Copyright-Free Music Review – AK164 & AK165

AK164 and AK165
Two new copyright-free albums from AKM Music

AKM Music – New Releases

AK164 – Media Toolkit & AK165 – Smile Be Happy

AKM Music has recently released two new albums that caught my eye as a business film producer – AK164 Media Toolkit and AK165 Smile Be Happy. I’m always interested in extending my copyright-free music archive as you can’t have too much of it when trying to find the right music score for your films. These two albums fall into two very different camps.

Before I move on to talk about these albums, I need to quickly mention a special ‘End of Tax Year’ offer from AKM Music which runs out on 4th April. If you buy 3 or more CDs or CD downloads you can get an amazing 35% off! All you have to do is use this promo code at the checkout CDOFF14.

Get a great deal on AKM Music - offer ends VERY SOON!
Get a great deal on AKM Music – offer ends VERY SOON!

To give you inspiration you might want to check out some of my other reviews of their music – Here, herehere and here!

AKM 164 – Media Toolkit

This album is a collection of sound effects to help you emphasise movement, edits and graphical on-screen action within your films. But their use goes beyond this and can help tell your story and create tension or generally add depth to your soundtrack. It’s important for me to say that this is not a collection of Foley effects (sound effects which are used to synchronise on screen action – such as doors closing or windows breaking) but rather evocative synthesised effects. There’s a great Wiki page on the full scope and use of Sound Effects, but needless to say this album is still a worthy addition to your collection.

AK164 Media Toolkit
AK164 Media Toolkit

The album is grouped into nine types of effects ranging from Hits, Whooshes, Stabs and Explosions to Transitions, Underscores and Soundbeds. The Underscores and Soundbeds sections seem a little out of place to me as they’re basically musical arrangements for use as underscores for live action sound or voiceovers. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still useful and produced to the same high standard that we are used to from AKM Music – but they’re not, in my mind, true sound effects.

In the past I’ve had to mess about creating these kind of synthetic sound effects from scratch and, whilst very satisfying, can take an incredible amount of time which you rarely get paid for and more often than not go unnoticed (if they are done right!). It’s also worth saying that I don’t get the opportunity (or desire) to use sound effects on every film I produce – but when you do need them they’re very useful indeed.

I can see AKM 164 being my go-to album whenever this need arises. It’s going to be particularly useful on opening/closing title sequences and graphics where I want to emphasise an animation. There are also some very handy transitional sounds that will help link scenes together.

AK165 – Smile Be Happy

This one was quite a surprise to me – and a pleasant one at that. I was expecting to hear the usual collection of bright, upbeat and jovial scores to help you add a sense of fun or even comedy to a film. What you actually get is a collection of music that’s got a very wide programme-type appeal – and will no doubt suit as the main theme on wedding films and documentaries as well as corporate films that need a gentle sense of fun about them.

AK165 Smile Be Happy
AK165 Smile Be Happy

Each track has a full version plus at least two shorter versions (60-second and 30-second). Some of the tracks also come with alternative edits too. I really appreciate having these shorter and alternate edits to hand and will often mix between them in post when I’m cutting a track to a specific length.

Apart from one track (‘Summer in New York’ – which doesn’t quite fit in for me), they all follow a similar theme which conjures up visions of New England or Shaker-style buildings on warm summer days. Quite a few contain voice or whistle effects, so give a very happy, carefree feeling. I’ve seen quite a few really great wedding films lately and they’ve all used similar music to this. The title track, ‘Smile Be Happy’ is probably the best example of this.

The tracks are all mid-tempo with either ukulele/banjo, acoustic guitar or piano as lead instrument. The music is simple, without masses of instruments mixed together but rather something that two or three people could perform live. The ones containing voice effects are very non-descriptive and contain the occasional, “whoo hoo”, “dum dum” or “la la la” type voice sounds – so are completely language-agnostic.

As I said earlier, this album is going to appeal to a very wide range of programme types. In fact I can’t say for sure that I’ve not already heard it being used on a wedding film – or maybe even a TV commercial or two (the latest Lloyds Bank animated one uses something very similar). I have a project in mind for it right now. For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking of making a documentary about beekeepers (being one myself) and one of the tracks on this album would be perfect for it – giving the film a happy, gentle, earth-friendly feel about it.

Conclusion

Whilst you’d probably not find these two albums appearing on the same film, they are both worthy of shelf space in your copyright-free music archive. ‘AK165 – The Media Tool Kit’ might be a something that you buy and only very occasionally need – but when you do need it there’s nothing else that’s going to hit the spot.

‘AK165 – Smile Be Happy’ on the other hand is going to appeal to a much wider audience and, I dare say, will be one of AKM best sellers over time.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Additional Info – AKM Music at BVE

I recently caught up with Anthony McTiffen, the man behind AKM Music at the BVE exhibition at Excel. I was there to interview those exhibitors who had products and services aimed specifically at the professional videographer and it gave me the opportunity to quiz Anthony about the benefits of using copyright-free / royalty-free music within your productions. Click here to see the full collection of short interviews filmed at BVE.

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