You may not know what library music is, but no doubt you’ve heard it. It’s the ready-made instrumental music commissioned and owned by production music libraries, which sell it for use in television and film productions. Music supervisor and library music collector David Hollander headed to Europe to visit archives and hunt for vintage records. Hollander offers a good primer in Wax Poetics for those unfamiliar with how the genre evolved:
The basic business model at work here involved the libraries setting up recording sessions where everyone involved—composer, musician, producer, and engineer—were working “for hire,” and the library would purchase the completed music tracks as well as the publishing rights outright. By securing the masters and the publishing rights completely at the very beginning, the production music libraries were able to offer the music for film/television/radio synchronization at well below the cost of creating original music for a given project.
Hollander says adult films from the 1970s were keen on library music tracks, as were British cop shows and other television programs. He located and lavished praise on Alan Tew’s albums Drama Suite Part 1 and Part II, declaring them “the pinnacle of the British cop-funk sounds.” You know Tew’s music—it entered American pop culture as the theme song to The People’s Court in the ’80s. Here’s a clip of his track “The Big One,” with vintage stills from the show:
Source: Wax Poetics (article not available online)