Building Your Own Music Library For Production Companies Or Networks

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In the past threads have cropped up regarding the viability of contacting film and TV production companies (or networks) with ones own music library, thus bypassing having to deal with the middlemen of a traditional music library.

Setting aside the difficulties of contacting these entities and actually making a deal I’d like to explore the “nuts and bolts” of preparing ones own music catalog for delivery to a potential production company or network.

Some of the things I’d like to explore, in no particular order, are:

1.) How large should your library be?

I would think you would need at least 500 unique pieces of music covering many different genres. I would also think you would need alternate mixes of each, including a full mix, DnB and a bed. What do you think about the average length and mixes beyond that? 10 second, 30, 60, loops? Some people advocate 30 and 60 second mixes but wouldn’t a music editor rather cut their own?

2.) Deliver via web or hard drive?

3.) How would you set up your hard drive as far as file structure?

4.) aif or wav files? 48k – 16 or 24 bit?

5.) Best way to Embed metadata in aif and/or broadcast wav files.

6.) App for searching metadata. iTunes, Soundminer or?

7.) What would a blanket license fee be for our 500 song library? Pricing for a low cost network such as Scripps or a higher end network.

8.) What would the license terms include?

9.) How would you label each track? Composer name and title? Underscores in place of blanks in the file name?

Just a few questions and I’m sure there are more!

19 Replies to “Building Your Own Music Library For Production Companies Or Networks”

  1. I found this old thread, was wondering how people might approach this topic these days.

    I have a lot of contacts in film and tv, and I believe I have gotten good enough at production that I can approach them with my music.

    I just don’t know how to present them with a searchable website where they can search by keywords, then listen to some choices, and then download what is appropriate for them (44.1 vs 48k, mp3 vs wav, etc).

    I don’t think I need a License Quote type site as that is where they would purchase tracks and licenses, more of a store than what I am looking for.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    A

    1. A LOT of People have been getting into The Library Business. In fact, there is a Young Man who is under 25 that is putting a KILLING on The Industry!

      I would say this, if You are VERY business minded, have great contacts, and a proven track record. Go For It!

      As well, being able to “Lock-down” several other “Top-quality writers, and/or Composers” to keep the product churning out quickly is necessary.

      I myself, have gotten “spoiled” with being involved with Companies/Libraries that are “Full Service”. So, I have gotten lazy about not having to do all the running around. I just don’t have that “Killer Business Instinct”, and I’m sticking to what I (hopefully) do best. I help a few people out, but that’s just because “You’re Supposed to share gifts”..

    1. Subsonic looks good, except for the fact that your songs exist on your own server. I don’t have a superfast connection and I don’t want to leave my computer on all the time…

      Anyone know of a similar service who will also store my music online, in addition to making a searchable library?

  2. Doing things these way will really make
    the music libraries work harder for the composer.

    Because, now you are no longer dependent on them,
    You are the competition as well.

    1. Not in my case. I am not competing with other libraries in the broad sense.

      I am creating this library only for use by this particular production company — hence it is a proprietary library.

      Additionally, the number of genres is fairly limited. I will continue to put 95% of my catalog into other libraries and/or write for other libraries.

      Michael

    1. This post is sort of an offshoot from another thread. Michael Nicholas and I were discussing what some consider a downward trend for composers. I said that these are the times where you must think in non-traditional ways and look for opportunity.

      This kind of partnering deal is one of those non-traditional approaches.
      Creating and marketing your own library directly to producers and networks, as Art suggests is also non-traditional approach.

      The traditional library option is not going away. But in this competitive environment composers must be more proactive.

  3. Hey Art,

    I don’t think that there is one “right” answer for this question. There are a lot of networks and a lot of producers.

    I am in the process of building a variation on this theme. I’ve entered into a joint venture with a television production company (for whom I had previously written theme music) to create a proprietary library for all of their productions. Our goal over the next ten years is to build a library of 1000, or more tracks.

    I am not pitching this library to any other television production company or network, as it is jointly owned by myself AND the television production company.

    But…to answer a few of your questions:

    1.) How large should your library be?

    We’re shooting for 1000 tracks. I am doing :60, :30 and :15 versions, as well as beds and alternate mixes. I know that John Fulford mentioned that you need 500 to get in the door of the networks.

    As far as genres go, because this is a proprietary library, being built from the ground up, I’m writing what their editors use for their type of programming. I’m not wasting my time writing tracks that won’t get used.

    If I was going to do this to pitch to networks, I’d cover a lot of genres. But I would definitely throw the ball right over the plate. In other words, mirror public taste.

    2.) Deliver via web or hard drive?

    I deliver 48K / 16bit broadcast wav files (editor’s request) on a hard drive.

    3.) How would you set up your hard drive as far as file structure?

    I have files in folders separated by genre.

    4.) aif or wav files? 48k – 16 or 24 bit?

    See #2

    5.) Best way to Embed metadata in aif and/or broadcast wav files.

    6.) App for searching metadata. iTunes, Soundminer or?

    # 5 and #6: I’m still looking into that. I’m leaning toward Soundminer, but I still have research to do.

    7.) What would a blanket license fee be for our 500 song library? Pricing for a low cost network such as Scripps or a higher end network.

    Doesn’t apply to my situation.

    8.) What would the license terms include?

    I was suggest length of license, i.e., annual /bi-annual etc.

    9.) How would you label each track? Composer name and title? Underscores in place of blanks in the file name?

    I’m labeling each track with Title, Composer(s), Publisher(s), PRO(s), genre, length, alternate versions/edits and descriptive information, like instrumentation.

    So, what I’m saying is that there are a number of ways of approaching this concept. I was very fortunate to put together a unique deal that works for me. If I had to do it another way, it would be 500 tracks, 48K/16bit wav files, of the most likely to get used genres, on a hard drive.

    Hope that helps.

    Best,

    Michael

    1. MichaelL,

      Gotta ask why you are delivering at 48/16? I realize that the broadcast (audio) community can’t ever seem to get together on a standard, but you should be educating your clients that just because their cameras only record at 48/16 doesn’t mean they have to have anything less than 48/24 as far as music & efx. With the Red and other cameras, the audio specs are changing… and 48/16 is kinda backwards, anyway. Rather have a better bit rate… just sayin’.

      1. Hey Scott,

        Yes, I questioned 48K/16bit . The “client” in this case is not really a client, but a joint venture partner. They have their business and established ways of doing things. I’m not going to disrupt their routine. I provide converted audio files for the shows and keep the “library” masters at 24bit.

        Remember the a lot of library music is still delivered on CDs (16bit) and I know of at least one library that delivers via 256 or 320 mp3.

        Good question though.

        Cheers,

        Michael

      2. Hi Scott,

        Here’s the better answer to your question from the EBU. http://www.ebu.ch/

        “The basic audio format is linear PCM, 16 bits, sampled at 48 kHz, which is the recommended audio format for production.”

        It is the recommended standard for broadcast wav files.

        Now…can anyone out there recommend a good bext chunk editor to embed metadata?

        Michael

        1. The best for embedding metadata that I’ve found is Iced Audio’s AudioFinder: http://www.icedaudio.com/index.html

          As far as that spec goes though, look at the date on that page – it’s almost a decade old! Seriously man, Viacom even does better for delivery at 20bit (yes, you read right)/48kHz, and that’s only because all the transcoding gear they have for worldwide use they bought in 2004 when 20 was the rage.

          24/96 is expected for DVD delivery, so we ALL should really be making a push to educate our clients about the fact that their audio should be as HD as the video they’ll use. Just sayin’…

          1. Hey Scott,

            Thanks for the tip. I just checked it out. Looks good.

            I want to add composer and publisher info to tracks that I’m putting into the proprietary library that I mentioned above. Can AudioFinder do that? Will other people be able to read the metadata without having a copy of AudioFinder? Even if we need to but two copies, that still less expensive than “miniminer”

            Thanks again.

            Michael

  4. Hey, Art…. this is a thoughtful post and you raise all the important technical questions. But…I can’t get beyond the initial premise: selling/licensing your music collection requires you to find a music decision-maker with money and the authority to make a binding deal. This is the really hard part… the only “part,” actually. In my experience, all of the technical points that you have raised become minor nuisance matters that are easily handled once you have found the guy, with money and authority, who likes the way that you sound. Your sound, and nothing else, is all that matters.

    1. I pretty much agree. Technical issues can be worked out. I think the main focus is to get some songs together and start pitching to clients. I have already pitched a small collection of songs (about 80) to some production companies. I haven’t closed any deals yet, but I am steady building my catalog and feeling more confident about contacting people.

      I have found out that contacting people over the phone is the most effective means of communication. Some people think that all music supervisors and production houses have an army of gatekeepers sitting back and trying to weed out people. But many of the people that I contacted seemed interested in at least listening to what I have. I have not ran across too many jerks.

      Getting 500 or more tracks is awesome. But I think that pitching what you have is just as important. Rejection can happen with 50 tracks, 500 tracks, or 5,000 tracks. As long as the music is broadcast ready and delivered in a suitable format, people will listen. The important thing is to actually get started. I certainly do not feel that waiting to have an army of tracks is the best thing to do. Start with what you have and keep working. Initiative and persistence is what separates the victims from the victors.

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