Q It Up: This question is for the commercial producers out there. What production music libraries and/or services are your favorites for producing commercials? What do you like about these libraries? How easy is it to find the music you need? Do any of your libraries offer extensive track mixouts that permit you to remix the track to fit your needs, and do you take advantage of this to any degree? What improvements, if any, would you like to see in your production libraries, or in production libraries in general?
Mike Farley [mike[at]wrns.com] NextMedia, North Carolina: Commercial Production has come a long way from the Media General/Digital Director libraries. How about the Money Machine vinyl collection, or the SOB libraries? Matter of fact, I have a 78 RPM library on Major Records by Thomas J. Valentino that I have pulled vintage stuff off of when I needed that old-timey sound. We use Toby Arnold & Associates libraries, along with some older BRG and Canary Libraries because they were acquired on a barter. One of my stations recently got hooked up with Invasion from Premiere which is pretty cool and the imaging cuts are great. But by far, the best company for production music has to be FirstCom with their vast collection including their latest EVO, which is hot! Others I get are Gotham Music Library, and OneMusic Libraries which I have to say has really impressed me with their tracks laid out with a full mix and four sub mixes so you can build your own sound for each ad. None of my producers use them, but it’s the next best thing to being in the studio recording your own cuts. I do wish they would extend the mix-outs to 60-second versions to save some time getting the various layers into Cool Edit. I’m looking into 615 Music also. I like the real instrument sound rather than synthesized. I’m also looking into Audio Architecture and hopefully will have it around the first of the year. The demos are great and I love the way you can search TM and FirstCom’s huge resource library online to find what you want. As far as other production tools, I find that Sound Ideas just about has it covered as far as SFX’s. I will own the entire library one day.
Tom Robinson [tom.robinson[at]mail. citcomm.com] Citadel/Grand Rapids, Michigan: We use FirstCom for most of our production music. We’ve tried others, but FirstCom has the variety we need, and you get plenty of updates. They also have a series of discs called “Liquid Trax” that have the music broken down into individual tracks, so you can bring up the bass, eliminate the keyboards, drop the guitar for a few measures, whatever you want. My main complaint with most production music libraries is they usually don’t offer a whole lot as far as imaging effects (blasts, splitters, rewinds, etc.), so you either end up buying an imaging effects library, or you create your own.
Craig Allen [craig.allen[at]citcomm .com] Citadel Broadcasting Co., Saginaw, Michigan: We’re currently using Firstcom. I’ve found them to have a pretty good selection for my needs, especially with 6 formats spread out over 2 clusters. Firstcom features a “Virtual Library” which allows me to access our licensed music through their website. As far as track mixouts, they’re offered, but I haven’t really made too much use out of them. I also like AV Deli, if only for the track titles. AV Deli is usually pretty good for our rock formats when the spot calls for a bed that’s edgy, quirky, or just balls out aggressive. I like that more libraries are being offered with a CD-ROM disc, due to more of us storing our libraries on servers and hard drives for easier access.
Tim McKee [Tim.McKee[at]cox.com] CBI, San Antonio, Texas: To start with, over the years we have collected a variety of libraries. We are currently leasing from Network, and B&H Gold Libraries. We own The Ultimate by Toby Arnold, and a small FirstCom library as well as a library from Digital Director. For sound effects (all purchased) we use Sound Ideas, Warner Brothers and Digiffects.
We have two stations, 99.5 KISS-FM, an AOR format, as well as 105.3 KSMG-FM, an Adult Contemporary formatted station.
One thing I like a lot about the Network library is that your library is updated with new CDs every quarter. The folks at Network seem to really pay close attention to what their stations need as far as styles of music beds. So, the updates are generally what we are in need of. B&H Gold fills the bill as a great backup library. This is not say it’s not a good primary library, just not a large one. I currently have 266 CDs in the Network Library and only 47 for B&H. Our FirstCom library accounts for about 30 CDs. The Ultimate by Toby Arnold, accounts for about a dozen CDs. Together, they can give a wide variety of beds for just about every occasion.
Network has supplied us with a “Trackfinder” CD for each of our production studios (4) as well as “Trackfinder” CDs for my assistant and I. The “Trackfinder” is great because you don’t have to go searching CD jewel cases and read all of the different descriptions, run into the studio to see if that fits, then try another, then another, well you get the idea. With “Trackfinder,” simply click on the style of bed your need, then listen to each cut on your computer. Pick the one you want, pull it off the wall and start recording. “Trackfinder” has saved us an enormous amount of time. Thanks Network!
Now for the complaint. EVERY music library is guilty of this. I can’t stand the fact that I have to expand or somehow edit the music bed to “hit the post” at :59 seconds and not between :55-:57 seconds. The music bed’s post should hit right at :59. NOT ANY EARLIER! All of the beds seem to have long fades. The producer should be in control of the fade, not the music. By hitting the post at :59, the producer can do the fade so that it segues with the next element. I know, sometimes you want a cold ending. Any good producer can edit the bed for that. I’ve never had a problem doing that for the past almost 30-something years. However, most beds are “cold ends” — they just end too soon, then trail out.
Am I the only producer on the planet that’s bothered by this or can these library services produce a :59 and :29? We’ll have to wait and see I suppose.
Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com]: The vast majority of our commercial production is done with the Network Production Music library. It’s not the newest or the best, but 260-ish CDs means there has to be something in there that works for that situation. The best thing about it is the search program. It includes a lower quality preview version of the cut so you can whip through stuff without having to whip out all the discs. We’ve also had good success in the past with the Who Did That Music library from Groove Addicts, which has a wide variety of styles.
Jim Thomas [commercials[at]wclo.com] WCLO/WJVL: At all three of our properties, (Janesville, West Bend & Racine WI), Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting, LLC uses Killer Tracks (and their NJJ & Edge products as well). We’ve found these to be a great source for a variety of commercial production music, as well as stingers and stagers. Our companies are also in barter arrangements with MJI for imaging material, which really cuts the work time in half or less.
As for ease of use, I do like the Killer Tracks set-up. Track mix-outs? Well, the base Killer Tracks library doesn’t offer them as far as I’ve seen, but I know they do have products that do. We just haven’t seen the need — or have anyone (in Janesville at least) with the skill to make the best use of them.
If I could build my own Production Music Library, I think I’d offer suggestions as to which type of business each style of music could work for. Although, that might make some producers feel limited. Just a thought anyway. And I would provide more format specific products. It doesn’t make much sense to send Hip-Hop production music to a Country/News Talk combo. Having said that, Killer Tracks has been very responsive to our feelings on this. All in all, a great company to work with!
Richard Stroobant [bigdick[at]cjay92 .com] CJAY 92/VIBE 98.5/AM 1060 CKMX, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: I use EXTREME CUTS from BRG. It is licensed to us from a company in Vancouver called FIREWORKS STOCK MUSIC, who are fantastic. It works great for our rock station. Big package, about 85 CDs. Some hard, some not so hard. Very solid package for a rock format.
For our CHR station we use URBAN from Fireworks as well. It is also pretty good, more Urban sounding than CHR though.
We supplement those on our stations with stuff from AV Deli that sounds more like “commercial music” than “promo music” — Rock & Roll, Electric, Major Babes, Euro Babes, SpeedTracks.
I also found a library called the Corel Stock Music Library. It is a very small package (only 10 discs) and only has about 5 cuts for each format (in long cuts and 30s), but this little package is a gem. All the tracks sound great. It has great country, awesome R & B, good rock, terrific World music, and a bunch of other formats. Again it is small but very usable.