Two ways to compete (and win) making music for television in 2018

Magnetracks attended the 2018 Production Music Conference in Los Angeles hosted by the Production Music Association ( last month, and among the industry leaders that spoke was Netflix’s Dominic Houston. If you read our other post about the golden era of production music, you’d have learned that Netflix has, at any given time, 200+ series in production. 

When asked about ways that writers and libraries can better position their music to be placed in one of those 200 series, he offered two nuggets of advice:

Have some musical and emotional progression in your cues

On the surface, this seems to break one of the primary tenants of production music, right? You’ve probably heard many times that a good, usable cue sets a tone and sticks with it; adding a little variation to keep interest, but staying in a “stylistic lane” the whole time.

Interestingly, now that writers have taken that tenant to heart, Houston says that finding production music library cues that move from one emotional theme to another are actually quite hard for editors and music supervisors to find. This means that to stand out musically, you might need to break that rule.

Maybe this means you start in a pensive, melancholy vibe and slowly build to a hopeful, inspirational motif. Use your imagination, but think in practical terms. It probably makes sense to move from one adjacent emotion to another (and stay there), rather than take the listener on a rollercoaster ride.

What are the typical swings in emotion that a scene or character would move from and to? Are they likely to start in a pensive state, and move to raging aggression and back again within the same scene? Not likely. Play the odds and keep it simple. You’ll find more opportunities to place that track if you do.

More. Live. Players.

Competition for premium placements in popular series on Netflix has really heightened over the past several years. The need for music that is authentic, of the highest production value, and can capture the viewer’s interest all on its own is paramount. Houston says that Netflix music supervisors are looking for tracks that sound big-budget and custom-scored. One way of accomplishing this is to use live players as much as your budget or timeline permits. He continues, “even if you’re using a sampled string section, adding in a couple tracks of an actual violinist will lift that cue and give it a dimension of realism that helps it stand out.”.

These are just two ways that you can stand apart as a composer or publisher looking to make gains in the music licensing space. Another way is to use professional tools that support you and your ability to monetize your music catalog – like Magnetracks ( Check it out and sign up for a free 30 day trial today.


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