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The Director's Chair Issue #70 – Oct. 10, 2006 (Good Inexpensive Production Music)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

(September)October 10, 2006         Scene 7 – Take 9

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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1. Introduction
2. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
3. Subscriber Links of Interest
4. Filmmaking Workshops
5. Feature Article – Good Inexpensive TV Production Music
6. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
7. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
8. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #70 of The Director’s Chair (October 10, 2006)

like to say hello to all my subscribers from around the
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NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
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2) COMPUTER CRASH BLUES- Last month my faithful computer
finally gave up and crashed at the same time I was prepping
a movie. I had to purchase a new computer and I now have the
new MacBook. Unfortunately, most of my old programs
(including my website design program,) will not run on this
computer until I get new software and redesign my website.
And that’s not going to happen for a while as I am presently
in production until the end of November. So please bear with
me if you are visiting my website as no changes will occur
for a couple of months.

3) COMBINED ISSUE – as a result of my computer crash, I fell
behind in all my correspondence. Therefore, this issue
combines the months of September and October.

4) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is called
“Music and Television Programming: Good Inexpensive
Production Music” by Michael Sweeney. “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.”
(see below to read entire article…)

to time I will contact you by email to inform you of certain
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Peter D. Marshall


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
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Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
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1) Screenwriter (Michael Daramola) – I am a screenwriter
with great flair for writing. I just finished work on my
first AFRO-HOLLYWOOD script, it’s an intriguing and very
outstanding story between Africa and the Western world. I am
still working on some outstanding scripts of mine, please
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just wanted to let you know that our new website is online.
We have a few new projects up too! Check it out when you get
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I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
33 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant.
I’ve been asked many times to share my Film and TV
production knowledge with others. As a result, I developed
several workshops that I have successfully presented over
the past 15 years.

To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
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me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.

5. FEATURE ARTICLE – Good Inexpensive Production Music

“Music and Television Programming: Good Inexpensive
Production Music” by Michael Sweeney

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

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

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
(http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/clips.html) 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 Music.com 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

Michael is an EzineArticles.com Expert Author. You can read
more film articles by Michael at


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