Music Libraries… Stock Music… Online Music Supervisors… Needledrop… what does it all mean?

I would say that I get asked this question (or a version of this question) more then anything else.

The music industry was, not so long ago, exclusive….for the elite. In order to get your music heard, you had to be accepted by one of a small group of tastemakers. The gatekeepers. If they saw promise in you or your music, they would build your career, promote your records and move your career along. Parallel to that, Composers would be hired by Directors to create the scores to films. Sometimes, the Producers of the films would use a song that had been written by a Record Company.

It was pretty simple.

Now, the music industry is the great democratizer. It’s anyone’s game. Fantastic if you have talent and the smarts to move yourself along….because you no longer need a gatekeeper to get your music heard. Media is (almost) free. Difficult for others who need to be made and not born.

So what has this seismic shift done to the “other” music industry. The industry of creating music for films, tv shows and Advertisements? It used to be 100% mutually exclusive the “record making business”, but now, as we have seen, music placement fees are the ONLY steady steam of revenue left in the music business.

So everybody wants in.

Everyday (literally) I hear about another “Online Music Library” that is announcing itself to the community. The one thing I do find very interesting are the adjectives they use to describe themselves. Here are just a few;

Music Production Library
Online Music Library
Online Music Supervisor
Online Music Catalog
Pre-Cleared Library
Pre-Cleared Music
Catalog Music
Needledrop Music
Stock Music
Stock Music Libraries

….and the list goes on. But you can see the key words here: Library, Catalog, Pre-Cleared, Stock. These words don’t inspire one to think of the potential music as having great value. The words themselves devalue the music before a buyer has even heard it. Those words spell; CHEAP.

So no matter what the business model each of these companies may have; re-titling, taking publishing, etc. – if they use these words to describe their business, they are going to be PERCEIVED as having cheap, low quality music. One thing I can tell you for sure, is that music is all about PERCEPTION. Where is comes from matters. People’s opinion’s matter.

So to circle back to the original question, “Sarah what do you think of music production libraries?” Well, I think they are important and necessary, but I also strongly believe that if the companies want to be seen as trusted resources for finding great music, they are going to have to use different words to describe themselves and bank their success a little bit more on the most important quality that built music industry to begin with; CACHET. Just because you have music that is affordable, doesn’t mean it has to be seen as CHEAP. No body wins in this case, and I fear if the business continues down this trajectory, that the value of Production Music will truly be lost altogether.

So what does all of this mean? It all comes down to a matter of taste. Always has, always will.

So when looking to place your music with a rep or a company that has a “library” or “catalog” of some sort – make sure that you agree with not only their business model, but their taste level.

3 Responses to “Music Libraries… Stock Music… Online Music Supervisors… Needledrop… what does it all mean?”

  1. Peter Weis September 12, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Great follow up post. Thanks for putting the time in. I only write for the good ones. LOL BUT on a serious not I would like to add the in most cast “Re Titling” is clue that is not a great library. With watermarking starting to be implemented by ASCAP and BMI it will also cause all kind of confusion if a cue is in more then one library with different “Re Titling”

    Thanks again for the post.

    • admin September 12, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      Re-titling is necessary to make money in certain parts of the business – ie – placing songs with the tv networks like Bravo & Discovery that DO NOT pay up front fees – the only way is to collect through the PRO and the only way for a company to act as agent and get paid is to re-title….but I do see the problem with it as well. It’s a tough issue that no one has been able to solve.

  2. Daniel Holter September 12, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    you say… ‘when looking to place your music with a rep or a company that has a “library” or “catalog” of some sort – make sure that you agree with not only their business model, but their taste level.’

    Could not agree more. Have used virtually the exact same words when meeting with young bands and writers.

    What do you think when the “CACHE” and “PERCEPTION” of a production music library outweigh the music? Is this as prevalent as the other way around? As disappointing when discovered?

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