The Importance Of Instrumentals…

By Pursehouse – follow me on Twitter.

If you make music and have ever received an email from me whilst I do my job of trying to get your ditties onto TV/films/games/movies etc, then there is a very good chance indeed that I’ll have digitally uttered the words:

“Do you have any instrumentals available by any chance?”

That’s because sync agents and music supervisors LOVE THEM. It’s astonishing; ask them about their fondest memories and there’s a 40% chance that receiving the instrumentals they need from labels/publishers/bands will rank higher than their children’s birthday’s, small to medium sized lottery wins or getting married for the second time.

When I receive an email from a music supervisor saying they love a track I’ve emailed them, but ask if there is an instrumental version available because it would fit just *fabulously* on the project they’re currently working on and I have inform them that I don’t; then basically I feel like a child that’s just let down their parents. Like the time I received 8 marks out of 120 in my mock GSCE Maths exam and made my mother cry.

I’m not angry with you, Simon. I’m just disappointed.

So to stop me accessing that rather specific deeply repressed memory then everytime you record a new song, be sure to get whoever is pressing all the buttons to do one without your lead singers angelic voice as well please, as it could significantly increase your chances of landing a sync.

Consider all the television, movies and adverts you see; there is usually someone chatting (or ‘acting’ as I believe they prefer it to be called) or trying to sell you something. If your lyrics about a revenged obsessed scorned ex-lover is getting in the way of the voiceover guy informing the viewers how new Barky Woof Woof now has 35% more rabbit chunks then they’re not going to sell as many units. Even with all that extra rabbit. Madness.

Don’t just take my word for it; here is a quote from the devilishly handsome Mr James Warburton who is a music supervisor at Lime Pictures:

“Because of the large amount of dialogue in our programmes, we have to be very careful when placing music to ensure that characters can still be heard clearly. There’s been many times when we’ve loved the sound of a song but have been unable to use it because of a dominant vocal sound or a lyric that doesn’t make sense in the context of a scene. Creating an instrumental version almost doubles your chances of being used on TV because it opens up your track to so many different possible uses.”

So with those wise words fresh in your mind here is a great example of the same track being used, both with and without vocal, on recent episodes of the teen soap Hollyoaks.

The rather lovely Lauren Aquilina makes equally lovely music, and the title track of her rather lovely EP ‘Fools’ is rather lovely on the ears (and can be bought here).

First up – the normal track, words and all. See how the lyrics complement the action on the screen:

Lauren Aquilina – Fools – Hollyoaks from Sentric Music on Vimeo.

And now the instrumental version; the music adds gravitas to the dialogue being spoken on screen which climaxes in a cheeky kiss between the two ladies. How very 2013…

Lauren Aqulina – Fools (Inst) – Hollyoaks from Sentric Music on Vimeo.

So not only did having an instrumental version mean Ms Aquilina received two syncs on TV rather than just the solitary one, but the non-vocals version was actually nearly double the length which means she’ll get even more royalties from the PRS/MCPS. That’s nice eh?

One last thing to consider are so called “TV Backing Versions” – these are almost halfway in-between the ‘full fat’ track and ‘instrumental’ version, so like semi-skimmed milk basically, but less miserable.

In these instances you take out the lyrics, but keep in the vocals that are used as an ‘instrument’. So “Oooh’s”, “La’s”, “Na Na Na’s” (ergo Kaiser Chief’s back catalogue) etc should all be kept in as they effectively play part of the melody of the song. These aren’t as essential as instrumentals, but if you send them to me I’d be mightily impressed and might even send you a gold star sticker.

So there you go – get into the habit of getting instrumental versions of everything you record, it just might be the difference in landing that lucrative sync or not.

What I’m reading this week: Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky by Patrick Hamilton.

What I’m listening to this week: Club Smith, Tegan & Sara and, of course, Lauren Aqulina

Hope you’re well,



~ by Sentric on January 30, 2013.

5 Responses to “The Importance Of Instrumentals…”

  1. Great post Satchel!

  2. Makes sense really as most ads have a voiceover. I wouldn’t have thought it so important for ads/programmes with no voiceover but I guess having lyrics conveys a certain message that might not be in line with the visuals. Mind you, I produce nothing but instrumentals and it hasn’t got me very far so what do I know lol

  3. I actually know the feeling of disappointment really well. I don’t know how many hours of searching i’ve done looking for instrumentals for certain songs only come up empty handed.
    My mother who is a teacher always ask me about songs she can use for her pupils for when they have an important event coming up.

    by the way, you can do this with other things too besides music. Having the source (the bits and pieces from which it has been made) of a finished product in very important.

  4. […] Further reading: “The Importance Of Instrumentals” […]

  5. Thanks for another relevant blog, always read these. For my last two releases I definitely made sure I had instrumental versions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: