The answers to this month’s Q It Up question come in two parts, thanks to a great response from the RAP Network! We offer up part of the responses this month, and wrap it up next month.
The Q It Up question asks: What are your favorite production libraries for imaging production such as promos, IDs, sweepers, etc.? Tell us which libraries you are currently using, and for what type of format you are using them. Share any likes/dislikes about these libraries if you want. Tell us about other sources for imaging production elements you use, if any, other than artists’ CDs laying around the station. Do you make your own, for example? And who decides what imaging libraries to purchase?
Andrew Frame, Andrew Frame Custom Production, Fort Myers, Florida: I’m in a unique position in that my clients provide me with the library they want me to use. For example, my newest client will sell a sweeper package, ISDN in the voice-over, then call me to pick up the tracks on MiniDisc and the CDs of the library they want on that package. In the last week, I’ve used Chateau Brazil’s “ProPac,” Advantage Production’s “Ear Candy,” and Network’s “Shockwave.” Being a freelancer has me doing production for all formats, but I like doing classic rock and AOR best. It’s not the easiest (like AC/NAC, etc.), but it makes for some groovy stuff.
A consistent problem with libraries is their focus on a particular item. Some have really good music beds, but lousy FX elements. Others are vice versa. So, you will end up purchasing several libraries to cover your bases. I almost wish the music groups would stick to music, and the FX guys would stick to FX. (But, I’m not on their end of the business, so I may be talking out of turn.)
Additional sources for elements come from wherever they are heard. Unfortunately, lifting FX or music from non-licensed material like TV or music CDs, is in reality a copyright violation. Although we’ve all done it, it’s still a no-no.
I have a growing library of 3000+ indexed movie/TV drops I’ve built on CDs to spice up liners and sweepers with. I use them sparingly, because Program Directors will (and have) start demanding specific lines from specific movies—and feeling I’m at their beck and call to deliver them. You can not sell them, which is a shame, because I’ve had several companies offer quite a bit of $$$ for a duplicate of my set.
Jim Kipping, Director of Production, LBJS Broadcasting Co., Austin, Texas: Techsonics was the library of choice a few years ago. However, because of the many “indy” libraries, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one (unless you want the best sounding lasers around…then keep on using em...viva 80’s radio!)
I have been utilizing numerous of Joe Kelly’s A/V Deli stuff in the past few years. There are very few of their libraries we don’t have. They seem to be very fresh sounding. Deli uses more artists, so you get a wide variety of music, elements, etc.. I will say the only drawback I’ve seen, is that some of the packages duplicate beds, or at least sound like they use the same elements. The good news is that all of their packages are buy-out, unlike some libraries that want you to sign long term commitments and renew after they’re over. No thanks; we’ll save that for our commercial production side.
We do tend to try and use music from the station and incorporate them in imaging when we can—looped snippets that keep the consistency with the station. It’s a good way to keep the station focused and not too far off center with only production music and elements for imaging. As Director of Production over the LBJS Broadcasting station group, I evaluate, budget, and purchase music and elements for both commercials and imaging. I get quite a few calls from companies for elements and music. My recommendation, don’t feel you have to go with the huge companies with long term contracts. It really pays to look around at all the smaller companies out there. You may save some bucks and get some really killer elements. It also pays to head to Best Buy or your local record store! Hey remember, we pay ASCAP and BMI. Use the hell out of em!
Stephen Blakeney, WBBN/WXRR, Laurel, Mississippi: I personally like Network’s Spike & Glide for promos and sweepers. We use them for our Classic Rock station as well as (don’t laugh) Country...hey it works. We are the 1997 CMA small market station of the year as well as Mississippi Association of Broadcasters station of the year. (Just because you play country doesn’t mean you have to sound lame. Another tool for producing sweepers and promos is Continuous Climax and Audio Clip Art.
Johnny George, Imaging Producer, WFMS/WGLD/WGRL, Indianapolis, Indiana: I have used almost every production library available to modern man over the past 20+ years. Without specifically mentioning any of them, let me say that what I found in my experience is that in order to get a library that you like for a reasonable price, you have to go to a 3-year or more contract. Considering how many cuts you get in the average library, in that period of time, no library is going to hold its own and remain fresh enough to satisfy even the least creative production person.
Most of those libraries also are created by one musician or Creative Director with a synthesizer of some sort. Even the ones that do utilize “live” instruments are still written and directed usually by one person. Thus, a theme follows throughout most of these libraries without them even realizing it. And the salespeople that have to pitch these libraries most likely are too close to it to be objective outside of their obvious desire to sell their product. In the end, you have some production libraries that quite frankly aren’t worth the effort to even demo. Being an imaging production guy for 3 stations and having a Commercial Production Director whose name is literally “Guy” causes the two of us to be very, very picky. Guy has been using the Network production library for a few years and has just updated it with the new streamlined version that has only the :30s and :60s of each theme, so as to get more on each CD and make it easier for the prod guy to find the right material. Network is pretty good in the originality area, and we do share some select [FirstCom] Sound Designer II discs between departments.
I use, almost exclusively, The ProMusic Library out of Boca Raton, Florida. I had a choice to choose any of the over 1400 CDs that are produced by different producers from around the world. Thus, this gives me a very fresh, unique, non-thematic library of creative disks to choose from.
My creative direction usually runs along the humorous or off-center line when it comes to our promos for any of our stations. Our stations include: Modern Country (25-54+ persons), Young Country (18-34 F) and Oldies (25-54+ persons). It’s just my style. The ProMusic collection allows me to custom design what disks I want out of their entire collection. I’m using the basic Broadcast Collection of 75 discs for a substantially lower cost than I know has been paid at my last production jobs over the years—better cost, better product, and the ability to update when you feel you have burnt out a certain CD. If you’ve used all the cuts on a certain CD and it’s just collecting dust, what better deal could you have if you can just call up your rep and trade it in? Can’t say enough kind words about these folks.
Additionally, I use movie sound tracks, Radio Today bi-monthly services (Oldies), Capitol Records Lounge Music, Brown Bag (pretty much used up before I got here, but good stuff), Sound Ideas SFX series 1000, 2000, 6000, Hanna Barbara, and whatever .wav files I can find that are legal on the net.
“Tuna” Jon Rose, WBYR, Fort Wayne, Indiana: I’ve heard some stuff from Chateau Brazil/AV Deli that kicks some major buttocks, and we bought Speed Tracks and Son Of Speed Tracks from them when those disks went to “close-out.” (The original asking prices were too salty, but the closeout prices were pretty reasonable.) The first disk in both 2-disk sets are pretty lame, in my opinion (the clicks, blips, and other sounds are, in most cases, just too short to be of any real use), but the second disks have some real good stuff. Granted, it leans a little toward an “alternative” sound, which means we use them sparingly for our Active Rock format. But in tandem with the Rock Flash CDs (our other imaging effects library), our imaging sounds pretty hot. Still, if I had more bucks in the budget, we’d buy more Chateau Brazil/AV Deli stuff.
Dusty Rhodes, 2FM, Dublin, Ireland: We’ve found that it ain’t what you got, but what you do with it! We use buyout prod libraries from AV Deli, GMI, TM Century, etc. and have enough noises, drones, blurps, zaps, and squelches to keep all our clients happy. I’d love to use Brown Bag or Audio ClipArt but don’t feel the expense warrants the use I’d get from them compared to what I already have. (However, if Sean or Hal wanna make me an offer....!!!) Another useful source of production material are the sample CDs we buy from Time & Space in the UK—drum loops, hits, noises, etc., etc..
Craig Jackman, CHEZ-FM, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: For Classic Rock CHEZ 106.1 the best sweeper library we ever had was Mirage by Brown Bag. We have Redline now and it’s not nearly as good. Other ones that we’ve had good results with are Extreme Cuts (Fireworks in Canada distributes), Production Tracks (Joe Kelly), Techsonics II, and, believe it or not, the Corel Stock Music Library. This puppy is 10 CD-ROMs put together by some local guys here that Corel (the software company) distributed for a while. It’s still available, cheap, but you have to contact the producers now. I can get you the number if you are interested.
I’ve started making my own ID sounds in the last re-image I did. I got the best results by putting a pickup on my acoustic guitar and running it through a couple of Alesis FX boxes. If I find a music/sound library that I like, I’ll ask the GM to buy it. He’s never turned me down, but then again, it’s pretty rare that I find something I like. I’m fussy that way.