Creative License: Music Library Buyer's Guide

Experienced videographers realize that sound accounts for at least half of any good video production. Music and sound can stir up a wide range of emotions. Can you think of a motion picture that doesnt use some type of music to enhance a particular scene? Remember the feeling you had when you first heard the opening notes from Jaws? Music is a powerful tool that can enrich your video no matter what the subject.

A number of companies produce royalty-free music and sound effects libraries. The accompanying buyers guide will help familiarize you with the many music libraries available today that will fit your needs and budget. Not sure if you need buyout music? Check out the Who needs it? sidebar.

You can get most libraries on CDs or by downloading them from the Internet. Many companies offer sample tracks of music on their Web sites, so you can preview them before you actually buy.

Whats your Style?

Some libraries feature many different musical styles or sound effects on one disk while others will devote an entire disk to just one type of musical style. The libraries with multiple disks and formats will usually cost more but they give you a larger musical selection to choose from.

The Geoffrey Wilson Buyout Music, for example, features categories such as World and Jazz Grooves, Intimate, Dramatic and Modern. You can purchase each disk separately for $60 or you can buy the entire set of six disks for $240. Crank City Music has six styles of music in its library including classical, world music and wedding and romance compositions. The price per disk starts at $59.

Many music libraries will give you multiple lengths of each piece of music so you can fit them into a variety of projects. For example, you may have four different versions of one romantic piece: four-minute, 60-second, 30-second and 15-second lengths. QCCS Productions "PBTM" music library has hundreds of musical themes in their 23-disk collection with lengths of three-minutes or more, plus 30 and 60-second versions. You can get these disks individually for $50 each or you can buy the complete collection for $659.

The Right to Copy

Something you need to be aware of when purchasing a music library is licensing. Remember that you cant broadcast or sell a production that uses music that was made by someone else unless you get permission from the musics copyright holder. This usually involves lawyers, money, lots of paperwork and the gnashing of teeth.

But there is an easier way! The libraries in our buyers guide are already licensed. This means that the fee you pay for the library is built into the cost. The two most common types are the buyout license and the annual blanket license.

The buyout license means you buy the license outright. This allows you unlimited use of the library for life. Remember that the license is for you only – anyone else using it must pay the same licensing fee as you did (NO SHARING!). The ConTempo Music Library comes with a buyout license for any of the 11 CDs in its collection. An individual CD is $59 while the entire library can be purchased for $299.

The annual blanket license simply means that you can use the library for a period of one year. Narrator Tracks Music offers a buyout or annual license for any of their fifty disks. The annual license fee can be used to convert any selection to a permanent buyout at any time. Prices range from $49 to $99 per disk.

Music and sound effects libraries offer an easy, affordable and legal way to get good quality sound into your video. With so many companies now offering these libraries at affordable prices its easier than ever to find one that fits your budget and style.


How to Make a

DIY Green Screen

Free eBook


How to Make a

DIY Green Screen


Thanks! We will email your free eBook.

Mike is the Editor-in-Chief of Videomaker and Creator Handbook