That Ever-Elusive “Wow” Track

There really is no substitute for musical excellence when you get down to it. In the music business, we have three choices: lower the bar, meet the bar, or exceed the bar. A common lament I hear today is that the production music libraries are saturated with music. I especially hear this about the royalty-free libraries.

I’ll admit that the internet age and proliferation of music apps and software have opened the doors wide for composers of all stripes to bring their music to the market. Yes, the market is saturated. But, is the market saturated with excellence? I don’t think so. That’s not to say the music isn’t good. It often is. I can listen to a hundred tracks and agree that they are all good. Some are very good. But rarely do I hear one and go ”Wow!” When it happens, it’s a notable experience because it’s so uncommon.

So that brings us to ourselves and the music we’re churning out on a daily basis. Every time I ask myself what my ultimate goal is, the answer is the same. I want to take what I love to do and use it to make what it touches better. In the process, I wish to earn a decent living for my efforts and contribution. None of this happens without striving for the absolute best and then reaching even beyond that. The market is saturated with ”very good.” Is it saturated with ”Wow?” Despite the ocean of obviously great talent out there, I don’t think it is. That’s why in an earlier blog entry I wrote about the importance of constantly improving our craft and making it a point to learn something new every day. Even something as little as taking a stock plugin or virtual instrument and tweaking it to make it our own makes a difference over using it out of the box to create another track out of the tens of thousands of them with the exact same sound.

We owe it to ourselves, our colleagues, and the music industry to constantly push the boundaries in our musical pursuits. To capture and create that elusive ”Wow!” track. Anything less, and we’re settling in to that ever-beckoning comfort zone where little happens and not much is noticed.

Attempting to reach a goal is the fun part. Enjoy the pursuit. I know I am!

Single Tracks Or Albums?

I know we live in the era of playlists and individual tracks, but is there still something to be said of the album or collection? I think so.

In the past, I would write single tracks at a time. Then when I had enough of them to pitch, I would submit them to a music library (after doing my homework and research on the library of course). While this worked and gave moderately decent results, lately I’ve changed course. I’m now working on two 10-track themed compilations that I’ll be sending to music libraries and music supervisors. Many library sites offer albums, so it seems logical to pitch an idea for an album to them, especially if the theme is fresh and in alignment with the album themes they currently offer.

So far I’m liking this approach and I feel it gives two distinct advantages. First, it causes me to focus on what I’m writing. Creating ten usable, versatile, and easily-editable tracks in a theme while keeping each track sounding fresh really requires cranking up the creative juices. Second, and this is equally important, I think it will give the library a product that will be of good use to its clients. A cohesive whole as opposed to a bunch of single tracks scattered all over the place.

Since I’m currently in the process, all I have is my theory about this. Time will tell if my hunch pays off, but in the meantime, it sure is fun coming up with themes, producing usable tracks, designing cover art, and researching libraries to submit to when the projects are finished.

What do you think? If you’re a composer, music library, or music supervisor, I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts.

Growing By Learning

How long have you been composing for production music? I started writing music as a young child, but started pursuing a career in production music in 2015. The most important thing I’ve learned over the past six years is that there is always something to learn. I really believe that not learning something new about our craft every day does a disservice to those we serve and to ourselves.

Music libraries depend on us to help them supply their clients with fresh, high-quality tracks. Learning something every day helps us deliver that music to them. I’ve always found it very easy to get comfortable in a style and write things that come easily to me, but that soon gets boring and uninspiring and puts me in a rut. But let me watch a video or read a music library blog and take away a small morsel of knowledge that I didn’t know or think of before, and I soon find myself excitedly reaching for musical elements I never thought of.

I now make it a point to learn something about music production and licensing every day. That knowledge comes in the form of networking with other composers, keeping up with industry trends, and studying what other successful composers are doing.

What an exciting time to be in the business we’re in with so much information so readily available. If you’ve recently learned something that changed the way you approach and create production music, I’d like to hear about it in the comments.

Till next time…