Any seasoned editor will tell you that finding music for a client is the bane of their existence. They will also tell you it’s the most time spent with the least amount of pay off. Hearing things like, “I don’t totally hate it,” or “well it’s not totally terrible” or my personal favorite, “love the cut, hate the music” regarding a cut you show a client that was supposed to be ‘final’ draft, will induce responses that are unbecoming of the totally ‘sane’ people we editors are. I say ‘sane’ lightheartedly as we all know you have to be a little crazy to enjoy sitting in Premiere sifting through your client’s content, trying to piece together a puzzle that would make Walter Murch proud.
Through years of experience, I’ve come up with
three easy steps to steer you in the right direction for when you put on your
newly delegated ‘producer’ hat and have to scrape the Internet for the perfect
track or sound effects that will help you sell your edit.
#1: Know Your Client
This may not always be easy, especially with a new client, but knowing their taste in music is super helpful! This goes far beyond that though and reaches deeper than knowing their genre of choice. I don’t have to tell you that music and the psychology of sound are way deeper than the music itself. Knowing things like the client’s age and upbringing, types of film they enjoy, and what their favorite color is, etc. will help you to determine their musical taste. Now obviously you won’t always get a chance to do extensive research on your client, nor will you always get to hand them a questionnaire that will answer some of these things. But as anyone who has read this far will know, nowadays we are more than likely the videographers shooting, as well as the editors, and we tend to wear multiple hats throughout production. I often tell my clients that I’d like to be on set during the shoot days if I’m not the one shooting, just so I can better understand them and their vibe. Simple things like letting them choose the music on set, or discussing favorite films, colors and clothing/fashion can all be super useful pieces of information that can be gleaned simply by you being there on set interacting with them.
#2: Know your Footage/Content
This one should be obvious as an editor, but I’d
be lying to you if I told you every edit I do, I sift through all the footage
and watch ALL of it. We of course scrub
through a majority of it, but in today’s fast-paced environment of Post
production, where they wanted it yesterday, it’s hard to view it all. There are a few key things to check for that
can really help you understand the intention/direction of the edit and thus
start you in the right direction for your music search.
The first and obviously most telling thing, is
frame rate. I shoot and edit a variety
of content from underwater, to fashion, to narrative, and one thing that’s
always changing is the frame rate. For
the majority of my fashion clients, I shoot in slow motion for a couple of
reasons, one to help smooth out less than ideal camera work when clients don’t
want to pay for a Free Fly Systems movi pro
gimbal and/or ready rig vest for stabilization,
and two because life is just more sexy in slow motion. (If it wasn’t, the
infamous Baywatch running scene wouldn’t have been a thing.) Based off of that info alone, I know a slower
song is in order to match the mood and vibe of the slow-motion footage.
Another key piece of information to look for in
footage is color. How did the DP light the scene? Did he have a lot of color
contrast? Is it heavily gelled, or are the color palettes neutral? This is hard to assess if you’re looking at
log or raw footage but hopefully your DP was nice to you and shot proxies with
a look baked in so you can get a sense of what he was going for. Better yet, maybe he was nice enough to give
you the LUT he was
using to monitor color on set. By
looking at the color, you can begin to get a feel for the mood of the piece,
which again, gets you started in the right direction for your musical hunt.
#3: Know your Audience/Target Market
Now this one can be difficult because with the ‘budget squeezing’ we’ve been seeing in our industry, more and more clients are creating less content and pitching it to all the markets, hoping it will land with a few of them. But if the client has a target market in mind for the content, this can be extremely helpful. For example, one of the brands I work for is a rental-based fashion brand. Their customers can rent ‘looks’ for the month and can either return them or can purchase and keep their look permanently. This knowledge helps me understand their target market a bit better and since it’s fashion client, I know the content is going to be seasonal and trend driven.
That’s an example for one type of client and content
creation, while another example is my underwater shooting. This tends to be slow motion and depending on
where I’m diving, determines the water color, either green or blue, which addresses
step one and two, but leaves it open ended on step three the ‘target audience’.
For most of my underwater personal work
(i.e. not for TV or commercials) I have a theme of conservation, therefore I
can better determine my target audience. With conservation you want to reach a broad
audience. You want the older generations to see and hear your message but
really, I think it’s more important for the younger generations to see and hear
the message. They are the future, will
be coming into voting power, and will be the ones most affected by climate
change. Therefore, my target audience,
although broad, will lean towards a younger market.
These tips are the first three areas I consider
before I begin my music search, and honestly, it helps me cut my time in half. An added benefit is it also allows me to find
songs for later projects as I’m browsing for the current project, since I’ve
come to learn my repeat client’s aesthetics, style, and target audience. I’ll have days where I’m browsing through AudioMicro.com and I’ll hear a song that
may not be right for my fashion client, but would be perfect for that
sustainable fish sourcing project I’m working on, so I’ll download it and save
it for later.
Hopefully, these tips help you navigate your way through the bumpy seas of finding royalty free music for your client video projects. Thanks for reading.
Ryan Waller is a true nomadic soul, at heart. Finding his grounding in the world of film and motion production, Ryan has been working passionately as a colorist and editor in Los Angeles, California. Ryan’s first love though is and always has been the sea. When he isn’t working on land as a filmmaker and artist, Ryan is leading expeditions on the water teaching people the values of sustainable fishing and proper ecological practices. His merging of art and water has helped him become one of the predominant water based motion picture artists in Los Angeles.
Adding music to your video projects gives them a huge boost of energy and helps you create the right feeling. Music also helps the viewer better understand the meaning of your video and guides them on how to react.
As viewers, we instantly react emotionally as music changes within a film even if what we are seeing lacks significant action. When information is being presented, music creates an enjoyable experience for the viewer and makes it easier for them to keep watching until the end.
However, adding a track to your video and simply letting it play isn’t always enough. There are simple ways you can get the most out of your music with a few editing techniques that provide big impacts.
1. Choose a Track with Musical Variety
Using different sections of one song helps you create the mood of your video project and maintain a flow of sound. By choosing a music track with variation, you can leverage different sections of the track to create the feeling that something new is happening when a track moves from mellow to dramatic, for example.
Look for tracks with faster and slower sections, tracks that add or subtract the amount of instruments during different sections, and tracks with sections that include vocals or change the vocals.
2. Match Movements to the Beat
Make sure what you are visually presenting is consistent with what your viewer is hearing by making your cuts on the beat of the music. You can avoid being predictable by cutting on different types of beats such as beats made by different instruments.
However, synching the visual and auditory experience of your video isn’t just about cuts. Listen for moments in the track when you can line up visual action with the beat of the music. You can even adjust the speed of your video slower or faster to synch better with the music moment and surprise the viewer.
3. Visualize Unique Moments in the Music
Listen for unique moments in your music track where something a little extra or different happens. It may only be a second or two, or it could be an entire 30 seconds, but either way you have to work with.
Match the unique musical moment with a unique visual. It could be captured with a change in expression, change in perspective or change in environment. If you have a longer unique musical moment, it’s a great opportunity for you to include visual footage that otherwise appears out of place.
4. Use J and L Cut Transitions
You can better connect different sections of your video project by using music to overlap your transitions and prepare your viewer for what’s coming next . This is perfect if you are cutting back and forth between quieter sections of someone talking and sections of visual action where you are using music.
Slowly introducing music before you cut to the video section where it will be used is called a J cut. Letting the music continue and fade out and down after you have cut to the next scene is called an L cut. Inside your video editing software, like Premier Pro, you’ll notice these cuts make the shape of a J or L respectively and that’s where they earn their names.
5. Drop Out and In to Music to Create Punctuation
A great way to emphasize something in your video is to abruptly cut the music, feature a scene of interest, and then start the music again. This allows you to create a strong statement, highlight a unique visual moment, or even break for a little humor.
Make your cut on the beat of the music and, if possible, at the end of a musical section. Restart the music on a strong beat and begin a new musical section. This way you will be instantly pulling your viewer back into the action of your video.
Hopefully these quick tips will help you create some emphasis and mood in your next video project. AudioMicro is a great place to find everything you need to make your projects a success, whether it be Royalty-Free Music, or premium Sound Effects.
Let us know what other tips you think would be helpful to editing video projects, in the comments below!
One of the goals of the industrial revolution was to have machines simulate physical tasks to produce outputs more efficiently. Fast forward to the present. The purpose of artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is to simulate any mental task. Machine learning is arguably one of the most important subsets of AI because it effects all other fields within AI. In any industry, you have a pattern or a model that you know to be true, you make a prediction, and then you update your model based on the result. This represents the learning process of machine learning. The introduction of this technology into industries like music, online dating, online publications, video-sharing and sports is becoming vital to each organization’s competitive sustainability.
The more data you have, the better the accuracy of your machine learning algorithm. In the music industry access to information presents a big challenge, but once you have it, the question becomes, how can you use and manipulate it using machine learning?
Let us quickly recap why access to data is such a big challenge in the music industry.
DATA ACCESS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
In this metaphor, the “majors” represent Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. The “streams” represent streaming companies like, but not exclusive to, Spotify and Apple. The “gold” represents consumer data from streaming platforms. The majors and the streams sit knighted at the roundtable. The streams rule the island of consumption and as a result control access to the gold. The majors are granted access to the gold because they own most of the island of content and a share of land on the island of consumption. The independents own a smaller portion in the land of content, and as a result, they have to get their gold from Robin Hood. Also known as direct-to-fan platforms that provide consumer data to artists such as Pledge Music, Hive or Superphone.
The question is, once you have access to the gold, what do you do with it and how can you maximize its value?
ENGAGEMENT DATA IS GOLD
Have you ever been hunting for gold? How do you go about it? You get a sieve, you dip the pan into the water, and you pull up a whole bunch of dirt, mud, rocks, and stuff that you do not need. However, somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data. Engagement data can be the “rate of collections,” “follower change,” “plays per user,” or a “save,” otherwise known as a “collection” from a playlist. The term, “collection,” on Spotify, refers to when someone listens to a song, presses the add sign and adds the song to their library. Tapping into engagement metrics increase the likelihood of reaching potential super fans. Focusing on engagement data will allow a label to make more targeted business decisions across all verticals while driving revenue. According to a Goldman Sachs report released earlier this year, streaming will drive over $34 billion dollars worth of total revenue in the music business by 2030. That is a whole lot of streams, a whole lot of royalty payments, and a tremendous amount of data.
The motivations of the person holding the filter have a direct impact on how the filters are designed, and subsequently how much gold you get. For example, the primary goals for a streaming platform like Apple, Spotify, Google Play or Deezer is to turn non-paying subscribers into paying subscribers. A major label’s goal is to create, and then market hit songs while turning passive fans into super fans, similar to the rabid Beliebers of the world.
Two years ago, Spotify launched a marketing campaign called “Found Them First.” The microsite lets users see which musicians they heard on Spotify before they became a breakout artist. From a label perspective, Spotify quantified what it means to be an early adopting fan. The point is that this potentially impactful mechanism was used to drive subscriber growth, not artist careers.
Industry players who have access to the gold are now competing with the help of their filtration ability. How can you design your sieve to get the gold you need, when you need it, to drive a higher return than your competitor.
But music is not the only industry working to create the perfect filter. In fact, one should pay attention to the advancements being made in other industries because of the parallel applicability to the music industry.
DATING ALGORITHMS & AUTOMATED MARKETING TOOLS
In 2013, Amy Webb went on the TED stage and spoke about hacking the online dating code. She amassed 72 data points of her perfect man, everything from Jewish, to athletic, wants two children, is an adventurer, to even his appreciation of things. It was crucial for Webb that her perfect man appreciated an excellent spreadsheet. She then prioritized each data point, breaking them down into two tiers, giving each data point a score between 1 and 100. Amy then built a scoring system. If her perfect man scored 700 points she would send him an email, if he scored 900 points, she would have a phone call, and if her potential ideal man scored 1500 points, that meant there was long-term relationship potential, and they could go on a date.
Amy started getting all of these fantastic matches, except there was one problem. These men didn’t like her back. Amy had forgotten to analyze the competition. She scraped the top profiles on the dating site, in music this could be compared to examining the social or streaming patterns of similar artists. She analyzed her competition’s photo, humor, tone, voice, communication style, the average length of description, and time between posts. Amy’s profile ended up becoming the highest ranking profile on the dating site. Soon after, a man scored 850 points, which she hadn’t seen before. Three weeks later they went on a date. A year and a half later they got engaged, and two years later they had their first child. Now, If an algorithm can be used to narrow down your choices for a lifelong partner, then an algorithm can be used to find a fan that is guaranteed to spend $100 on your artist per year.
Just as Webb broke down her perfect man into 72 data points, so an artist can break down the characteristics of their potential super fan. For example, suppose Beyonce’s base of super fans could be broken down as female, ages 27-34, with a typical purchasing pattern of buying premium brand diapers because they want to show that they are good mothers. If you rank these points, give them a score and run them through a scoring system. It is then possible to target the fans that are most likely to engage with your artist. For example, if your fan scores 700 points, you send a targeted Facebook ad, if your fan scores 900 points you send them an email and if your fan scores 1500 points you send them a personalized email with a free concert ticket.
The ability to find your true fan suggests that automatic marketing capabilities are not only possible but in our near future. However, the type of marketing actions that a label might engage in will differ based on the stage of the artist and genre. This assumes that fan types differ per genre and fan engagement differs depending on the stage of the artist. However, online dating algorithms are not the only industry that provides interesting parallels to music.
YOUTUBE & RECOMMENDATION ENGINES
Assume that you have access to granular level engagement data from streaming platforms such as the “rate of collections” and the “rate of replays per user,” all by a zip code level granularity. How could you use this information to not only target market but predict the likelihood of a potential superfan? The best industry parallel to consider in this example is YouTube’s Recommendation algorithm.
Youtube, fueled by their parent company’s artificial intelligence division, Google Brain, has successfully accelerated their recommendation capabilities through a series of micro-improvements. For example, roughly four years ago, YouTube made its first significant improvement to its recommendation algorithm when it decided to value the number of times users spent watching a video more than the number of video clicks per person. With this one move, creator’s saw their view counts decline, who had originally profited from misleading headlines and thumbnails. All of a sudden, higher quality videos which were directly correlated with long watch times came to the forefront. As a result, watch time on YouTube grew 50% year over year over the next three years.
Google Brain learns independently by picking up on less apparent patterns at an accelerated rate. This technique is called unsupervised learning. Another micro-change caused by Google Brain was the choice by YouTube to recommend shorter videos for users on mobile apps and longer videos on YouTube’s TV app. Google brain picked up on the notion that varying video length by platform would result in higher watch times. In music, this could be compared to varying advertising length based on the platform assuming shorting ads for mobile and longer ads for the desktop.
In 2016, Youtube launched 190 micro-changes on Google Brain and is said to be on pace to release 300 more microswitches by 2017. The implementation of Google Brain has increased the time people spend watching videos on YouTube by 70%.
Deep Reinforcement learning technology like this will be a catalyst to drive the music industry forward. This will likely be the case for United Masters, a recently publicized record label. Led by Steve Stoute, the former president of Interscope records, $70 million dollars was raised in a Series A investor round, led by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet. Other investors include Floodgate, Andreessen Horowitz, and 20th Century Fox. One of the company’s core competencies will be its ability to target market high potential superfans based on learned data from sources including YouTube and Spotify.
NBA & IDENTIFYING PATTERNS
When Joe Lacob became the owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, he adopted a data-driven strategy. Lacob and his team analyzed player behavior across the NBA and identified the number of three-point shots taken as being “market inefficient.” They concluded that roughly the same number of shots were being made from just inside the three-point line as outside it. Therefore they built their strategy around the notion that if their players, particularly Stephen Curry moved back a few inches from the three-point line before shooting, it would improve their point scoring average by 43%. With a data-driven strategy, Jacob Lacob took the Golden State Warriors, a team that hadn’t won an NBA Championship since 1975, to win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Championships.
The NBA identified a pattern based on a common activity within the game. Here are a few examples where patterns are likely to be found in the music industry; the genre of playlists people are listening to, the time of day people listen to certain genres, and the effect that holidays, political events, or an artist’s passing have on music consumption.
BUZZFEED & ENGAGEMENT DATA
Buzzfeed is a social news and entertainment company. Buzzfeed invented an internal proprietary metric that curates articles based on reader preference. They do this by measuring the “rate of shares over time,” within the first weeks of an article’s release. Buzzfeed decided that a reader sharing a piece was more valuable than a click. Have you ever clicked on an article or played a song and walked away from your computer? What the act of sharing an article or saving a song to your Spotify collections shows is a higher level of engagement in comparison to a stream or a click. Arguably, this is helping to ensure a return on your investment.
So a “share” is more valuable than a “click,” and a “collection” is more valuable than a “stream.” By calculating the “rate of shares over time” or the “rate of collections over time,” you’re not only making sure that the consumers you are targeting are engaged but that they are growing significantly over time.
As of mid-2017, Buzzfeed was estimated at approximately $1.7 billion dollars and was processing roughly seven billion monthly content views.
With the sheer volume of streaming data growing year over year, the ability to enhance and fine-tune marketing capabilities in the music industry is endless. It comes down to access to the data that you need and the software capabilities to intelligently process and act upon that information. Moving forward into 2030, success as a label will come down to a company’s ability to pair its human capital with intelligent software.
I am the CEO of Westcott Multimedia, an advertising technology and software firm that leverages streaming data to optimize online engagement for the entertainment industry. I am originally from Toronto, Canada or as Drake calls it, “The 6.” As a contributor at AudioMicro.com, I write about the business of music technology, media and entertainment. Previously I managed Global Playlist Strategies at Universal Music Group in Nashville and worked as an Entertainment Analyst at Magna Investments in New York City. I received my Masters in Music & Business from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture and studied at the Stern School of Business. My work has also appeared in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Medium and The Hook Brief.
The Four Principles of Luck, and How to Bring More Luck Into Your Life
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LUCK
A ten-year scientific study into the nature of luck has revealed that, to a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune. The results also show that it is possible to enhance the amount of luck that people encounter in their lives.
Researched and published by Professor Richard Wiseman, The Luck Factor project scientifically explores why some people live such charmed lives, and develops techniques that enable others to enhance their own good fortune. The research has involved working with hundreds of exceptionally lucky and unlucky people, and the findings have been published in The Luck Factor.
Prof. Wiseman has identified the four basic principles that lucky people use to create good fortune in their lives.
Principle One: Maximize Chance Opportunities
Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities. They do this in various ways, including networking, adopting a relaxed attitude to life and by being open to new experiences.
Principle Two: Listening to Lucky Hunches
Lucky people make effective decisions by listening to their intuition and gut feelings. In addition, they take steps to actively boost their intuitive abilities by, for example, meditating and clearing their mind of other thoughts.
Principle Three: Expect Good Fortune
Lucky people are certain that the future is going to be full of good fortune. These expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies by helping lucky people persist in the face of failure, and shape their interactions with others in a positive way.
Principle Four: Turn Bad Luck to Good
Lucky people employ various psychological techniques to cope with, and often even thrive upon, the ill fortune that comes their way. For example, they spontaneously imagine how things could have been worse, do not dwell on ill fortune, and take control of the situation.
We found Professor Wiseman’s work through an adorable YouTube Video created by PBS. It goes a bit farther info the psychology of these 4 principles. Check it out here. ??
“With Creativity, rich ideas flow through the system from the minds of Gen Z. With Intelligence those ideas are executed. With Power Gen Z takes control of what happens around the world with the use of social media.” – Marco Garcia . (Social Media Command Center, We Are Gen Z, 2018)
Adobe teamed up with 12 students representing eight high schools in Charlotte, North Carolina, from the 11-largest school district in the U.S. This was facilitated as a part of the We Are Generation Z initiative and Career Technology Education Program, a new trend in interactive education. Adobe empowered the students to act as influencers and report on their interpretation of what they see and hear.
I got the chance to sit down with four of the Generation Z representatives. In a candid conversation we discussed data privacy, social media and the growing importance of visual content to convey information all through the lens of personal experiences.
The Significance of Gen Z
Generation Z is made up of young people between the ages of 14-22 years old, born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. According to a study conducted by The National Retail Federation and IBM’s Institute for Business Value, the members of this cohort are considered to be “digital natives,” and cannot remember what it is like to exist without the internet. Globally, they hold $44 billion in buying power. They love collaborative and interactive engagement, such as online games and product reviews. Gen Z representative, Alana Jones, explained that she feels that her generation works harder than they are portrayed. Damien Watson Jr. told us that 75% of his high school already has a job. They explained that this behavior was in part a result of their digital environment and the pressure to overachieve was related to the feeling of being, “always on.”
We Are Gen Z Initiative & CTE Program
According to “The Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships” report published by Dell Inc., 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. The Career Technology Education and Marketing Pathways Program prepares students with 21st-century skills by engaging with industries to better understand their needs. To date, the program has generated 777 paid internships. One of the optional CTE pathways requires students to attain five certifications in Adobe visual design and graphics in preparation for careers involving the creation of online content. The We Are Gen Z initiative is spearheaded by Kathleen Hessert. As Hessert notes, “our intention is to create and connect children within a network so the voices of Generation Z can be heard.”
Gen Z Representatives
Each of the four Gen Z representatives that I spoke with – all seniors in high school and participants in the CTE program – showcased varying perspectives. Damien Watson Jr. shared with us that it is his goal to start a non-profit that introduces minority groups to interests beyond athletics. Jogle De Leon is currently studying 3D modeling, simulation, game design and posts his graphic work regularly on Behance, Adobe’s social portfolio platform. Alana Jones is a certified Adobe associate and is working toward her goal of joining the military after graduation. Social media enthusiast and community activist, Avery Primis, has spoken publicly about generational differences in social media. The rest of the Gen Z team was stationed back in Charlotte and was responsible for manning the social media command center. They included Marco Garcia, Nina Merritt, Ashley Dickenson, Patricia Garcia, John K Bell, Harmoni Riggins and Trent Couse. Trent, a senior data analyst, was responsible for analyzing the engagement of his fellow students on Twitter, in order to optimize their effectiveness throughout the summit.
When it comes to data privacy it appears that Gen Z is rather desensitized to the request for access to their personal information. As Damien describes it, “if someone really wants to find something out about you on the internet, they can. So I’m pretty open to my information being shared.” Alana is willing to make a trade-off, stating, “If you are going to use my data I want to know what you need it for. That way, I know that my data is being used for a purpose.” It is possible that widespread acceptance of personal data collection as the status quo could get in the way of realizing its long-term ramifications. Across all generations, instantaneous gratification in return for personal data distracts consumers from considering the impact that carte blanche access to their information will have twenty years from now.
As Alana noted, data transparency as it relates to the purpose of its acquisition plays a role in her willingness to provide it. It is important to note as we move from awareness to managing data privacy, that intention and value to consumers differ drastically based on the industry and players involved. In the music industry, access to consumer data and understanding how fans are listening to their music is vital to grow and sustain an artist’s career.
“In the music industry, access to consumer data and understanding how fans are listening to their music is vital to grow and sustain an artist’s career.”
When speaking to the representatives of Generation Z, their clarity and awareness towards social media and the environment that it creates was apparent. According to Avery Primis, social media is creating an increasingly large number of job opportunities from social media influencer to managing a brand’s social presence. Social media also creates opportunities to communicate with different industries and people all over the world. However, when touching on its negative side effects Primis stated, “I can see a spike in mental health issues because of social media.” The students went on to describe how they felt that social media was impacting their generation’s people skills. Damien elaborated on this saying, “I feel like we create a persona online and are so open on social media and when it comes to talking and having a conversation in person we lag in that category.” Beyond social media, the web facilitates a commercial arena where content is in abundance.
Importance of Visual Content
Across all generations, the challenge now becomes: how do I most efficiently determine the information I need from the information I do not want. In Alana’s view, “there are so many things that you can do with an image, if you can convey information with a picture, you have done your job.” When I asked the group if they felt like their attention span was shorter than their parents’, the unanimous response was, “yes.” In Jogle’s view, when speaking about how best to garner that attention, he explains, “To me, the design is the most important part because it guides your interpretation, which is the most important part of the marketing.” Beyond just standard emoji’s, the need for visuals to communicate complicated subjects is becoming increasingly apparent.
Taking the time to understand the perspectives of Generation Z and generations to come is vital. Their interpretation of our current environment foreshadows the future. It is time we start paying more attention.
Kristin is the CEO of Westcott Multimedia, an advertising technology and software firm that leverages streaming data to optimize online engagement for the entertainment industry. She is originally from Toronto, Canada or as Drake calls it, “The 6.” As a contributor at AudioMicro, she writes about the business of music technology, media and entertainment. Previously Kristin managed Global Playlist Strategies at Universal Music Group in Nashville and worked as an Entertainment Analyst at Magna Investments in New York City. She received her Masters in Music & Business from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture and studied at the Stern School of Business. Her work has also appeared in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Medium and The Hook Brief.
Production music libraries have become the
go-to music tool for many producers and music teams looking for the right music
to match their picture. A great deal of production music work used to be custom
work for hire, but that’s changing as projects face ever tighter timelines and
budgets–and as more and more people and organizations are creating video and
seeking out licensed music for it.
I’ve been working as a composer for much
longer, but ten years ago, I started uploading cues to libraries like Audiomicro,
which has become one of my favorites. It started out as a way to fill my time,
to keep writing for fun between scoring gigs. Revenue from libraries now makes
up 60% of my yearly revenue. I keep writing and it keep growing and to keep
building my rep. Like many dedicated production composers, I write all the
time, as much as I can.
Search is key to making the most of these
platforms, and that means you need to understand how to communicate what your
cue’s all about in a few short words, tags, and other features. A little
thought and common sense can go a long way to getting your cues found and kept
is a numbers game
Production music is a numbers game. Full stop.
You have to produce a lot of music. It is a biz for people who write well and
efficiently without a lot of torment. You can’t spend three days on two minutes
of music. Do that for your own compositions, but not for production library
use. These catalogs are growing every day. You can’t write 20 pieces of music,
submit it to Audiomicro, and then complain about your lack of revenue. You need
out what it really sounds like
I think my experience in working with real
producers and doing custom music has permeated my sense of how to describe
things. If I’m writing a few sentences, I try to think about what my friends in
video or film might be looking for. How can I give them a sense of what this
is? No need for long description, no need to implant metadata. I want my reader
to understand what to expect. Match the mood of the music.
Is it moderately paced or driving? Is it
quirky or contemplative? Take up the space with the word. That list will be the
descriptors that make someone go, “Yep, that’s what it is, thank you!” Then if
you’re allowed, use reasonable synonyms to improve your chances of discovery.
For example, optimistic and positive mean the same thing in tags. Don’t know
exactly what people are looking for.
Titles are metadata, hints to what the piece
is about. It needs to really sound like that title. It’s a mistake to give
something an abstract or very specific or personal title. It may be important
to you, but it won’t mean much to a producer.
When I start writing, I start with the title.
If someone is browsing via genre, like say, folk or pop, my titles need to
convey something. If they see “Warm Spring Morning,” and it sounds like a cold
autumn night, they won’t listen to anything else you’ve put out there. But if
it sounds like its title, you develop trust.
Often, I’ll come up with 10-15 titles before I
write a note. I want to come up with the pictures and images, words the evoke a
feeling or sound to me. I jot them down. I can write to that title. The music
and title need to have a real connection.
away from the computer
Hear me out. It’s easy to get caught up in
data and dropdowns, but sometimes you need to take a few moments away from the
screen to sit and listen. Jot down a few adjectives or genres or other words
that come to mind as you do. You’ll have a clearer, more honest reaction to
your work, and you’ll save yourself the trouble when you need to add tags to
your cues when you upload them to a library.
the temptation to overtag
A cue with a ton of tags looks suspect. If you
have dozens of different mood tags, you’re likely seeing diminishing returns.
You’re likely stretching. You may win a battle by getting in search results,
but you’ll lose the war.
Producers with limited time want tags to let them zero in on their options as quickly as possible. When they see the word “pretty” and the cue is not really “pretty”, they are going to get frustrated. If you’re overloading pieces with every possible tag, you’re out of bounds. That will make producers not want to go back.
One client I worked for always wanted three
versions of cues: 60 seconds, 30 seconds, and “a thing.” (Don’t ask.) I’ve kept
to that approach, as it helps with the numbers game. You’re submitting three pieces
instead of one. You can legitimately fill up more data space and get bigger
It also helps clients who have a wide range of
needs. Lots of clients don’t want to do a lot of editing so 60- and 30-second
cues are helpful.
That said, don’t take shortcuts. You have to
do a good edit. Don’t fade out, anyone can do that. When you’re writing and
you’re in your DAW, if you have a sequencer say, when you finish the full
piece, make nice smaller pieces. Cut and paste and snip. Then add the final
ending you imagine for the piece. Producers don’t want to hear a chop; they
want to hear the last four seconds that would be the same as the end of the
There is no perfect or right way to make music, of course, and there’s no single answer to how to get that music to come up in an interested producer’s search. However, if you take a few extra moments to think through your tags, titles, and cue lengths, you’ll expand your repertoire and make its essence instantly recognizable, building trust and radically improving your chances at a placement.
Zimmerman is the composer
and owner of Sound Productions, a film scoring project studio located in
Windsor, Connecticut. Zimmerman began his career over 20 years ago, after
attaining a Doctorate of Music from the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford,
Zimmerman has scored over 500
programs for clients such as AT&T, IBM, PBS, History Channel, Connecticut
Public Television, FOX Network, The Learning Channel, MasterCard, Pratt and
Whitney, Random House, Sony Kids Music, Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill and
Warner Brothers. Zimmerman has won three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual
Achievement in Original Music Composition for his work in Public Television. He
is a member of ASCAP and the International Documentary Association (IDA).
Congratulating 2019 Grammy Winners: The Complete List
(This award is given to an entire album and all of its songs.)
Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B
By the Way, I Forgive
Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post
Dirty Computer, Janelle
Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves
Black Panther, Kendrick
(This award goes to the overall production of a single song and
is awarded to the artist who records it.)
“I Like It,” Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin
“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile
“This Is America,” Childish Gambino
“God’s Plan,” Drake
“Shallow,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
“All the Stars,” Kendrick Lamar, Sza
“Rockstar,” Post Malone
“The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey
(This award goes to the songwriters of a song.)
“All the Stars,” Kendrick
Duckworth, Solana Rowe, Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears, Anthony Tiffith
“Boo’d Up,” Larrance Dopson,
Joelle James, Ella Mai, Dijon McFarlane
“God’s Plan,” Aubrey Graham,
Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels, and Noah Shebib
“The Middle,” Sarah Aarons,
Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael
Trewartha & Anton Zaslavski
“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile,
Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, and Tim Hanseroth
“In My Blood,” Teddy Geiger,
Scott Harris, Shawn Mendes, and Geoffrey Warburton
“Shallow,” Lady Gaga, Mark
Ronson, Anthony Rossomando & Andrew Wyatt
“This Is America,”
Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson
(This award is given to artists who have released their
breakthrough recording during the Grammy eligibility period — October 1, 2017,
to September 30, 2018, in this case — not to artists who made their first
recording during that time.)
Chloe x Halle
Greta Van Fleet
“Havana (Live),” Camila
“God Is A Woman,” Ariana
“Joanne (Where Do You Think
You’re Goin’?),” Lady Gaga
“Better Now,” Post Malone
Meaning Of Life, Kelly
Sweetener, Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes, Shawn
Beautiful Trauma, Pink
“Fall In Line,” Christina
Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,”
“Shallow,” Lady Gaga and
“Girls Like You,” Maroon 5
featuring Cardi B
“Say Something,” Justin
Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
“The Middle,” Zedd, Maren
Morris, and Grey
Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Love Is Here to
Bennett & Diana Krall
My Way, Willie Nelson
Nat “King” Cole & Me, Gregory
The Music … The
Mem’ries … The Magic!, Barbra Streisand
Woman Worldwide, Justice
Oil Of Every Pearl’s
Lune Rouge, Tokimonsta
Soul,” Above & Beyond featuring Richard Bedford
Y O U T U B E S O U N D B R A N D S – A N D W H Y Y O U N E E D O N E !
The Top 3 Greatest Sound Brands on YouTube
And Tips to Create Your Own Notable YouTube Video Style
There is one thing that all famous YouTubers have in common whether it be vlogging, tech reviewing, sketch comedy, cooking or just about any other genre or sub genre on YouTube that has found mass audience appeal – a sound brand. In this entry, let’s take a closer look at the Top 3 YouTubers whose sound branding absolutely is on point.
But first, what is a sound brand? Well take a moment and think of your all time favorite YouTuber and ask yourself “Do they have an intro and outro with a notable music loops or sound effects?” “Do they have background music or regular sound effects that you have come to recognize to be synonymous with the show?” Those are all prime examples of a sound brand. Sounds, effects, and music loops all easily obtained from websites such as AudioMicro.com but utilized and regularly fed back to the audience in a way that the sound or loop itself becomes iconically entwined with the show. The overall ability that even if you just heard the music and sounds commonly used in your favorite YouTube series without seeing any visuals that you would immediately be able to identify the show is evidence of successful sound branding and what helps make the biggest youtube channels.
The man who invented the vlog – Casey Neistat. Easily one of the most popular youtubers on the platform these days. He understood early on the importance of creating a prominent sound brand within his vlogs and he quickly incorporated his skateboard grunge esthetic into everything he possibly could; especially so in regards to sound. Each vlog will kick off with his intro and original track followed by a series of background grunge loops and tracks he’s curated and compiled over the years and will use when he needs to subtley convey different emotions he is trying to evoke in sections of his vlog. The background music content he uses has become so popular as his sound brand that you can even search on YouTube playlist mixes of Casey’s Neistat that they too has millions of listens. Without his sound branding Casey Neistat’s vlogs would lack the emotional punch and drive they so inherently carry. Check out some of his vlogs and see how skillfully sound branding can enhance your project.
Video games are always – ALWAYS – all the rage, and YouTube is no exception. Close on the heels of live Twitch streams comes a dedicated bunch of gamers on the YouTube platform with incredibly sizable fan bases. One particular YouTube gamer, Mat Pat at Game Theory, has found a niche of researching a games lore and developing new and sometimes unexpected theories about the games we all hold near and dear. From his branded musical intro followed by him toting off his notable slogan “Hey Guys! Welcome to Game Theory” altogether creates an incredibly recognizable and powerful sound brand. It’s this one-two punch of branding that I find so effective that I’ve even caught myself humming along to the intro and matching Mat’s slogan as a new episode comes on.
The singing and variety series comedic duo, Rhett and Link, who host Good Mythical Morning have been mainstream YouTubers since the very beginning of the platform. Early on in their career they realized the importance of creating a premium sound brand. Nowadays their primary show is a daily variety comedy series called Good Mythical Morning. Each episode may cover a new subject and content but in each episode their is a clear and recognizable opening and closing bumper along with notable transition sounds and background music. They recently just started their 15th season (Wow!) and following their trend the only thing that changes between seasons is their intro and outro sound branding which I find to be a refreshing way to audibly cue the listeners into feeling the show has a new layer of renewed energy even after so many seasons.
There you have it! You know realize the best YouTubers are in part the ones who know how to create a memorable and lasting sound brands for their fan base. Now you know it’s not just what you show the audience, but it’s also how you sound to the audience that can a leave a lasting impression that goes far beyond after the video is over. If you’re in the market to develop your very own sound brand and don’t quite know where to start may I humbly suggest checking out AudioMicro.com for all your sounds, effects, and music loops needs to get up and running quickly and sounding amazing!
What do you think? Are these the freshest sound brands on Youtube at the moment? Do you know someone with a better sound brand or think we missed one? We’re always down to check out new and amazing talent on YouTube. Let us know in the comments below!
T H E A R T O F F O L E Y – An Inside Look at Sound Effects in Film
Sound Effects are a driving force behind every film that can steer the audience’s emotions and expectations. An image of a door could be shown but the audience would know the emotional tone whether they heard the sounds of wine glasses clinking with plates and silverware milling about , or alternatively bone cracking and chainsaws revving. In one instance the audience is invited into a feast and the other they want to run in horror. The senses follow the sounds. Creating high quality sounds to use in one’s films is an undertaking and an art form in itself. In one instance there is a vast array of high quality sounds already available to you at AudioMicro.com, but sometimes you just want that personal touch and feel the drive to create your own sound effects. In this post we will be taking a look at what exactly goes into making a custom high quality sound effect and a brief history of how it all came to be.
Creating Sound Effects for Film
One of the great unsung heroes of any movie is easily the Foley Artist. These artists are the ones who create all the sound effects you hear throughout the film by using everyday objects in unexpected ways to generate unique sounds. Think banging a couple of coconut shells together to create the sound of a horse galloping like in Monty Python’s Holy Grail; that is a prime example of foley sound.
While on location of a film, modern day audio equipment is optimized for picking up the actors voice while cancelling out all the surrounding and background sounds that would breath life into the scene. This could be something subtle like the actor’s footsteps, opening a door, or even just scratching his own face, to the more in your face fighting scenes, scuffling, clashing swords, etc. It is these artists’ job to find out how to recreate any sound imaginable for any given scene and convince the audience it’s the real thing. Some examples of this would be something like stepping on VHS tape to create the sound of walking through autumn leaves. You can then pick up the same VHS tape and shake it to give the sense of bushes rustling in the wind. Another example would be stepping on a bag full of corn starch to create that sound of fresh snow crunching and compressing as its walked on. Even snapping or twisting a bunch of celery can sound like bones cracking or breaking. At the end of the day if the foley artist did his job right you will never know he did anything at all.
The Origin of Foley Sound Effects in Film
Before this method of foley sound became mainstream in film it was common practice for the time to have sound effects added into broadcasted radio plays to help paint a richer picture of what is happening for the audience. This is what helped pave the way for post sound effects to emerge into film.
The term Foley Artists comes from its creator, Jack Donovan Foley, who as a Universal employee developed the method of performing sound effects in sync with the film’s moving picture in post production back in the early mid 1900s. Jack and his team would have the movie projected in front of them and perform all the post sounds needed in one go and record it on one single track. Nowadays with the invention of computers and development of Non Linear Editing there are infinite amounts of tracks sounds can be recorded, retimed, and adjusted on that simply did not exist back then. At the time this method of creating post sound was called ‘Direct to Picture,’ and it wasn’t until years later that it became known as foley.
Modern Recording Practices of Foley Sound Effects
Today the common set up for post sound is 2 foley artists and 1 sound mixer on the mixing stage. The two artists will work in tandem to create the sound and will work from visual markers and cues projected on the film supplied by the mixer to help them match timing. However, these days it’s less critical if an artist misses the timing as this can be adjusted by the mixer, but making sure the feel of the sound matches perfectly is more of what’s necessary. These specialized mixing stages the foley artists work on will commonly have special sectioned floors with various textures and materials to step on to create various sounds. Along with having an ever expanding warehouse full of props and everyday items they have catalogued and can use at any given moment.
In the instance that you might need to add some foley sound to one of your own projects you can always go simple and experiment with a basic audio mic recording various sounds like footsteps, slamming doors, breaking celery and then test it out by cutting and remixing the sound back into your edit.
If you need something more robust and professional sounding, or you simply don’t quite know how to get that exact perfect sound effect you’re looking for – audiomicro.com has you covered! Just head to the website, select sound effects, and search for anything you need! There are literally 1000s of professional high quality sound effects to choose from that you can remix and cut back into your projects with confidence.
T H E S O U N D S O F H O R R O R –
The History of Horror Sounds & Techniques in Film.
Whether it be creaking floor boards in a dark deserted hallway, the ominous sounds of unsettling whispers, or the aggressive revving of an old rusty chainsaw; some sounds are synonymous with horror. It is this genre that utilizes sound design the most, and relies so heavily on what the audience hears – or in some circumstances, doesn’t hear. Understanding what types of sounds and in what combination can most effectively unsettle and sink deep into your audience’s psyche will help any creator develop a more memorable horror film, television show, or web series.
‘THE LEWTON BUS’
In fact, the notable horror cliche of the “quiet… quiet… BANG!” method is derived from the technique known as the ‘Lewton Bus.’ Producer Val Lewton famously developed the technique back in 1942’s Cat People, of lulling the audience into a false sense of security as the scared protagonist proceeds in silence for a moment of time only to be jolted by the sounds of something rather innocent.
Even though aspects of this technique have evolved with time, you can see the ‘Lewton Bus’ method now used in nearly every horror film to date and is a valuable tool for any creator to utilize in their own horror masterpieces.
Also known as the ‘ocean harp,” is an odd looking percussive instrument that creates all those eerie and ethereal sounds used in countless horror films including Poltergeist, Aliens, Let the Right One In, and even non horror films alike. The sounds itself is tough to describe so give it a listen and you will instantly recognize it’s spine tingling qualities.
Unless you’re a lumberjack, for most of us the guttural revving of a chainsaw invokes thoughts of dread and dismemberment. This in part started back in 1974 with the Texas Chainsaw massacre and has been since remade, mimicked, and turned into several homages. The chainsaw sound is just so loud and violent that it cannot help but invoke a sense of chaos and confusion as the deafening sound itself grabs the viewers complete attention, puts them on edge, and does not let go.
Whether it be Freddy Krueger’s claws opening, Jason’s machete scraping against the wall as he meanders towards his victim, or Sweeney Todd sharpening his straight razors before he begins a shave to close for comfort. The sound of metal scraping inherently flags as a warning sign to the audience. You may not even see the object itself but hearing the sound tells you something bad is going to happen. We commonly identify metal scraping as a knife, blade, or weapon of some sort and hearing the sound triggers something basic in us screaming DANGER!
A SCORE THAT WILL DRIVE YOU MAD
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Jack’s slow descent into madness throughout 1980s The Shining has a intensely unsettling musical score to match. Letting the music indicate the tone and mood of your piece is paramount and is just as an important character as even your protagonist that needs to have its own arch and development. Using The Shining as our example Jack at the start of the film is an aspiring writer who took an off season caretaker job with his family; The music meanders along at a lulling pace. By the end of the film he’s chasing his own kid through a hedge maze with an axe and the music is just pure chaos!
What do you think? We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on all the horror sounds that make your skin crawl. Let us know your favorite and most iconic horror sounds in the comments below! And if you are looking to spice up your horror piece with some memorable sounds – whether it be eerie atmospheres, screams, shocks, creaking, cracking, breaking, or just good old fashioned gore – then be sure to check out AudioMicro.com for all your horror sound needs!
We’re always here to support you in your creative endeavors!