×

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

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content