Movie background music is not at the forefront of most people’s minds when they think about their favorite blockbuster movies or even TV shows. The fact of the matter is that many movies would not be half as captivating without great engaging movie background music, even if it is sometimes only very subtle. Just a few seconds in the right place can bring a scene to life dramatically, but picking the right music and staying within budget is an important but time consuming job in any sized production.
Being a music supervisor having to license music for films is not always as glamorous as it may seem, it gets even tougher at the lower end when you add a small music budget into the mix. These days most big budget films are a mixture of a score written specifically by a composer for the film and pre-existing songs, take a look at the end credits of most films and you will see a list of songs, their composers and who performed the version in the film.
What often happens in low budget productions is that the film will be cut using well known music that the director likes, and then this music will be replaced with library music or music from an unknown musician or composer. If you can find a reliable composer who will work cheaply or even free just for the credit, but also has the time to write and record the music you need and deliver it on time and do any revisions when you need them, then sign him/her up and hang on to them.
In reality there are a lot of musicians out there trying to break into the market, many of whom undoubtedly have talent, but they also have things like day jobs or college, and getting what you want when you want it is not always easy. No matter how good something free looks when you have no money, it is not always the best way to go and could end up costing you more time and money in the long run.
The middle ground between a known composer and using a novice is to use inexpensive library music for your movie background music. There is a lot of it out there and these days that you can audition on the various websites and then download a low quality version to see if the music works with your film. You can then purchase the music with a license that allows you to use it in your film without having to pay royalties to a composer, you pay once and it is yours forever.
The question of quality often arises when talking about library music, but the old days of cheesy sounding elevator music libraries are long gone, the quality nowadays has to be first class to survive in the current over saturated market. The quality of library disks available today means that you will still be using yours on productions for years to come, making them a sound(?) investment.
Another fear is that many of these libraries are so oversold that your piece of music will be in 100s of other productions, and therefore devalue your creation? This was true years ago but there is so much music available that the likelihood of that happening is slim. There is music that I have composed being used in hundreds of productions and TV shows worldwide on big networks, much of it has been sold many times over and I rarely ever hear any of it, let alone hear it in two different shows.
When it comes to small, independently produced libraries the fact is that they do not sell nearly as many copies as the huge well known libraries, very often they are produced by a one man band and released because music is their passion, they can in the meantime be working on their career as a full-time composer, and you the buyer reap the benefits.
At the end of the day, wherever the movie background music for your productions comes from, the right music is the right music and only the people involved know what that is. If you do not have a big budget then a modern cool sounding music library is a good way to get a great score for your project without breaking the bank.