Music and Television Programming: Good Inexpensive Production Music

Television has taken on an entirely new look and feel, even in the past decade. What was once an industry based on three major networks with very limited programs in the 1950’s has erupted into many major networks and thousands of cable channels available throughout the world in every imaginable language. Television has truly become a three-dimensional experience for producers, directors, project coordinators and other professionals in the industry, not to mention a multi-dimensional experience for viewers. With a variety of genres and styles of programming available, from news programs and specials to different types and lengths of commercials, sit-coms, dramas, reality programs, game shows and countless others, being someone involved in television production is both wrought with opportunity and teeming with challenges.

Finding inexpensive background music and production music for television programs can be much more difficult than finding it for other types of media projects because the medium is so diversified and so societally pervasive. As a director or producer of television programs looking for ear-catching television music for your show, you have to be very cognizant of not only your target audience, but also what you are up against in your allotted time slot. Sometimes whether a show succeeds or fails has nothing to do with its quality. Success in television programming has more to do with what you are up against and the time and day your program airs. If you are producing a talk show, for example, you might be on at the same time as more than five or ten other talk shows. Or your program might conversely be when no other talk shows are on television, but at a time when typically people are more likely to watch news programs, Sit-coms or other types of programming.

Still, choosing the right television music can certainly help you make the most out of your particular project. Again, because of the diverse nature of television, there are many different types of production music and background music to choose from. There is music for commercials, music for dramas, music for news programs and specials, music for sit-coms and many others. As a producer of a television show, you probably also will have to consider how your music will blend in with the music of commercials that might air during your broadcast. Because the line between commercials and programming has been blurred, starting in the 1960’s commercials have become an integral part of all television shows, sometimes not only on network television but also on cable television. Before the mid-1960’s, commercials used to have to be signaled in all television programs by an announcement that they would begin. Similarly, announcers were responsible for signaling the return of the regular program. Now, there is not always any clear sign where the show ends and the commercial begins or vice versa. It’s all about the timing.

Because Copyright Law has become stricter to account for the proliferation of diverse recorded music, finding and affording production music and background music for television programming has been further complicated. Before the 1980s, music in commercials and even on many television programs was limited to jingles and transitional music, most of which was instrumental or with very brief and simple vocals. Occasionally lyrics to popular music would be changed to fit a particular product or the theme for a show, a phenomenon that would not work easily or cheaply under today’s copyright standards, and didn’t come inexpensively then either. Still, while some pop and rock songs were re-recorded for television programs and commercials, the cost of licensing original recordings was very daunting until the late 1980s when it became more doable.

Today commercials use many popular songs as background music and production music, and many programs, particularly those geared towards young people use popular music regularly in an effort to promote burgeoning music groups. Television has become such a cultural phenomenon and a showcase for music that many shows, including “Dawson’s Creek” and “The O.C.” have even gone on to put out music compilations based on music heard in episodes of the show throughout specific seasons. Previously, songs were often used without artist consent, but thanks to stricter Copyright Law this is no longer a possibility. Still, most artists are willing to accept often high payment for use of their songs in popular television programs and enjoy the exposure they get as a result to very specific markets made up of people that will buy music they make in the future.

Using popular music in television programs and commercials can be incredibly expensive for the typical producer and director. Whether your show is a hit with a large budget, or a smaller show just starting out, you want to make an impact musically at minimal cost, as there are so many other elements to consider in the production of television projects. Fees for use of popular music can total thousands of dollars, and when you multiply that by how often you will probably use songs as themes, production music, background music and other incidental elements, the numbers can add up quickly. But, even though you want to save money on television music, you certainly don’t want to skimp on quality.

What are your options when it comes to production music and background music for your television projects if you want to build a collection inexpensively and still honor the spirit of your project?

As a producer or director of television programs, you most likely travel in circles of artists and musicians. You might know some good composers or bands, or people you know might know some that would be happy to help with music for your project. Because of the almost culturally invasive nature of television, most struggling musicians or composers would not object to helping you out with your project in exchange for exposure and the chance to work on something beyond the norm. Many bands have been launched when their song was chosen as a theme song for a television series, and many composers have broken into the film, television and music industry after working on scores for television programs.

Finding under-appreciated talent in your network is a good option and often one that could help get you a deal on production music or background music, but it is by no means a simple solution, nor one that is long-term. If your show is a hit, or your theme song or the band that sings it is a hit, you will be morally, if not legally obligated to pay more for the music you are using. This either leads to the same problem you had before of expensive music or back to square one, looking for inexpensive television music.

Another option for inexpensive production music, and one that more producers and directors are choosing every day, is royalty free music provided by reputable music companies. Choosing royalty free music allows you access to a catalog of music in varying styles and can be downloaded directly from a centralized royalty free music company website online. Well-known companies such as Royalty Free give you music libraries with songs you can add permanently to a collection. This means you can build your own store of production music and use it in present and future projects. And because of the nature of the music, you just pay a very low upfront fee to satisfy all aspects of Copyright Law.

Television production gets more complex as time and technology progresses, but directors and producers will never lose the ability to control what production music and background music fits best with their projects. Television music is critical to keeping a program or a commercial at the top of its game, and helps communicate important themes to viewers. As a producer, director or project coordinator, the musical choices you make are some of the most important decisions.

Free or Fee? What is Music Worth?

We are much more reliant today than ever before on technology and the many contributions it makes to our lives every second. Perhaps most notable is the many options technology has given to the Internet and the world of entertainment, making many artistic projects and productions, from digital music albums to e-books to short and long films and television programs available to a larger audience of people.

Steadily children that grew up with the Internet and don’t remember a time without it are reaching adulthood, and attitudes about both the monetary value of artists’ works available online and the cultural value of these works are changing. This revolution began with the introduction of CD’s, which became easy to copy and distribute to friends.

There are certainly varying opinions about the worth of downloadable music and purchased music in general; while a younger generation of music lovers is certainly divided on whether music downloaded online should be free music, there are definitely more in that generation deciding that perhaps people should be more freely allowed. When it is so much easier to copy mp3’s online and from friends, and also easier to record entire albums in the studio with full digital capabilities, many young music listeners wonder, is a musician’s work and the musician him/herself really worth as much as at the dawn of the recording industry?

Many studies have shown that adults that remember a time when recorded music was expensive and more difficult to obtain are much more cognizant and respectful of basic music Copyright Law. They understand why certain laws are in place, and some that are artists themselves have relied on Copyright Law to protect their creative expressions. Copyright Law also allows music and other art forms to perpetuate in the world, and is the reason there is so much variety available.

The music industry has been cracking down on how people get their music recently in response to the increased availability of downloadable music and digital music on the Internet. The music industry was largely unprepared for the sudden introduction of file sharing programs to music lovers, and it has taken several years for them to realize their impact on musicians, songwriters, other music professionals and record companies. Before the Internet, most young people bought CD’s, and shared them by simply burning a copy for friends. While this was certainly a violation of Copyright Law, it somehow did not pose as large of a problem as when mp3 players became available and people downloaded free music off the Internet en mass through high-speed connections. The music industry has recently started filing lawsuit after lawsuit to stop this phenomenon and put systems in place to make music lovers pay for downloadable music. As was evidenced in recent lawsuits that were filed against those in small towns in middle America, you do not have to be high profile to suffer consequences for violating the law when it comes to digital music.

The industry has been driving hard to try to get the public to recognize that not paying for music takes money away from artists and musicians that they deserve for their hard work. While music is a source of entertainment and a cultural commodity for most, for those involved in creating it, it is a job that they rely on to make lives for themselves. Like any other professional, musicians can’t be expected to do their work for free. While the amount some receive is certainly debatable, what is not debatable is that they should receive something. The latest drive to enforce Copyright Law by the music industry is causing a stir among young people. New anti-piracy software is now being put on CD’s to cut down on illegal CD copying. The software prevents listeners from burning the CD more than five times.

Teens especially are noting that this will not stop others from discovering new ways to get music. Many adults agree that someone is bound to come up with a way around the software, as technology always seems to find a way to surmount obstacles that prevent free sharing of music, DVD’s and other media.

Many teens note that there is an obvious and simple way around the anti-piracy software; all a person has to do is make a copy of the CD once and then use the copy to make more copies. Those invested in the downloadable music and digital music craze feel the anti-piracy software is really just a way to slow down some of the most avid copiers while the industry thinks of a more permanent solution.

Other teens support these new attempts to prevent people from getting music for free. They feel that music is a valuable part of everyone’s lives that touches so many aspects that certainly free music or even cheap music should not even be an option. They fully understand why musicians deserve to be paid for the privilege of owning and listening to their music over and over again.

So what are some alternatives to illegally downloading digital music or free music?

There are many services that provide low-cost and virtually free music for professionals and individuals simply hoping to expand their music collection. For those still entrenched in the CD movement, there are some subscription services in development that will allow people to freely share unlimited CD’s through the mail at very low cost and without violating Copyright Law.

As more services for downloadable music and digital music arrive on the scene and make a more competitive market, track downloads and album downloads are becoming cheaper. Even iTunes offers songs as 99 cents apiece, and entire albums at cut rates, so even young people can afford to buy music legally to enjoy.

As an alternative to digital music provided by major music providers, reputable royalty free music companies are bringing original tracks of music plus many high quality royalty free music versions of some favorite classical pieces to listeners at affordable prices and sometimes even free. Royalty free music companies such as Royalty Free offer huge and very comprehensive downloadable music libraries with collections from every genre from classical and jazz to rock, techno, dance and Hip Hop. And with royalty free music, you pay to satisfy Copyright Law upfront so you don’t have to worry later about any additional fees. Many royalty free music companies even offer totally free music that is of excellent quality and different from anything else available.

The point with digital music is that listeners will continue to try to find ways to get free or cheap music; at this stage of technology, finding loopholes and ways that allow for freer sharing of information is just human nature.

Why Study music? The Important Role of the Family

The 21st century will see children be born that are capable to build such complex thoughts that these will be the reflection of new ways to explain and understand a world that will be becoming more difficult for us to define.
We have to educate them well for the survival of our species, for an increased sensitivity towards other human beings, for increasing comprehension of diversity and for maintaining peace in our planet. All our efforts towards defending what belongs to us, our nations, and the Earth will be wasted unless we consider that mankind needs peace, internally and externally. What good does us to prepare our children other than for the evolution of our species, the advancement of arts and science, the increased understanding of the roles of different cultures, the search for spiritualism? Why prepare our children for other than developing the need for them to become better each day that passes? Philosophy, antropology, sociology, psychology, among other disciplines, highlight themes of importance, among them those that explain the importance of deriving meaning and increasing communication in interactions among men. Each one of our generations sees itself creating meaning for what was defined regarding the importance of life in society, and as the time passes, the new inhabitants of Earth create new ways in which to explain new meanings to facts and acts in which men find themselves involved in.

Men need to comprehend each other. One culture needs to value the others. The teaching of music can provide a favorable environment for a specific type of communication in society and this is why it is necessary to teach music to babies and infants. The earlier we start, the better!

Teaching music provides the learning of signs and/or symbols, which amplify the human capacity to know and create from systems and conventions that the child cannot find in other systems and/or disciplines. And this practice helps develop intelligence. In this opportunity, other concepts are developed. Objects and processes which are unconventional are developed and from this arises the opportunigty for the musical cognitive system to satisfy a specific type of human desire: that of creating with sound, utilizing and thinking with sounds. Communicating with sound!

To live musically gives the child the opportunity to develop meanings which go beyond those simply intellectual. Hence, the child exercises complex thoughts through experiencing music, by participating and integrating him/herself in this ‘difficult to define’ world. When the child is capable to communicate emotional needs, he/she exteriorizes aesthetic meanings, treating the abstract in a concrete way and assigning objective meaning to other types of communication that he/she can create. Practicing music in groups unifies children. To listen to music created by another exercises communication abilities. To have your own music heard by others improves self-esteem. Music is not, however, a language. It results from complex systems of sound utilization, which through form, structure, and the instruments it utilizes, concertizes itself through the works, and conveys meaning. This is why music has to be taught to be understood in all its complexity. The result for someone listening, or making music, is the exchange of emotions. And the exchange of emotions promotes simplicity in this interaction. This exchange also deepens communication. These manipulations with sound and structural models must be linked to the context in which the individuals involved in the musical experience are into. Therefore, each musical experience communicates the disposition, creativity, and traces of different cultures, which reflect themselves in the processes of musical production, appreciation, and reproduction.

In this manner, in order for us to defend the idea that it is necessary to promote internal and external peace for mankind, we need to foment learning and musical experience for our children, since an early age.

Music is life. It involves us since it is a human creation. It can be created and executed by us throughout many phases of our development. It is in the satisfaction of making music that children involve themselves cognitively with processes of creativity, problem-solving, and gaining the initiative to take risks, to express themselves, and to evolve as a thinker and innovator. Musical learning leads to interpersonal relationships, acceptance by the group, the desire to create, and the motivation to communicate.

In the following paragraphs we will suggest some ideas about how to promote teaching/learning music in our families:

1 – How to lead the musical experience?

First, babies or young children need a favorable environment. It is necessary to create success values in the family. In order to have success it is necessary that the parents have courage and take risks to live happy days and each day more satisfying moments for their children. We can enumerate 10 aspects that must be considered if we would like to improve our success in creating a more musical environment for our children:

1 – SUCCESS! Believe that your child is capable to understand and to make music! In the least this will create a person with music appreciation and will be part of an audience that will understand and will derive satisfaction from quality music. S/he will capable to appreciate our collective and historical musical culture of mankind and will be able to maintain it and promote it.

2 – OPTIMISM! Yes, it is possible to appreciate, create, live, and become highly satisfied with the musical activity and learning! Many are those who did and still currently do this.

3 – INITIATIVE! Have in mind an action plan. See how the child is going to be exposed or become into contact with music. Will it be through and/or from listening since in utero? What kind of music will s/he listen to? Only after birth will you expose the baby to music? Who might sing to the baby (nursery rhymes or other songs)? Have you selected them?
Have you found out whether music from a particular musical instrument pleases the baby more? One must remember that any and all initiative must lead to experiencing music daily, and always in an environment of satisfaction and appreciation for music of good quality.

4 – GOALS! It is necessary to know where the family wants to arrive. It is necessary to ask whether experiencing music leads to increasing music appreciation in the family, community and county, or whether it is to develop musical performers/musicians. You should establish goals and follow the development of music cognitive skills and then this will lead to a decision of whether or not the child should dedicate him/herself to professional performance. If the child decides, between 6 and 10 years of age, that s/he wants to deepen his/her knowledge as a performer, new goals will have to be developed and implemented. We have to embrace the idea together with the child if this makes them happy and indeed encourage them to play and pursue the mastery of their favorite instrument.

5 – WORK! Work means regularity, seriously dedicating yourself to the compromise of providing the child with the opportunity to experience music everyday. Work means to develop, through music, habits and attitudes of musical execution. This means that there has to be dedication to learning music theory, vocal, instrumental, and improvisational practices. And that there must be a commitment to theoretical learning (musical concepts) and musical elements essential to the utilization of musical structures and schemes in the process of musical experiencing and creation .

6- COMMUNICATION! Music is an excellent medium for teaching us the importance of communication. A baby’s cry already is an element of communication and it is composed by notes and musical intervals. Many children sing, hum melodies long before they begin to speak. Therefore, when music is already being exercised and played, musical improvisation becomes an example of sophistication reached by those executing the process. It is possible that different culture see themselves through similarities of esthetic emotions promoted by listening to different songs, which bring in their scope similar musical ideas. It is possible for people from one culture to love and admire another due to their music. Music creates communication links and bridges the distance among men.

7- ATTITUDES! It is necessary to believe in the importance of teaching music in order for children to develop in a rich and healthy way. The alignment of the parents’ attitudes to that of valueing music, is understood and assimilated by the children. Parents that dislike classical or popular music, or any other type of music, pass this attitude down to their children. What matters is to help our children by giving them the opportunity to evolve, become better than ourselves, for the benefit of all of humanity.
In this context, attitude means to pass down to your children the family values of musical appreciation.

8- PERSISTENCE! Musical learning only becomes reality when the child has a desire/disposition to make music. In order for us to find our whether s/he has this disposition, s/he has to be exposed and has to experience music. Hence, it is necessary to give time and continuity to the exposure to music so that the cognitive development system can go through the appropriate stages. In order to develop cognitively in a musical context, it is necessary for the parents and children to remain persistent, which will result in the succession of levels which lead to each day deeper knowledge and complex specialized learning.

9- PRACTICING! All the steps above lead to a system of how to experience music. The child that experiences rewarding musical practice goes on to practice music, in a routine of instrumental study which will lead s/he to aesthetic expression through execution of his/her works or works of other composers.

10- CONCLUSION: The child’s process of experiencing music, with parental support, will lead to a unique reality: A dream has been visualized, goals have been set, and the participants have been persistent. There has been practicing of communication, training to reach the goals outlines, and a conclusion about what should be done at each step lived. To “live” and experience music and learning “how to make music” adds much to family life and this increment in quality provides improved communication in society. The overall result is a quest for the evolution of humanity, through the cultivation of art, intelligence, and emotion.