×

MusicBox leads hybrid-license movement

Shop functions as library and original music creator

MusicBox is trying to build a better mousetrap.

As the number of outlets needing inexpensive production music — such as the Internet, cable reality shows and TV commercials — continues to grow, more libraries are joining the fray. Even the major music publishers have been snapping up the leading independents as a way of gaining market share.

Production music typically describes the songs emanating from the juke box in a bar scene, the overhead music while a character shops in a mall or the theme music of a reality show.

To stay a step ahead, MusicBox is at the forefront of the hybrid-license movement: a process that taps its ability to create original music while also licensing its library of nearly 9,000 songs.

“Using our hybrid license, for example, we just did eight 30-minute episodes of a cable TV series where we custom-scored the themes and bumpers, and then used music from our library for the body of the shows,” says Andrew Robbins, director of film/TV music for MusicBox. “Plus, by being owned by two composers, if we don’t have it in the library, we can quickly bang it out.”

And as studios and networks continue to cut costs, production companies that may have once spent as much as $15,000 to create original music for a network show, now look to a library where music can sometimes be licensed for as little as a few hundred bucks.

With fewer firms each year sending out sample CDs, this highly competitive atmosphere has production music libraries making their catalogs easier to access and sample online and offering very reasonable fees. Selected music can then be downloaded in a variety of digital formats.

“With shrinking budgets, production companies are gravitating more towards the cost-effective blanket license that some of the production libraries offer,” observes Mary Jo Mennella, president of music licensor Music Asset Management. “Certainly a high-end, well-known evergreen copyright will always have its place, but for the incidental music used to help create mood and atmosphere, the burgeoning library business has become very profitable.”

The recent acquisition of BMG Music by Universal Music Publishing, which also included production music giants Killer Tracks and FirstCom in the deal, created overnight the market-share leader of libraries.

“The majors have also realized this is where the money is,” Robbins notes. “It’s not in radio play or album sales. It’s in licensing.”

More Scene

  • Logan Lerman Jordan Peele Al Pacino

    Al Pacino and Carol Kane Had a ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ Reunion on the ‘Hunters’ Set

    Nearly 45 years after Al Pacino and Carol Kane appeared in Sidney Lumet’s classic film “Dog Day Afternoon,” an Amazon Prime Video series about Nazi-hunters in 1977 New York City has brought them back together. Go figure. “I’m proud to be working with him again,” Kane told Variety at the “Hunters” premiere on Wednesday night [...]

  • Anya Taylor Joy Emma Premiere

    Anya Taylor-Joy on Playing Jane Austen's Clever, Callous Protagonist in 'Emma'

    It was an evening of elegance at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Emma” on Tuesday night. The red carpet was lined with pastel floral arrangements at the DGA Theater, priming visitors to be transported to the ornate pageantry of Georgian-era England, as depicted in this new adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale. Anya [...]

  • Tom Holland Chris Pratt Onward Premiere

    Tom Holland and Chris Pratt Show Off Real-Life Bond at Pixar's 'Onward' Premiere

    Pixar’s new movie “Onward” marks a reunion of sorts for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. The two actors, who both have ties to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and most recently teamed in “Avengers: Endgame” as Spider-Man and Star-Lord, play brothers in the animated fantasy adventure. Their friendship has become a highlight of “Onward’s” promotional tour [...]

  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph

    Da’Vine Joy Randolph Praises Hulu's 'High Fidelity' for Telling a Realistic New York Story

    If HBO’s “Girls” characterized a certain type of young, disaffected millennial, fumbling cluelessly around a gentrifying Brooklyn, and if “Sex and the City” used Manhattan as a tantalizing playground for a class of well-connected, glamorous and decidedly 90s-bound women, both shows had one thing in common: they were painfully, inevitably white. “We’re gonna fix that!,” [...]

  • Harrison Ford Call of the Wild

    Why Harrison Ford Wanted to Play John Thornton in ‘The Call of the Wild’

    Joining legends like Charlton Heston and Clarke Gable, who have played the role of John Thornton in “The Call of the Wild,” Harrison Ford now stands next to a CGI-enhanced version of the dog named Buck in the latest adaptation of Jack London’s classic 1903 novel. “I thought the film has a lot to say [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content