Whenever I’m asked to comment on the outlook for my industry (an inevitable year-end ponder), I dive deep into the vault, grab a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, and get a little retro fix…a 60-year-old eye-opener that quickly reminds me of one thing: Only the technology ever really changes. What was good and bad about then is largely the same as what’s good and bad about now.
Technology, for those of us working in the production music business, is in constant flux, changing the way we create music, the way we deliver music and the way we track its usage. As examples, digitalization has made it possible to create music with the same sonic quality as top ten hits on a laptop; simplified file delivery to production companies, networks and sub publishers; and – most recently – given us the ability to more accurately track what and how much music is used, which represents a huge improvement from a rights perspective.
Technology also continues to generate an almost unfathomable sea of opportunities, as new content channels emerge by the minute, with nearly everyone needing music…from indie YouTubers and podcast producers to those promoting major streaming series, feature films, games and commercials.
The quality of that music content, however, remains a mixed bag of good and bad, with talent, passion and experience the steadfast drivers of excellence regardless of the advancements that make music easier or cheaper to produce. That’s no more likely to change than the power of a compelling storyline in an old episode of The Twilight Zone.
In my opinion, those in the production music industry who stand to make the biggest impact in the year ahead are the ones committed to producing relevant, well-crafted music that is useful for not merely its quality, but also for the way it’s structured, the way it’s available and the way it’s delivered.
It’s about producing music tracks and stems that go beyond what people are simply used to in the way they can be customized or integrated seamlessly into the editing process. It’s about embracing a meticulous approach to tagging data with key words that not only make music searching far easier, but also help deliver music to different systems and register it properly with the organizations that help track its usage.
In other words, it’s what you decide to put into the changing technology that will move the needle. Efforts like these may not represent the “sexy” side of our business, but — when coupled with that talent, passion and experience — they are the real differentiators.
Let’s face it — the means and methods are going to look different as new technologies come and go, but it all comes back to that willingness to go the extra mile in making relevant content and delivering it in the best way possible.
And that’s really the main thing about any industry, isn’t it? If you’re not constantly striving to improve and help make people’s lives easier, you’re already behind before the gate even opens. As 2020 rounds the corner, be excellent, be efficient, be accurate. Do whatever it takes to help people. Just figure out how to do it.
Jonathan Parks is an executive producer and the founder of Alibi Music Library (www.alibimusiclibrary.com), a leading provider of music and sound effects for license in advertising, trailers, promos, programming, video games and all other forms of multimedia content. Since launching the company in 2011, Parks has tapped a passion for music and meticulous approach to data in providing a seamless, high-quality licensing experience to clients worldwide.