Production music

Production music

Production music is the name given to the music owned by production music libraries and licensed to customers for use in film, television, radio and other media.

Unlike popular and classical music publishers, who typically own less than 50 percent of the copyright in a composition, music production libraries own all of the copyrights of their music, meaning that it can be licensed without seeking the composer's permission, as is necessary in licensing music from normal publishers. This is because virtually all music created for music libraries is done on a work for hire basis. Production music is therefore a very convenient medium for media producers - they can be assured that they will be able to license any piece of music in the library at a reasonable rate.

Production music libraries will typically offer a broad range of musical styles and genres, enabling producers and editors to find much of what they need in the same library. Music libraries vary in size from a few hundred tracks up to many thousands. The first production music library was setup by De Wolfe in 1927 with the advent of sound in film, the company originally scored music for use in silent film [ cite book |title=de wolfe millennium catalogue |last=De Wolfe |first= Warren |year=1988 |publisher=De Wolfe Music |location=London |De Wolfe Music Catalogue ] . Another music library was set up by Ralph Hawkes of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers in the 1930s [ cite book |title=Boosey & Hawkes The Publishing Story |last=Wallace |first=Helen |year=2007 |publisher=B&H London |location=London |isbn=9780851625140 Fact|date=August 2007] . APM, the largest US library, has over 250,000 tracks [cite news | title=PRWeb July 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-07-20 ] .

Business model

The business model of production music libraries is based on two income streams:

* License or synchronisation fees: These are the fees paid upfront to the library for permission to synchronise its music to a piece of film, video or audio. These fees can range from a few dollars for an internet usage, to thousands for a network commercial usage. Some libraries, especially in the UK and Europe, split these fees with the composer of the music. In the US, it is more common for a composer to be paid a work-for-hire fee upfront by the library for composing the music, thus waiving his/her share of any future license fees. In the United Kingdom, license fees for production music are nationally standardised and set by the MCPS. In the US and elsewhere, libraries are free to determine their own licence fees.

* Performance income (or performance royalties): Performances income is generated when music is publicly performed - for example, on television or radio. The producer of the show or film that has licensed the music does not pay these fees. Instead, large fees are paid annually by broadcasters (such as television networks and radio stations) to performing rights organisations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the US and the PRS in the UK, who then distribute income among their members. To ensure it is distributed fairly and accurately, most broadcasters are required to keep note of what music they have broadcast and for how long. This information is then used by the performance societies to allocate income to their members. Typically, a library will receive 50 percent of the performance income (this is known as the publisher's share), with the composer receiving the remaining 50 percent. Like license fees, performance income is highly variable and dependent on the nature of the usage; a local radio usage will yield a very modest income - perhaps a few dollars each time it is played, whereas repeated use in a primetime network television show can generate many thousands of dollars.


Production music today is dominated by libraries affiliated with the large record and publishing companies: Boosey & Hawkes Production Music (including Cavendish, Abaco, Strip Sounds, Epic Score and Justement labels) is owned by Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers; KPM, a preeminent UK music library, is owned by EMI; Universal Music has music libraries under their own name as well as others owned by them (Hollywood-based [ Killer Tracks] and Dallas-based FirstCom Music, for example, are both owned by Universal-BMG); [ Extreme Music] is owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and merged with Burst Labs in April, 2008; and Warner/Chappell (a division of Warner Music Group) owns Non-Stop Music [cite news | Aug 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-07 ] .

Sonoton, based in Germany, is the largest independently owned production music library in the world. Other independent music libraries include
* [ 5 Alarm Music]
* [ 615 Music]
* [ All Music Library]
* [ Boxed Score]
* [ Camboso Urban Production Music] [cite news | title=mSoft Inc. Electronic Magazine Mar 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-12-14 ]
* [ De Wolfe]
* [ Fresh Music]
* [ Groove Addicts]
* [ JW Media Music]
*Los Angeles Post Music
* [ Media on Demand]
* [ Megatrax]
* [ Music 2 Hues]
* [ Premier Tracks] (which is among the largest and only woman-owned production music catalogs)
* [ Plan 8 Music]
* [ Ravenwood Music]
* [ Toby Arnold & Associates]
* [ TRF Production Music Libraries]
* [ Production Music - Urban Dropz]
* [ West One Music]
*Wild Whirled Music

Hybrid License Method

This method of licensing combines the creation of original, custom music with a catalog of traditional "library" music under one license agreement. The goal is to suit the needs of a budget conscious production but still provide that production with a unique and original show theme or audio brand. In this scenario, show producer identifies those scenes she/he feels are most important to the success of the show, and those scenes are scored to picture by the composer. Those less important scenes will utilize the library also provided by the same publisher/composer. Upon completion, the custom music and the library tracks are licensed together under one production blanket, the ownership of the custom music remains with the publisher who produced it, and the publisher can (after a term of exclusivity negotiated between the parties) re-license the custom music as part of its library to recuperate production costs.

This allows the music composer/producer to quote lower rates because they are retaining ownership of the custom music, and will have the ability to make money with the same recording in a different production later on. It also allows the program or film producer to deliver content of very high quality, ensures that the most important scenes have the perfect music, and those less important scenes are addressed with an affordable solution.

The Hybrid License method is available at MusicBox, LLC [] as well as with Premier Tracks [] .

"Royalty-free" libraries

With the proliferation of music libraries in recent years and the increase in competition, some smaller libraries have evolved the somewhat misleadingly titled 'royalty-free' model. These libraries do not charge their customers for licensing the music. Instead, the customers purchase a CD of music - priced typically between 50 and 300 dollars - whose content is licensed in perpetuity for them to synchronise as often they wish. These libraries depend mainly on performance royalties for their income (with a small amount of income from sales of physical CDs or online track downloads). Assuming that the music is broadcast, royalties are paid on the music, though it is the broadcaster, not the customer, who pays them.


External links

* [ Library music: the good, the bad, the great and the so so...] by ignatius at free production music tracks

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