Pond5 music artist Taylor Brook‘s music is often concerned with finely tuned microtonal sonorities, combining his interest in exploring the perceptual qualities of sound with an individual sense of beauty and form. His music has been described as “gripping” and “engrossing” by the New York Times and his compositions have won numerous awards and prizes. Many musical styles have influenced Taylor’s work, whether it was from his time in Kolkata studying raga or composing pieces for a chamber orchestra.
Brook has a loaded schedule, which consists of teaching music history at Columbia University and electronic-music composition at Manhattan School of Music, but he always finds the time to create production pieces, as well as working on other music projects. Soon, he’ll be mixing a record for an ensemble in New York and has plans to put out more original work in the near future. We caught up with Brook to get his advice on creating tracks that resonate with buyers and listeners in general.
Discover Your Top-Selling Niche
The key to creating a steady revenue stream in all media types is to zero in on a genre or theme that sells best for you, and to stick with it. “I was lucky with some of the earliest work I created, which are still some of my better selling pieces,” says Brook. “I began to see what types of music were selling well, and it was surprising. I discovered it was kind of sci-fi electronica and choral music, similar to choir music. Those are the big genres for me, so maybe I just found a niche that I could squeeze into and just kept at it.”
Do Your Market Research
Understanding what consumers are purchasing and the music that supports the stories that drives their films, videos, and commercials is crucial to ensuring that your musical efforts are not in vain. On the other hand, you may inspire a story with your music. “More and more I try to create things that are less layered and more simplistic, but I think my natural inclination is just to keep adding layers and create a wall of sound,” says Brook. “But when I hear very successful commercial music playing on the television, at the movies, or whatever, often it’s very simple, very clean. Recently I’ve been trying to approach that type of sound myself, but I’d have to say that’s one of my challenges right now”.
“When I’m composing a piece for Pond5, I’m not necessarily thinking of a chase scene or anything like that,” he adds. “Instead, I’d say my approach is very general. Sometimes I want to explore a genre or a certain type of sound. Maybe it’s too difficult to predict what people are going to like. Sometimes I attempt to do something that I like within certain constraints, but accessible, something that I can imagine being used in a video or film. Definitely production music in some capacity.”
The Importance of Mood
Keywords related to mood, such as “uplifting,” “melancholic,” or “mellow” are ranked high within our search results, which can assist you and provide you with clues toward the end usage when you’re composing new tracks. “One of the basic and important things that I always hear when I’m making music for Pond5 is that you want to have a consistent mood and that the mood you create needs to be clear, because that’s what people base their search on. It’s not as dynamic as if you’re scoring something,” Brook says.
“In other words, you want to create a clear mood. For instance, the piece can have a build, but if you compose a piece that suddenly becomes happy after a slow, sad introduction, it will only serve a few customers.”
Look at Musical Trends
Just as Pond5’s video artists should understand the visual trends in TV, commercials, and films, the same understanding needs to be applied to what’s popular in musical styles and genres. “Whether it’s a lo-fi track or a track that’s highly produced, in the end, it doesn’t matter so much what tools you use after a certain point,” says Brook. “It’s all about a clean-sounding production style. It’s about having a sense of what sounds good, using your ear”.
“A lo-fi production style still sounds good. It’s an attractive sound and it’s probably in some ways just as difficult to achieve as a pristine sounding track,” he continues. “I’ll try to listen to what trends are happening, but I don’t do sounds like Beyoncé or Kanye West or sounds from any other music composer at Pond5. On the other hand, I do like the 80s style of Stranger Things and vaporwave. I’ve enjoyed trying my hand at that stuff a little bit”.
Using Virtual Instrument Plugins
Every digital audio workstation (DAW) serves the same purposes of recording and playback, yet many offer different functions and capabilities better suited for each musician. In addition, having a vast reservoir of virtual instruments at your fingertips is crucial to hear your music fully realized. “My absolute favorite orchestral samples are from Spitfire,” says Brook. “They’re kind of pricey, but I really like the sounds, and realism is critical. In terms of mixing and mastering, FabFilter is the one that I always go back to.”
“There are a few Waves plug-ins that I’ve tried that I like, but I find that the ones that I really like are always in the most expensive bundles,” Brooks says. “I switched to Windows from a Mac, so I use Studio One by PreSonus, which I’m pretty happy with.”
Don’t Stop Producing
Composing well-produced music while achieving a high volume of sellable tracks isn’t an easy task, but it’s a necessity to achieve greater bandwidth in Pond5’s marketplace, which translates to more ears on your work. “I think the only way to get anywhere is to just keep your head down, keep at it and see what sticks,” Brook confirms. “Quality is important, but you also need quantity. So it’s a matter of creating music that sounds good, while keeping in mind that you’re making music for people who may want to use it for their commercials, films, or other projects, and hoping for the best.”
Explore music from Taylor Brook’s Pond5 portfolio »