Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Buyouts Vs. Blankets

Each has its merits. It depends on what you expect music to do. 

Let's start with this: music is the least expensive, most effective production tool you have to help you create great videos. It's incredibly powerful, because music tells your audience what to think and how to feel about what they're seeing and hearing.

As the competition for eyeballs continues to heat up, video producers need to use everything in their production arsenal to create something special that people will actually watch.  Good music is one of the things producers can use.

The word "buyout" generally refers to music you purchase once and never need to pay for again. You can use that same track in as many productions as you want, for as long as you want, for one flat fee. Okay, so far, so good.

But if you understand that the music in your video is telling your audience how to think and feel about your video, you can understand why the last thing you want to do is to keep using the same music over and over. Changing the music allows your production to breathe, to differentiate between sections, and keep your audience tuned in. Without good music to keep them engaged, your audience will either fall asleep, hit "next" or bounce from your site altogether. Bummer.

The word "blanket" generally refers to a flat-rate license under which you get access to thousands of different tracks, with unlimited use of any or all of them for a set period of time. When the blanket is over, all of the productions you've done are licensed for life.

So the blanket gives you the creative freedom to use all the music you want, in the most effective way, while the buyout forces you either to use the same music over and over, or keep shelling out the dough whenever you need a new piece.

Great production music is one of the best values still left in the production business. No matter whether you use buyouts or blankets, cutting corners on the music in your video is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.

- Doug Wood

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Random Amusings

It’s good to be amused, and some of us are amused more easily than others.  I admit I’m pretty easily amused.  For one thing, I’m greatly amused by irony -  like the track that was submitted called “Endless” that was too short, or the track called “Minimalism” that took two composers to write.  I still chuckle at these.

I’m also a bit amused by the funny things that happen on cue sheets.  I once saw a cue sheet for a sports broadcast where I was listed right next to Van Halen. I can’t help wondering if this ups my cool quotient at all, even though the association is completely meaningless.  Maybe there’s a quantum cool and I obtain a quark of cool for this?  After all, a lot of people would list this as “worked with Van Halen” on their resume.

Advertising is endlessly amusing – like saying your product has zero latency (impossible, unless you’ve found a way to circumvent the laws of physics), or zero calories (where it turns out they’ve re-defined “zero” as “below a certain amount”).

Recently, I saw a bag of chips that said, “The only snack bold enough to call itself ___brand.”  (For legal reasons, I’m probably not allowed to say who it was.)  I was rather amused by the self-fulfilling nature of this proclamation. Basically, they’re saying, “We’re the only product good enough to call us ourselves.”  Well, of course you call you yourself, what else would you call yourself?  Interestingly enough, this slogan actually says nothing at all about how good the product is.

Speaking of "good," I was asked recently to send a client of ours a list of our “best tracks.”  I admit I laughed pretty hard at this one, because you might as well have asked me to send a list of our reddest-smelling tracks.  It was a request that had absolutely no meaning whatsoever.  What do you mean by “best”?   The best for what?  I was tempted to be both mischievous and snobby by sending them a list of some of our Classical tracks, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t quite what they were looking for.

So what’s the point of all of this?  None really, and that’s the point.  It’s a random list of things.  In it, you may find something that amuses you.  This is not entirely unlike our new “Singles Club” library.  It amounts to being a collection of random tracks.  They’re brand new tracks that have not yet been released on any of our CDs, but rather than wait until an appropriate CD comes along, we thought it best to get them into your hands now, instead of having them sitting around collecting dust while waiting for a home.

So check them out at http://bit.ly/1aOkXRU.  We’ll be updating them continually, and you never know what you’ll find in there.  Literally.

Am I aware that the phrase “singles collection” is a bit oxymoronic?

Yes, and that amuses me.

-Dave Hab

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Remembering Marian McPartland (1918-2013)

For many years, the legendary and pioneering jazz pianist Marian McPartland was a regular in our studio, recording promos for her NPR show "Piano Jazz," making special recordings for friends, and even recording a few of her original tunes for the Omni library!

Funny, articulate, classy and full of energy and ideas, Marian was a musical daredevil - not afraid to venture far out on the limb, taking harmonic liberties with old standard tunes that made me sometimes worry if she had forgotten where she was. And then, just at the end of the chorus, she'd plant her left hand on the dominant chord and - just like that - she'd be back to the tune again. It was amazing.

I had the good fortune to record Marian's reading of her autobiography "All In Good Time," which was fascinating because her life intersected so many other famous jazz musicians I loved. It was a challenge to record, because I'd get so engrossed in her stories I often didn't realize that Marian had strayed from the text to tell me an interesting anecdote that wasn't part of the book!

But what I remember about Marian most was how interested she was in everybody else. She was always asking me what projects I was working on, or how things were going at the ASCAP Board. Even though she had met and played with just about every famous jazz musician in the world, she never dropped names, and remained modest about her own achievements, even when she was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth!

Thanks for the memories, Marian. We were privileged to share a small part of your extraordinary life!

-Doug Wood

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dogs and Indie Music

Dogs are great.  They’re happy to see you every time you enter the room, and when you come home from being out, even for a few minutes, they greet you like you’ve been gone for weeks and they’ve been counting the moments until your return.

My dog is, technically, a Golden Retriever.  However, he’s not golden (mostly white,)  not a retriever (he loves to chase the ball, but rarely brings it back,) and is about as sharp as a bowl of Jell-O.  He’s as loveable as they come, though, so we don’t mind.

One interesting thing about him is that he’s nearly oblivious to sound.  He’s not deaf or anything.  In fact, his hearing is quite exceptional.  Unless it’s the sound of someone coming to our door, however, he basically ignores it.

We assume this is because from the time he was born, the breeder played music around the clock for him and the rest of his litter.  The idea was to get them used to household sounds so they wouldn’t be afraid to go into a new environment.  It worked, because there’s not a whole lot sonically that rouses him.

I wonder if we, in the 21st century, have become a bit like this and for the same reasons.  We are so massively overexposed to sound and music that it can be difficult to catch peoples’ attention.  Unless it’s something different, it’s a bit like the background noise in a city.

Enter Omnimusic Group’s newest addition: the INDIE Music Library. 

“Indie” has always stood for “independent.”  Independent thought, independent ideas, and independent creativity.  It has always pointed to something a bit outside the mainstream.  Not so far outside the mainstream that you’re on a whole different planet, but something a bit different.

This sums up perfectly what our new INDIE Music Library is all about. An eclectic mix of quirky acousto-electric tracks by Dallas-based production wizards Music By Humans.

Using first-rate production with hints of retro, the INDIE collection captures the elusive but unmistakable sound of independent film soundtracks.  Occasionally a bit twisted, and definitely different, these tracks have an authenticity that makes them perfect for a whole host of applications.

Take a listen at: http://bit.ly/17gRa3T

You and your dog will love it.

-Dave Hab

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Bad news:  all of your stainless steel appliances are passé.  Yeah, I know, you probably didn’t realize this, but apparently that’s because you’re not trendy enough.  Sorry.

But don’t worry, they’re working on a cure.  Designers are madly trying to find the next big thing in appliance décor - everything from glass to gunmetal to copper and probably a few other things they haven’t told us about yet.

The problem is, stainless steel is still wildly popular.  But somehow they’ve got to find a way to make us abandon it and replace all of our appliances.  And so it goes with trends.

The company who spends all of its time and resources chasing the latest trend might hit the occasional home run, but generally is devoid of any sense of  reputation for quality or brand name.

Of course, the company who chooses to ignore trends eventually winds up in the trash bin wondering what happened.

So, too, in the production music industry.  You may have noticed that some of the discs we release are not the latest thing.  Some are.  We’re trying to find the balance between the two. 

It’s a dangerous game sometimes, because when you release the latest thing, a portion of clients complain they can’t use it.  When you release the tried-and-true, another portion of clients complain you’re not up to date.  

Rest assured that no matter which side of the fence you're on, we’re paying attention.   We neither intend to abandon that which works and has made us what we are, nor do we intend to ignore the shifting sands of “the latest thing” and wind up irrelevant.

We might offer you gunmetal, but we’ll make sure you can still get stainless steel.

-Dave Hab

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Real World

I think of all the education that I’ve missed
But then my homework was never quite like this…
                                                -Van Halen

Of course, in the context of the song, I know what Van Halen had in mind when writing these lyrics, but I think it has even wider relevance.  In music school, you learn the mechanics, the theory, and some of the application.  Then you step into the real world and are confronted with a whole universe they never taught you about.

Some music schools have solved at least part of this problem by hiring industry professionals as teachers.  These people bring a lot more than just head knowledge to the table.  They bring experience, for which there is no substitute.

If we turn the conversation to music libraries, the same idea applies.  When Omnimusic was started by Doug and Patti Wood, there were only a handful of libraries.  Now, there are hundreds to choose from.  Huge ones, tiny ones, “bleeding edge” ones, Classical ones, every possible flavor of library you can imagine (and some you can’t.)  All of them have music; many even have good music.  But all the great music in the world is useless unless you can get the track you need. 

It’s true that making a library useful is a tricky business.  After all, you’re trying to take a giant mass of subjective, intangible product, describe it in a tangible, universal way, and then organize it so that whatever is needed can be quickly and easily found. Sounds like a recipe for madness.  But maybe that explains why so few do it well.

Lest you think we’ve drifted way off topic here, the point is that this is where experience comes in.  It comes in the form of being able to produce music that is useful to the audio and video professional.  It comes in the form of being able to organize that music in a meaningful way, and to describe it in ways that will enable even non-musicians to find what they need.  It also comes in the form of being realistic enough to know that this is not an infallible process, that a helping hand is often necessary, and making sure that helping hand is readily available.

Of course, if we hadn’t been around for nearly 40 years, we might not realize any of this.

-Dave Hab