Finding music for your films is not easy. It’s a little bit like a treasure hunt, and not always the fun kind—it’s the kind that can really slow your edit if you don’t have the right tools at your disposal. We know because we’ve been there. You’re in the middle of a project and it’s time to start thinking about the soundtrack, then it all comes to a screeching halt.
The value of music in a film isn’t always talked about, or expressed explicitly, so why would they pay for better music if to them it just serves as a filler or background to the imagery? We know it’s so much more than that, so we thought we’d take a shot at explaining why quality music matters for your films.
A music supervisor isn’t necessarily a household title, partially because it tends to be a “high-end” job, reserved for agencies and in-house brands that not only see the value in music but also have the budget to pay someone to seek it out for them. Still, Alec Stern, music director for DDB Chicago and We Are Unlimited, thinks the heyday for music in film is right now, and not just for iconic ad agencies:
International Justice Mission’s latest film, written and directed by Adam Joe, is a docu-narrative that tells the story of Liana (her real name is protected), a young girl who was sold into sex slavery by her own mother. In this case study, we’ll explore how Musicbed Custom Music Composer Chris Coleman took Adam’s direction to create a stunningly on-point score for this heart-wrenching and redemptive short film.
Every composer brings something different to the table — their own style, experience, taste, and talent. Our Custom Music roster has some of the most well-respected names in the film and advertising industry for a good reason — they’re making music that’s unique to themselves.
It takes guts to try something new. It takes even more guts to invent something new. This discomfort seems to be pianist Chad Lawson’s new comfort zone, however. Historically, he’s excelled at reinvention. The virtuoso pianist and composer started his career with traditional jazz, then decided to make music on his own terms — the result being a strikingly minimal, delicate style that he’s become renowned for. On his latest album, re:piano, Chad decided to take it a step further by incorporating electronic loops and ambient sound into the production, while maintaing the piano as the album’s sole instrument. The new sound is somewhere in between classical, ambient, and, well, Chad Lawson. Ultimately, the genre seems to be irrelevant: “Let’s get rid of the idea that music has to fit into this certain box, and just enjoy whatever it is,” Chad told us.
Rock ’n roll was born at Sun Records. The list of earth-shattering artists who got their start there is hard to believe: Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and so many others. As Collin Brace, VP of Sun Records, told us, “These guys defined not only a genre, but a generation.” In many ways, Sun Records and its artists paved the way for indie musicians and studios today. They were future minded. Open minded. They welcomed anyone with a guitar and a song. This is how they found legendary, mold-breaking artists like Johnny Cash. And it’s also how they ended up with over 8,000 master recordings from artists who never made it big, if it at all.
There is a very distinct “X” factor that distinguishes an ordinary composer from a great composer. We are downright positive that Ryan Taubert has cracked the intangible code. Ryan was drawn in to making music initially through visuals. After teaching himself to compose by reproducing scores from movies as a kid, he is now a highly sought after Composer making some of the most captivating pieces of music for film…ever, we’d say.
It’s easier than ever to become a film composer. The tools are cheap and available, and there is no shortage of up-and-coming filmmakers who need soundtracks. But while it might be easier than ever to start making music for film, it’s as difficult as it’s always been to become great at it. And there aren’t any short cuts.
On the About page of their website, Deep Elm Records describes themselves as “fiercely independent.” This description will make more sense after you read our chat with Deep Elm founder and owner John Szuch, who started the label with a bike, a backpack and pretty much zero industry know-how. In a post-interview email, John wrote: “I poured every penny I had into [Deep Elm] while taking no salary, working 18-hour days and living on ramen. It took five years to break even. Many times I thought I wasn’t gonna make it…but I just kept believing that it HAD to work.”