Music For Corporate Video
I am new to the corporate video business. I just got my first project which will be a video to show at trade shows for a firefighting epuipment manufacturer. I have a couple questions...
What are recommended music libraries to use? I don't have a huge budget, but I need something professional and legal.
Is it better to invest in a royalty free library or pay by the needle drop?
I appreciate any input, and if anyone has any other tips for a first timer to be aware of, please let me know.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. I hope one day I'll have the skills and experience to return the favor.
I find that royalty free music is easier to deal with.
You have several options:
1) Use a program like Sony's Sound Forge (or Acid) and make your own music with royalty-free loops.
2) Buy a music library from companies like Digital Juice, Sound Ideas, or SmartSound
3) Pay per song at sites like Revostock.com ($10/song) or Stock20.com ($7/song)
I think I may take a good look at software to generate my own music....but if I end up going for a library, is there one you would recomend over the others?
Digital Juice and Smart Sound are both good choices. Look at their websites and see what they have to offer.
Allow me to chime in with an opposite opinion.
While I am not familiar with the entire range of "royalty free" music available today, my opinion in the past has been that most of it is pretty mediocre. Granted this belief is colored by the fact that we've been using "laser drops" since the days when they were "needle drops."
By being a fairly active customer of Killer Tracks we are able to have on hand approximately 800 CDs from 6 library collections -- Killer, Killer Edge, NJJ, Atmosphere, Match & Network -- with several new disks arriving monthly. After an initial deposit to get three of the libraries (which was credited toward usage fees) the only thing we pay for is usage. On a typical industrial show, under 10 minutes in length, with distribution via 500 or fewer copies our cost is $270.
That $270 is for a "blanket" which means we can combine and intercut from any of these libraries, in any manner we want. Intro from one into a bridge from another, cross-mixed to a narrative version (which means without the lead instruments fighting with the voice-over), punctuated by a sweep from one of the musical SFX disks, to an ending from an entirely different piece or disk.
Having the disks to go through is much faster than any of the internet-based services I've tried, but that's not the primary reason we use Killer Tracks. That would be the quality of the music. The very last thing I need is music which is anything less than perfect. Killer's libraries have great orchestrations, flawless performances, alternate versions, excellent cut points, a range of pre-edited lengths, and so on all from a variety of styles and types that allow me to cover just about anything which comes up. And what I ESPECIALLY can't have is anything that sounds remotely like I did it myself or it's just some highly repetitive loops strung together.
I have said this on COW posts in the past, and it bears repeating, great music and solid editing can almost always save mediocre video. Whether you want the audience to stand up and applaud or choke up and get out their wallets, the magic is in the music. Why would I ever settle for anything less than the best?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Some people say that I'm superficial. But that's just on the surface."
Killer Tracks sounds like a good option, but does it require pretty active usage to make it worth the investment? I am hoping to one day soon be busy enough that I am truly using a service like Killer Tracks regularly. In your opinion, is that a good step to take without kowing how much you may be using it?
More than anything I want quality music, I am kind of caught in the "you get what you pay for" scenario.
Would you have invested in Killer Tracks when you were just starting out?
Thanks again for your input.
First, let me point out something I neglected to mention in the earlier post: From what I remember of the agreement I signed, as a licensee of Killer Tracks we do not own the 800+ disks that make up our production music library. Killer Tracks owns the disks and they are on loan to my company because we use their music. I have to assume that if at any point we were to violate the agreement (ie.- use music without paying for it), I would receive a letter informing me that I was to return each and every one of their disks. Not a problem for us since with this and all other forms of stock media we play by the rules. It's simpler -- and cheaper -- in the long run.
Tailese, I'm not sure what the current deal is to get a Killer library on a laser drop basis. I believe that our original cost was $600 for three libraries with 80% of that credited towards usage fees within the first year. People who use a lot of production music and studios who sub-license it to their clients usually have blanket deals wherein they pay $X,000 per year.
"Would you have invested in Killer Tracks when you were just starting out?"
This is the sort of thing we discuss frequently on the Biz and Marketing COW so my answer usually is don't buy anything you don't have to. The exceptions are things that you will use so frequently that it makes no sense to rent or borrow, Does production music fall into this category? Depends on what your other expenses are and how much of a pad you have set aside for your start-up.
If it were mine to do over I would call Killer Tracks and find out what their current deals are. Maybe you can get a single library for a commitment of a couple of hundred dollars, in which case your first use might cover the whole fee. Speaking of which, as we discuss at the Biz and Marketing COW, you should have a mark-up on production music and other similar expense items so you may even make money on your first use.
If I had to recommend just one for corporate it would be their "Network Music" library -- lots of VERY corporate stuff and not much of the extraneous stuff I'm unlikely to ever use like heavy metal, latin, hip-hop, etc. which are part of several of their other libraries along with corporate, motivational, promos, etc. which we do use. Killer's number in Los Angeles is 800-454-5537. My sales guy in New York is Claude Lewin 212-930-6608.
Hope this helps. Remember it is an alternate view to the earlier posts so don't fail to examine all of your alternatives.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Some people say that I'm superficial. But that's just on the surface."
I registered with Killer Tracks in order to preview some tracks, and I truly do notice a differnce in the quality. I am not exactly sure what I will be able to do, but I believe that quality is worth the sacrifice if within reason. Thank you for the contacts and numbers....I truly do need to call and have some more specific questions answered.
I also really appreciate the recommended library. I found that there is so much available it is easy to get lost in mountains of music.
Please know how thankful I am for all of your help. I am so very impressed by this industry and people's willingness to guide and share with others.
I hope you love and feel blessed by what you do!
A lot of it has to do with what exactly you are looking for... and what you want your "sound" to be.
For example, yes, Killer Tracks music is pretty darn good for the price. Unfortunately, so much so that you will find their library in just about every production company in the country. Even with hundreds of cuts you end up hearing the same ones over and over. I can't tell you how many times I've heard Project A (say, an infomercial in California) and been able to instantly identify it as the same music as Project B (say, an industrial film from Florida).
The same is true not just for Killer, but the other big libraries and laser-drop providers as well (Frank Gary, etc.).
I tend to have better luck getting a fresh sound by looking at the more obscure music providers... do an internet search and you will find their are BUNCHES of them.
Everything you say about the non-exclusivity of stock is true. The better the piece, the more likely it is to be used. BUT...
1) When making selections from a really big stock library, the chance of having your music show up again in a meaningful way is minor. Sure I've heard spots on the air which use a track I've used on an industrial but only a handful of times and only once in the past few years. When I pointed out one of these instances to a client her comment was something to the effect, "What do you mean it's the same? They're showing wall to wall carpeting and our video was showing winter sports and mountains." (Huh???) Which brings me to...
2) Normal people rarely register music on a conscious level. Here's another example. I had a client a few years ago who, after an initial viewing of pro bono fundraising piece, with tears welling up in his eyes, say how touched he'd been by the video. I said something about the music and he said, "What music? I never noticed that there was music."
Music can be magic, but the majority of normal people only take in the whole package. (Those of us who do this for a living are decidedly NOT normal.) The same is even more true for voiceover. My wife thinks I'm weird when I notice and comment on Gene Hackman's VO for a financial services company or Thomas Hadden Church for an agricultural company. OK, maybe weird isn't exactly what she's thinking when she rolls her eyes and says "Who cares?"
But I guess I'm stubborn enough that I have to please myself first before pleasing a client... and I seem to be harder to please usually.
I know we will really work doing a minor tweak on a piece of blocking, or adjusting one minor lighting instrument out of ten, or wrestling with a 1-frame difference edit, etc.... mostly things that the client would never notice.
And I just don't like hearing the same things over and over. For example for YEARS just about every network promo from NBC used music from the same Omnitracks library... it drove me nuts and I evetually ditched the library myself just for that reason (which was a shame, it's great music). We stopped using Killer Tracks for much the same reason, because I kept hearing their stuff (while I admit its VERY good) over and over.
For some reason it just really REALLY bugs me to hear the same track that I have used pop up even on something completely disparate. I've even pulled commercial spots off the air and re-tracked them when I later heard the same music in another usage. I think that's why I tend to go with more obscure sources, and when needed we have had pieces composed.
But yep, you're right... 99% of the time the client will never ever notice.
With all the music libraries on the 'net, it's so easy to sample and download the right sound - without keeping all the cds from a couple libraries in the edit suite. And it's affordable - everyone breaks pricing into broadcast/non-broadcast and market sizes. I haven't had a client complain about licensing fees... yet ;-}
I have had a relationship with Sound Ideas for a while and I would recommend checking it out. They are noted for there sound effects, but the royalty free collection is excellent. i have licensed network music in the past and that is another excellent collection. Both collections offer LIVE musicians and not electronica like a lot of crap out there. Just a thought. http://www.sound-ideas.com ask for Ron Anthony.