Production music composers should also be aware of the importance of complete and accurate data (metadata) being attached to their work.

“With the rapid growth of the digital age, this whole business that we are in is almost 100 percent dependent on human error,” says Hardy. “We’re paid on probably 20 or 30 percent of our actual use. As music creators and sellers, we’re depending on the producer or the engineer in the post-production facility to log our tracks properly, whether it be physically or electronically.”

Soundminer was founded by Steve Pecile to market an audio file management system which he’d developed for his own use. “We created a desktop application which was for internal purposes,” says Pecile. “When we opened up one of our new studios, we had a big party and some people from Avid [Software] were in the city and attended. Along the way, they asked what was up on one of the screens. We told them about it and they said you’ve got to show this down in Hollywood. At the next National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention, we took a booth and before you know it we were in Skywalker, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Universal, among others. We’re still in all of those places today.

Canada has become a production music hub.

“Over time, we started to expand it, make servers and make it more available. It was all based on the idea that we embed the file with metadata. Now this word becomes critical for music. Sure, it’s great for sound effects to know where the sound came from but, with music, people are depending on getting paid, so the metadata became a bigger issue. So we made it more robust.”

Pecile says that he’s been preaching the importance of metadata for the better part of ten years to anyone who would listen. “I’ve even gone down to the Production Music Association [the leading advocate and voice of the production music community in the U.S.] and said, ‘Listen, I will build a server if you guys support me and put all your metadata on it and make it instantly accessible by any of our apps to do a cue sheet. They said it was a great idea but it was a matter of getting everyone together on it.”

Moving forward, the new model is digital music recognition with powerful companies like soundmouse, which manages music usage data for networks, producers, performing rights and other music copyright organizations.

“They basically have a digital algorithm that reads music and the audio is embedded with digital information with that same robust metadata that we referred to earlier,” says Hardy. “Soundmouse will sell their product to the networks and their audio recognition system will monitor their feeds 24/7. As more and more businesses are subscribing to companies like soundmouse, this issue of re-titling becomes problematic, because if PROs like SOCAN, ASCAP and BMI get a duplicate title, they can’t pay out.”

Whether it’s a boutique company like hard, with its international reach, or a software company like Soundminer, whose technological innovations have impacted the industry worldwide, Canada has become a production music hub.

With the acquisition of Jingle Punks earlier this year, rights management company ole, with offices in Toronto, Los Angeles and Nashville, created one of the world’s largest production music libraries. The company entered that space in the spring of 2011, as ole’s early production music division clear acquired The Music People, Canada’s largest music production music company at the time, before acquiring U.S.-based MusicBox.

Says Hardy of his hard company, “We’ve signed 34 Canadian writers over the last year, including five JUNO Award winners, and we’ve produced 30 CDs – actually I call them VCDs because they are actually Virtual Compact Discs – and have produced almost 2,000 tracks. We went from zero international sales agreements to being represented in over 50 countries. A great deal of our energy is spent in pushing new product into those international sales streams.”

CRi, aka Christophe Dubé, recently performed two concerts at the prestigious Osheaga and Festival d’été de Québec music festivals. Not bad for an artist who only started tinkering with and producing music in 2012.

After releasing a mini-album, Eclipse, in 2013, he attracted the attention of a few music supervisors, which in turn led him to begin composing soundtracks for promotional films and commercial productions. He spent most of 2014 working on his second EP, Oda, comprised of five tracks where the young artist pays homage to his influences, such as Caribou, Mount Kimbie and other stalwarts of the electronic music world, while establishing his own melodic, danceable and panoramic sound.

Yet another EP should be forthcoming before the end of 2015, which will no doubt help to consolidate his status as someone to watch on the Canadian electronic scene. Several live dates here and in the U.S. are expected in 2015.

The upcoming movie Le Mirage won’t be what it is only because of Louis Morissette’s screenplay or Ricardo Trogi’s direction. Frédéric Bégin’s score will also strongly contribute in creating the atmosphere of the comedy-drama. “Ricardo had already placed two pieces of 19th Century classical music in his editing, Strauss’ ‘The Blue Danube’ and Bizet’s ‘L’Arlésienne’,” sats Bégin. “They’re very well-known pieces, but he used them in counterpoint. It also feeds into the aristocratic side of the characters who come from a moneyed environment.” In order to meet the needs of the director’s editing, Bégin re-arranged the classics and recorded them with the 69 musicians of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
Le Mirage
He then composed a few additional piece,s also imbued with that classical feel. Says Bégin: “I wanted to respect Ricardo’s initial musical intentions, and the result is that when you hear my compositions, they sound like you’ve known them all your life, yet…” Bégin explains that as the movie evolves, there’s increasing silence to create drama. “As a composer, you have to keep your ego in check in order to remain aware of what the movie actually needs. We have a back-up role, a bit like the rhythm section of a rock band. We’re there to back the ‘singer,’ which in this case is the movie.”

The musical needs of movies are diverse as the movies themselves, just as working with the same director for years doesn’t mean that any kind of routine has set in. Quite the contrary. Bégin met Ricardo Trogi just after graduating from Université de Montréal, where he earned a degree in Music. He composed a jingle for an ad Trogi was directing. A few months later, Bégin won the pitch that ensured they worked together again, this time for the music of a TV series titled Smash. This proved to be a defining moment for the composer. “Trogi’s first series was my first fiction project,” says Bégin. “You could say that experience was my birth as a composer. I sourced my writing in all those anonymous creations, themes I composed as a teen and young adult. Smash allowed me to get rid of all those piano riffs that had been haunting me for a long time.”

“We have a back-up role, a bit like the rhythm section of a rock band.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Trogi and Bégin collaborated on further TV series such as Les étoiles filantes and Le berceau des anges as well as on movies such as L’horloge biologique, 1981, 1987 and Le Mirage. But Bégin has also scored other films, notably Jean-Philippe Pearson’s Le bonheur des autres and Nicolas Monette’s Le journal d’Aurélie Laflamme.

The Trois-Pistole native now works in his home studio as well as at Studio Apollo, and says he likes being involved early in the creative process. “I know it’s a luxury,” he says, and cites the recent example of Interstellar, where Christopher Nolan tapped Hans Zimmer over coffee, asking him to start composing music for a movie about a father-daughter relationship. Nolan never mentioned that the movie was going to be a science-fiction one.
Le Berceau Des AngesWith Trogi, Bégin often has the opportunity of reading the screenplay long before a first cut is made. Such was the case for the TV series Le berceau des anges: Bégin started composing immediately after reading the scenario on the topic of baby theft. He was very moved by the story, especially since he was about to become a dad. “That was one of my more inspired sessions,” he says. “I wrote for two months before seeing even one image from the series. Surprisingly, everything fit perfectly. I was super happy, especially since I earned two nominations for that work.” The winners in those two categories will be announced this fall during the Gala des Gémeaux.

Bégin loves those moments of creativity that happen without a safety net. Currently, he’s working on stage music for a show celebrating the 100th anniversary of the presence of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. The show is directed by Olivier Dufour, an artist from Québec City world-renowned for his multimedia creations. Bégin is on board to underscore the narrative aspect of this performance music which tells the story, without words, of the parallel between a solo musician and an Olympic athlete. His music will be played over skating, fireworks and video projections. This challenge perfectly matches his constant desire to surpass himself.

“This music must intensely suggest, transport and punctuate without using any words,” says Bégin. “Operas had the same kind of goal and took years to compose. With this, I only have a few months. It’s a unique experience, but it’s so demanding that I realized I need composing for movies to reach a certain balance that is vital for me.”