Emerald City Productions

Film TV and Library Music or Stock Music and the Internet

We probably all remember the Old Silent Films or at least seeing them on early Film with the Pianist playing alongside the Film on the Piano.  This progressed to the spoken words and Music being recorded and playing back with the Film as as Technology progressed.  This became the norm, where now we have stereo and even ‘surround sound’ multi channel audio playback with the film!

The way that music paid the Composers and Musicians in the UK was through the Performing Rights Organisation (PRO) where a fee was charged for the performance of a piece by the work being licensed for use in various circumstances where put simply, the user pays.  In parallel, the production of Films and  the onset of TV and Internet have meant that the world is now flooded with audio and visual Media in every form imaginable from the old reel format to MP3’s of Music and Video etc.

The Internet then enabled businesses like Stock Music/Production Music/Library Music sites to flourish and bring the paid for music sector to it’s knee’s.  They brought the era of ‘cheap music‘ to everyone, flattening the price per track to just a few pence in some cases.  The licensor, then began to have a challenging situation of how to charge for the use of these forms of use of licensed music, where everyone seems to want everything for free! Would you want a painting that you spent many hours producing hung in a shop window then given away for free?  Absolutely not!  Would you similarly want a painting that sold for a reasonable sum in past times, sold for £5 or even £1?

Composers have been privileged to enjoy their work bringing in some reasonable monies (I dont excuse the abuse of income) from about 1900 to 1980’s or so though going back earlier in generations historically the statement is true that the Artist is generally poor.  In recent times the Internet has been a ‘leveler’ of the field of income and more often-unfairly-I believe.  I take the view that there should be reasonable reward for work done and that the Internet doesn’t ‘facilitate’ that philosophy.  There are complex arguments surrounding the whole area, but one thing I would mention is that unless you are a marketing genius as has been observed in Sound on Sound, you will probably not going to make a living from composing Music ever, and surely that is unfair and retrograde?  The age old figure is that only 6% of Artists and Musicians are working at any one time! It reduces the time a surviving composer has to write, to giving himself to the bare essentials of ‘writing music to order’-and that will detract from any sense of being creative-thus isn’t the world is a poorer place creatively for it?-it certainly is from that Composers point of view who cant make a living!

I once remember a famous composer being interviewed on BBC 2 I think, when asked how he got to where he was in the Music scene?-he answered “that there were some better than him, and some worse than him, but that he was in the right place at the right time!”-The proof that ‘skill/genius’ doesn’t necessarily lead to wealth and riches!

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