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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.



    Music For TV
    By Karl Kalbaugh

    I don't claim to know all. But this is what's worked for me:
    You got a commercial (albeit indie) music CD. Cool! Selling liked you hope? Naw, not really? I know how that is! Wouldn't be cool to get your music on a TV commercial or show? Yeah, sure would!!!

    Sorta like the Doobie Brothers on that phone commercial.

    Okay, I like to fantasize, too. But, like masturbation, its its own reward. The question is: how to give your music a life beyond sitting in boxes in your parent's garage.

    First thing I did was wash my hands.

    And then, take stock of resources. CD's a plenty but not bloody likely to be useful to a TV producer in that form. Why? Most TV music is instrumental. While TV does use SOME vocals on OCCASION, its not likely that your CD will be picked. But CAN your CD be made instrumental... if even a few songs? Start out this way: go back to your multitrack masters. Fader fiddle!

    Take out the vocals. Piece too dead now? How about a lead solo line from, say, your keys player? But a three minute keyboard solo? How about editing the "mix minus vocals" down to a minute-thirty? Probably will make it more bearable in its new form.

    Mix to taste.

    Okay, you got ONE piece for a TV DEMO. Yes a DEMO. Compile a half-dozen tunes using varying tempos and instrumentation, if at all possible. Now what?

    If your brother-in-law works in the ad business, then your golden! If not, and possibly the better way to do it anyway, is to contact "audio post production" facilities. These are the guys that mix the sound tracks and most often get to search for music choices for the producer to pick from. Want an honest opinion? This is where to get it! But steel yourself. If your sensitive about people criticizing your music, you may not want to get into writing for TV at all!

    After you've done this, gotten beat up... sit down and listen to some TV. Commercials, shows, videos... everything. And listen. You'll begin to hear trends. The Audi car commercials are trend-setting, because I hear Toyota emulating (if in a Toyota-ie way) the Audi spots.

    Hmmm....... more to come, probably.

    So, you've taken your music re-duxes to a reputable audio post mixer for an honest critique. Most folks in this role will be reasonable and constructive. The question is: how do you fell about the criticism? Felt like he missed the artistic point? Seemed to lack appreciation of that flippin' cool bass line? Feeling, well, DEFENSIVE?

    You'll need to do some serious introspection at this point to determine if you CAN put up with broadcast professionals being CONSTANTLY critical of your work. Remember, even Jerry Goldsmith gets crap from Hollywood producers... no one is immune... and neither will you! Bottom line is: deal or get out. Harsh for sure, but its a truism!

    So, if your still in this game, you're listening and watching a lot of TV, right? Both commercials and shows. Its good to be watching "Judging Amy" or "JAG"... but its also good to watching upper tier cable TV, too. In fact, it is far more likely you'll get to write music for a cable channel than for one of the major networks. Discovery Channel, TLC... etc. Be looking at their promos for up coming shows... what do THEY sound like?

    You know, though... if it hasn't occurred to you already, its about at this point that it will: "Holy crap, that Audi commercial's music is NOTHING like the style I do". Sorta like trying to fly an airplane with an automobile license, isn't it? NOT insurmountable. C&W? AOR? Techno? New Age? They all have their places in the broadcast spectrum. Some are more specialized than others; used in more specific (and thus fewer) cases and circumstance, but there ARE those musical needs.

    Our very own Charlie Harrelson's up coming CD would make an excellent candidate for a TV music score! TV ad? Sure!!! A documentary about starfish? Well, probably not. Its not his style...

    Just as it may or may not be your style, either. Further, you've probably have found out by now that as a musician you can not be all things to all people. But what to do with the instrumental demo that you've created? And maybe tweaked or changed based on conversations with a TV sound mixer?

    Stock music libraries.


    There are such things, believe it or not. There's probably about 100 here in the US. Several in Europe (most notably UK and Germany). Generally speaking, each CD produced by a stock music library is of a particular style, i.e. favoritre classic, Ska, country, techno... you name it! Many SML's DO buy music from individual musicians, depending on the library's needs. Payment varies from company to company. I've heard of a deal from a UK SML that ran like this: SML pays all studio costs; musician gets a percentage of all uses (broadcast or not; internet; theatrical); musician gets all BMI/ASCAP royalties due them. It doesn't seem like much, maybe. It may not seem like a great deal, but, if you write a lot of music that gets bought by SML's, it DOES pay.

    Important to note that if a SML buys a tune from you... you can not resell it to another SML, use on your next upcoming release, or otherwise fold, spindle, or mutilate.

    One of my favorite SML's based on their product (they're music is good) is "Killer Tracks". They're on the web at http://www.killertracks.com There are many others, which I'll dig up their URL' and post them here.

    Best Karl

    This series will continue with a chapter on Composing

    About Karl Kalbaugh
    "The enormity (of world peace) overtakes the capability of words. What governments can not articulate, possibly music, the universal language, can. Perhaps in some small way, the music of Terra Nova can reach beyond boundaries, prejudice, hatred.."
    More on Karl Kalbaugh here


    Karl is an audio mixer and sound designer currently sub-contracting to Georgetown Post, Washington, DC. His compositions have been heard on Discovery Channel programs as well as political ads throughout the US. Karl also reps the "Free Agent" Music library (music from fellow Evor members) to his clients


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