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How important is original music for your film?

Hi all,

I'm working on a start-up music production company and we're trying to break into film.

As a start up, I can appreciate that researching the right creative people online for your project can be tedious so wondering how people normally overcome/go about this? (I'm thinking of our quest for the right web and graphic designer!)

I'm also interested to hear from film makers about general approaches to music/sound... how important is music and sound design to your project? Where do you normally look for this? How much of your budget are you prepared to spend on this?

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!


  • In feature films and TV and anything to do with exhibition, 'chain of title' isn't just important, it is essential. Essential. Without it, no distribution, no broadcast.

    Chain of title means proving you have the right to use everything in your film, including music. Every beat has to be licenced, either existing tracks or 'production music' or bespoke score. The cheapest way is usually 'production music', which is why lots of daytime TV shows use the same tunes. With that, you pay once for a non-exclusive licence

    Licensing tracks can be very expensive, especially if they've been in popular adverts.

    Custom score costs you money for composition and recording, but then you own it outright and use it much like the footage you shoot and own

    Is that any help?

    6 years ago
    • Usually there'll be an extra licensing/buyout fee (over and above recording and composition) if you want to own a custom score 'outright'... and it can be pretty steep, for all rights, forever. Given that very few of those offering custom score work on this site have any budget for music at all, don't expect directors touting big license cheques at you.

      Most are offering "promo' value only for your work, assuming they do actually complete the project and get it accepted at festivals. I have to say that very often this means an 'open cheque' at your end, with the filmmakers assuming that since you're doing it for 'love and art', not money, they can ask you for endless re-writes, not necessarily because you haven't done what they wanted, but because they've decided to do yet another cut. Make it very clear what you're prepared to do, if you accept freebie work, and if they're not prepared to offer a proper contract, don't do it. It can be a world of pain...

      6 years ago
  • Hi Samantha,

    This is a subject that's close to many people's hearts.

    As filmmakers and videographers I'm sure most on here realise the importance of not only well recorded sound but great SFX and music added in post. It brings any video to life.

    The problem is that clients don't share the same enthusiasm.

    I would love to spend 10 - 15% of my budget on sound and music but my clients would never agree to it and it would come straight out of my pocket.

    I think there are two reasons for this;

    1 - They don't appreciate the value of it because the results are often subtle.

    2 - Most work these days is consumed on low grade speakers and highly compressed files so the benefits are not felt.

    I'm afraid due to budget and time constraints I find it much easier/realistic to work with music libraries.

    It pains me to do it but that's the situation for me right now. I have used a composer before and it does take time and effort going back and forth and explaining your vision as a director of how you want it to sound.

    Perhaps your number one "enemy" is cost, followed by complexity of process.

    If you make it economically viable and break down the process into simple steps, then that could attract people like me.

    6 years ago
    • Hi Michael, off subject, but I watched your short doc "From Poverty to Opportunity". What a beautifully done film.

      6 years ago
  • Hi, thank you both very much for your helpful comments!

    Sure, the licensing area can be tricky so would need to be 'perpetuity' deals, so the client buys full rights to use the music across all platforms. As you say Michael, this can be expensive. Ok great, so our job will be to make sure the process from concept to inital ideas and completion is as accurate and efficient as possible. I'd also be interested in working with animators as I think that sound design can be more critical and perhaps creative in this area, particularly when it comes to advertising.

    I'm working with producers generally with around 14 years experience so that does come at a price as they're also gigging musicians. We'd love to try and get involved in the advertising world but first we need to have the chance to work with people such as yourselves so we can showcase what we can do!

    We're looking for collaborations and are willing to do some in kind or even free work to build up a videoreel so please bear us in mind if it interests you: (NB. samples uploaded here are world cup themed and very commercial, we can do everything from world to jazz / classical / electronic)

    Out of interest, where is your go to for production/fully licensed music generally? I'd have thought they'd be quite hard to sift through but it might be because I haven't found the right ones yet!

    Have a great day, once again really appreciate your time.


    6 years ago
    • My go to for features is a composer, then either getting the score recorded synthetically or if there's more money, supplement the score with orchestral strings/choir. That way the rights position is absolute!

      6 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Just wanted to point out that you don't need to "own" music in order to get distribution for your film or other. A solid universal license in perpetuity is, for all intents and purposes, the same exact thing. I just wanted to point this out since you seem to be mentioning it a lot and perhaps there is some confusion about it.

      6 years ago
  • Hi Sam. Man, I hope you can pull this off.

    The closest I've gotten to using library music is a pre-recorded classical piece. Otherwise, never!

    I've worked with a lot of composers over the years (I fix movies in trouble). On the negative side, are the ones with little experience on film scoring. They have trouble with spotting sessions, hitting a stinger, or just ignore what mood your are trying to create. Most don't talk to the sound designer--or more accurately, don't listen to what he/she is doing-- which I find incredibly frustrating (music and efx should blend into a whole). And I've stopped allowing composers into the mix (well, 99% of the time). They tend to think their music is the most important aspect. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. The worst are those that write music to tell the audience how they are supposed to be feeling, instead of uplifting a character or scene. It makes the film feel "schmaltzy".

    If you're working with SP people, you should know that most won't be able to afford a music editor (or even know there is such a beast), which means your tracks must be spot on.

    Outside of the issues that Paddy brings up, a specific composer for a specific film is everything in creating a mood. Unfortunately, few can afford it. What you're doing is awesome. I wish you the very best of luck!

    6 years ago
    • Just on the working with sound designers bit - last short I scored, I handed over the 'score' as stems (individual tracks) which allowed the designer and sound editor the most flexibility when it came to building the sound design. I was invited to the dub (!), and colluded very happily in the semi-destruction of my initial ideas, which as far as I was concerned were sketches only, to be ripped up and reconstructed at the will of the director.

      I think we ended up using only about 30% of the 'layers' I'd built for each cue, and that was fine by me. I'd offered enough choice within each cue to tilt things one way or another, while still holding the initial feel. The result was a very happy director indeed. Always remember who's the boss, and never get 'precious' about your work. In the end, it's their film, not yours.

      6 years ago
    • @Tom Green Holy crap, Tom, that's amazing! And such a lot of extra work for you, too. That type of collaboration makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Would love to see the finished film.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich
      That is typical of a professional composer, and certainly what is expected. Sounds like perhaps you have had bad luck working with some less than professional types?

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich I just wanted to LIKE this response like you would a Facebook comment ;)

      6 years ago
    • @Tom Green thanks Tom, sound advice. Pardon the pun.

      6 years ago
    • @Kays Alatrakchi Nope. More a matter of a short schedule.

      6 years ago
  • Thanks very much for all the tips and advice guys!

    Tom - I love your work and thanks for sharing your approach and experiences - as a song writer myself (I use Ableton) and having studied in this field it makes perfect sense to me to send the audio stems asuming it's a big enough production for them to get their own engineer. If you don't mind me asking - how did you get linked in with the BBC?

    Paddy & Dan - it's encouraging to hear that you use proper composers and Dan I'll keep in mind your pointers re. what can go wrong. Where do you find your composors? Do you have any websites you go to? I'm condsidering setting up a profile on one or two key sites to showcase our work amd perhaps direct traffic t our website. I'm just not convinced this is the right direction and may devalue us in doing so.

    I wasn't sure what to expect through Shooting People to be honest, I've just joined. I'm looking in various places to build our showreel but just from being online in this forum I'm learning lots so really pleased to have found it!

    :) Samantha.

    6 years ago
    • Hi Samantha, to your question: I find composers simply by work they've done. Usually when I go in to re-work a film (uncredited, I might add!), the composer hasn't been hired, which is nuts. Composers, in my view, should be hired as early as possible. So I'm dealing with a solid budget for music and can hire experienced people most of the time. What is at issue, really, is can we afford a full orchestra or just a few strings to fatten out the synth tracks, or no strings at all? In the early 90s I tried very hard to get actual musicians because I hated the artificial sound of horns and strings. It's a lot better nowadays. Ideally, I'd prefer to go with a smaller sound with a bass and piano and some percussion tracks than trying to layer it with a bunch of synth tracks, but sometimes that's not possible, as the picture needs a bigger sound.

      While a good composer can do just about anything, they do tend to have their own style. I try to find somebody who's style fits the picture. Over the years, I've narrowed it down to about 4 different composers. (I can't say who, as that would violate the non-disclosure agreements I have to sign). And yes, they are absolutely allowed in the mix--despite my grumblings of some of my experiences mentioned earlier. Given Tom's approach that he mentions here, that's one person I'd love to work with!

      What sucks for you, Sam, is that budgets have gotten so freakin' thin. And for me, it's not enough to just listen to previous scores someone has done. I have to hear it with picture to see how music was handled to uplift the film. So it might require you to do some near free work on different genres so that people can see your skill. After that, how easy you are to work with, and how quickly you work. So often with tight schedules, composers are forced to pull something off the shelf that they did in their downtime. Sometimes it works. Often it doesn't.

      I'm just glad someone is talking about music for film here. So often the redheaded stepchild of low budget filmmaking.

      One more thing, and I'll stop rambling: if someone here does use Sam, and she's willing to do it for very little or nothing, give her the time to do it well. People get it in their head that they have to get it to this festival and the deadline is a week away, so they push it, and the film isn't as good as it could be. This isn't a studio with a hard release date. It's a short. That festival will still be around next year.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich I fully agree on the need to bring a composer into the picture as early as possible. I also find it key to keep the composer involved in the post process, including having a close interaction with the sound post dept. Unfortunately this scenario is rather rare.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich - Look to Eastern Europe for orchestral recordings, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech. A few thousand Euros for 40-60 pax (musician or choir) plus MD and can get you half a day in studio, which will get you about 15' delivered.

      6 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin That's so true Paddy. Once used an orchestra in Yugoslavia (when it was Yugoslavia). Thanks for the reminder!

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich - if your current four guys ever prove too busy, just use the contact form at

      happy to discuss anything :)

      6 years ago
    • @Sam - most of the BBC work I've done has been via other production companies, usually directed by directors I've worked with before, who I usually met via other contacts, friends, referrals. That's how it usually is- there is no 'usual way in', I'm afraid.

      6 years ago
    • @Tom Green
      Thanks Tom, you make the important point here about word of mouth and building trust which is of course really crucial in this industry.

      6 years ago
  • I use the music bed for more or less everything I do, I've so far found it impossible to communicate what I'm after so and find it far easier to search for it
    My latest work -

    6 years ago
  • This is an interesting discussion; for me, music is so so important for a film. I'm not necessarily saying that it needs to be drenched in music - even a couple of single piano notes can add a lot to scene, but it is such a powerful tool to enhance/complete a scene.
    If you think of some of your all-time favourite films, I'm sure you will remember the music well.
    Some directors/producers I have worked with seem to treat the music as a kind of last minute afterthought, which is a shame. And often, they will have cut the film to a reference track (usually a well-known song/piece of music that they won't be able to use) and then can't see past anything it, which can be frustrating for us composers as nothing will be good enough in their eyes(ears?). Having said that I'm sure filmmakers get just as frustrated with us composers from time to time!

    6 years ago
    • Wasn't 2001 famously done to reference tracks, which then became the soundtrack. Much to the annoyance of the guy had commissioned to compose the soundtrack :-)

      6 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander Haha I think so yes, but Kubrick had some pretty hefty budgets though!

      6 years ago
    • Adrian, I feel your pain! I've seen that happen, and it sucks. When digital editing came in, it seems like everybody started using reference tracks. I personally hate that (and everybody always uses the Kubrick story as an excuse. Sorry, buy you're not Kubrick). An edit should stand on its own, then the music will only enhance it.

      But let me ask you this: do you get upset if a director uses others music for you to listen to for a mood or style he/she is looking for? Just as a short hand to get everybody on the same page? I've noticed over the years that most composers hate that.

      6 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander
      That "guy" was Alex North...look him up!

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Here's what typically composers "hate." When the temp music becomes something to rip off because the director has either become far too enamored with the temp track, or because the director has such little trust for the composer's original ideas that he'd rather not chance it. When the director understands the real purpose of a temp score, then it can be an invaluable tool to communicate creative ideas, and I think most professional composers welcome it.

      6 years ago
    • @Kays Alatrakchi Not talking about temp tracks, as I don't use them.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich - 'temp' tracks... actually, I don't mind them, especially if the director has trouble communicating ideas in more 'musical' language (ie - "I'd like strings here, hint of Beethoven's pastoral crossed with Barber's Adagio") - often you can discuss the thing for ages but just putting up a piece to picture can tell you far more than any discussion. The problem is when the director gets too used to the temp so anything else 'never fits'...

      6 years ago
  • I confess to mostly using Audio Network... on commercial jobs.

    Two reasons;

    1 - they are cheap and have a hugely diverse range of music.
    2 - I can download a track and edit with it before paying for it so I can try 20 tracks in an edit before I commit to paying.

    The downside is that the track will rarely fit the edit precisely and editing the music can create ugly results.

    I don't agree with Dan. I like to edit using music to feel the mood of the piece. Sometimes the music can dictate the edit or bring in a change in pace that I hadn't considered before.

    But you're right Dan, we are definitely NOT Kubrick! He was a one off.

    6 years ago
    • Yeah, Michael, I am certainly in a very small majority. Possibly because I'm old, and stuck in my ways when I learned from old editors way back when about the dangers of temp music. And I understand what the possibility of a temp track can do to opening up a cut. But in the end, I find it can become too much of a crutch too often, then it forces the composer into a pretty tight corner.

      6 years ago
  • No worries at all Dan. All rambling welcome! :)

    I really appreciate the fact that people take this topic so seriously!

    I'm hopeful if we score one or two projects for free or in kind this will lead to more. The sounds on our website at the moment aren't necessarily the sounds we're known for as musicians or our particular style so we're working on collating a better range to demo.

    I like Music Bed - we might try it out! It looks like they have some quality control and keep a small enough library for their artists to do ok. Audio Network, nice. Thanks Michael, I've not seen this one before. I have to confess I spent 10 minutes having a browse and found it much harder to find anything I like but can see why it's appealing.

    I'd be happy for anyone to come to us with a reference track or otherwise. It is really challenging expressing what you want when you haven't heard it before... There are some amazing pieces of software which sample live orchestras, they're so great you can barely tell the difference! So we can easily compose with software and for bigger budgets get things re-recorded with session musicians.

    Looking forward to finding some collaborators... :)

    6 years ago
    • "I'm hopeful if we score one or two projects for free or in kind this will lead to more."

      In all honestly, it will likely lead to more free work, and in the meantime you will have added yet another nail in the coffin of original music. Seriously, don't give away your work for free, it sets a really bad precedent, and when you'll want to get paid, someone else will come along and give their music away for free and the cycle will just keep on repeating.

      6 years ago
    • @Kays Alatrakchi
      Thanks, I agree completely and take your point - I should rephrase that - I meant skill swaps (music video for some of our artists, animation, etc) or work in kind potentially for the right project. Sorry we're not going to be able to give any work away for free.

      Our issue is that we lack the video content we need to build up our show reel. I guess one man's problem is another man's opportunity in this case, but you're right we shouldn't make ourselves open to exploitation.

      6 years ago
    • Really? We've all worked for free from time to time, and for me, it's never affected my ability to say "no" when I didn't want to.

      I just finished cutting a short for a producer friend, just because I liked the script. I'm in post on my own short now, and the least experienced person on my free crew was a 12 year union veteran. About 10 years ago, I worked as an assistant editor on a friend's feature because he cut on film, and nobody around knew how to be a film assistant. He paid me just enough to feed myself, but I was happy to help. The last time I was an assistant editor was probably 1985, and had a blast. Plus I got to teach the editor, who was working for free, how to work a moviola. Film moving through your hands is a fucking rush!

      None of those people, including myself, is having trouble with getting paid on "real" work. In fact, some of the people on my short crew made valuable contacts and are working more than they did before. I've even been thanked for the opportunity by several crew members who said if I ever did anything else, to be sure and call them.

      I guess if you let it become a precedent, it will be. It's just not been my experience.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich
      Yep, sure, you can't always put a monetary value on things. I do free/voluntary work all the time which has resulted in new opportunities, skills swaps, salary increases, greater personal satisfaction, etc in the end. The value of meeting new contacts, building a reputation and having the chance to show people what a professional job you do can be worth a lot more in the long run and it sounds like it's paid off.

      So perhaps the right balance between weighing up opportunities against risk is key. I've been an artist manager for years so similarly it's all a balancing act.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Good for you, but it all depends on the context. We've all helped out a friend in need, but it's quite different when giving away hard work for no compensation in order to establish a relationship. In my experience, that typically doesn't lead anywhere. Either some value for the service is established right off the bat, or else the person who is getting the freebee will likely be persuaded by the next person in line that gives him a freebee the next time. Of course, there are always the exceptions.

      6 years ago
  • Love your inspirational film by the way Gareth.

    6 years ago
  • Samantha, one of my least favourite jobs is looking through Audio Network...

    I've just checked out music bed. Very trendy looking offices, nice hair cuts. Are they based in LA or Dalston?

    I'm just about to shoot a teaser for a documentary feature in Lagos. If you want to watch a rough cut and see if you could improve the music then I'd be happy to do that.

    I'd certainly pay you if it was good!

    6 years ago
    • Hi Michael,

      Not sure- their website's not the easiest to navigate. Texus by the looks of things!

      Ok sounds interesting, let's take this offline then - please send me a link to and we'll go from there.

      6 years ago
  • It's been really interesting reading all the thoughts and opinions here - thanks.

    Some ideas from me (a composer) -

    • One performance from a real live musician can have that much more expression, or humanity, or soul, or life, than the most exquisitely programmed samples & synths. Composers may need to persuade collaborators that a synthetic version of Hans Zimmer isn’t actually the best thing for their film. That’s part of a composer’s job. But performers do need to eat, and may not find 'showreel'/unpaid projects as useful as a composer sometimes might.

    • British musicians & orchestras do sound different to Eastern European ones.

    • Michael Lebor - you’re saying your clients won’t pay for music partly because “most work these days is consumed on low grade speakers and highly compressed files so the benefits are not felt.”
    I don’t think that’s relevant to your point: try playing the film with no music at all. The quality of the playback is not the main benefit (as you put it) of bespoke composed score vs (good) library/production music. (In my experience low-quality audio playback is borne in mind by everyone who works on the audio, from the composer onwards, to make sure it's going to work whether it's played in a cinema or a phone or whatever.)

    What you’re actually talking about is whether the client will pay for unique, specially created music that is truly & organically part of the film, meshing with every other element, communicating fully the director’s intentions, telling the story with nuance, detail and structure over the whole. If that’s worth doing, persuade the client of it! I totally agree that sometimes, for some projects, the difference between library vs composed music is subtle - sometimes a bespoke composed score isn’t needed, and library/production music can do a great job.

    • With the growing amount of remote collaboration, face to face meeting with a director is still the best way to understand what they actually want.

    • I think a composer should selectively try to - and sometimes can - have a say when their music is somehow used in a way that doesn't work as well as it could.

    It's sometimes because of a misunderstanding of what's possible - the director, editor, sound editor etc aren't (probably) as expert a composer as the project composer is. And with more and more production music being used, often they're not used to asking the composer for changes and so might do a bad job where the composer could do a good one. Or the composer might have misunderstood what was required. Or there might be disagreement between different people and the music has to be the battleground, where they compromise.

    Communication is vital, asking for + taking criticism constructively is vital, and so are being diplomatic and picking your battles.

    • Kays Alatrakchi - totally agree about your points on temp tracks.

    6 years ago
    • I think you make excellent points. Unfortunately, most film schools don't really teach a whole lot about how to work with a composer, or how specifically music functions within a film. One of the things that I have noticed is that most film directors tend to be intimidated about working with a composer. In many cases, music is the one thing they truly have no understanding or experience with. Unfortunately sometimes this uneasiness can lead to an unwillingness of listening to the composer's opinions or an unwillingness to try something that is not close to the temp score.

      6 years ago
    • "It's sometimes because of a misunderstanding of what's possible - the director, editor, sound editor etc aren't (probably) as expert a composer as the project composer is."

      Absolutely true. Which is why it's important for the composer to work closely with these people. There have been many times when I cut something on picture for a specific sound or music cue to be included. (To this day, I cringe on a movie I was salvaging in New Zealand. I finished the cut, and left incredibly specific instructions on a shot I left long to allow for sound. Had to return to Los Angeles to start another job, so the mix was left to others. Saw the film 3 months later to see that shot laying there like a beached whale with none of the sound work completed correctly. Arrrrrg!)

      Often I've been involved on projects where there were separate spotting sessions for the sound people and the composer. I think that's nuts.

      Nowadays, everybody is in their separate little bubbles. Especially composers who tend to work from home. When I started,for the most part, the composer was down the hall from the sound designer. Now it takes effort to talk to one another.

      I hope future directors here on SP keep in mind that a single spotting session with everyone is the very least that needs to be done. And ideally, give the composer time to work. (I don't know how you guys do these impossible schedules).

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich "Nowadays, everybody is in their separate little bubbles. Especially composers who tend to work from home."

      A great deal of that blame should fall IMHO on the post production supervisor and the director. It all flows down from the top, if the director doesn't understand the importance of music interacting with all of the other departments, then there is little that the composer can do. It has been an excruciatingly frustrating experience on some projects where it feels like banging my head against the wall.

      6 years ago
  • I'm just completing two lengthy projects. I think original music would be great, but costly. And if it's been quoted for a relatively affordable fee to a low to no budget filmmaker, whilst their fees are worth it, the fee is perhaps out of reach to the upcoming filmmakers.

    For me, with little budget, I'm choosing premium beat to initially put sound ideas under the edit. And if I can get a composer to score it at the right price, great. If not, then I would simply pay for the rights via the stock music company as they come in about $40 -$60 US a track for the world. That's pretty reasonable. A commercial track from a known rock band might be 4 or 5 times that.

    Artistic expression and choice would mean a composer. But reality of the cost without funding makes it difficult.

    6 years ago
    • Thanks Tony. Sure, understand completely it's a challenge doing anything of quality on a shoestring but possible. Good luck!

      6 years ago
  • p.s. for advertising and trailers, a higher charge is usually justified for production music due to the high commercialisation of the piece.

    6 years ago
  • My production music label is looking for new music / composers. Get in touch, thanks, Chris

    6 years ago
  • Great, thanks Chris - will be in touch! :)

    6 years ago
  • I have not read all the responses but i just wanted to say.
    If you are solely creating music digitally then any live recordings must be paid for on top of your fee. The budget needs to be raised. So make everything crystal clear in your contract (yes have a contract).

    You don't want to be paid X amount and then the director asks for live orchestra, forcing you to spend your own money.

    6 years ago
  • All your footage is original and you put hours of work into editing it, honing it and buffing it and then you put generic music all over it? Why wouldn't you get original music composed? Talk to some composers, most of us are happy to dicuss fees and are nothing like as expensive as you think...and the result is completely unique music that you can use with your film all over the world without fear of legal comeback.

    6 years ago
  • Couldn't agree more Robin!!

    6 years ago
  • I do agree with you to a certain extent - although as I currently work with a production library myself - it's genuinely my opinion that music is fluid and transforms within each context it is used. There are times when a piece of music is used for one context and brings a certain dimension to the visuals, but if the same track was used for a completely different scene or production, it can communicate a whole other meaning or mood and becomes a totally different track in itself. I understand what you mean by 'generic' lower value music - but there are some truly fantastic composers out there who write for production music libraries with the best of the best session musicians and orchestras. Their work would still be classed as production music which unfortunately does have a certain stigma around it. There are high quality and low quality production music libraries all over the place, just like everything else! If you find truly great music from a production music library (and believe me there are some absolute gems!), it will still be unique to you even if it's a non-exclusive track. Really interesting discussion though, it's great to read! :)

    6 years ago
  • BTW, I've not launched the packages formally yet, but I've got great contacts in Central Europe and can easily halve the cost of recording your score orchestrally, with first-class results and a team who frequently work on huge-name projects. You get a full buyout of rights and pay and deal with a UK company for your tax credits. Anyone interested, PM me, but this is a seriously good deal for adding production value to your film compared with a synth score. Preferential pre-launch pricing for shooters, naturally!

    6 years ago
  • Hey all - I wrote some stuff on composing for short films that you might find useful - it's at - I understand the commercial imperative and time constraints which lead people to use Production Music, but I think bespoke music would benefit most dramatic productions. It's a question of finding a composer you can work with who understands your film, and requires a bit of planning and effort to get that right.

    6 years ago
  • Some great food for thought here, thanks for all the comments. There are so many options online - some good, some bad - and we're working across a global marketplace nowadays with even more choice as Paddy indicates re. recording overseas...

    Everyone has different budgets and ways of working and perhaps slightly different views when it comes to how to source music - I'm relieved to be getting a resounding yes, that it is highly valued. And its good to hear many are of the mindset to work with composers early on is also favoured by many as this is what we do best!

    More from us coming soon - please keep an eye on for now as we're still rebuilding our website and graphics. Would love to hear your feedback and what projects you're working on/music you might need.

    Cheers all, Sx

    6 years ago
  • An interesting question with some excellent answers! Great to see views from both sides - composers and directors on what can sometimes be a difficult compromise.

    6 years ago
  • Music is relatively important, unfortunately, good music is not always cheap.

    I budgeted a feature a few years ago and predicted we'd need 5-10k for music. However, as our total production budget ended up being less than ten k (less than 5k if you exclude employment subsidies), and we shot nanobudget style, and still had to pay for cast/crew/equipment, I ended up using stock music. (Though some of the music was good, and the musicians were talented, the lack of any original music was, in a way, worst thing about the film.)

    For my second film, I used old songs, and rearranged them myself.

    One thing I will say, with composers wanting to "collaborate." I don't know why, but I get more emails from composers than any other job in the industry. (Maybe it's because the use of stock music shows that we need one?)

    I think it's important to be able to work with the musicians if you use original scores. To communicate, and even start perhaps in pre-production. That's why I find it difficult to imagine working with musicians who are halfway around the world.

    2 years ago
  • Interesting thread. Lots of good insights. I write/produce a lot of Library Music. Always looking for new (profitable) Libraries.

    2 years ago
  • I read an interesting article a while ago about putting music into a script you have written. The article, sorry can't remember where I saw it, advised against putting
    a song in one's script. The advise was that this is amateurish and what all beginers do. As writers we may not have much control of the script when it's taken on by a production company, they may decide on something else. Interestingly it also said that, for example, I can't get no satifaction, by the Rolling Stones would cost about $500,000. Aparently all the big studios have licence agreements with music companies and this is also influencial. Of course, this is not really relevant for someone making their own film with control over budgets etc, just thought I'd throw it in. Apologies if anyone has already stated this, I haven't read all the replies.

    2 years ago
    • So maybe original music is the way to go....

      2 years ago
  • Good library music can work very well, depending on the type of film (e.g. better for documentaries than for drama, generally speaking), and whether you get stems, and if you have a good music editor to use it wisely. Unfortunately there is a lot of crap library music out there, particularly on the cheap sites where cheap composers go to undercut the professionals. (As in all things you get what you pay for! - get library music from someone like KPM and it will be good). But great original music can cost less than you think. The trouble is finding a suitable composer, I suppose. A previous commenter said that he gets more composers than anyone else asking for a gig. Now, I have two hats - I'm a director/film-maker, and a composer. As a film-maker I (like him) get more composers asking for work than any other crew, and especially sending me really low-quality kind of rude/spammy emails that other film people don't seem to send. If only I got more DoPs sending me their work! :-) With my composer hat on, I am therefore quite reticent about approaching directors or producers that I haven't personally met, or at least got to know online.

    2 years ago
  • Original music can enhance any production. Mainly down to budget more than anything and there is an attitude generally where people feel music should com free or cheap (which isn't the case). It's easy to licence music from one of the many royalty free libraries but then the music hasn't been created for that project. Are you looking to set up a production company to compose music or or licensing?

    2 years ago
  • IMO, the term "Composer" is misused these days. My ex-wife took umbrage when anyone claimed to be a Graphic Artist because they owned a computer. She would say (icily)... "I went to Art School". A competent composer should be able to write a Fugue. That's just an example but... To do the job well, is not as easy as people think.

    2 years ago
  • Amateur viewpoint:

    Used to master a lot of library music, generally long version, minute version, 30secs, sting - and sometimes the underscore.

    Fast forward to the world of amateur short film fiction and I'm terrible at finding anything appropriate. Stems would be great for making things fit, even along the lines of bed, rhythm, tune. Really needs an editable version.
    Example would be a short where a local band had supplied a number of tracks. There was a moment where what you needed was the underscore, subtly in the background, then hit in the song proper but no one wanted get hold of it.

    2 years ago