By Edmond M. Rosenthal
Issue: June 1, 2003

Stock Music for Broadcast Design

Exclusivity remains an issue when producers consider the use of lower-cost library music for opens and logos, but the growing quality of this music is helping to move it into this niche.

Sound Ideas' seven-CD Ear Candy and the two-disc The Big Whoosh are geared for opens and logo work.
"High profile shows want custom music," explains Randy Wachtler, president of 615 Music Companies in Nashville, "but they use more library music within the shows and for promos. Exclusivity is still a problem and another big reason you don't see [a lot of] library music on opens. They don't want to hear it later on a shoe commercial."

While exclusivity is the rule, exceptions abound. A dramatic example is the theme for ABC-TV's Monday Night Football, which has been licensed to thousands of other parties, according to Adam Taylor, president of Associated Production Music in Hollywood. He reports, "Many years ago, someone fell in love with the track and they still license it every year. We own the composition but they recorded their own version, and that version is theirs."

Meanwhile, applications of the original version can be found within ESPN's programming and on Motorola's Web site, from which it can be downloaded for use on cell phones.

Along with its existing collection (pictured), APM writes original music for clients such as The Golf Channel.
APM's Adam Taylor notes, "In some shows, everything in it is ours." One example is The Oprah Winfrey Show. For the syndicated People's Court, APM (www. has provided the theme song. Meanwhile, the library is used in a range of sports, including the US Open in tennis. The Golf Channel uses a custom song from APM to accompany graphics showing scores. Because so many viewers have contacted The Golf Channel for a copy of this song, the cable network entered into a separate agreement with APM allowing it to release the music to viewers.

Animation studio Pixar has designed a character called Luxo, which is used in a variety of their animated shorts, and an APM song has become associated with it.

"Our company is 20 years old," Taylor comments, "and our music dates back 50 years. "We're always hearing things that we own."

While the company doesn't deal in targeted collections, its nearly 200,000 tracks are studied by its music directors, who can put custom tracks together for clients. Other clients prefer to download tracks from APM's online system for auditioning.

615 Music's five-CD Sound Burners is often used by producers of IDs. The disc contains a variety of effects, swishes and sweeps along with tonal and chordal instruments.
The company has instrumental versions of all vocal performances. This is the case in a new four-CD set written for APM by lyricist Hal David and composer John Caccavis. Music from this set was recently licensed to Budweiser for use in a commercial.


At 615 Music (www.615musiclibrary. com), most of the business in opens and logos involves original composition from the custom division. Clients include The History Channel, A&E, Animal Planet and HGTV. Randy Wachtler concedes, "Library music quality is getting to be higher in production value, so it's becoming a better prospect for use in opens."

Some of his company's discs have vocals and often pop up on opens. More typical, though, was the recent use within the TV series ER of music from 615's L.A. Alternative Rock disc.'s library offers 16 volumes and about 1,500 tracks.
Most appropriate for opens and logos, Wachtler says, is the five-disc Sound Burners series. Work parts from the disc contain a variety of effects, swishes and sweeps along with tonal and chordal instruments. He describes the content as "something between sound effects and full music."

The company offers both needle-drop and blanket licensing, with pricing dependent upon usage.


At Fresh Music ( in Hanover, NH, GM Andrew Adams notes, "We don't necessarily follow up on what our [buyout] music is used for, but I'm sure it's used in opens and logos."

Broadcast Themes
Deemed appropriate for these uses is the Airtime Broadcast Library with 40 volumes and more than 1,600 cuts. "Because they're pre-cut to :60 and :30," he asserts, "they work well for commercials as well." There's also the 12-volume Fresh Produce, including bumpers, stingers, tags, logos, buttons, loops and sound effects. Cost depends on the number of CDs bought. One costs $59, while five go for $99. Fresh Music doesn't promote its library for any specific use, not wanting to be pigeonholed.

Adams says music that works best for opens and logos is not overly busy. "Libraries have a lot of underscore music," he elaborates, "with one of the main intstruments taken out so that it's not too busy. Things like that can be used to invoke emotions."


Music that couples branding with emotion works best on opens and logos, according to Kenneth Lucas, director of marketing at NYC's Smack Music & Sound ( "You don't want music that overwhelms the brand," he adds.

Smack is currently developing a CD for license featuring 400 pieces.
Similar music is used in Web presentations, he notes. An example is the use of a 10-second piano loop for the Gucci fashion line's cruise collection. The subtle piece, from a pop collection CD, was "borderline ominous" with strings and a drumbeat. A similar presentation was done earlier for the Versace Web site.

About 80 percent of Smack's licensing is for TV commercials, the rest being for TV and film. The operation's main composer is Greg Kalember, who scored The Pokemon Movie. While Smack's thrust is original music, it has started to develop a licensable CD with about 400 pieces in different time increments. Lucas says users will pay on a per-usage basis.


Any branding proposition is best put over with music that is high in energy, friendly, exciting and has a concise and memorable hook, states Mark Abrahams, president of NYC's MBA Music ( It was essentially that same process when MBA worked with LA's Goodspot Designs on a startup disc for a Sony PlayStation 2 game. Used was orchestral-techno music by Hollywood composer Shawn Clement, who had done composition for Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The music came from a specialty library called Cinematics.

Cinematics, a 10-CD collection, features high-end, lush cinematic music initially created for movie trailers and also used for high-end advertising. A single CD that Abrahams finds appropriate for some branding situations is Electro Guitars Music, which is part of the 60-CD Telemusic collection. Its diverse usage has included a DVD for Artisan Home Entertainment via Goodspot Designs.

MBA's music can be obtained on a needle-drop or blanket licensing basis. Prices for various uses are detailed on the company's Web site. The minimum would be a $70 needle drop on an industrial video. Abrahams points out that blanket licensing pays in such instances as a 10-minute video requiring 10 to 20 needle drops, and the project could cost only $250 on a blanket basis.


"You match the music to your demographic, but everyone has his own idea of what's appropriate," says Derek Frederickson, owner/producer at ( in Chicago. Music was chosen from his library for several segment opens in a sales meeting production for pharmaceutical manufacturer Astra/ Zeneca. The segment opens included graphic logo treatments and ran 10 to 15 seconds. The sound support was varied, some using hard-edged metal sounds and others with jazz and techno treatments.

For a high-energy Xerox trade show video, with performers and dancers, a techno-electronics approach was used.

Those looking for opens and logos generally fall into the market targeted for the royalty free library - producers, editors and others in the creative process. Frederickson says a prime offering for this market is the library, with 16 volumes and about 1,500 tracks. A full-length track, running over 60 seconds, costs about $50. There are also broadcast edits in 60, 30 and 15 seconds, which can be priced and auditioned on the company's Web site.


While buyout music and effects haven't nearly made it to network TV, the demanding sound requirements of radio have made for an ample market for $129 discs available from Sound Ideas ( in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

"Opens, logos and intros are all among the day-to-day production of a radio station," points out president Brian Nimens. Sound Ideas has two series geared for use as opens, closes, stagers and laser shots - the seven-CD Ear Candy and the two-disc The Big Whoosh. The latter emphasizes the effects whooshes typically used with animation.

While most is used by radio morning show people, a small amount is also used in TV for promos and sports opens. "Sports opens tend to use music and effects that grab the audience and create an emotion," says Nimens. For highly specific demands, Sound Ideas has more than 600 CDs offering such themes as cars, science-fiction, comedy, "crash-and-burn" and larger-than-life sounds.