Issue: October 1, 2006


Sound libraries can be an editor’s best friend. It’s easy to grab a CD off the shelf and find well-produced tracks that represent any number of musical genres. Pricing is flexible, depending on usage, and now, with Internet delivery becoming a reality, those stacks of CD cases that litter many studios can just about be eliminated.

The argument for and against using canned sound continues to this day. Composers will tell you there’s something about a custom-scored track that you won’t find in a library. And for some studios, the creative input they offer is why clients come to them in the first place.

Beatstreet Productions in New York is one such studio. Principal Joe Franco says he is regularly called by sound library reps to “see if there is anything he needs.” But his clients, he says, are not looking for library tracks. They come to Beatstreet for his creative input.

An accomplished musician, Franco has recorded with Mariah Carey and maintained a collaborative relationship with Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snyder that continues to this day. The two were off to Las Vegas this month for a Van Helsing’s Curse show, which combines rock ‘n’ roll theatrics with a Halloween-themed experience.

But for those who are less musically inclined, there’s hope. A number of software makers offer releases that allow pros to create customized tracks using loops as building blocks. I recognize tracks from Apple’s GarageBand and Soundtrack Pro, for instance, on TV all the time.

Sony Media Software’s PC-based Cinescore soundtrack creation software ($174.95) allows users to create customized tracks from elements in its royalty-free Theme Packs. The company has released two new $99.95 Theme Packs — “Ideal Vacation: Music for Life” and “High Tech World: Kinetic Tracks” — for pros looking to add rock, country, latin, world and modern scores to their productions.

Human Factor’s Auditiontracs CD includes short tracks that can be used “as is” or customized, with the user defining length and instrumentation. The disc is free, but there is a license fee. And SmartSound’s Sonicfire Pro 4 ($199) with Mood Mapping also allows users to mute or solo a track’s instruments.

Reviews of both these products can be found on