Each year, Mix checks in with makers of production music libraries — those music collections designed to be used in just about everything audio: radio spots, Websites, commercials, Hollywood blockbusters, etc. And the market continually gets bigger, with more and more large-scale and boutique companies entering the field, bringing out piles of new releases each year. In such a noisy arena, the key to success is getting product into the user's hands.
That said, production music library companies are focusing on delivery — providing the easiest, quickest way for editors to search for a specific music bed to insert into their work, without stopping workflow. As the number of people with broadband connections has increased, more companies are offering music online, allowing users to quickly search, audition and download specific tracks — and whole libraries — in high-resolution formats. In fact, a recent survey of top music supervisors done by Associated Production Music found that more than 93 percent of respondents either already are or plan to download and audition cues for use in film and television via the Net. 615 Music's Randy Wachtler also sees an increase in downloading activity (though more from blanket licenses than needle-drop) as it seems easier and safer. However, Wachtler says that “the pipes” are still not big enough to download full libraries.
Looking at how Napster has turned the music industry on its side, trepidation remains strong in this field: Many companies prefer not to put their libraries online due to issues surrounding file sharing and ensuring rights protection for the company's composers. For example, JRT Music's clients maintain their own databases or electronic delivery systems, and the company will send out CDs for the user to upload and then send back when finished. “Other clients still prefer the actual CDs, and we update all of our clients with new CDs for free,” JRT's Catherine Bogin explains. “Yet another category of clients enjoy our free search services and like to swap CDs per project. DVD delivery is something that should be picking up steam. A lot of clients have expressed interest in this and we anticipate it will be popular because it allows the client to still have all of the music on-hand but in a much easier-to-manage package.”
Sonic Implants' Jennifer Hruska adds that DVDs are becoming the most popular delivery mechanism as they can hold a large amount of data. “Even still, the size of the library is starting to push the limits of that [format],” Hruska says. “We are looking into the issues surrounding releasing on hard drives. The main issue for us is user support: We're not really in the business of providing PC hardware user support!”
Doug Perkins, VP of sales and marketing at mSoft, relates that back in December 2004, the company sent out more than 7,500 audio CDs on drives just to update its own customers. “I have found more and more libraries that do not currently even exist on CDs. They are delivered on DVDs, on iPods or hard drives with audio files and a searchable text database. This gives them the ability to just send the music a customer needs and none of what they don't need,” he says. “I see this more with what we call ‘boutique music houses,’ which are usually a few composers that feed the trailer houses and other promo-based production houses with new music, fast — they can't wait for CDs to be pressed or artwork to be produced.”
Megatrax's Ben Trust is also looking forward to hard drvive delivery: “We're continually adapting to the user's needs because there is no one standard for delivery. We've found that the big studios and networks don't do as much downloading because they have firewalls, which puts limits on what they can download. So these companies prefer hard drives. But for the individual, they prefer to go online.”
For companies delivering on hard drives, using a Web-based search engine or an included search tool keeps the client in their domain: For example, the “Killer Tracks” search engine won't find the “APM” tracks and vice versa — great for the company, not so great for the client. According to Markus Schmidt at Creative Network Design, “From a user's point of view, it is favorable to have one search engine that finds anything from music to sound effects to samples. To take advantage of Mac- and PC-compatible file-management systems like our NetMix, rich metadata for the music CDs is the key element. Music libraries provide us with metadata that we deliver with our CD-ripping software RipIt [Mac, PC]. The RipIt software creates cross-platform-compatible Broadcast .WAV files with embedded metadata. This embedded metadata is scanned by NetMix and becomes searchable in many different ways. In addition to searching and auditioning music tracks, the user can preview music in sync to picture and transfer complete tracks of pre-edited tracks directly into Pro Tools or Avid.”
Dan Stein of Musicbox would like to see drive-based and online delivery be the norm, but cites technology incompatibilities, difficulty updating hard drives and networks not up to speed with DVD-ROMs as reasons why most users still prefer a CD. GMP Music has found much of the same results: clients preferring the portability and readability of CDs. “The need for us to begin distribution in other formats such as portable hard drives, DVDs and CD-ROMs has been negated by the built-in ability of nearly all professional editing software or operating systems to allow for audio extraction directly into the production,” comments GMP's Gene Ort.
According to Martha Lonsdale at Westar Music, most users still prefer to have a physical CD or DVD in their hands. “One of the reasons that hard goods are still necessary is that not all production facilities have Internet access in their studios. In the highly competitive production music market, the client is king and any delivery method must take into consideration the physical requirements of your client base.” Megatrax's Trust agrees: “It is all a function of the end-user. CDs will continue because of their human element for searching, looking at the covers and reading.” Videohelper's Joe Saba also sees CDs sticking around for a while, as most companies keep their video editing software disconnected from the Internet so that they don't contract viruses. “We've seen fewer requests for hard drives than expected because updating is a problem; it's a giant FireWire mess if the company has lots of libraries and they can use iTunes instead. We're format-agnostic: We'll give the customer whatever format they want.”
Whether on CD, DVD, hard drive, MP3, iPod or any other storage medium, production music library companies are still shuffling a massive amount of material every year. Here's what's new from these libraries since last April; companies are listed in alphabetical order.
New libraries from 615 Music (www.615music.com) are Dramatic Drones & Beds, Groove Generation, Hip Hop Drops, R&B Vocal Groove (featuring Take 6's Claude McKnight), and Electro Culture and Jazz Now from Music Shop. In addition to search and download functions on its site, the company also offers Flash drives that are 2 gigs and 2 inches long — about the size of a small Bic lighter.
Relying on the talents of its record label, Amusicom Records & Production Music's (www.amusicom.com) quarterly release schedule brings out 12 new CDs expected to hit the market this year. Headlines is a series of CDs for use in news, sports, promo, advertising, trailers, action, entertainment or magazine shows, featuring urgent grooves and dynamic orchestral pieces to heighten a sense of drama. Bass 'n' Beats highlights the low-frequency beats of modern hip hop and electronica. Users can receive the releases in a number of ways: Production Catalogs (“P-Cats”), which are specially designed cases from Case Logic that hold CD/booklets for the entire library; custom-formatted 250GB drives; and online, where users can download tracks from Amusicom's distributor, Megatrax, in a variety of file types.
Releasing 126 CDs for 15 different libraries in the past six months — including titles for its Ded Good, KPM, Salib, Selected Sound and Siren Cues — APM's (www.apmmusic.com) library can be accessed online via MyAPM, a searchable music-management portal where users can specify between download options or physical delivery (CD, USB hard drive, FireWire hard drive). There, users can search for Lo Editions (part of the Bruton collection), which comprises six CDs of ultramodern electronica. A new CD from KPM's Bad Ass collection, Rock Candy has 61 tracks with alternate mixes. Also new are collections in world music (North and South India, Persia, Iran, Sudan and Yemen), Sonoton Trailer Tracks, Romantic Comedy and Back End 2.
All CSS Music libraries can be purchased at the company's twin sites — www.cssmusic.com and www.dawnmusic.com — via UltraEdit, the company's search and retrieval system on a handheld FireWire or USB hard drive, which comes with two onboard search systems. Users can also purchase CDs or in the company's Q-Tunes CD-ROM format as MP4s, which are usually priced less than half that of a comparable physical CD. New releases include Target Trax Vol. 42 “Urban Rock,” MAX TRAX Vol. 45 “Dramatic,” Super Themes Vol. 50 to 54, Project Platinum Vol. 13 “Quirky Music for” and V-Trax Vol. 3 “Winterscapes.”
New releases at De Wolfe Music Library (www.dewolfemusic.com) include Beats and Rhymes, a hip hop, producer-created library featuring MCs Butta Verses, Kurious and Black Attack, among other hip hop artists; Latin Dramatic Film Score; American Heartlands; an international collection; and Fantasy & Magic CD, the company's new offering for video games. Each offering can be delivered with the company's new fully searchable Harmony Music hard drive (Mac, PC). This 500-gig LaCie drive provides access to the entire library using multiple search criteria, and users can import music directly into numerous programs, including AVID, Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools, iTunes, etc. Harmony is updated quarterly with a self-installing DVD-ROM of all new releases in Broadcast .WAV format. Users can also take advantage of the company's online search engine; downloading capability is coming soon.
New from Extreme Music (www.extrememusic.com): The Passport Series (a world music series featuring Tashi Lhunpo Monks, El Tanbura, Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble & Joji Hirota) and The White Label (featuring top names in dance music including John Digweed and Sasha's Maven). The entire X-Series and Royal Philharmonic Classical and Opera collections are available on DVD, Porsche hard drives or downloads from the site.
FirstCom (www.firstcom.com) has added online services and more than 100 CDs since last April, including catalogs Evo, SXS Series and Noise Pump Music (from the UK). MusiQuick Local, a FireWire custom-loaded hard drive solution, delivers music in .AIFF, MP3 or .WAV files; drives are accessed via AppleShare and supports OS 9/X. Coming this summer: MusiQuick Server, an upgrade on MusiQuick Local. Online, users can audition and download.
New collections available for download (.AIFF, .WAV, MP3) from Fresh Music's Website, www.freshmusic.com, are Acoustic Guitar Moods 1 and 2, Extreme Corporate, Jam Band, Back Road Country, Solo Piano Moods 1 and 2, Headbanger Sports (think X-Games), Party Gras, Geo Political, Fresh X and Open Spaces.
Gene Michael Productions Music (www.gmpmusic.com) offers a variety of music delivery options, including Red Book audio CDs and custom CD-Rs, while focusing on full-length/high-res online audition/delivery in MP3, .AIFF and .WAV formats. New releases include The Latin Experience, a collection of horns, drums and keyboards; Drum Works, solo drum licks in a wide variety of styles; Swing Time, reliving the sounds of jivin' '30s and '40s big band; Survivor (think the show sans cameras); Next Generation (acoustic/industrial/soft rock); Crash Test (heavy metal/sports rock); Not Quite Real, a quirky collection of techno, acid jazz and ambient; and A Moment In Time — for all you romantics out there.
Groove Addicts (www.grooveaddicts.com) recently added two libraries: They are distributing UK-based Audio Network (you may have heard its work on the SpongeBob: Squarepants movie) and Liftmusic, a new contemporary label comprising the work of more than 30 writers. An enhanced online client music project area allows users to save searches by project name, archive them online and e-mail them to associates. Groove Addicts will launch a high-end composer scoring series — Full Tilt, offerings 5.1 stylized tracks — this spring.
JRT Music (www.jrtmusic.com), which represents and is owned by France-based Tele Music, adds 11 libraries to its catalog, with many of them written/produced in France. Street Beatz focuses on hip hop and rap themes (written/produced in the U.S.); Adrenaline Addict, a collection of intense driving rock tracks; Indie Pop (written and produced in the company's UK office); Electro Pop; Roots, Dancehall, Ragga; Funk Connection; Electro Beats, where electroclash meets big beat; Movie Magic; XXL Jingle Vols. 1 and 2; and Blue Funk. Online, users can search and listen, but cannot currently purchase music; JRT is currently involved in a business partnership with sounddogs.com (which offers download services) for its entire catalog. For tight production schedules, the company provides music via FTP, e-mail or traditional shipping. Due to client requests, JRT expects to release a three-DVD set of its entire collection.
Since last NAB, Killer Tracks (www.killertracks.com), a division of BMG Production Music, has released more than 60 new CDs, ranging from Timewarp, Dark Zone, Sports, Speedway Mullet, Backpackers Delight, Brazilia and much more. This year, the company will unveil Zero to Sixty, composed and produced by Badass Music and featuring youth-oriented titles such as Massive Action, Electro Soul and Teen Machine. In addition to receiving CDs, users can audition and download music (.WAV, MP3, .AIFF) from BMGMusicSearch.com; a revamped KillerTracks.com, coming soon, will streamline this process. Hard drive delivery is optional.
Manhattan Production Music (www.mpmmusic.com) has been promoting its Live Trax Music Collection, which features live instruments and musicians, many of whom contribute lyrics. Live Trax also includes orchestral music with scoring stage and symphony hall mixes. The company reached its “100 disc” milestone with Dark Orchestral Volume II, part of its Apple Trax library. All offerings are engineered and mastered using Sonic Solutions by the Grammy Award — winning team at Chesky Records. While seeing heavy CD usage, the company offers clients the ability to download in .WAV and .AIFF formats; Manhattan Production Music has also been added to the mSoft server system.
Adding to Megatrax's (www.megatrax.com) 160-plus CD library are Sensación and Indie Rock. Composed/arranged/produced by Jorge Calandrelli and Byron Brizuela, Sensación is a six-CD collection of Latin hip hop and pop/dance tracks, including salsas, meringues, mambos and other tropical styles. Artist-driven Indie Rock, produced by Pinch (drummer of The Damned), features other punk artists, including Steve Soto (The Adolescents), bassist Warren Renfrow (Manic Hispanic) and vocalist Sean Wheeler (Throwrag). Megatrax offers its MusicSource for searching online, and the company is part of Play Music Finder, a European system where clients can download in numerous formats. Hard drives large enough to hold the company's entire library and updates are also available.
New from Metro Music (www.metromusicinc.com) are Dancehouse, offering four-on-the-floor tracks; Challenge II, light dramatic narrative stories in a film sense; Light Fashion & Retail, mixing smooth jazz and light radio; Tense Teases (drama promos and danger cues); Prime Time Party (party music from the '60s through the '90s); and Cool Jazz. Need something that has the feel of a '60s TV show? Search online with the company's Music Source for new release Lounge & Kitsch '62. Like what you hear? Contact the company by phone or e-mail with credit card information and Metro Music will send you a link to its FTP site for .AIFF download.
New from Music Bakery (www.musicbakery.com) are categorized thematic CDs. In addition to its self-named library, Music Bakery also offers StudioCutz, MediaTone (new release is Ultimate Drums & Bass) and WinkMusic (new release is World Sounds Collection). Music Bakery's Auto-Ship program allows users to receive a discount on every new CD ($59 each as opposed to $99), which is delivered automatically each month. Online, users can search and download tracks as MP3, .AIFF and .WAV files.
MusicBox (www.musicboxmx.com), a partner with mSoft, released a new series of CDs, CINEMATIC, with the first offering titled Action Adventure. The series comprises music associated with the silver screen, providing a blend of modern orchestral music with cutting-edge musical styles. Action Adventure offers 10 themes with various mixes and edits per theme. Also new is a 1,000-track/20-hour library titled CUE — the company's 100th CD release. An online delivery system is in the works.
Network Music (www.networkmusic.com), a division of BMG Entertainment, offers a number of new titles, including a VBM library (which spans funk, jazz and kitsch to suspense, country and aggression); SLAM!, geared toward radio programmers; and Essential Series, offering multiple genres and the “corporate sound of Wall Street.” Also new are ShortTrax, which comprises 7,000 tracks for unique spots, promos and jingles; and Classical, which brings the classical compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and more straight to the user's sound palette. New in Network's library are Animation Station, Air Guitar, Energizer and Human Drama.
Non-Stop Music Library (www.nonstopmusic.com) is now offering its music on external FireWire hard drives. Users can house their 700-plus discs on their own servers or a supplied 8×6×1.5-inch hard drive; a connection to an internal server will provide all of that facility's editors access to .AIFF, .WAV or high-resolution MP3 files. Clients can also pull their files into iTunes. For those who still prefer the CD format, Non-Stop has created the space-efficient Producer Series, a re-categorizing and reformatting of its traditional library. Non-Stop's newest releases include Acoustic Guitars 1-2, Attitude 6-7, Suspense 3, Adventure 3, Comedy/Humor 1-3, Corporate 1-3, Epic 1 and Kids/Cartoons 1, among many others. The company's sub-published libraries include Cavendish, Groovers, V, Countdown, Hastings Media Music, Point, TRX, Crashed and Mathambo Music.
Omnimusic (www.omnimusic.com), a 150-CD, 4,000-track music resource, offers seven new releases. I-Tech (from composer Bernd Schoenhart) delivers 14 main themes, five underscores and 24 broadcast edits; Drama Cues II (from mysterious to chilling to heroic moods) includes 13 main themes, 15 underscores and submixes, and 22 broadcast edits; and continuing in its line of holiday music, 'Tis the Season comprises 19 themes, four underscores and 28 broadcast edits. Modern Thinking, penned by composers Erich Glaubitz and Mike Jewell, blends drum loops and synth sounds with virtuoso keyboards and guitar performances, while Nova Jazz lets the user sit back and chill out. Last in this list is Atlantis, full of 16 glistening fantasy themes — all of which can be demoed online in Quicktime, Flash and MP3 formats. Also offered are Omni Blue Dot, Flash-Point Music and CDM Library.
Production Garden Music (www.productiongarden.com) comprises 10 separate production music libraries, offering three types of CD volumes and libraries: Broadcast Production Music Libraries (Music Street, MSE, Series 100, Tune Ranch), Long-Form Theme Music Libraries (which offer additional mix versions and include Manchester, Metro, World Sounds and Series 200) and Production Elements and Work Parts, which feature short stings, sweeps, sparkles, etc., and comprise Air Assault, PowerDisc and Stinger Tracks.
Promusic (www.promusiclibrary.com) has added roughly 100 CDs this year, including Digital Vision, a contemporary library created by musicians who have worked with artists such as Björk, the Brand New Heavies, Jah Wobble and Bryan Ferry. Promusic offers numerous delivery methods, including downloading more than 14,000 tracks in .WAV or .AIFF formats from the site. The company also offers hard drives with MP3 files, where clients can “dump” files onto a local drive or keep the drive locally connected for instant access to tracks. The Promusic libraries are also available on the mSoft server system.
RCB Music Library's (www.rcbmusiclibrary.com) two offerings — VARIETY Vols. 1 and 2 — are produced at sister music production company, Barclasion Music. According to owner Rick Barclay, one of the main necessities before launching the library was the Website. It was designed — and is in constant redesign — for members to access music, license forms and other miscellaneous information. New tracks are available online before being available on CD. A search engine is in place for video producers to find the needed track style.
Smartsound (www.smartsound.com) has just begun allowing users to download entire CDs via its site using its software, Sonicfire Pro. (Version 3, launched at last year's NAB show, allows users to download single tracks.) SmartSound automatically generates soundtracks that fit any length needed through a patented technology: Smartsound employs four musicians who work as “blockers” on these new releases, where they listen to each track and decide which small musical segments within the piece work as independent modules. Music CDs are then encoded with information that tells the company's software how to re-arrange a music track to fit into the length needed while being musically complete. The software can be used alongside other editing programs, allowing the user to continue working on video while auditioning audio tracks. New this year are Greatest Hits (released for Music Bakery and Sound Ideas), Romantic, Riveting, Breakbeat, Headlines, Groovin', Motivation, Driving, Bossa, Coffeehouse, Eurobeat and Progress. At NAB, Smartsound will announce an agreement to produce music CDs with the SmartSound encoding system for a major supplier of needle-drop libraries.
Sonic Implants Network (www.sonicimplants.com) now offers Symphonic Collection, comprising Ensemble Strings, Solo and Ensemble Brass, Solo and Ensemble Woodwinds and Orchestral Percussion — all now shipping. The release was recorded by Emmy Award-winning engineer Antonio Oliart and RIAA Award-winning engineer John Bono at Sonic Temple Studios (now Futura Productions). Limited collections are available for download.
Chilled Electronica, Sopersound's (www.sopersound.com) new offering, is straight from the London club scene and is packed with provocative downtempo dance and electronica styles. Eighteen full-length themes fill out the release — all of which can be downloaded online in .WAV and .AIFF formats. Need more themes? Continue searching via the company's MusicSource Online tool and audition something that piques your interest.
Stephen Arnold (www.stephenarnoldmusic.com) is now offering a Sonic Branding News system, which comprises 19 varied music packages titled CounterPoint, Convergence, Elevation, Finale, Fusion, Metropolis, Horizon, News Edge, News Matrix, One World, Overture, Pinnacle, Signature, Stravinsky, Third Coast, Wall-to-Wall News and WWL News. This division specializes in creating audio signatures for a station or network. The company also announced two new musical packages: Extreme and U-Phonix. Each library includes 14 musical themes for high-octane news reports.
New from Valentino (www.tvmusic.com) is the 10-CD Millennium Series, which features volumes on techno, sports, action, drama, Latin pop, funk, classic rock, action/adventure and more. Not library-related, but pretty interesting: Valentino has opened its archives of music and sound effect audio clips for ringtones! Ready for licensing, all 300-plus CDs and 50,000 offline sound effects are ready for ringtones, gaming, photos or other A/V applications.
Videohelper's (www.videohelper.com) ScoreHelper is chock full of cinematic soundtracks, ranging from huge Hollywood orchestral blockbusters to indie-label alt/folk to experimental sound design to reality TV. The library is now available for searching, auditioning and download at www.playvideohelper.com.
Since last April, Westar Music (www.westarmusic.com) has released 12 new CDs in seven categories, including titles in its Solo Instrument, Sports, Rock, Dance, Comedy/Cartoon, Country and Easy Listening libraries. All music is available for audition and download.
Sarah Benzuly is Mix's senior associate editor.