My name is Benjamin Ginsborg. For over a year now I have been in charge of music selection at BeatPick.com. This type of activity regards the construction of a catalogue that is both capable of offering high quality productions, and, given our particular client-base, of satisfying the needs of music supervisors and film, tv and advertising productions.
Yet the Internet is the reign of services that either don’t select music at all, letting every artist who desires to do so insert their works on their site, or of music “Libraries”. These sites offer Royalty-free music for low (actually not that low, if you check some of them out) fees, and generally sold in bundles (ie. cds of anonymous tracks all in one particular style). Of course, next to the evident economic advantages, there are many downsides to this sort of approach. I’d like to quote in this ambit Dominic Preyer, an experienced and highly professional music supervisor BeatPick.com has had various contacts with in the past years, directly from his personal blog The Music Supervisor.
“there are other things that you need to be aware of when using library music. It’s extremely important that you read the license agreement, terms and conditions or any disclaimer they have posted on their site (…) Royalty free music will limit you in your creative expression within your film. There’s no doubt that using authentic music by artists that create music with a passion is more conducive to setting the mood of a scene. If your music budget is tight, you can search for independent, local artists/bands for good music.”
This is precisely the reason behind the decision, made back in 2006, to select all music entering BeatPick.com. Our desire is to allow our clients and even only our listeners to find sounds that are not only pertinent to their needs: we want to be sure they can trust that the level will be above average.
At the time being, over 5 submissions per day arrive in our office, either by e-mail or as physical cds. Indeed in taking on this job I was initially astonished by the quantity of independent music out there. It appears to be neverending. That means 600 submissions each month. What is the criteria that must be used in choosing amongst this flood of music? Obviously, there can be no absolute rule, and these are just my own private suggestions.
1. Originality. An orginal sound, lyric-writing talent or approach is obviously the first thing any music lover is looking for. Our own rap mistress Keldamuzik conquered our attention not only through her lyrical rampage, but with her exceptional attitude toward the business: she is the star of a 24/7 reality Internet tv covering her struggle to handle her career in the American Hip Hop scenario.
2. Knowledge of the catalogue. In trying to please as many multimedia productions possible, it’s no use having 200 bands that sound exactly the same. Always keep in mind what requests you are not able to meet yet, and keep an eye open for those genres. Here’s why our latest two signings were projects as diverse as Americana band Bright Wings and Italian Post-Rock atmosphere-builders Lam.
3. Production quality. Does your music sound like it was made in the basement, while the neighbour was drilling holes in his wall? I’m sorry, but it’s quite unlikely that it will be selected. After finishing a demo, we all think it’s wonderful. I suggest listening to it immediately after an indie rock/electronica production of any kind. If you hear a huge gap, you need to re-think your production.
4. Band Image/Promotion. How present are you online? How many people view your Myspace profile? Do you have a Reverbnation account? In BeatPick.com’s case verifying this has little to do with having a fan base to relate to. It has much more to do with understanding how seriously you take your music. If you regularly seek for opportunities, and update your works and sites, working with you will be far more stimulating.
Of course, over time I’ve had many people complain that they were not selected, and that our site actually had worse music than their own. Yet, that’s where I guess it all comes down to subjectivity.
And one thing I have truly learnt in this time is that the most talented and interesting musicians are humble people who don’t waste precious time in complaints, preferring to speak through their art.