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An Award-Winning Film Music Composer and Orchestrator Discusses Aspects You Might Not Have Considered

By Guy Renardeau

There are several companies on the market that offer library music for a great price. Yet there are several issues you need to reflect upon before going for such a tempting option.

Library music is not tailor-made for your film. It may not be as precise as the music that was written specifically for it.

1. Library music is not exclusive. Supposing you found the perfect music for your film there, it is possible that the same music has been (or will be) used for selling cars, sausages, tomato sauce, or vacations in Italy. Even worse, the music may have been used by another film— and a cheap, bad one! Over time, people who watch your film feel they have heard that music somewhere else before. They are right.

2. Carefully read the terms that come with the particular library music you are using. They may not include all the rights you need. Some can hide additional costs that you might discover in case you remember you need something that’s not covered.


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3. When you use too much library music, the market value of your film may drop. From the sales and distribution perspective, library music is a cheap solution that does not add the value the market expects music to bring to your project. Tip: Discuss this issue with a sales agent. Music is a big production value and library music may have a negative impact on your film. Try to listen to the feedback provided by salespeople regarding your film’s music.

4. Even big, expensive Hollywood films do use library music. However, a good strategy seems to be this one: use library music for moments when the music is not particularly important or discernible. If that’s the scene in question, why spend money on Queen or Bob Dylan? If it’s very brief, if the volume is too low, if the setting is a noisy one or simply if you feel no one will know the difference, then library music can be the right answer.

Lastly, hiring an experienced and award-winning composer is crucial because he also has a network that can introduce your film to various channels and festivals. You often see that a filmmaker forgets this link.


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