Where’s the Music?

By now, it should be clear that stories2music audio stories would not be what they are without the film music.  It is an integral part of the storytelling.  Part of this has to do with the type of music being used.  The short, orchestral film music somehow works perfectly with the stories.  But where did the music come from?  The journey of discovery was amazing.

When I was teaching myself to do sound editing with Audacity, I chose to narrate one of my short stories, “The Boy Who Was Loved by the Wind.”  I then decided to experiment with adding background music tracks in Audacity.  I remembered seeing a YouTube video made from one of the lost films of Mitchell and Kenyon depicting everyday people in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The video had this hauntingly beautiful background music, so I located the video and found out who had written the music. It was a piece called “Arco Noir” by composer Richard Allen Harvey.

I had no clue how to find a copy of it, so I went to Amazon.com to see if it was available. I found several CDs by Richard Harvey because he is a movie composer, so his short orchestral pieces for movies were compiled on various CDs. I listened to all of the pieces and then purchased four that I thought would work well for my story. I inserted the four pieces of music on a separate track and then listened to the narration over the music. I was utterly astonished. The music fit the story so perfectly it could have been written specifically for it.

I decided to put the story online so that my friends and family could hear it. However, I discovered that the music had to be licensed to be online (or sold); purchasing the CD of Harvey’s music is not the same thing as licensing the music.  West One Music in Britain, co-founded by Richard Harvey, was the company that licensed his music.  I later learned that APM Music handled the U.S. licensing.  Bruce Amdur was my representative at APM Music, and he gave me an educational pricing deal so that I could put that first story on a website for listening but not for selling.

One good perk was that I had access to ALL of Harvey’s orchestral movie music for experimentation.  For some reason, Harvey’s music fit my stories perfectly, so most of the stories use his music.  APM Music no longer carries Harvey’s music because West One Music eventually opened offices in the U.S., so I began to work with Ian Ross as my account rep.  I still use APM Music to license other-than-Harvey music.

A quick Google search will list various music licensing websites, but I like the ones that provide music for TV and movies.  Both West One and APM Music have great websites, and they have huge music libraries with all types of music, not just film music.  Music pieces may also have several variations, such as shorter durations or with certain parts removed (such as choral voices or percussion). With an account, I am able to log in, search by various criteria and even save selections to project collections.   The best part is that I can download the music for free, so I can experiment with it.

Once I decide on a music piece, I gather the information about it from the website and email Ian or Bruce to request a license.  I am emailed an invoice and can pay online.  Then I can legally post the stories with their music on the s2m website.  Both Ian and Bruce have been so generous to me. Without their support and discounts, the stories would not be possible.

Music licensing companies license music for all types of projects such as TV and film, video and online games, radio ads, TV ads, documentaries, theatrical or public performances, radio dramas, podcasts, wedding videos, multimedia projects, training materials, digital storytelling–basically any commercial, business, educational or personal use.  Music licensing is very important because music use has limitations under Copyright and Fair Use.  You can be sued for using someone’s music without licensing it.

Each piece of music is called a needle drop, and each one had to be licensed separately. Each licensing company has its own set of license types–all at different prices, uses and durations.  Some licenses are for “in perpetuity,” but some licenses must be renewed periodically.  It’s important to work with an account rep. to work out the terms of the licensing agreement and to understand what the license allows you to do with the music.

If you are an individual like me who is doing projects as a hobby, the downside is the cost.  The s2m stories have web-only licenses.  They can be posted on a website, and people can listen to them for free, but they cannot download them.  They cannot be put on a CD or sold in any format.  “Sale” licenses are more expensive and often have limitations as to how they are sold (web download vs. CD) and how many units can be sold.  I am also allowed to post my stories on YouTube, but I always have to include the music licensing information for the YouTube adminstrators, so they will approve my posts; videos with unlicensed music get deleted!

Overall, I have been very fortunate to find good music licensing companies and good account reps. for my stories.  The discouraging part is the cost of the licenses.  It is tough to save up the money for the licenses, so many produced stories remain “pending” and cannot be put on the s2m website until licensing is obtained.  If you are interested in helping to get stories licensed and on the website for others to hear, check out the Adopt-a-Story page.


 © 2018 by Kathy Matthes. All Rights Reserved.

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