Q. You're an outspoken advocate for, and critic of, music in media these days. What's your point?
A. My point is that most producers - or at least many producers - often don't take advantage of the one production tool that could dramatically improve their work. Choosing the right music can make an ordinary video or commercial sparkle with life, grab the audience's attention and hold it.
The opposite is also true, of course: innocuous pop-sounding tracks or do-it-yourself music loops may fill the gaps in your voice-over track, but it's not helping you in any meaningful sense. You may have fun making your own music, but it's probably dragging your production down.
The bottom line is that dollar-for-dollar, nothing has more influence on an audience than really good music. Producers need to understand that.
Q. Well, I guess every producer would love to have original music, but who has the time or money for that?
A. Agreed. But great music doesn't have to cost a fortune.
We just finished producing a big band disc featuring NY's hottest jazz players. If a producer is looking for that Sinatra sound, or needs to communicate the excitement of Vegas, or is looking for a rockin' Brian Setzer track, this is the perfect disc.
Now, if you wanted to hire all these guys, plus a composer, an arranger and a studio, you'd end up paying a small fortune. But if you want to use one of these tracks in your video, you can use it for as little as $75, or even less depending on how much music you use. It's an incredible bargain, when you think about it.
Q. Is that how most of your clients purchase your music - one track at a time?
A. Actually no. Most of our clients have a flat-rate blanket license that gives them access to all our music for a certain time period. Everything they produce during the term of the agreement is covered forever - they never have to pay again.
The blanket license is great because it gives producers access to tens of thousands of fantastic tracks, producers know ahead of time exactly what the music will cost, and they have the freedom to use music in more creative ways - to use music when they may not have used it before.
Q. I've heard some sampled orchestral sounds that are pretty real. You're still using live players?
A. Well, it depends on the music. Our tech music, our dance tracks and our drama stuff all use a lot of samples, and some of our over-the-top, hard-hitting promo tracks do too. But there are some kinds of music you can't make with a machine. A solo violin or guitar, classical strings or even a big-band is not something you get out of a box. I mean, you can, but it's nothing you would want to use in a production you care about.
Q. Doesn't it take a long time to search through tens of thousands of tracks? Most of the time, music is the last thing that gets added, and people are in a hurry.
A. Ahhh, big mistake! The earlier you can get the music into your video the better. Not only does it set the mood (and sometimes make you decide what the mood is) but you can cut to the beat or the sections of music, so it looks and sounds like an original score.
I produce documentary films for our non-profit [www.GrassrootsInfo.org], and sometimes we start with the music before we cut even a frame of video. If we know what we want the film to say, picking the right music track helps the whole thing gel from the get-go.
As far as searching for music, we've spent a long time studying how people hear music, and how producers like to search for music. So the search engine we built is different from any other. Yes, you can search by musical style like "blues" or "classical," but you can also search by descriptive word like "beach" or "night." I think we've got 10 or 12 different ways to search.
And you don't need a password to listen to whole cuts - everything is up on the website. We've got lots of filters too, so you can quickly narrow down your search to a handful of tracks. And if you need help, we have online tutorials as well as an active personal music librarian service where we locate tracks for you.
Q. What's next for Omni?
A. We've got a new library called L. A. Edition that Hollywood composer Ray Colcord put together for us. It's a great collection of dramatic film music that breaks all the traditional rules of "production music." The way the music is composed and mixed is really different from our other libraries, and I think our TV editor friends are going to eat this up!