Compose music and sound for the content creation explosion

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2019

We live in the era of peak TV, peak subscription and peak podcast, but how plentiful are the opportunities for the local composers and songwriters who score music and sound for all the content being pumped out? This varies due to the different market forces and current challenges around content creation:

  • Limited amount of locally-produced content
  • Production budget pressures, specifically for music
  • Changing contract and ownership models with the advent of streaming and video-on-demand (VOD)

The composers behind Sydney's Uncanny ValleyJustin Shave and Charlton Hill, who have collaborated on a number of high-profile TV themes, advertisements and promos including the APRA Screen Music Award winning anthem Here for Fox League NRL with Briggs, as well as music for Australian Survivor, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and The Real Housewives of Melbourne, have further diversified their business services with the launch of independent production music platform Melodie.

When content creators go in search of the sounds and emotive pieces that help tell a story, they will often go to a 'Production Music' source or 'Music Library' for pieces that can be licensed and used multiple times for multiple reasons. 

With Melodie, Justin, Charlton, and co-founder/managing director Evan Buist, have created an independent, 100% Australian-owned music licensing platform, representing a catalogue of more than 50% Australian composers and independent artists. 

“Our focus is to champion Australian music to content creators globally, and even more so to those based here in our backyard,” says Evan Buist“There’s simply not enough Australian production music being placed in Australian productions."

Melodie wants to make it easier for producers and content creators to source the music they need - through innovative search and simplified licensing on the platform. It's all part of helping get the music by local composers placed.

So, how do composers get involved? And, what exactly is a music library? We asked the Melodie team to tell us a bit more about how it works.

Q: How does a music library work?

EVAN: Music libraries are really like any other library. However, rather than loaning physical items like books, we non-exclusively license digital music assets to content creators. Because these assets are intangible and ‘non-exclusively’ licensed, we can sell the same track again and again, all over the world. Melodie customers license our tracks for TV, advertising, film, podcasts, apps - you name it.

In the world of production music, your tracks are not only being listened to for enjoyment, they’re also being used quite intentionally to evoke a mood, to drive energy into a scene, to build tension.

It’s music very purposefully created to make audiences feel something.

Think of it as a toolkit giving editors the god-like power to drive real emotion into content.

For content creators, a great music library is a simple, one-stop shop for all the music they might need in their various productions. For composers, having tracks placed in a music library is like buying shares in yourself. It’s a concentrated opportunity for your work to be accessed by the media world from a centralised platform, generating serious income over a lifetime. Remember your music can be licensed by hundreds or thousands of content creators, all over the world, again and again. 

Q: What is the opportunity for Australian songwriters and composers? 

CHARLTON HILL (HEAD OF LICENSING & INNOVATION): There have always been barriers to entry for Australian composers to connect with content makers via music libraries. Quite often overseas companies have been the gatekeepers to these opportunities, and these revenue streams go offshore. Melodie provides a local portal for composers of quality music to connect with both domestic and international projects and in the process allow royalties to flow to more composers here in Australia.

Q: How is writing for a music production library different from scoring a film or writing an original song for a TV show?

CHARLTON: We’ve had a great deal of experience creating bespoke music across media, from ABCTV network promotions, and news themes to Ninja Warrior and Survivor themes and music cues, and in the process, we’ve gained a lot of insight into the key differences between creating bespoke and production library tracks.

Music libraries by design deliver a gamut of emotions as ammunition to storytellers, with each track being a singular story beat for use on a timeline. For this reason, library music cues are often composed and arranged more singularly in their approach to one or two emotions, rather than creating a longer musical story arc required by original score to picture. That said, Melodie also provides longer standalone songs that editors actually edit to, so as to give a desired emotional journey.

Q: Any tips for songwriters and composers pitching and/or writing for a music production library for the first time?

ANDY WILSON (HEAD OF A&R): Showcase what you're great at - in terms of musical style and your chops. If you play a “live” instrument, record it. It will give your tracks authenticity. 

Music will be chosen to serve the story and producers that are looking for a track that amplifies the emotion they are creating on-screen. Tracks need to evoke emotion so pick one and lean into it. It’s important to be aware that in production, dialogue is king so make sure to leave room for it in your mix and arrangement. 

Q:  Are there any particular styles, sounds or genres that are in high-demand currently?

ANDY: Contemporary pop tracks with a commercial production style are always in demand, particularly with advertising clients. 

Content is being produced at a rate like never before and one production will have vastly different musical needs to another. A good idea is to go directly to the source - watch TV, listen to podcasts, play games, pay attention to advertisements - listen to the music that is currently being used and then write something in that vein. If your track is well-produced with a specific use in mind, it will find a home.

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Melodie is accepting submissions at their Artist Submissions page.

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