Few would deny the important role that music plays in producing corporate films. It dictates mood, pace and should augment the visuals and help tell the story. Picking or creating the right music score is therefore an immensely important stage within the production process. But it goes way beyond the creative decision making process – especially for the producer of corporate films.
Like every other videographer engaged in producing corporate films, every now and then a client will ask for a well-known piece of commercial music on their film. Unfortunately, so far to date I’ve not been talking to a client who could either afford to do this or understands the practicalities of getting full and proper clearance on a commercial track for use on their promotional film. There’s also the question as to whether the owners of the commercial track (both those who own the rights in the recording and those who own the musical works) want their creation to be used to endorse a third party. They could well have all manner of objections to this – ethical, political or otherwise.
You can’t deny that in some situations adding a commercial track to a corporate film could give it gravitas and therefore needs to be talked through with your client properly. However, what happens in 99% cases you’re going to end up using a copyright-free score. I’ve already talked about variations on this and their respective benefits on a previous blog so no need to go through them again here.
Building Copyright Free Music Library for Corporate Films
I’m continuously building my library of copyright-free albums and always keep an ear open for new releases suitable for my corporate films. I also go to the trouble of finding out what score was used and where it came from when I come across a piece of video where I think the music works really well.
Another cause of my insatiable habit is that music styles and tastes change over time. There are of course broad genres that are constant but copyright-free music houses also try to tap into trends in commercial music and the current chart sounds. They’ll also tap into the popularity of music within cinematic releases. I’ve got one copyright-free album which is so ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ you wouldn’t believe it – and I used it on the ‘Supadance – Shoes for Dance‘ film which picked up an IOV Award last year. (Preview the entire album ‘AK134 – Orchestral Themes: Impact‘).
I also don’t like using the same piece of music twice, so I’ve accepted the fact that my copyright-free music collection will never be complete. If you share this habit with me you either treat this outgoing as one of your fixed running costs or add the cost of purchasing music (or preferably the whole album) to all the corporate films you produce. The latter is certainly the most logical approach and is the way I fund my nearly all of my purchases.
That’s enough background and on with the review of two albums from AKM Music aimed squarely at the corporate video producer.
AK151 – Bright & Upbeat (click to preview)
This album contains eight different music tracks – each produced in its original long form, as an underscore (roughly the same length as the long form), as a 60-second and 30-second edit and also as a sting. I love tracks with shorter edit versions. It’s described as “Positive upbeat grooves and themes ideal for corporate films and promos”. I don’t love them all – but there’s certainly usable stuff in this one that will make the edit suite on one of my corporate films soon.
Up and Up (2:34)
Bright sound – spacy electronic beat. Nothing but positive would come from this – albeit that it’s a bit cheesy. Reminds me of Phil Oakley’s ‘Together in Electric Dreams’
Those Were The Days (3:33)
This one is all about reminiscence to me. Starts slowly with guitar solo intro and builds into positive storyline. Reminds me of the Hill Street Blues intro.
Electro funky start with drums and bells to follows – and then a bit more funky guitar and keyboard. I can imagine something being constructed to this. Reminds me of a bad 70’s cop movie but I can’t remember which one.
Melting Clock (2:36)
Smooth – with bubbly electronic undertones. Has some nice edit points within it and passages for lifting visuals. I can’t say it reminds me of anything – which could be a good thing when matching to visuals.
A swirling mist of positive vibe. This one shouldn’t offend anyone so could be used where you want a music bed only – with the occasional lift. Reminds me of the point at which you fall asleep on a sun bed.
Digital City (1:46)
Sunshine and cool all in the same track – with a hint of eastern promise. Bit of a spooky electro-organ feel towards the end. This track isn’t going to work everywhere – but when it does it will be perfect. Reminds me of Amy Winehouse – in a way!
Bone Fide Donut (2:04)
As the name implies – this is a simplistic buffoon of a track with penny whistling idiot thrown in. This was made to have a comedy partner – or better still as a kid’s animation theme. Reminds me of Mr Men.
A New Dawn (2:01)
The sun breaking the horizon on a cloudless day. Full of promise with a hint of “la la la” voice underneath and happy clapping. Reminds me of lemonade and picnics.
AK152 – On top of the World (click to preview)
This album is all full tracks – no edits or underscores. I prefer it when they do have these but sometimes it’s nice to have the whole thing as one as it reduces your time in choosing a track. AKM describe this album as, “Pure positive, elevating life affirming motivational tracks with jangly chiming pop guitars to bring the feel good factor to your audience”. I can’t really argue with that, other than saying that it’s more soft rock than pop. I will be turning to this album for any ‘good news’ corporate films that I produce.
Beautiful Horizon (2:54)
Slow building strums which evolves into guitar soft rock anthem. Lot’s of edit points in this one – and musical passages that you could repeat and linger on to extend the running time. Reminds me of U2.
Elevate My Soul (3:53)
A more steady track this one – with a mid tempo rock feel to it. A bit too pedestrian for me at the moment and a little too strong to have as a sound bed. There’s a quite passage about ¾ of the way through that I’d have liked as an underscore. Reminds me a bit of Asia – or the track used at one of the IOV Awards nights.
Last Moments (2:20)
This one has a lazy Alabama steel guitar feel to it as it starts – but soon gets much darker with a heavier ‘Teen Spirit’ feel about it. I can envisage this running over the closing credits of a teen vamp movie. Reminds me of Nirvana – but also drinking Jack Daniels Honey in a darkened room!
Life Expectations (3:54)
Wah wah and all that – building to an optimistic bullet-point driven sales promo. Has quieter passages in the middle so could be easily edited, extended or shortened. Reminds me of Bruce Springsteen – which isn’t a good thing.
Life in Transitions (4:33)
Strumming and drums kick this one off – but its definitely a subtle move away from the typical soft rock of the previous tracks. This is more akin to a new romantic sound than soft rock to me. Reminds me of Joy Division – Love will tear us apart.
Good old American soft rock – with Bruce Springsteen crawling all over it – until it breaks into a heavier rock guitar passage – and then back into Bruce again. It’s a positive track without a doubt – with peaks and troughs. Reminds me of Bruce, but I guess I’ve said that.
No Surrender (2:16)
Thumping slow rock god of a start to this one. The tone is softened by a twinkling keyboard session – which quickly settles back to the thumping rock sound before cycling again. Reminds me of War of the Worlds.
No Time to Lose (3:46)
Slow rock with… you’ll never guess… a building electric guitar theme. But all of a sudden it breaks again into a slower section with a hint of harmonica. Some really bright moments in this one. Not even sure if I haven’t seen this one used before in a corporate. Reminds me of… others on this album.
Rising Star (4:19)
Dreamy guitar solo with drums coming in to support – then developing into heavier rock moments. Again – the varying pace in this one will make it good for editing and for extending passages within the track. Reminds me of Police – but with a hint of 007 at the beginning.
Speed of Light (3:55)
More of the same on this one – but maybe a bit more suitable to a TV comedy drama. I’m struggling with this one as it’s a bit too much in your face from top to tail. There’s no time to breathe. Reminds me of The Inbetweeners.
Having said this it always surprises me how much I grow to like previously hated tracks when I’ve found the perfect visuals to work alongside them. As similar as some of these tracks are to each other their subtle differences will make them perfect for one film and not so for another – even if the corporate films are quite similar in structure and message.
It’s always a challenge picking the right score – but the more of a library you have the greater chance you have of finding the perfect match. If you are looking for an upbeat positive score for your corporate films then have a listen to AK151 and AK152 on the AKM Music website – www.akmmusic.co.uk.
Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)