A music industry report released by BMAT in September 2022 showed that nearly half of all the music heard on broadcast and cable TV shows was production music. That is a staggering amount. It is enough to induce any amateur musician wishing to go pro to figure out what production music is and start making it.
Production music is still known as ‘stock music’ in some circles. Its secondary name gives you a clue as to what it is. Production music is music that is written, recorded, and produced for general use rather than tailored to a specific need. Whereas production music can be used in any TV series, a score written specifically for a single series wouldn’t have any applications outside of its own project.
TV Producers Love It
At one time, production music was an outlier in TV and films. Producers and directors wanted scores written specifically for their projects. But something different has come along in recent years – something that has changed the minds of TVs top producers. They now love production music.
According to the previously mentioned study, music was played during 39% of the total air time on broadcast and cable TV between February and March 2022. Approximately 46% of the music was production music originating from commercial libraries or created by music production companies.
The study also showed that production music is used in excess of six times more often than original music. Note that the survey looked at a full variety of TV channels, networks, genres, etc.
So what’s driving the sudden appreciation for production music? There could be any number of factors in play. The first thing that comes to mind is money. Licensing production music from a library is considerably less expensive than paying a composer to create an original score, then hiring the arrangers, musicians, technicians, and producers to actually create it.
Original music certainly has its place. It dominates the film industry for obvious reasons. Even some TV franchises, like the Disney+ Star Wars franchise, rely on original music because it is central to their product. But where production music can get the job done, producers can save a lot of money by using it.
Another possible explanation is speed. Producers can browse through a catalog of production music and find what they need in a couple of hours. It could take weeks or longer to get a piece of original music produced.
How to Make Production Music
Making production music is easy in theory. You compose a piece then work with a company like Supreme Tracks to put it all together with full production services. If you don’t have the money for professional services, and you are talented enough, you can arrange, record, and master at home with a decent computer and a good software package.
The actual task of creating music is the easy part. The hard part is getting it into the hands of producers willing to license it. One way to go about it is to contact producers directly by sending them samples and asking them to give a listen. Sometimes that approach works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Another option is to hook up with an agent who can push your music or get your music added to an existing library. Both approaches take advantage of existing industry connections.
Production music is apparently all the rage in the TV industry right now. TV producers and directors are looking for good music for their cable and broadcast shows. If you have what it takes, there is a big market waiting for you.