The Top 5 Tools for Composing Stock Music
A fast workflow is everything when it comes to producing high-quality music quickly and to a deadline. I’ve put together a short list of the tools for composing stock music I use every day and would be much less productive without.
The Best DAW (for you)
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a DAW these days. The latest versions of Cubase, Logic X, Pro Tools, Studio One, Reaper and Live are all very powerful music workhorses.
The main differentiation between them is principally workflow. They do pretty much the same things, it’s just the way they’re done that is different. As you’re likely to be spending a very long time using the software, it’s important to find the DAW that ‘feels right’ to you and best suits your needs.
I used Logic for a decade, then last year moved over to Cubase simply because it has features that suit me as a primarily orchestral composer.
Depending on the type of music you compose, you might find you go the opposite way.
If you’re feeling a bit greedy and your budget allows, there’s no harm in having more than one!
Vienna Ensemble Pro (VEP)
VEPro hosts plugins outside of your DAW, you then connect to VEPro using its own plugin. This can be used to host sample libraries on a ‘slave’ computer or to take some of the strain off your DAW by hosting your CPU intensive sound libraries on the same machine.
As it runs independently of your DAW, you can set up a template in VEPro and switch seamlessly between projects in your DAW without the need to continually load your instruments all over again.
It also loads your third-party plugins and even opens up both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, handy if your DAW no longer supports them.
I found hosting my string and brass libraries in VEP on my iMac has improved the performance of Cubase and Logic immeasurably. Allowing me to use very low latency settings and having all instruments at hand when composing.
Sonnox Codec Toolbox
You’ll spend plenty of time exporting your music in various formats and encoding to multiple levels of quality. This little gem makes that process much more manageable. It can be used as either a DAW plugin or as an external application.
It can batch encode, add metadata and artwork to your tracks too.
A rather dull inclusion I know, but setting up a spreadsheet using Excel or Numbers is a must if you want to keep track of your, uhm, tracks, which libraries they’ve been uploaded to, whether they’ve been accepted.
I have two primary spreadsheets. The first is for track data – I make a note of the title, tempo, length, description, keywords and additional edits.
The second sheet lists all of the libraries I contribute to, and I use colour coding to represent the status of a track (submitted, pending, accepted, etc.).
Typinator works by automatically expanding text when the appropriate keystroke is used. How is this useful for a music composer? Well, it goes some way to reducing the tedium of adding descriptions and keywords to music after it has been uploaded to a library.
Just enter your track description and keywords once into
Typinator, assign them a keyboard shortcut and save masses of copying and pasting by typing the shortcut into the appropriate fields on the music upload page.
Of course, not all libraries have text fields, but for the ones that do, it’s a massive boost to productivity.
Typinator is Mac only, but I’m sure similar software for the PC exists.