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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Make it Magic Stage -- Royalty Free Music from Arthur and Leslie Stead (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Palmer
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A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Arthur Stead, who is a composer-arranger who has co-written and recorded several CD's of royalty free music for magicians, with his wife, Leslie. He wanted to know if I would review his latest CD. I jumped at the chance for a number of reasons. One is that I really enjoy Arthur and Leslie's style. Another is that they are magicians as well as very experienced arranger/composers who have worked for and with Aerosmith, Cher, and a number of other well-known artists. They have also done soundtrack work for Spielberg.

So, I was curious as to what he had this time around.

Before I give you the review, though, let me say a bit about background music for your act. Good, appropriate background music can make or break a routine. If you have ever seen Mack King perform his "Cloak of Invisibility" routine, you know how much the music contributes to the atmosphere. There is, however, a minor inconvenience. If you want to use a piece that is copyrighted, and you are playing at certain venues, you may have to pay a fee for the use of the music. Copyright applies not only to original works, it applies to original arrangements, as well, so if you decide you want to use Walter Hensley's arrangement of Arkansas Traveler on the banjo, you would be obligated to pay a royalty for it.

Some acts have learned about this the hard way. A comedy magician was appearing on a national television show. One of the items in the act was a comedy levitation of a stalk of celery. It was done to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" AKA the "2001 Theme." The network didn't want to fork over the bucks for the music, so another piece was used. It wasn't as funny, so the bit fell flat.

A lot of people thought that the piece was in the public domain, but it isn't.

So, what is a budding stage performer to do, if he or she cannot legally use their favorite piece of music without running afoul of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC? Well, you can buy the rights to the music for a specific period of time, or, better yet, you can purchase a CD of royalty free music from Arthur and Leslie Stead.

Here's the way this works. You purchase the CD, and you can use the music any way you want to for as long as you want to. So, what does this cost? Not much at all -- about $30 - $40 per CD.

Each CD has several pieces that work well together, but have different tempi and different moods for differerent kinds of routines.

Make it Magic Stage has 17 tracks in all, starting with "Las Vegas Opener," a dance-style number with plenty of accents and "shots" that can be used to underscore actions that you and/or your assistants perform during the music. It builds to a nice ending, which could be used to accentuate a production of some kind.

There are 11 main tracks in all, including "Adrenaline Rush," which reminded me of some of Andreas Vollenweider's work. This would be a good piece for a danger routine.

There is a piece called "Mission Feasible" which reminds me of the Mission Impossible theme, and "Magic Fever," which calls to mind the Peggy Lee arrangement of "Fever."

I would recommend that you sit with this CD and listen to it with your eyes closed, to see what images it brings to mind. You could almost write a new act with just this CD!

In addition to the 11 main pieces, there are three interlude pieces, which can be used while props are being brought on and off stage, or while volunteers are coming up on stage for you. And there are also three "Magical Moments" -- shorter pieces that would accent a vanish or a production of some sort -- much better than the traditional drum roll and cymbal crash of the last century.

Altogether there is almost an hour of original music on this CD, ready for you to choose from and use for your act.

Now, here is something most people don't know about. You can use all or part of any track. If you find that you only need 1 minute and 20 seconds of the Las Vegas Opener, you can use your computer to remove 1 minute and 36 seconds of the music, either from the beginning, the end, or if you have experience with manipulation of sound files, the middle. With modern computer software, it is very easy to edit this material to fit your act precisely.

If you want the best royalty-free music in the business, go to their web site -- http://www.arthurstead.com and see what they have. If you really want to be different, Arthur and Leslie will also write an original theme song for you.

And look at the client comments while you are at it. They state very eloquently the main reason to use this music -- it will take your act from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Bill Palmer
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I should add this: there are some people who think that just because music is royalty free that it will somehow sound inferior to "real" recorded music. In the case of Arthur and Leslie Stead, this is absolutely not the case at all. In many ways, the music produced by the Steads is superior, primarily because it is arranged and produced with magic performance in mind.

Also, bear in mind that music that people automatically recognize may be a liablity. It can take the spectators' minds in a direction that you don't necessarily want them to go. If they start thinking about the lyrics to a song, they may not be thinking about what is going on in your act.

With the market as competitive as it is, if you don't have good, up to date music for your act, it may make the difference between your act being hired and another one with slightly less of a show but more attention to the music beating you out for a job.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
arthur stead
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Just thought we'd let you folks know we now accept paypal and credit card purchases. You can hear music samples from our new CD at http://www.arthurstead.com.

Arthur and Leslie Stead
Arthur Stead
royalty-free music and interactive routines
www.arthurstead.com
Skip Way
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Quote:
Here's the way this works. You purchase the CD, and you can use the music any way you want to for as long as you want to. So, what does this cost? Not much at all -- about $30 - $40 per CD.


Just one minor correction to this eloquent post, Bill. Respectfully, royalty-free doesn't necessarily mean "any way you want..." In most cases, your purchase price for royalty-free music includes a license permitting the owner of the original CD to use the music in specific ways.

The license, for example, may allow for the music's use in live public performances yet withhold broadcast performance rights. The license certainly prohibits duplication and redistribution or sharing of the music on the CD. Royalty-free does not mean "copyright-free." Always check the license that accompanies your royalty-free music and respect the creative talent behind it.

I for one want talents like Arthur and Leslie to continue making their wonderful music available to us. They can only do this if we support their products and protect their rights.

Thanks, Bill. Great post!
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Bill Palmer
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I have gotten a number of PM's telling me that the performers have purchased this particular CD and have found that the way the music punches up their performances has made a significant positive difference in the response of the audiences.

I told you it would work!!!!
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
arthur stead
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Bill,

Thanks so much for your continued support. Below is a copy of an unsolicited email we just received from a purchaser of our music.

Arthur and Leslie Stead
http://www.arthurstead.com

Arthur and Leslie,

I recently had the pleasure of reading your “Give Your Act A Music Makeover” Lecture Notes. I've been playing music for decades, have written songs for some TV and DVD projects and was pretty effectively using music for my stage shows for years. Though aware of my production limitations, I was not as alert to some of my musical "blind spots".

In the space of 25 pages, you've identified mistakes (both subtle and glaring) that commonly are made, provided intelligent, artistic solutions and revealed music to be, not a commodity, but a living entity within a show.

Best of all, it is presented in a way that is accessible to the "musically untrained" as well as those of us with some experience in the field. Your recorded works illustrate that you are clearly more that just a good lecturer. I love the range of emotion and style you've made available on your CDs. A true composer. Downright cool!!

Looking forward to sharpening my own tools with the knowledge you've shared and using some of your outstanding audio products.

No bull,

Steve Petra
Arthur Stead
royalty-free music and interactive routines
www.arthurstead.com
ades888
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Hi,

This sounds great, but the link seems to be down, is this temporary or is there a new website?
arthur stead
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Just checked the link --- everything seems fine. No problem with the website. Here's the link again, just in case: http://www.arthurstead.com

Arthur Stead
Arthur Stead
royalty-free music and interactive routines
www.arthurstead.com
ades888
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Thanks, all working now! Samples sound great
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