clearmountain, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer and Public Enemy. In addition to its catalog, East-West represents leading sound developers including Audio Adventures, Audio Icons, Best Service (Germany), DUBLAB (Denmark), Embrace the Future, Numerical Sound (Canada), Power FX (Sweden), Toontrack Music (Sweden), Ueberschall (Germany), Quantum Leap, XSample (Germany) and Zero-G (UK). Online, users can browse and download libraries, including the new Symphonic Orchestra (co-produced by Rogers and Quantum Leap’s Nick Phoenix), which was recorded at a state-of-the-art $125 million concert hall with custom-built recording equipment by Professor Keith O. Johnson. This is the company’s first 24-bit orchestral sample library to include three simultaneous stereo mic setups (close, stage, hall), so users can mix together any combination of mic positions to control tone and ambience. Each volume comes as a virtual instrument powered by Native Instruments’ Kontakt audio engine.
Bringing in top composers such as Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt, Dweezil Zappa, Dave Stewart, John Digweed and Sasha’s Maven and Fluke, Extreme Music‘s (www.extrememusic.com) eight libraries (X-Series, Royal Philharmonic, Classical, Opera, Directors Cuts, Twisted, White Label, Easy Listening, Passport) are all recorded at the company’s London-based in-house studios. Information and tracks can be searched for and downloaded online; music supervision is supplied via the company’s IMS, also on the site. By mid-year, all tracks will be available on DVD, with the entire catalog of 7,500 songs storable on just five DVDs. The latest and brightest releases are Extreme Music’s collaboration with One Electronic and the DJ-intensive Series, White Label.
Boasting 15 libraries, 17,000 CDs and 34,000-plus compositions, Firstcom Music (www.firstcom.com) releases 100 new CDs a year, including its new Surround Sound Series on DVD-A/Video and DVD-ROM, Elizabethan & Baroque Drama (played on authentic instruments), the X-geners Youth Nation and martini-infused Electro Lounge. At the top of its heap is the Master Series Collection, which features talent from Larry Carlton, Charlie Clouser, Jack D. Elliot, Brian Tarquin and Wendy Waldman, to name a handful. Its MusiQuick® Online allows users to search, audition and download tracks (256kpbs MP3 or full-res .AIFF files), and the QuickTrax™ and LiquidTrax® Fast gives user the ability to custom-size their productions.
Producer/creative director/chief engineer Wes Talbot can be found ensconced in Fresh Music‘s (www.freshmusic.com) in-house studio working on the company’s three main libraries: the 92-CD Fresh Music general library, the 42-volume AirTime for broadcasters and the 12-CD Sound Effects/Production Elements. Recent projects for Talbot include the two-CD Solo/Acoustic Piano Moods 1 and 2; the beer-drinkin’, toe-tappin’ Backroad Country; and the jazz fusion Jam Band, which offers numerous underscores. Users can search, audition and download any theme (.WAV, .AIFF, MP3) online, some of which are offered in full, 60-second, 30-second and underscore versions.
Gene Michael Productions (www.genemichaelproductions.com) boasts more than 190 CDs crammed with production music, production elements and sound effects. Among other licensing/purchasing options, users can create a custom CD-R with individual cuts from multiple CDs. The company’s Production Elements Series features sweeps, strings, drones, explosions, pads, sprays, sparkles, etc., as well as true acoustic musical transitions. Editors can hop online for a full-length audition and download within minutes.
Groove Addicts (www.grooveaddicts.com) represents domestic and international libraries, including Who Did That Music? (created by Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and CLIO-winning artists), Ignite (techno-rock, drama, comedy, morning show, news), Gravity (hard rock to atmospheric soundscapes), Revolucíon (to add some Latin heat), MindBenders (off-center production elements), the UK’s Lift Music, Unity and Tuff, and other European flavors such as the Czech Republic — originated Fontana, Poland’s Sound-Pol and Eastern Europe’s Sound-Pol Classic Collection. The company offers Web-based accounts to search, sample and download more than 60,000 CD-quality tracks.
In addition to its T.H.E. Music Library and the award-winning Wild Whirled Music Library, Hollywood Edge (www.hollywood edge.com) recently released the first six CDs of Soundelux Music. Opting not to rely on staff composers, arrangers or musicians, each disc features a single composer. The latest releases include Bill Brown, Filippo Trecca, Dave Pelman, Spencer Neilsen, Kevin Teasley and David Mann.
JRT Music (www.jrtmusic.com) represents the Tele Music Library, which offers music in a broad range of styles. While the libraries originate in Paris and highlight French composers, the library also spotlights those from Germany, the UK, Holland and the Prague Symphony Orchestra, which will be featured in an upcoming CD. A fully searchable Website is in development and is expected to launch in late 2004. While you wait, check out newly released Blue Funk (classic funk with a twist of modern house/reggae/R&B/jazz), XXL Jingles Volumes 1 and 2, Movie Magic, featuring epic symphonic themes, and Electro Break, where electroclash meets big beat.
Killer Tracks (www.killertracks.com) has expanded its library with Killer Edge, which spotlights promos, sports, electronica, news, drama, and light and alternative rock. Moving a bit left-of-center is Chronix Trax for a more “youthful” twinge to your production — think Austin Powers. Looking for something a bit more mainstream? Check out NJJ, which uses very few synthesized sounds, focusing instead on piano and acoustic instruments. Killer Tracks also offers sub-libraries, surround and sound effects titles, as well as distributing the Atmosphere, Match, Koka, BMG Production Music and Cezame foreign libraries. The newly revamped Website features user-friendly search and browse functions, immediate auditions and downloads of any track, online license requests and usage reports. Its newest release, Killer Showbiz Package, brings the sounds of Broadway, action/thriller, romantic comedy and heroism on a double-disc CD; veteran musician John Cacavas composed the Broadway CD, while composer Don Wilkerson manned the other three titles.
Manhattan Production Music‘s (www.mpmmusic.com) relationship with the Grammy-winning audiophile label Chesky Records provides access to some of the finest producers, engineers and musicians, whose work can be heard on five libraries and more than 300 CDs. The company licenses the Chesky catalog for use in film and television, including SACD titles such as The Planets (Gustav Holst), Wagner and Verdi: Great Opera Choruses and, most recently, the DVD-A/Video Dr. Chesky’s 5.1 Surround Show. At NAB, MPM will preview its newest library, Live Trax, which comprises music performed entirely by studio musicians and comes with lyrics. The company’s Apple Trax music library includes the exclusive Split/Trax feature, a 2-channel system that allows producers to create their own custom mix by putting the melody and lead instrument on one track and the rhythm section on the other.
Top film/TV composers, orchestrators and arrangers — including Grammy Award — winning composer/arranger Jorge Calandrelli, producer Byron Brizuela, hip hop artist Howie T., Emmy Award — winning composer Brian Tarquin and composer/arranger Harvey Cohen, among many others — regularly record for Megatrax‘s (www.megatrax.com) 150-plus library at the company’s state-of-the-art live and electronic studios, working with chief engineer Eddie King and audio engineer Derek Jones. Comprising its library for film, broadcast, advertising and multimedia are Intervox, a European library; Amusicom, produced by film/TV composer Danny Pelfrey; Mega Latin, a six-CD Latin series (available next month); and Megasonics, a new four-CD sound design series produced by top Hollywood and video game sound designers (also available next month). Megatrax offers two different online search systems: Musicsource and PLAY Musicfinder, where clients can search, preview, license and download tracks in .AIFF and .WAV formats (MP3 on the PLAY system).
Metro Music Productions‘ (www.metromusicinc.com) 62-CD catalog of contemporary styles is geared toward on-air promotion and programming/production for network and cable TV, radio and film; the company also represents the Hungaraton Label, a classical catalog. The library comprises a large degree of live performances featuring top New York City studio musicians. The Metro catalog, produced in-house, features film, TV, jingle and song composers. The majority of the tracks are recorded in 24-bit digital via Pro Tools or Logic Audio; occasionally, the company reverts to its trusty 2-inch/24-track for jazz, blues and big-band projects. The company’s Website features the Music Source search engine, which provides access to every cut for auditioning, plus a brief montage of each disc; downloadable music will be available in the near future. New releases include Lounge & Kitsch ’62 (recorded live) and the brand-new Metro Music Library demo, which has been redesigned for easier search by using general usage genres and subcategories.
The Music Bakery‘s (www.musicbakery.com) royalty-free music is created by pro studio musicians and acoustic instruments, and produced by a team of award-winning composers. In addition to its slew of CDs — including a categorized Thematic and Variety releases — Music Bakery also offers the StudioCutz, MediaTone and WinkMusic collections. Users can select tracks for training and motivation, education, sales and advertising, and industrial projects, as well as pick up crisp background beds for narration and high-profile themes to add image and emotion. Online, editors can audition online demos in numerous categories, search via an extensive style description or by tempo type and download MP3s instantaneously. The company also offers a CD subscription program in which it will automatically ship one new issue each month for $59 per CD; Music Bakery will pay for shipping.
Aimed toward broadcast jingle writing, Network Music (www.networkmusic.com) offers a full musical spectrum, specializing in high-quality productions involving full-scale orchestras with award-winning composers while maintaining a “boutique” sensibility. New products include SLAM!, Essential Series and UBM libraries. Look out for a brand-new Website with download capabilities and real-time auditioning.
Adding to its collection of orchestral and dramatic themes, Non-Stop Music Library (www.nonstopmusic.com) added the Producer Series collection, in which each disc is packed with more than 25 different themes that are grouped into production categories for more productive searches. Non-Stop also represents the Groovers Music Library, Media Music, Countdown Media, Point Music Library, J.W. Media Music and Cavendish Music Library, all searchable online for preview. The company’s L.A. East Studios (Salt Lake City) is housed in a turn-of-the-century church building with a wide range of acoustic spaces, including the unique “chapel” scoring stage and Studio A’s high-ceiling rooms, for a variety of recording environments.
OGM Production Music‘s (www.ogmmusic.com) wide variety of libraries for video, cable, CD-ROM, multimedia, Internet, film, corporate and broadcast can be easily organized via its downloadable TuneFiner (Windows only), which allows editors to search for a particular type of music or do a general track audition. Users can also search for music on the site, including the company’s High-Tech (The Blue Line), Contemporary (The Red Line), Special (The Red Line), Classical (The Classical Line), Optional (The Gold Line) and Archives (The Orange Line) of professional and premium titles. OGM’s The Best of Media Music is now available in a limited edition to existing clients and will soon be online at www.OGMmusic.com/MEDIA.
Omnimusic (www.omnimusic.com) was one of America’s first independent music libraries, issuing its first LP in 1976. Since then, the company has added more than 85 award-winning composers to its credits, creating 150 discs in numerous musical and production styles. It also offers the ultracontemporary CDM library from France and Flash•Point, a library of cutting-edge reality music produced in the company’s New York City studio. Broadcasters can dip into Blue Dot with its thousands of tracks for fast spot design and production. Omnimusic produces high-impact, fully orchestrated tracks with New York’s top musicians, as well as contemporary pop, urban and techno tracks typically produced by composers using their own studios. Online, users can access Sparky, a virtual search hound, to locate and audition tracks from any of the libraries; plans for full download capability are in the works for a spring release.
In business since 1997, OneMusic (www.onemusic.com) has 330 discs in 21 music categories, adding 30 discs annually — some of which can be heard on A Beautiful Mind, Friends and HBO’s The Wire. LiquidTrax provides music editors with the ability to mix their own custom score using four stems from a stock piece of music. In 2001, LiquidTrax was converted to LiquidTrax-Fast on CD-ROM; each set of stems is now provided in PC- and Mac-compatible .AIFF files. New releases this month include Swing Era 2 by Matt Catingub, Classic R&B 2 by Nichols & Allen, Triumph & Inspiration by David Hoffner and Harmonies & Underscores by Hayes & Smith.
Why select one track from one of the company’s library and another track from a different library when you can customize your own CD? Production Garden Music‘s (www.productiongarden.com) 10 catalogs are available separately or in mix-and-match combinations. A favorite among producers is the 100-CD 4M collection, which features the Metro, Manchester, Music Street and MSE libraries, created by different teams of writers and producers in different parts of the country, which can only be previewed; purchases are delivered via snail mail. Other recent releases include Vol. 22: Americana Suites With Full Orchestra, featuring the 72-piece Czech Philharmonic Orchestra performing in the historic Dvorak Hall (Prague); Xtreme Mix; Entrepreneurial Spirit; Nu Underscores; and Air Assault Promo Beds. Digital effects and elements are also available with the complete line of Sound Ideas’ sound effect libraries.
Since 1987, Promusic‘s (www.promusic-inc.com) library has grown to more than 2,000 discs, resulting in 25 libraries from around the globe, including its in-house library, Abaco Music. On the Net, the company offers search, 30-second Windows Media clips to audition and CD-quality (.WAV and .AIFF) download features. While surfing on its site, check out Abaco 120 Urban Culture, bringing the hip hop, R&B and funk sounds of the inner city to any music editor.
Founded in 2000 by TV and film composer Steven Stern and jazz recording artist/entrepreneur Stuart Hart, Selectracks (www.selectracks.com) offers a catalog that will surpass 40 CDs by the end of this year, including new releases Fun and Funky, Jazztronica and Rock for the Masses. Selectracks’ eight staff composers can be found immersed in the company’s recording facility, which can hold a 40-piece orchestra and features Pro Tools and Steinberg VST- and Nuendo-based suites. The Selectracks catalog is available online using the music source and music cart system.
With more than 25 years of Hollywood experience in sound design on major blockbuster movies, not only has Frank Serafine (www.serafine.com) created realistic sound effects libraries, but he also has a keen sense for creating music, including two music library discs for a large European music library company, JW Media Music (UK). The Serafine Collection has recently added the 20-disc Ambience 5.1 to its collection, which was recorded in surround (24-bit/96k) via a Tamura Quolle Izm-125 field mixer. Serafine is currently working with a company called Sounddogs for one-off downloads. Recently, the company signed a co-distribution deal with Hollywood Edge.
The name of the game for Sonic Implants (www.sonicimplants.com) is “playability,” “responsiveness” and “organic sounds” — all driven by the sound design process developed by 18-year sound design veteran Jennifer Hruska. The process includes concentrating on the aspects of recording that are unique to sampling; i.e., getting musicians to break down their playing into a set of samples, focusing on using high-end equipment and keeping the signal chain as small and clean as possible. While the company houses a good-quality recording room, many projects are taken to various outside studios, including the high-end 24-bit Symphonic Collection Series and the surround Symphonic Brass, which features the world-class Boston Pops Orchestra recorded at The Sonic Temple (Roslindale, Mass.), with production handled by Hruska, and engineers Antonio Oliart and John Bono. For editors in the midst of a heated session, Sonic Implants sells its catalog in both CD and downloadable formats.
The Mix Broadcast Music Library from Sound Ideas (www.sound-ideas.com) now includes 10 separate releases, totaling 84 CDs with more than 85 hours of audio. Honing in on all major musical styles, the CDs are offered in broadcast lengths, full-length tracks, rhythm tracks and production elements, and is packaged in a compact storage binder with full track and index listing. Online, the company boasts its SuperSearch, an electronic catalog to easily search for music and keep track of how you use it.
With more than 50,000 selections, TRF Production Music Libraries (www.trfmusic.com) includes Bravo, Cobra, Dennis, Kool Kat, MP 2000, Musictrack, PowerSound, Pyramid, Spain is Music, Stock, Supraphon and the PAN library of authentic international/ethnic music. The newest member to this catalog is ADRENALIN, fusing futura, urban, pop, chill-out and ambient grooves with sports, rock, jazz fusion and alt. rock. This month, 10 new releases were added to the Kool Kat Production Music Library, bringing its number up to 70 CDs; 50 new offerings were added to the Bravo, Cobra, Dennis, Pyramid and Stock Production libraries, while 60 new classical and ethnic music CDs join the Supraphon Classical Library and PAN. Online searches will be available soon.
Valentino‘s (www.tvmusic.com) self-named and Evergreen libraries total more than 210 CDs with 43 separate style/subject categories and more than 115 composers represented. All catalogs are available online as Excel or PDF files for downloading; regularly released new material is offered in CD, MP3 and .WAV formats for broadcast and Internet applications.
A production music library designed by producers, for producers: Video Helper‘s (www.videohelper.com) staff includes former network on-air promo producers and in-house composers who are familiar with daily spot deadlines. Track cuts maintain tempo and key for easy editing, with multiple sections built in. At the company’s 5,000-square-foot in-house studio (Manhattan), the creators rely on various digital and analog boards, a 24/96 Pro Tools|HD Accel and other state-of-the-art gear. The company’s site lets users search, audition and download cuts, including remixes, alternate versions and experimental cuts. These demos are available for free, but a one-time approval from the staff to download broadcast-quality tracks is required. For those without Internet access, Video Helper will soon launch its “Look & Load” search engine DVD-ROM, in which users can search from more than 2,000-plus titles (with 55 different themes), audition and access the company’s entire catalog, functioning much in the same vein as its Web-based search engine. With the DVD-ROM, clients can drag-and-drop the desired cuts onto their hard drives in 256kbps MP3 format. New release to search for: Dramaticus is a collection of more than 59 “over-the-top” dramatic cuts designed for movie trailers and promos and boasts live orchestral sections (recorded in 24/96 at Nashville’s Classic Sound).
Westar Music‘s (www.westarmusic.com) multiple CD-release program offers new music several times a year. To search for audio demos for every category and CD online, the company offers its MusicSource search engine; each selection can be downloaded in full for immediate use, and users can quickly apply for licensing. This
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