Music Made Easy

Post Magazine, March 2008


BOSTON — Last August, film composers Tom Phillips and Tom Martin launched a library and supporting Website designed to aid producers and editors looking for high-quality music for TV programming and film. OBT Music ( is a resource of approximately 1,500 pieces of music, many created by Phillips throughout his career, which dates back to 1977. Phillips managed to retain the rights to much of this original music, and reports that while doing his own research found that many “so-called film sound libraries” that are available today are not producer or editor friendly. The goal with OBT Music was to put both Phillips’ and Martin’s untapped libraries to use and make it easy for producers and editors to find exactly what they are looking for.

It took the duo two years to build a database and a year to get the Website up to spec with the search and download features pros demand. Part of the challenge was cataloguing their collection into themes that content producers would be instantly familiar with, be it film noir, campy or otherworldly.

The OBT Music Website allows anyone to search and download MP3 files. For $35, users can register for a lifetime membership, which allows them to also download WAV files. They would then pay additional licensing fees based on a track’s usage.

A new episode of Nova made extensive use of the OBT Music library, drawing from as many as 35 tracks that ranged in length. Phillips also created a few new compositions that bridged the many musical moods. The episode is titled “4 Winged Dinosaur,” and focused on fossils found in China that suggest the existence of this unusual creature.

Phillips says the program’s editor, Doug Quade, searched the OBT library and “weaved together a masterful score, which was so impressive that when I finally did come on board, I only need to fix a few rough transitions and write a few original pieces that he was having trouble with.”

Tracks pulled from the OBT Music site included those from science, comedic, campy, dangerous, primordial, otherworldly and series-of-flight genres. Phillips says the majority of the program makes use of library tracks, which ended up costing producer Mark Davis only a fraction of what a custom score might have cost for a project of that length. Licensing fees, Phillips recalls, were just $1,050 for the 60-minute program’s music tracks, allowing much of the remaining audio budget to be used for the original and enhanced cues where needed.

— Marc Loftus
Reprinted by permission of Post Magazine.

OBT Music Improves Search Engine

Post Magazine, March 2011

Improved Searches

Boston – OBT Music (, here, has made a significant upgrade to its online search engine, which can now remember what a user's last search criteria was, eliminating the need to create entirely new searches.

According to OBT Music's Tom Phillips, the upgrade is a response to user feedback and the desire to return to the criteria/filter page from the last search with everything still intact. Rather than having to entirely fill out a new search, users can simply change single search fields, such as theme, instrument, or tempo.

"Most search engines reset all the filters and you need to start again to continue," notes Phillips. "As an example of the value of this, if you selected 'melancholy' as an adjective and found the pieces to be too melancholy, you just need to hit one button, and then select a different adjective to get an entirely new listing of music cues. It's a one step process which not only saves a considerable amount of time but also keeps the thought process focused on exactly what it is that you’re looking for."

OBT Music recently finished scoring a signature theme for the newly-refurbished Charles Hayden Planetarium in Boston's Museum of Science. The theme for the pre-show is five-and-a-half minutes long and moves around the Planetarium, eventually exiting through its virtual dome and off into space. Phillips and partner Tom Martin composed and produced the score to a Quicktime animatic representation of the visuals.

"We delivered the final mixes in Pro Tools 9 with Toolkit 2 using 46 tracks of mix stems at unity gain to enable the Planetarium the ability to place various musical elements anywhere in the 360 degree spectrum," Phillips explains.

Reprinted by permission of Post Magazine.