Production Music questions
We are a small video production company and I personally came on board as music producer though nowadays I do more editing, motion graphics and DVD & CD-ROM authoring than music.
But recently another production company asked if they could use some of our in-house music on their production which ended up surprising us positively due to the size of the production. So we thought why not look into creating our own library with some decent prices.
So I've got a few questions regarding creating and providing the production library to the public:
1. How profitable is production music really? I mean is it worth spending a lot of time and money to get things set up and running? I know it's a question of quality of the music but if we assume that the quality would be as good as most titles in places like KPM, WestOne etc. Do production houses actually use much production music?
2. Is it even worth thinking of providing and hosting your own library on your own dedicated site or will people not find us or 'trust' us?
3. What kind of agreements would we need to draw up for royalties etc..?
Thanks guys, would really appreciate any comments!
We use production music almost exclusively, but it's rare that I sign onto a needle drop agreement. Ease of use is paramount, so we tend to go for blanket agreements or libraries that offer a buy out option.
I don't know if it would be profitable or worth your effort. I was a studio musician years before I became a TV Producer, and there were times that I explored business models in this area. I stopped pursuing it when I realized that for my business model to work, I won’t be able to spend much time actually playing music, but would have to focus on marketing and legal issues - more than I wanted to at that age.
I've certainly paid a decent amount of money to libraries like VideoHelper, DeWolf and FirstCom. Quality rises to the top. Just know that your competition is global rather than local, so unless you can beat the competition in technical quality, customer service, or price (and at least compete with them in all three areas) it will be tough.
All that said, if that work is really what you want to do from day to day I say go for it. Even if it doesn’t make a huge amount of money, at least you would be spending your days doing what you love.
I’d at least explore the possibilities of partnering with some establish firms that fit your philosophy and style of music. It might be a good idea to take advantage of the “heavy lifting” they’ve already done in the areas of marketing and distribution, and even branding.
Agreements are wide open, but I’d start by looking at the agreements that your competition has with their customers. These aren’t hard to get if you are one of their customers. Once you see some of the obligations that they have, you can better align it with your needs.
The production music industry is saturated right now. Even if you have a top notch product that stands above the din, it could take years to establish yourself. And more time after that to turn a profit. One option to consider is to find a niche that's not being serviced very well. Bluegrass production music comes to mind. Most of it is being produced by "non bluegrass" musicians as an adjunct rather than a focus and it sounds like it. Kind of like the old Lawrence Welk show when they would do a theme show like country music. It's pretty abysmal.
I'm in the talking stage with a good friend of mine who was a Nashville "utility" man for many years about creating a niche product for another genre. Like Tim said, we probably won't make a huge amount of money, but we'll be doing something we love that will definitely improve our songwriting skills as well as recording prowess.
Higher Ground Media
Personally I would suggest you guys go with an established library such as Non-Stop Music, which is the library I use. They have music from many many different musicians and music houses so all you have to do is provide the music to them, they market it and you get royalties. It may not be much, but then you also don't have the headache of setting it all up yourself, maintaining, dealing with legal issues, etc.... You get some side money for not a whole lot of extra work on your end.
If you really do want to set up something yourself, do a search for Buy Out Music and see what others are doing. Most of them are doing the "pay by the song" deal and usually they provide both a lower quality MP3 and a high quality WAV or AIFF file. That will give you a sense of what you would need to set up and maintain.
One easy thing for you to do is set up an account with someone like a Non-Stop Music, create a password for your clients, they select and download the music online, you mark it up and make very easy money for no work at all.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.
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Thanks everyone for the posts, much appreciated!