Production music is rarely glamorous, but it can be very lucrative. In the first of a major new series, we explain how to get your foot in the door.
My name is Dan Graham, possibly best known to SOS readers as the co-owner of the Kontakt-based software company Gothic Instruments, who make the Dronar series. However, I’m also the writer of over 20 library music albums for major companies, and have founded six library music labels with offices in the UK and in LA. I have 13 years’ experience in the industry, and in this series of in-depth articles, I’m going to spill the beans on how it all works, explaining how you can make a good, stable, full- or part-time living out of it. I hope that existing library composers will also find much of interest, to help expand their knowledge and inspire them to try new avenues. In this first instalment, I’ll explain what library music is and offer some advice on how to get started.
Library music, also known as ‘production music’, is created mainly for video professionals working on TV shows, movie trailers, advertising and more. It’s not written for specific visuals but, instead, to (hopefully inspiring) album concepts, and distributed around the world where it can end up being be used in random ways. For example, for many years my highest-earning track was a five-second boom sound buried in a French Polynesian news theme, while my artistic opuses made peanuts.
Library music has a long and proud history that stretches all the way back to 1927, when the British company De Wolfe began making 78rpm albums for radio use. It was dominated by major labels until about the year 2000, but thanks to cheaper recording gear and the explosion of video content production, it has become more democratic, and there are now more composers, publishers and end users than ever — not to mention more high-quality music. Most of this is now accessed through online platforms used by millions of video-makers.
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