The Benefits of Custom Music

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Composers at Work

Composers are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. I’m not just saying that because I am one, I’m saying it because it’s true. They frequently work hours beyond a typical 9 to 5 job in pursuit of perfection in every aspect of their music. This goes not only for the actual notes of the music but everything involved with its creation: mixing, parameter automation, and MIDI editing. If I continued to list things you’d likely stop reading this due to boredom.

I say this because there is value in the work of composers who create tracks for licensing and purchase to be used with different forms of media. While they might not be working to a specific film clip they are still creating an aural experience that can define a piece of work. It could even affect the media creator because they heard something specific in that track that made them want it in the first place!

But just like any field of work with options, custom music has some advantages to pre-composed/licensable music. This is especially applicable to those of us who get to work in-house with a video team to bring their vision to life.

Our team was recently working on a video that introduced a new award for the Triangle AdFed Addy Awards. The crew worked hard on the video to create something visually intriguing. While working on the music (using licensed tracks) something seemed missing. Luckily, I was asked to step in and compose something original to match the visuals!

One of the things that wasn’t working for video producer Bryan Reklis was the lack of edge to the track. It was too clean and crisp for what we were trying to accomplish with the overall product. The lack of variety didn’t help either as the track had one tone throughout. While it worked nicely with the timing of the edits, it simply didn’t add anything else into the mix.

This is where the advantages of working with a composer to make a custom soundtrack came in handy. The human interaction between two people working towards the same goal can have some surprising results. Having the ability to talk about what it is you want musically makes it easier for team members to integrate music into the project. The music is made specifically for their tastes and the needs of the project. This collaboration can lead to an even better version of what the video team and composer originally had in mind.

Many licensable tracks also are created to have the same tempo and same time signature (number of beats in a measure of music) throughout the track. While this is very useful for editing, it can sometimes lead to redundancy. It’s not uncommon for video teams to purchase several pre-composed tracks and edit them together to form a Frankenstein music track with no consistency.

With this in mind, I was able to create a track that had changes in time signature, tempo, dynamics, varying sections, and modulations to move the music forward in a 44-second window. Below I have attached a sort of “walkthrough” video where you can check out the Pro Tools session with the different instrument tracks and some of the parameters that were adjusted to keep the music moving forward while also serving the purpose of the advertisement.

 

 

If you have music creators in your team, use them! We love the challenges that come with creating the track that fits just right. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough. We will have some new projects coming out soon that I’ve enjoyed composing for and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

 

 

 
The Voice of the Composer

Custom Music Helps Take Home the Addy

When Blueforest Studios was selected by Triangle AdFed to produce a video to launch the new ADDY award and program we were ready to take up the challenge. We knew that we’d have to go above and beyond to inspire our local advertising and marketing colleagues. We collaborated with Bill Harper of Wonder Web and also the ADDY Co-Chair, who brainstormed the idea of smashing the old crystal trophy and metaphorically bringing the new one out of the ashes. Our team worked on getting just the right shot. We used our new set of Kino Lights plus natural sunshine and shading provided by numerous staff members holding the tent in place.

So once you have the shot, what’s next? Editing, editing, editing and a really cool voiceover. And with all the hard work that was put into this we couldn’t just put any random stock music into the video. So we turned to 1 of our 3 composers, Dustin Painter! You can hear that all he learned at the University of Southern California for his degree in Scoring For Motion Pictures and Television. We think the music is just about the best part of this award-winning video. We knew that based on his past work he was the man for this particular job. Check out the Silver ADDY winning video to see what you think!

Coincidentally, another of our composers, Donald Best, won for his custom music for a local Fortune 500 company.

We believe that a signature sound for corporate videos is an important part of the brand experience. Due to budget constraints we once used a very nice stock track on a video for a national brand. By the time the video was released, that piece of music was everywhere. We counsel our customers to consider custom music. It adds to the overall price of the project yet can really pay off in the long run when the audience associates the quality of the visuals with what they are hearing.

Meet Me at the Addys

In the spirit of awards season, the Triangle Ad Fed introduces a brand new Addy to the American Advertising Awards that is sure to soar to new heights. With the theatrics of a glass-shattering surprise and the slick gunmetal award, the new Addy represents the bold, timeless, and innovative creations individuals and agencies have promoted throughout the Triangle. When we were selected to shoot their promotional video for the launch of the new Addy we were thrilled!

Our team worked with our new Kino lights and natural sunlight while smashing numerous crystal trophies to get just the right shot. Then we added custom music composed by our very own Dustin Painter to make the perfect impression.

Interested in showing off your wings or captivating the audience with your message? Take a look at our production with Triangle Ad Fed below and submit your entries for the 2016 Awards and the Silver Medal Award before the show on February 18, 2016 at 7:00pm at the Cotton Room in Durham, NC. Dress code: black-tie optional.

Meet Me at the Addys!

Want to go behind the scenes with us? Check out the creators of our glass-shattering moment.

Dropping the glass award to get the perfect fall-twist combo - kudos to Aaron and team for going the extra mile to catch just the right shot. They managed to capture everything we needed with just three (3) heroes. Amazing!

Dropping the glass award to get the perfect fall-twist combo – kudos to Aaron and team for going the extra mile to catch just the right shot. They managed to capture everything we needed with just three heroes. Amazing!

Holding down the fort.

Holding down the fort.

Music Plagiarism and The Art of Sound Alikes

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“A good composer does not imitate: he steals.”

-Igor Stravinsky

 

Usually when someone like Stravinsky, a man of immense talent and knowledge in the field of music, gives you advice you want to take it and apply it to your own work. Unfortunately, in this case, stealing ideas from songs/compositions will get you into some serious legal trouble (especially today).

 

Take for example this recent event: Tom Petty has been awarded songwriting royalties for Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me.” Apparently people started to sing along to this song with lyrics from Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and realized they were eerily similar. It seems Tom Petty thought so too. Have a listen to this mash up and you’ll hear similarities in the chorus melody.

 

 

This isn’t nearly the first case of plagiarism in recent memory of popular hits. Remember the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida?” I’m sure Joe Satriani does…

 

What is the one common factor that has allowed these artists to have a case against another artist? The melody! Within music copyright laws you can not sue for someone using the same chord progression. If that were the case no one would be able to write a song destined for radio airplay (which is a whole other soapbox moment I may get into at a later date).

But what are you to do if you want something similar to your favorite song but can not pay to afford the fees to license that specific track? It’s obvious many people like specific genres for a reason. With the way the music business is working currently there is bound to be an attitude of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” There just may be a formula to produce an instant hit…

 

The reason I bring this up is because in the world of marketing it is understandable that people will want a big hit song for their video. They might even want a number one hit for their on hold messages! With the cost of licensing fees and the consequences of not paying those fees if you use the track what is a smart alternative? A sound alike!

 

Yes it is possible to have a song that sounds similar to the hit song you want but will avoid copyright infringements. Remember, the copying of melodic content is what will get you into hot water with copyright law. This does not apply to using similar instrumentation, gestures, tempo/song speed, or chords. The idea of a sound alike track isn’t new either. It has been used frequently in many mediums for quite a while. One of my personal favorite examples is the classic Animaniacs cartoon “West Side Pigeons.” Besides the title alluding to the great “West Side Story” you can hear how similar the music is to the work of Leonard Bernstein.

 

 

 

The same ideas can be applied to any genre of music: pop, rock, indie, hip hop, etc. I will always try to advocate for creating original content BUT if you are in desperate need of something that sounds like the latest radio hit, yet can’t afford the song itself, a sound alike could be the answer for you.

 

Do you prefer an original composition for your marketing content or do you think a sound alike track would bring in more attention and suit a production better? Let me know in the comments!

 

– Dustin

 

Hello From The New Audio Guy! (read: amazing composer)

Hello to all of you out there reading this on your computer screens, phones, tablets, and all forms of electronic devices! My name is Dustin Painter and I’m the new audio producer at Blueforest Studios here in Raleigh, North Carolina. The higher ups wanted me to write a blog post to introduce myself so here it goes!

I started workiIMG_0715ng here in November teaming up with our insanely talented lead audio producer Donald Best. Together we work on tracking and editing voiceovers, audio mixing, and audio production for clients that come to us for video production. We also produce any kind of audio production that you can imagine.

We take pride in producing excellent quality audio work for our video production team here at Blueforest Studios. Have you ever watched a video online, maybe even on TV, and thought to yourself “something doesn’t seem quite right here…?” The production value of the video looks great, the acting is superb, and the story the company is trying to convey is being told in a solid manner, so what is it? It’s probably because the audio has been thrown on the back burner during the production process and simply placed in. I can tell you one thing: that does not happen here!

The purpose of audio is so much more than just you hearing what someone is talking about in a marketing campaign. Nobody wants low quality audio in their videos. Even when you watch TV how many times are you actually watching? It’s easy for us to flip the tube on and go about working on different tasks. Maybe you’re cleaning the house, or cooking, or even just have it on for background noise. Why is it so easy to still enjoy TV even if you aren’t watching it? Perfect audio is why! Audio, even without the visual aspect, can bring you into whatever medium you are exposing your attention to. Audio is a vital part of storytelling and very well may be the most immersive part. What else in the audio realm is important for videos? Music! This is where I hope to come in and and to help you out personally here at Blueforest Studios: original music designed specifically to YOUR needs.

Outside of my work here at Blueforest Studios I work as a freelance composer and sound designer for film, TV, videos games, and any form of media possible. I studied “Commercial and Electronic Music” at Western Carolina University here in the mountains of NC and was lucky enough to do graduate studies at the University of Southern California in the “Scoring For Film and Television” program. During my time in Los Angeles I had the chance to study with some pretty incredible composers such as Christopher Young (Spider-Man 3, The Rum Diary, Sinister), Bruce Broughton (Silverado, Tiny Toon Adventures, Lost In Space), and Garry Schyman (Bioshock Series, Dante’s Inferno, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor) among many others.

As a composer my purpose is to bring you into the heart of the story. Music should help to propel the piece of media forward into a part of your brain that will make you remember what you just saw. It is all about making a personal connection to the viewer! Once again, how many times have you had something on in the background while working and have known exactly what is on because of the music that’s playing? Music not only works directly on viewers but can access a subconscious level of the brain to tell them how to feel, what is happening, and can engrain itself into the memory without you even knowing it’s there.

With all of that said I want to help bring your story, your product, your ideas, or anything you want to tell to the forefront of people online and everywhere! I feel very lucky not only to make music and sound as a career but to also have the chance to do it here at Blueforest Studios with some of the most talented, creative, and kind people you’ll find in the business of marketing and video production.

Of course there are some times when trying to create that right piece of music feels like this:

Then an idea comes along and it feels like this:

Finally a music track that fits just right is made and both I and the client I’m working for can sit back and know their video is ready for everyone to see!

Now that I’ve talked your ears off, or I suppose typed your eyes out, feel free to check out this playlist of some various work I’ve done on projects!

I hope you enjoyed what you’ve heard. Thanks for a few moments of your time and I hope to work with you all very soon!

Cheers,

Dustin

Blueforest’s ‘Best’ Hits

It’s been about a year and a half since The Amazing Donald Best zoomed into the Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.29.17 PMBlueforest Studios office, wowing us with his powers of audio production. A little background story on this melodic superhero – it was the late, great Micheal Jackson who inspired Donald’s love of music at the ripe age of five. Though he couldn’t utter a word of English, the little producer-to-be could belt out all the words to Thriller.  This passion led Donald to pursue an Associate’s degree in Recording Arts and a Bachelor’s in Music Business at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. These days, when he isn’t hard at work at Blueforest or vanquishing villains, Donald puts his skills to use composing his own original music. Donald recently sat down with me to give me insider info on some of his recent achievements and the future of his music career.

AR: So tell me how you got into this business.

DB: Well I used to be in a band and that’s when I began recording music, because I wanted to be able to record my own band. From there, I decided to go to college for Recording because I learned that it was something I enjoyed and wanted to know more about.

AR: You’ve been working on your own compositions recently, what do you plan to do with them?

DB: Basically I want to build a portfolio of original music, kind of like Audio Jungle, so that I have demos for future corporate video projects. It’s been a different experience from what I’m used to because  in the past my music has revolved around my own interests and the band I was in, but lately I’ve been focusing more on music that would appeal to clients. I want to add to my corporate audio portfolio.

AR: One of your original pieces got picked up for a radio spot, that must be exciting!

DB: [Laughs] That was completely unintentional. I was going through music options with a client and they weren’t liking anything. So I played them one of my pieces as an example of the type of music we should go for, and they actually liked it and wanted to use it.

AR: What are the other songs on your demo like? Do you go for a specific genre or feel to your music?

DB: No, they’re all pretty different. Since none of them are intended to actually be used in a project, they’re pretty generic just to showcase what I can do. I want to be able to make music specifically tailored to the project. So after talking to the client, getting a feel for what they want, and watching the video, I have a better idea about what the piece needs.

AR: Do you have any other side projects or work you do outside of Blueforest Studios?

DB: Megan, [my girlfriend], and I recently played at Lincoln Theater downtown for the Raleigh Chamber Arts Forum. That was a lot of fun. We always talk about playing together but rarely get time or an opportunity. I also have my own studio where I record and produce other bands’ music.

AR: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?

DB: I’m always looking for new opportunities. I like taking on projects that are different from anything I’ve done before and learning new crafts. There’s a girl recording in my studio and her music is being produced in California. We use Skype so the producer can see me and listen to her as we’re recording to basically produce from his house in L.A. In this day in age, technology can make a lot of dreams possible. Who knows where my career could take me?

Listen to Donald’s original music here.