Bob Dylan fades out and we hear The Dude talk about the importance of a stolen rug. It tied things together. The same could be said for the songs in The Big Lebowski. Any fan of the film knows how important those tracks are, featured even more prominently than the score. Like the rug in Lebowski’s living room, the right music can tie a film or video project together, making a grander sense out of separate elements.
Whether you’re creating an advertisement, a TV show, or web short, your video project benefits from the addition of smartly placed music to synchronize (“sync”) with the moving images. A properly selected song not only lends an air of professionalism to a video, but also makes your production more memorable. In extreme cases, a well-placed piece of music can even add emotional weight to a project that wouldn’t have hit as hard without it.
Music taps into memory.
And we don’t have to point to cult classics like The Big Lebowski. Think of a particularly impactful TV commercial or scene from a favorite childhood show. Chances are you remember the song playing as much as the images on the screen. That’s because – as humans have known for thousands of years (but have only recently began studying) – music is inextricably tied to our emotions and memories. Even a simple audio cue (think of the soft piano notes plunked during the heartfelt scenes in every ‘90s ABC sitcom) triggers a specific emotional response.
The right song doesn’t have to eat up your budget.
Those shows you’re remembering were probably huge network projects with budgets in the millions. Even today, ads you see on Hulu, YouTube or cable TV (remember cable?) can have big budgets too. What if you’re an indie producer with a project budget in the thousands or even hundreds? How do you add emotional heft and memorability to your work without plummeting into the red or using music unlawfully? AudioMicro’s got you.
Don’t let sync clearance hassles slow down your production.
The first concern when licensing music for placement is fully clearing the song you’re interested in. This may sound like common sense, but it’s good to get the fundamentals out of the way first.
If a music supervisor wants to use a popular major label song in a TV show, they might have to wait for the label to talk to the publishers and for six different songwriters to talk to the label to talk to the publishers to talk to the…
You get it. Acquiring sync permission can be an inefficient process.
Since AudioMicro uses royalty-free music specifically created to be synced, nothing licensed through AudioMicro requires any further clearance. No tracking down every party involved in the recording and composition just to clear 30 seconds of sound. It’s a one-stop-shop for fully cleared music, so you can use it in your YouTube video without fear they’ll pull it for copyright reasons. The copyright is already secured!
Support other creators while avoiding years of complicated accounting.
Royalty free music isn’t just great for the user, but also the creator. Some people think that “royalty free” means “free from revenue for the artist.” Not so. But what actually is “royalty free”? It means you pay only once to clear a track, and once you’ve paid you can use it as much as you like in accordance with the uses of the standard license.
This doesn’t generate royalties on the back-end per use, but it does generate revenue upfront from the fee you pay to use the song. That fee then gets paid to the creator of the music after AudioMicro takes their cut, which is significantly lower than other licensing companies. You get to license a song for a reasonable price, and the artist makes more money. It’s creators and users supporting each other; a beautiful thing! AudioMicro also allows PRO-affiliated songwriters, which means you’re licensing music created by serious, professional songwriters and not hobbyists looking to get a few placements as a side gig.
Don’t settle for okay tracks. Find EXACTLY what you’re looking for.
So which creators take part in this mutually beneficial endeavor? Hundreds! Peruse the genres in this catalog of royalty free music. Need some reggae for a chill travel commercial? How about some heavy gosh-dang metal for a fight scene? Or maybe you’re a social media fitness influencer and need some good workout jams. The extent of the catalog means you’re sure to find something that’ll set your project apart from the competition.
In the old days of music licensing, there were enough roadblocks in securing a song placement to discourage even the heartiest music supervisor. The Coen Brothers must’ve had their work cut out for them clearing all the songs in Lebowski.
Many of those hurdles are still there for big-budget projects licensing recordings and compositions that have upwards of 10 copyright owners, but AudioMicro helps you overcome obstacles by combining the entire music licensing process into one simple step.
Once you find the song you want to tie your project together, all the licensing is done at once. This is the 21st Century. Shouldn’t things be easier than they were before?
Greg Majewski has written about heavy tunes for Invisible Oranges, Metal Bandcamp and his own blog, Luminous Deluge. When not writing he can be found at the gym or scouring forums and blogs for obscure ‘90s death metal. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his fiancée and hundreds of plants.
Brett Heatley is a team member of AudioMicro, and the creator of a unique genre of “GamePop” music. He runs the HeatleyBros YouTube Channel where he promotes his music for ‘free use with credit’ on YouTube, and provides links to purchase the licenses for his music on AudioMicro.com for use outside of YouTube.
Read his story on discovering his unique sound, turning his music and YouTube channel into a brand, and tips you can apply to your own story.
THE GENESIS – INFLUENCES OF MY SOUND
Being the younger sibling in the ’90s didn’t afford me too many options when it came to the music I listened to. My older sister kept the radio on RnB and pop, and I would watch on as my older brother played through single-player game after single-player game. I loved my older siblings, and respected and appreciated them. In turn, I fell in love with RnB (Boyz II Men for life) and watching my brother traverse through games like Sonic, Mario, and the Final Fantasy I had ample time to soak in the simple-sounding yet creative soundtracks. Between these two seemingly unrelated genres of music, a seed was planted in my brain that would eventually determine the unique type of music I would later create.
No matter how much older I got, and how many music options the world eventually offered, my love for the music I grew up listening to persisted. RnB advanced and changed, and Video Games left the simple synths for 100-piece orchestras focused more on mood rather than melody. While I did find new games and artists that carried some of the spirit of the 90’s music I cherished, I still felt there was a sort of musical itch I was no longer able to scratch.
need to scratch was eventually offset to a degree as I learned how to play the
guitar and the piano. I learned songs on the radio and eventually wrote a few
of my own. It was fun, but those instruments and songs could never satisfy the
array of musical sounds I wanted to hear. I put down those instruments and
allowed for life and its responsibilities to take up most of my time.
Years later, I found myself as a senior in college, nervously eating lunch at my apartment, terrified of the fact that I still had no idea what I would do with my marketing degree. My roommate came in and left his new MacBook open on the kitchen table. I was not too familiar with MacBooks and noticed that a program in the corner of the screen had a guitar logo. I ran the mouse over the program and asked my roommate “what’s this ‘Garageband’ program do?”. He began to explain what it was My ears and brain perked up. “You mean to tell me that in that program, I can write out an entire song, bass, drums, chords, melody, and everything, and turn that into an mp3 that I can listen to on your stereo system?”. He confirmed and asked me if I wanted to give it try. I nodded and took the laptop into my room.
I remember him knocking on the door the next morning, wondering if I still had his MacBook with me as he couldn’t find it in his room. I responded by pressing play on the MacBook, and out of the little speakers came an entire 3:30 minute RnB song, complete with drums, bass, chords, lyrics, melody, stacked harmonies, and retro game synths. He was as amazed as I was, neither of us knew I had it in me. I was instantly hooked, and the fears of graduating without a plan were vanquished, forever. I wanted to make my own type of music and find work in the music business.
After I graduated from Florida State, I talked to my sister who lived in LA, told her I wanted to move out there and get into music. She was so excited she flew out to meet me and drove cross-country with me – she’s a great sister. I soon got settled in LA and started hitting up craigslist for any indie record labels that I could intern at. A small record label called ‘Accidental Airplay’ reached out and wanted to interview me. We met and gelled really well. I worked for them on many projects over the course of a few years. I remember having a conversation with them about wanting to make video game pop music inspired by the games of my childhood, they told me to go for it, so with that little push of support, I decided to start HeatleyBros, in 2014.
Over the years, I’ve had tracks used by a lot of big YouTubers which has really helped bring attention to my music, and seems to continually open up bigger and bigger opportunities.
For example, A Minecraft YouTuber known as AphMau who has close to 5 million subscribers found my song on AudioMicro.com and made it part of her theme song outro and used it for years for a particular series, which got a lot of traction and I received a lot of fandom around that. I learned that it was used there through the comments section of my YouTube channel, and had I not had a YouTube channel, I wouldn’t have known and it wouldn’t have helped me bring a bunch of attention to my channel, because people started acknowledging my music there.
I sell licenses to use my music on
AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library and I also monetize on my YouTube
channel, one, through ads when people listen to my music or come to hear my new
song that they could possibly license and use, and two, through monetization
when people don’t license accordingly.
I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my tracks. The more available and accessible Your music is online, the more likely it will be used without authorization. Therefore, in regards to generating revenue on YouTube, the more places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.
I sell licenses to use my music on AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library
and I also monetize on my YouTube channel.
This happens two ways: through ads when people listen to my music or
come to hear my new song that they could possibly license and use, and through monetization
when people don’t license accordingly.
I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my
tracks. The more available and
accessible your music is online, the more likely it will be used without
authorization. Therefore, in regard to generating revenue on YouTube, the more
places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.
MY TIPS FOR MUSIC CREATORS & YOUTUBERS
Tips I would give to music creators starting out and wanting to utilize YouTube to promote and monetize their music are:
1.CREATE A BRAND & PERSONALITY
Start a YouTube channel and then create a brand
around the music you make.
2. GET YOUR MUSIC HEARD
You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest so, make sure you have a diYou want to get your music heard, first and foremost, then people can find where they can license it. Make it available on every access point possible. You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest, so make sure you have a distributor that can do this, like CDBaby.com or DashGo.com.
3. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
Be on every social media instance possible. Utilize Instagram, Soundcloud, TikTok, and YouTube! Then, connect with people as much as possible. Share your music and your story to get people engaged. For example, I recently did a series of live stream Q & A sessions for a few weekends in a row, to connect with some of the people that follow me. There were about 100 people listening in each time, and some of them ended up donating to my channel. This was a great way to interface with some followers and fans.
4. CREATE UNIQUE MUSIC
Don’t overuse audio loops in your music creation. One, it’s not unique, and two, loops can get flagged by Content ID systems and create a headache that you don’t need.
5. KEEP CREATING & IMPROVING
Keep evolving! Keep trying to get better, keep moving forward. You may hang your hat on one of the songs you made, but rather than trying to recreate something like it, try to create something better than that- something that speaks more closely to who you are, what you love and why you make music to begin with. As an artist, keep evolving and improving. Learn and grow, and you’ll constantly be your own competition. That way, you’ll keep raising the bar and exploring and refining your sound.
Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best in your creative endeavors! ~ Brett Heatley
See the Full List of VMA Winners here, on AudioMicro.com.
And the award goes to….
WINNER: Missy Elliott
Video of the Year
WINNER: Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” 21 Savage: “a lot” [ft. J. Cole] Billie Eilish: “bad guy” Ariana Grande: thank u, next” Jonas Brothers: “Sucker” Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]
Artist of the Year
WINNER: Ariana Grande Cardi B Billie Eilish Halsey Jonas Brothers Shawn Mendes
Song of the Year
WINNER: Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] Drake: “In My Feelings” Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” Jonas Brothers: “Sucker” Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper: “Shallow” Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”
Best New Artist
WINNER: Billie Eilish Ava Max H.E.R. Lil Nas X Lizzo ROSALÍA
WINNER: Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper: “Shallow” Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie] Ed Sheeran / Justin Bieber: “I Don’t Care” BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey]
WINNER: Jonas Brothers: “Sucker” 5 Seconds of Summer: “Easier” Cardi B / Bruno Mars: “Please Me” Billie Eilish: “bad guy” Khalid: “Talk” Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”
WINNER: Cardi B: “Money” 2 Chainz: “Rule the World”[ft. Ariana Grande] 21 Savage: “a lot” [ft. J. Cole] DJ Khaled: “Higher” [ft. Nipsey Hussle and John Legend] Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] Travis Scott: “SICKO MODE” [ft. Drake]
WINNER: Normani: “Waves” [ft. 6LACK] Anderson .Paak: “Make It Better” [ft. Smokey Robinson] Childish Gambino: “Feels Like Summer” H.E.R.: “Could’ve Been” [ft. Bryson Tiller] Alicia Keys: “Raise a Man” Ella Mai: “Trip”
WINNER: BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey] BLACKPINK: “Kill This Love” Monsta X: “Who Do You Love” [ft. French Montana] TOMORROW X TOGETHER: “Cat & Dog” NCT 127: “Regular” EXO: “Tempo”
WINNER: ROSALÍA / J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho] Anuel AA / Karol G: “Secreto” Bad Bunny: “MIA” [ft. Drake] benny blanco / Tainy / Selena Gomez / J Balvin: “I Can’t Get Enough” Daddy Yankee: “Con Calma” [ft. Snow] Maluma: “Mala Mía”
WINNER: The Chainsmokers: “Call You Mine” [ft. Bebe Rexha] Clean Bandit: “Solo” [ft. Demi Lovato] DJ Snake: “Taki Taki” [ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B] David Guetta / Bebe Rexha / J Balvin: “Say My Name” Marshmello / Bastille: “Happier” Silk City / Dua Lipa: “Electricity”
WINNER: Panic! At the Disco: “High Hopes” The 1975: “Love It If We Made It” Fall Out Boy: “Bishops Knife Trick” Imagine Dragons: “Natural” Lenny Kravitz: “Low” twenty one pilots: “My Blood”
Video for Good
WINNER: Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” Halsey: “Nightmare” The Killers: “Land of the Free” Jamie N Commons / Skylar Grey: “Runaway Train” [ft. Gallant] John Legend: “Preach” Lil Dicky: “Earth”
WINNER: BTS 5 Seconds of Summer Backstreet Boys BLACKPINK CNCO Jonas Brothers PRETTYMUCH Why Don’t We
Best Power Anthem
WINNER: Megan Thee Stallion: “Hot Girl Summer” [ft. Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign] Ariana Grande: “7 rings” DJ Khaled: “Wish Wish” [ft. Cardi B and 21 Savage] Halsey: “Nightmare” Lizzo: “Tempo” [ft. Missy Elliott] Maren Morris: “Girl” Miley Cyrus: “Mother’s Daughter” Taylor Swift: “You Need To Calm Down”
Song of Summer
WINNER: Ariana Grande and Social House: “Boyfriend” Billie Eilish: “Bad Guy” DaBaby: “Suge” Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber: “I Don’t Care” Jonas Brothers: “Sucker” Khalid: “Talk” Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] Lil Tecca: “Ransom” Lizzo: “Truth Hurts” Miley Cyrus: “Mother’s Daughter” Post Malone: “Goodbyes” [ft. Young Thug] Rosalía and J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho] Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello: “Señorita” Taylor Swift: “You Need To Calm Down” The Chainsmokers and Bebe Rexha: “Call You Mine” Young Thug: “The London” [ft. J. Cole and Travis Scott]
WINNER: Marc Jacobs
WINNER: Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] (dir. Calmatic) Billie Eilish: “bad Guy” (dir. Dave Meyers) FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (dir. Andrew Thomas Huang) Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” (dir. Hannah Lux Davis) LSD: “No New Friends” (dir. Dano Cerny) Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (dir. Drew Kirsch and Taylor Swift)
Best Visual Effects
WINNER: Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie] (visual effects: Loris Paillier & Lucas Salton for BUF VFX) Billie Eilish: “when the party’s over” (visual effects: Ryan Ross, Andres Jaramillo) FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (visual effects: Matt Chandler, Fabio Zaveti for Analog) Ariana Grande: “God is a woman” (visual effects: Fabrice Lagayette, Kristina Prilukova & Rebecca Rice for Mathematic) DJ Khaled: “Just Us” [ft. SZA] (visual effects: Sergii Mashevskyi) LSD: “No New Friends” (visual effects: Ethan Chancer)
WINNER: Billie Eilish: “bad guy” (editing: Billie Eilish) Anderson .Paak: “Tints” [ft. Kendrick Lamar] (editing: Elias Talbot) Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” (editing: Calmatic) Ariana Grande: “7 rings” (editing: Hannah Lux Davis & Taylor Walsh) Solange: “Almeda” (editing: Solange Knowles, Vinnie Hobbs, Jonathon Proctor) Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (editing: Jarrett Fijal)
Best Art Direction
WINNER: Ariana Grande: “7 rings” (art direction: John Richoux) BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey] (art direction: JinSil Park, BoNa Kim (MU:E)) Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] (art direction: Itaru Dela Vegas) Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (art direction: Tatiana Van Sauter) Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (art direction: Brittany Porter) Kanye West / Lil Pump: “I Love It” [ft. Adele Givens] (art direction: Tino Schaedler)
WINNER: ROSALÍA / J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho] (choreography: Charm La’Donna) FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (choreography: Kelly Yvonne) LSD: “No New Friends” (choreography: Ryan Heffington) Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (choreography: Calvit Hodge, Sara Biv) Solange: “Almeda” (choreography: Maya Taylor, Solange Knowles) BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey] (choreography: Rie Hata)
WINNER: Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (cinematography: Scott Cunningham) Anderson .Paak: “Tints” [ft. Kendrick Lamar] (cinematography: Elias Talbot) Billie Eilish: “hostage” (cinematography: Pau Castejon) Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” (cinematography: Christopher Probst) Solange: “Almeda” (cinematography: Chayse Irvin, Ryan Marie Helfant, Justin Hamilton) Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie] (cinematography: Starr Whitesides)
For many, working from home is like living the dream. Those of us living this “dream life” understand, when a deadline is approaching, being cubicle free can quickly turn from a dream to a nightmare. These are five productivity tips for freelancers to help you master the art of working from home.
1. List it or Lose It
Nobody likes doing laundry. That is…of course…until you have an approaching deadline and suddenly…..ironing shirts sounds as delicious as Thanksgiving dinner on a juice cleanse. However productive you may feel after washing those clothes previously piled in the corner for months, don’t. Completing these tasks, however productive, is still procrastination.
To avoid the procrasti-cleaning loop, start your day by making a list of the things you ABSOLUTELY need to accomplish. Then, make a secondary list of things you would like to accomplish but are not as important or time sensitive. Put the second list away in a drawer, preferably next to your phone (outta sight, outta mind) and don’t open that drawer until you’ve completed EVERYTHING on the first list.
2. Get Out Of Bed
I love to swim, but you won’t catch me perfecting my backstroke in the bathtub. I also love to sleep, but I do not make a habit of power napping there either. Point is, some places are better to work in than others, and your bed is not the ideal workplace. Not only is it de-motivating, but it can also negatively impact your sleep.
Picture this, it’s the end of a very long, dragging on, no good
kind of day…and you’re exhausted. The eyes half closed, yawn mid-sentence,
cannot be bothered to brush your teeth kind of exhausted. However, as soon as
your head hits the pillow, work thoughts race in faster than Rubens Barrichello
in a Ferrari. If this sad scenario plays a recurring role in your life, you’ve
probably made a habit of bringing work into the bedroom.
The human brain recognizes patterns. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, if you do something often enough, a pattern develops. Regularly working on or in your bed reprograms your brain to associate your bed with work. This fact extends to conversation. Try not to ponder over, talk about or partake in any work on or near your bed. If you consistently keep your work away from your bed, your thoughts will be a bit more cooperative.
3. Pick Your Place
Where you work affects how you work. Numerous studies have been conducted and concluded that the physical office environment can have a significant effect on the behavior, perceptions, and productivity of employees. As a freelancer, you are your own boss. Therefore, you alone are responsible for constructing a work environment that promotes productivity. Delegate a certain space in your place that is meant for work. Not the kitchen sink, not the couch where you watch tv, but somewhere clean and organized with minimal distractions. Then add a few touches that make it special to you. Commit to working there regularly and soon it will be reeking of productivity.
4. Unplug To Plugin
Whether it be family, friends or Instagram models, there are a plethora of people in your life lusting after your attention. Technology allows us to stay connected 24/7. This seems especially true when the clock is ticking on that project due.
That’s why it’s important to go radio silent. Switch your phone to airplane mode and put it somewhere out of sight (the farther, the better). This allows you to focus your mind on the task at hand instead of bouncing it back and forth from your work to your text messages, which interferes with the creative process. Besides, you can give much better advice to your friends once you’ve finished what you need to.
5. Work It Out
Some days, the motivation just isn’t there. Unfortunately, more
often than not, the days that you want to do the least are the ones that you
have to do the most. It’s difficult to feel motivated when your exhausted, and
fatigue is the nemesis of productivity. If you find yourself staring at
your screen with dead eyes, get your ass up and go to the gym…or yoga studio,
or outside for a run. Studies have shown that a short medium to high-intensity
workout acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy, reduce
fatigue and feed your brain some much-needed endorphins. You can then use that
momentum towards knocking out the task at hand.
6. Move To Groove
So you’ve written the lists, hide your phone, hit the gym, put down the detergent, and you still cannot drown out the sound of the new Madonna album your neighbor has been, oh so politely, playing on repeat…as loud as possible…allllllll day.
If all else fails, leave your place and move to a space that facilitates productivity. In recent years numerous people have actualized the dream of working remotely, and businesses around the world have caught on. There is a selection of coworking spaces, coffee shops and restaurants happy to fuel your working fire. Museums, parks, and libraries are other lovely alternatives.
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).