Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dan Morrissey - special Artist feature

If you're a regular user of Shockwave-Sound.com you've probably seen the name Dan Morrissey (full name Daniel Peter Morrissey) mentioned as the artist and songwriter for many of our tracks. In fact, with 742 tracks in our database at the time of writing, Dan is the most prolific contributor to our stock music catalog and his music spans hard rock, ambient, acoustic, electronic, experimental, light rock / pop-rock and more.

Dan Morrissey photo

Dan was born in Fulham, London England, but grew up in Wallington, Surrey (again, England), where Jeff Beck also lived. An only child, Dan spent his teens and early 20's working in music copyrighting and motor insurance, and by the time he was 23 he was in various original bands, touring around England and, somewhat remarkably - Turkey.

Dan has played and written with many rock bands through the years, including Fever 103, Raider, Atomgod, Tantric UK and God's Little Joke. These are not groups that most of us will have heard of, but Dan looks back with joy on these years and on playing gigs along with more famous outfits like King's X, Filter and Sevendust.

As Dan himself puts it, he is now "just past that age where schlepping around the country in vans and lugging gear" is just beyond him. He does, however still write a lot of amazing music and produces tracks in his own studio.

Dan, in his natural habitat


I caught up with Dan for a talk recently and got the chance to ask him about his life and his music.

- I've seen some prolific composers in my time, but you're quite possibly the musician with the most output I've ever known. Is there ever a time when you're not producing new music? You must be working on something new pretty much all the time, I guess?

Dan: "Music is both a love of mine, a deep passion that I rarely stop thinking about, and - and obsession. My brain whirs deep into the night sometimes, considering this phrase, that beat, this sound, that mixing technique. I sometimes wish I could just switch it off. I rarely stop recording music for longer than 2 days. Then I get an itching to get back to it. If I stop writing for very long, I feel as if water behind a dam is rising and ready to burst out. 

Recently I've been branching out into different styles of music, mainly piano based. This means that calluses on my fingers have actually gone a bit soft! But when I get back to playing guitar, I think there will be a tidal wave of new tunes, ready to break out."


Dan, rockin' out


- Besides the obvious source of income that the music represents for you, what else does composing music give you, on a more personal level?

"Aside from making a living doing what I love, music is a comfort. Like an old friend. It helps me relax sometimes. Other times it gets me motivated. I feel there are just so many tracks I could write and so little time. When I sit down at my computer, I could write a track in any one of 10 different styles. I have such a large palate of sounds available to me now, it's great to have such a wide spectrum of options.

Overall, though, writing just keeps me sane and provides an outlet for the machinations of my overactive mind. Sometimes it's hard to switch off."

- Do you have any favorite pieces that you've written and recorded?

Hmm, though question. It's very difficult to say which are my favorites. Sometimes I actually forget what I've written and only when I listen a year or so later, it all comes flooding back. Often, I can't quite imagine what inspired it's creation. It's almost like it was written by my identical twin in a parallel universe.

For guitar tracks, I'm quite proud of tracks like Sunblade, Incendiary, Nebula, Solar Winds and Forgive. They came out very nicely, I think. You're never sure of how the tracks will  sound when completed; whether they will summon the spirit or convey the emotion you had wanted them to.

This random method of composition can often help you avoid the kind of chordal and melodic cliches that we fall into on our main instrument. Just from all the years of playing what we enjoy and know we are capable of playing.

A vintage AV Telecaster and a G&L l200 bass

- You've obviously written a lot of music that ended up being used in probably thousands of different media projects including films, games, presentations and more. Have you noticed or found some sort of pattern or "typical" criteria, that people are looking for when they look for music for their projects? What do you think people go for, and what makes them choose one music track over the thousands of other tracks available to them?

"I'd say that all my music contains one or more of the following elements - Intensity, beauty, power, space and/or epic grandeur. At least I hope they contain some of those.

I often find that American clients prefer my guitar music to compositions written by their own countryman. Even though I'm playing music influenced by many many american bands, I still manage to impart an English perspective and style to the track. perhaps it's an element of either snotty English punk attitude or bands like Led Zeppelin that I find I can inject into my compositions."

- The electric guitar is usually quite a dominant element in your music, and you're obviously a highly skilled guitarist. But I notice that you also write and produce some music that doesn't involve guitar at all. What's the thinking behind that?

"Although I've been a guitarist for 30 years now, I learned piano and flute until I was about 13. I was also brought up on classical music, so I do love piano, plucked instruments like the harp and cimbalom, and orchestral strings. I enjoy the textures and the ease with which it's possible to create simple but emotive phrases. 

Guitar based tracks take a lot more intense internal drive and fiery passion to record. It's very nice sometimes to just sit down at a keyboard and kinda throw your hands down to see what happens. Beautiful moods and heart wrenching emotions can be created and reflected fairly easily like this, I find."

An Ibanez JS1000 and a Squier Thinline chambered telecaster

- Let's say you're just sitting down to do some work - typically, where do you start? Do you just switch everything on, place the guitar in your lap and start experimenting until some ideas for a melody comes up?

"Yes. I just plug in, go through some guitar sounds on my Kemper amp and see what happens. Or alternatively, get a cool drum groove happening. Usually something will happen within 10 minutes, otherwise I'll change instruments. If nothing starts evolving fairly quickly, I might stop for a while, for fear of forcing creativity. I am not, fortunately, dogged with writers block very often. I can get something interesting going quite often, and fairly swiftly. 

That's not to say that everything I record is great. Very far from it. But I feel you have to clear the way of dross for the more inspired music to spring forth in its full glory. Does that make sense? I hope so.


Can you remember the first time you were in touch with Shockwave-Sound.com and if so, do you have any particular memories of that?

I've been working with Shockwave-Sound.com for a good while now. You seem to care about and connect with your composers much better than most companies. Most library music companies will treat you like just another number, one of the many thousands, usually. But Shockwave-Sound.com is a nice company to work with. Very personable, enthusiastic, dedicated and efficient. I always appreciate the massive amounts of sheer hard work you put into every project. I'm very honored and happy that you take a deep involvement in my music and give me in-depth feedback. It can be a faceless business we're in and often, getting our music out there is a thankless task. Shockwave-Sound.com makes this job more rewarding all round, so I'm very grateful for that.



- Thanks for that, Dan! Now, do you also write bespoke music for projects "to order", or do you now only write for stock music / production music catalogues?

I write for many different projects. Of course, it's mostly for production music purposes and gets used around the world for an array of different projects - from beer ads and martial arts troupes, to talk sport radio, motorsports, extreme sports, magicians' sites and "Babestation", of all things!

Some times I get asked to write little pieces, given a specific brief and also record and co-write songs and mix vocals for a fairly successful Texas management company, for the various up and coming artists he has under his wing. These are mainly pop-rock acts from the USA and Australia.

I love instrumental music and most of what I do is exactly that, but songs are really where my heart lies. Working with vocals adds another dimension of power and meaning to music. I'm very lucky to still be able to do this, with my recording project God's Little Joke, despite the fact that we don't tour any more.

God's Little Joke. Dan Morrissey fourth from left.

- I'm guessing you have a few different guitars, do you want to say a bit about them, and which one(s) is/are your favourite axe(s)?

I have a Vintage AV2 Icon Telecaster i e-tuning. It has a very low pickup output and thus great tone. Very responsive to fingers and picking velocities. It's great for country and blues stuff.

My workhorse guitars are a Dean Doltero Braziliaburst and a Squier chambered Thinline-style Tele for drop D chunky rock tracks. A Walden acoustic which has a great resonant, room-filling sound. An Ibanez JS1000 for when I'm in the mood for some improvised lead playing - it just makes me play better, somehow. It's also the only guitar I have with a tremolo arm.

And last, but not least, a PRS SE Clint Lowery for super detuned, chuggy metal tracks. Personally I don't like 7-strings guitars, so the SE plays fantastically in that lower register. A brilliant guitar for the money spent.

Traben Neo Ltd bass, PRS SE Clint Lowery and Dean Soltero Braziliaburst

- Can you tell us a little bit about your recording setup, e.g. which sequencer / digital audio workstation you're using to record and edit your stuff, and which instruments / plugins / virtual instruments / keyboards you use most in your work?

I use Logic 9, an RME Fireface 400 audio interface, and Yamaha HS80 monitors, which are absolutely fantastic. By far the best I've heard in their price range. I also use a Focusrite ISA One preamp and a myriad of software plug-ins. Lots of Waves plugs, mainly for compressors and mixing vocals, when I need to, Spitfire Audio harp and orchestra samples, really fantastic and unique. Sample Logic, Soundiron and 8dio stuff, which all work in Native Instruments Kontakt Player. I also use some Rob Papen and UH-E synths and Spectrasonics RMX and Trillian plugins. 

Izotop provide my mastering software. Ozone 7 is a great tool for us non-mastering engineers, with which to polish up and add punch and a pro sheen to the tracks.

One of my best buys from recent years is the Kemper profiling amp. An astounding and amazing piece of kit. Truly a wonder of modern technology! Through this wonderful object I can obtain the sound of over a thousand different amplifiers. And it takes up a great deal less space! When I sold my treasured '82 Marshall JCM 800 split channel head, I went to a JMP guitar preamp... but then came the Kemper and I've not looked back since.


You gotta have some pedals!

- What about your Piano sounds; where do you typically get the samples/sounds for that?

For piano sounds, recently I use Native Instruments-The Giant, 8dio's 1990 Prepared Piano, Native Instruments - Una Corda, and Soundiron's Emotional Piano.

- With all that time spent writing and recording music, do you ever get a chance to simply listen to music?

I've noticed that the time I have to actually listen has badly diminished over the last 5 years or so. It's a bit tragic really, but I feel I have so much music to write. Some times I just have to make myself stop, relax and absorb someone else's creative spark. My CD and record collection has gone from about a thousand vinyl and a thousand CD's, right down to about 300 CD's now. I realized I was hardly touching most of them and thus wouldn't miss them that much.

Mostly, I listen to music in the car. It's a great way to be able to go on a musical journey whilst also on a geographical one! They enhance and compliment each other very nicely, I've found.

- What are some of your favorite artists?

Hmm, so many influences. I suppose, in some kind of rough chronological order, I'd say Beethoven and Rossini from my childhood and the influence of my parents.

Then came Abba, Queen, XTC, Blondie, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, UFO, early Whitesnake, Rush, Aerosmith, Toto, Thin Lizzy, Jourrney, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and many, many hair metal bands who are often unlistenable in this day and age!

Then on to Pearl Jam, King's X, Alice in Chains, Killing Joke, Quicksand, Nine Inch Nails, Our Lady Peace, Flyleaf and Imogen Heap. And perhaps the top of the pile - Tool, a truly terrifying band. I just hope they start recording again soon. They've been away far too long.


Tool, one of Dan's favorites and inspirations

Some of my favorite guitar players would include George Lynch, Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Neal Schon and Steve Lukather. But I admire thousands of players, I really could go on and on.

- Finally before I leave you alone and let you get back to your recording, Dan -- Would you have any advice or guidance for a young music writer just starting out on a long journey, trying to make a living on writing music? Any do's and dont's?

  • I'd say - Listen to all sorts of bands and music, even if it's just once. 
  • Take on board what other musicians tell you, and if you can find a mentor, listen hard to what that person says. 
  • Always go with your heart. 
  • Learn to play what you want to hear.
  • Practice until your hands and your head hurt.
  • Play along with anything that comes on to your TV: Commercials, jingles, soundtracks. It's all good training for the ears. 
  • Never make music just to please others - you'll lose your soul.
  • Gain as much experience as humanly possible.
  • Try to find a balance in your playing, between technique and gut instinct, and you might find yourself half way to brilliance.
  • Commercial success is not what makes a musician great... or happy.

Thank you for those words of wisdom, Dan! And thanks for taking the time to speak with us. It's been a pleasure.

For those who wish to check out the work of Dan Morrissey, you can hear all of his available production music catalog here: https://www.shockwave-sound.com/browse/artist/dan-morrissey

Dan also has 21 solo albums out for sale via CDBaby.com. Here are just 4 of them:

Four of Dan Morrissey's solo albums, available via CDBaby.com


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 2 - and why it's so great!


Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 2 (2016)

Dear customers, visitors, passers-by and everyone who might stumble across our site today..

Today at Shockwave-Sound.com we released our new album Classical Piano Favorites, Vol. 2. I just wanted to take a moment to write a few words about this album because I feel that this is not "just another classical piano album". These days, with all the technology we have available and all of the amazing sounding samples and virtual instruments, it's pretty easy for anybody to obtain sheet music of classical piano masterpieces, enter them into the computer, and export this as a pretty decent sounding recording of the piece in question.

However, we feel that this isn't really the way to go, and especially so with calm and soothing classical piano works, because we feel that it's vital to have the pieces performed by a human with some insight, some experience, some touch and sensibility as to what this beautiful music really is about and what it means to us.

This is why, for both of our Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 1, and Vol. 2, we decided to seek out the services of Vadim Chaimovich, a renowned and accomplished concert pianist. Vadim is a prize winning musician, originally from Lithuania, who studied the piano from the age of 5 and is today a popular concert pianist, traveling the world and playing to audiences' great delight.

We were lucky enough to get Vadim on board with us, and for these projects he hired an amazing grand piano and had it tuned up especially for the recording sessions. He rehearsed for weeks and then recorded the album over a period of a few days, with top-of-the-line recording equipment in a pro studio. 

Because, well, if you're going to do something, why not do it right?! We feel that these amazing compositions by Satie, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach, Chopin and many others deserve this kind of treatment from a true connoisseur of classical music.

Listen to the beautiful, unique and touching performances of our "Classical Piano Favorites" albums and we think that you'll be amazed. Honestly, it's quite unheard of, that performances and recordings of this quality is made available for "anyone" to license for such low license fees. (Starting from around $30 for a track or $100 for the whole album).


Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 1 (2015)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Where can I find royalty-free rap music with vocals / lyrics?

We received this question through our support contact form yesterday. A customer was looking for stock music / production music library of vocal rap music. Whilst we do have some music in this category for royalty-free licensing and immediate download, it may not be obvious exactly where to find it, as in our "Urban Styles: Hip Hop" genre, you will find mostly instrumental hip-hop / rap music.

To license music with rapping / hip-hop with vocals/lyrics, do this:

  1. Go to our site www.Shockwave-Sound.com
  2. On the left hand side of the website, click "Music Genres"
  3. Click the genre "Music with vocals/lyrics" (at the time of writing this, it is the very first choice on the Music Genres panel).
  4. Another panel with sub-genres will be shown. From this panel, click "Vocal Hip-Hop / Rap".

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

From the Mind to the Page: A Composer’s Tips for Optimizing your Creative Process: Part 2


By Lukas Stanley

If you haven’t already read Part One of this article, I would recommend reading that first. It can be found here: http://blog.shockwave-sound.com/2015/07/from-mind-to-page-composers-tips-for.html

In Part One, I discussed how to make the most of your creativity by effectively setting a writing schedule that coincides with your creative peaks during the day, having a plan when you sit down to compose, and how to go about setting up some of the fundamentals in a new piece of music. But there are more ways to enhance your creative output both in quality and quantity than just having a schedule and picking what key to write a piece in.






In this article, Part 2, I will discuss a topic that plagues composers, young and experienced alike, without effective strategies to combat them: The pre-compositional process. I will also give a disclaimer here that I a primarily create art music, although many of these strategies could easily be applied to commercial music or any other genre.

Pre-Composition

Let’s get down to it. I have some bad habits as a composer, habits that make it difficult sometimes to write music. Hopefully this article is a place where you can learn from my mistakes, because I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to write better quality music more efficiently. I have found myself resorting, in the past, to sitting down with pencil (or computer mouse) in hand, blank staves in front of me, waiting expectantly for a good idea to jump out of my head onto the page. As if I’m going to start writing notes in measure one, write them in order until the piece is over, and have a satisfactory piece of music sitting in front of me. If you have ever tried this you will probably agree that it is a difficult way to get the creative juices flowing. What you need to start is a concept, an overarching idea, of what the project looks like. The more ideas you can get down in this stage, called the “pre-compositional process,” the less work you have to do when actually writing the music out and getting to that final product. Below are seven strategies that I have collected from professors, friends, and my own experiences on how to pre-compose. I have tried all of these to varying degrees of success, but not every process works for every composer, or even for every piece of music, so I’m sharing all of them with you in hopes that at least one might make you a better creator of sound.



1. Graphic Overview

Have you ever found yourself with a really great idea for a piece of music, but by the time you start writing it the initial idea starts to lose focus? If I were a music doctor, I would probably diagnose you with a forethought deficiency. One method of pre-composition that I have found to be particularly effective at combating this is a graphical overview. This is a really good way to get down a large quantity of general ideas, without becoming bogged down by the specificity of melodic or harmonic plans. You can use lines and other symbols to indicate instruments, register, textures, and essentially any other musical components that you think of, over a linear timeline. This way you can see the shape of a whole piece from the start, and then gradually fill in specific notes, and work gradually towards a final piece of music. This is also a common technique used in the analysis of 20th century art music, because textures and large formal ideas are often easily represented by chronological graphical representation. An example of such that I found useful in the past can be seen in this visual analysis of Stockhausen’s Gesang der J√ľnglinge (1956), uploaded to YouTube by user carlintuitive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7HD-95knVQ

2. Word Sketch

A word sketch is something that works well for people who organize their thoughts better in writing than in images, although this method can easily be combined with a graphic sketch. This method involves creating a written outline of a piece, identifying key sections of the piece and subsequent detail in as much depth as you need. For example, you might indicate under a section titled “Development” that the strings enter with an ominous diminished chord while the trumpet plays a blaring melody in the upper register. This particular syntax does not indicate specific notes or harmonies, but it does evoke a clear musical image and mood that will be easily recalled when you are filling in all the details later.

3. Sample Mock-up

This method of precomposition is different than the others listed in this article because it relies on using pre-existing music to create new musical forms. Essentially what this method accomplishes is the creation of a temp track for your music. Begin by thinking of what kind of mood or style of music you would like to evoke with your own piece. Then find a piece of music that already accomplishes this. Cut an excerpt that represents the duration you want for your own piece from this one into your favorite digital audio workstation (DAW).




Continue in this manner for each section of your piece and splice them together with crossfades or other appropriate transitions, and in no time you can have an overview of the shape of the piece you want to create. This is a very fast way to work, and to draw clear inspiration from existing music that you enjoy and wish to emulate. The risk of this method is the same as working with any temp track: it is easy to become limited by the pre-existing musical materials. If you use this method, use it only as a quick, initial step into something that involves more of your original content.

4. Emotive overview

Similar to a word sketch, an emotive overview is something that I have used specifically for collaborative projects. For example, if I were writing a five minute cue in conjunction with a visual media (film or TV), how the music makes the listener feel is going to be very important. If they should feel at ease, stressed out, pumped up, etc., these are all emotive cues that are vital to take into account during the pre-compositional process. Create a sequential map of how the audience should feel over the given duration and make some decisions on how you are going to get there, particularly if the changes in mood are abrupt or there are a lot of them. This also holds true for concert music. In the absence of a multimedia presentation (i.e. traditional concert music), the emotive content almost needs to be more blatant because there aren’t visuals enforcing extra-musical ideas on the observers.

5. Motivic Outline

Jumping right into writing some music down is great if you just came up with a great melody or musical fragment. How you take that motive and manipulate it over time though, is what separates amateur music from professional music. Even a short motive of four notes, when properly placed temporally and masterfully manipulated can drive an entire piece of music. If you don’t believe me, listen to the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. So what you can do is take your motive, and make a list of all the possible ways to manipulate it: transpositions, reordering of notes, retrograde, inversions, rhythmic expansions and contractions, etc. Decide on what versions of the motive you like and how you want to present them over time. Whether you are writing EDM, indie-rock, or neo-classical art music, melody is going to be a driving factor and having a clear picture of how to treat it over time is something to think about up front. This will save you many headaches as you set out to write.




6. Meet with Performers

If you are writing concert music, as I primarily do, meet with performers that play the instruments you are writing for, particularly if you are not familiar with the instruments. This is a good opportunity to build connections and learn what different performers are capable of, because in the rapidly expanding world of extended techniques there are an infinite number of sonic possibilities for instrumentalists. Not only will you be able to test some preliminary compositional ideas with them, but the collaborative nature of such a meeting might also provide you with further inspiration and direction on a piece of music. I have found this method to be particularly useful in my own experience, having recently written a piece for solo bassoon this way. It was severely lacking in direction, but then I met with a bassoonist, talked over some ideas I had for the piece, and within 24 hours the entire thing had been written.




7. Brainstorming

A lot of what has already been said in this article about the pre-compositional process could be categorized as “brainstorming.” However, going beyond strategies for starting to write a piece, actually brain-storming should not be overlooked. Give yourself enough time without distraction to just think about music. Let your mind wander and have liberty to stumble upon interesting inspirations and ideas. In a world that moves very fast technologically, we are often too overwhelmed by notifications, emails, and deadlines to just stop and think for a few minutes. In part one of this article, I talked about how Tchaikovsky would go on a walk every morning, feeding the birds and enjoying nature as he gathered compositional inspiration. It was an integral step in his pre-compositional process. I would highly recommend doing something of similar effect – it will clear the mind in a way that more easily permits creativity. I can almost guarantee that you will find yourself writing more effective music if you do this.

A Few Tips

Don’t spend too much time on this part of the process. If you can, get it all out in one sitting. Breaking up a pre-compositional session might result in losing a train of thought that could take days or weeks to get back, if at all.

Pre-writing is also a great anti-writer’s block strategy. If the piece is well-laid out ahead of time, it’s going to be a lot less likely that you will hit a wall and not know what to do. 

Don’t be afraid of trial and error. One of the best parts about living in the digital age is the flexibility we have when it comes to creativity. If you want to hear what two melodic ideas sound like when they are overlapped, just drag them on top of each other in your DAW or engraving software and play it back. It takes virtually no time at all, and simply experimenting with positioning, layering, and effects can sometimes lead to really interesting and unexpected results. Chances are, no one else is watching you compose. If you end up with something that sounds like garbage, just Ctrl+Z and try something else, no harm done. 

I hope that you have found some new strategies here to begin writing your own music and I wish you the best of luck in your compositional endeavors!



About the Author: Lukas Stanley is a composer, violist, and music educator in Michigan. As an active composer since 2006, his works are written primarily for local concert performances. However, he is also passionate about creating new music for film, video games, and other collaborative projects. To find out more or to contact Lukas, visit his website at www.lukasstanley.com

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mechanical Rights administration and stock music / production music

As I'm writing this article, my target audience is composers / musicians who would like to get into the business of writing music for stock music / production music, and who does not yet fully understand the way in which the administration of your Mechanical Rights through an organization such as GEMA, MCPS, STEMRA etc. basically prevents you from being able to sell / license your music as stock music.

To manufacture a disc that contains music, you need to obtain the Mechanical Rights.

First of all, what are Mechanical Rights administration organizations?


Many composers, at one time or another, decides to join one or more societies or organizations that help them to police and administer their rights as a composer. Such organizations include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, PRS, MCPS, GEMA, SIAE, BUMA/STEMRA, TONO, APRA and many others.

Some of these organizations administer Performing Rights (meaning your right to some income when your music is performed in public or broadcast on TV/Radio), whilst other organizations administer Mechanical Rights (meaning your right to some income when your music is duplicated on physical media such as DVD, Blu-Ray, CD).

Then there are some organizations that administer both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights.

Mechanical Rights is where the conflict with stock music / production music happens.Why? Because the license sold by the stock music website / production music library overlaps with the exclusive administration that you have assigned to the Mechanical Rights organization when you joined them as a member.

When a stock music site / production music library sells a track to a customer, they sell a license which allows the customer to put the music in a film/game, and then to go ahead and make physical copies of this film/game. For example, at Shockwave-Sound.com when you buy the Standard License for a track, you may put the music to a film/game and then manufacture up to 5,000 copies of that product. For more than 5,000 copies, you need the Extended License. Most other stock music sites operate with something similar, although perhaps slightly different license configurations. The stock music site sells a license to the customer, which includes mechanical reproduction rights.

The issue here is that, if you are a member of an organization that administers your Mechanical Rights, then that organization has the exclusive administration of your Mechanical Rights, and that organization is the only one that can issue such a license.

With Performing rights this problem doesn't come up, because the stock music site doesn't get involved with the performing license. The License that the stock music site sells is a Sync License (the right to put your music to film or other media) and a Mechanical License (the right to reproduce physical copies of that film or other media).

If that film should end up being broadcast on TV or in a cinema, your Performing Rights organization should collect performing royalties for you and you will get these royalties from your Performing Rights organization -- but this doesn't really affect the stock music customer / user in any way, because these royalties come from annually paid blanket license fees that broadcasters pay to the Performing Rights organization in their own country.

To sum up, if you are a member of an organization that administers your Mechanical Rights, you cannot have your music sold as stock music / production music from Shockwave-Sound.com or from other stock music sites. Any company that sells your track to a customer and thereby allows that customer to manufacture physical copies of your music, is doing so in violation of the exclusive Mechnical Rights administration that you have assigned to the Mechanical Rights organization when you signed the contract with them.

When I first started out in the stock music business, I was both the composer and also the stock music business owner. I was a member of PRS (Performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) which are the UK organization for Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights respectively.

One day I got a telephone call from an Italian customer. She had licensed my music track from my website, used it in a film, had the film put to DVD, manufactured 10,000 copies of that film in a professional DVD pressing plant, and a few weeks later she received a huge invoice from SIAE, the Italian organization who looks after both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights in Italy. The bill she got was for Mechanical Reproduction Rights for 10,000 copies of my music, and the bill was many times larger than the amount that she had paid me to license the music from my stock music site.

It was this episode that really made me sit up and force myself to learn about these different rights and organizations, and how they affected my ability to license my music as stock music. After a bit of to and from, I believe I managed to talk MCPS into letting the client off the hook so she didn't have to pay after I explained the whole thing as a misunderstanding to MCPS and SIAE, the Italian rights collections society.

I ended up quitting my MCPS membership but remaining a member PRS. Since then, I've had no problem. Since terminating my contract with MCPS, there is no longer any organization that has the exclusive administration of my Mechanical Rights.

  • In USA, I believe all three societies: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are all Performing Rights based and do not administer Mechanical Rights (somebody correct me if I'm wrong?)
  • In the UK, the organization for Performing Rights is called PRS For Music and the organization for Mechanical Rights is called MCPS. If you are a member of PRS, you may want to check if you also joined MCPS at the same time.
  • In Italy you're dealing with SIAE and in Germany you have GEMA, and I believe both of these are organizations that take care of both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights, so really if you are member of SIAE or GEMA, you can't have your music sold as stock music -- although you may be able to sign a special addendum to the Agreement that you have with them, which would make them administer only your Performing Rights, and not your Mechanical Rights - you need to contact GEMA/SIAE to inquire about this.
  • In the Netherlands, I believe BUMA is for the Performing Rights and STEMRA is for Mechanical Rights, so you may want to make sure that you have signed a contract only with BUMA, and not with STEMRA.
  • Sweden, Denmark and Norway each have their own organizations for Performing Rights (STIM, KODA and TONO respectively), but they share one Mechanical Rights organization called Ncb (Nordic Copyright Bureau) which administers Mechanical Rights. So if you want to try to sell your music as stock music, make sure you're not in Ncb.

If you have specific and confirmed information about similar situations with the organizations in other countries than the ones I have mentioned above, please feel free to comment below. If it's good info, I will include it here in the main article too.