The internet is full of awesome music-licensing platforms like Marmoset and The Music Bed that excel at helping filmmakers find the perfect tracks for their work. However, for dramatic filmmaking, nothing beats an original score composed specifically for your film.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to (or a high enough budget for) a dedicated composer to score their film. That's where an ingenious new website called Xhail can help.
In the simplest of terms, Xhail is an online musical idea generator that composes entirely original pieces of music when the user inputs a genre, emotion, or idea. The software uses real performances from actual musicians, but combines them in ways that create music that has never been heard before. Where the real ingenuity comes in, however, is with Xhail's ability to edit and manipulate tracks in order to specifically tailor that music to the visual media that it is being paired with. Say you need a cymbal hit to accentuate a punch in a fight scene, or you need a slow swell of stringed instruments to come in at a particular moment to accentuate the emotion of a dramatic scene. Xhail will be able to do that.
It's incredibly easy to be skeptical of this concept. Computers have never been particularly adept at creating music because they're, well, computers, and therefore lacking in the intrinsic humanity associated with creating art. But after watching this preview, you might very well be as convinced as I am that Xhail will have a unique place in filmmakers' post production toolboxes in years to come.
There are a few concerns that I have about Xhail, both as a filmmaker and as a musician. First and foremost is the actual "originality" of the music being generated. If people use Xhail as much as I imagine they will, the tracks that it generates for certain genres might become hackneyed and instantaneously recognizable despite the fact that they are technically "unique" from the perspective of the computer that generated them. If Xhail ends up generating music that sounds too similar to music that has already been generated, or it reuses certain musical ideas in different contexts, it might not be particularly useful to people who want a genuinely unique score for their project.
The way to combat the issue of Xhail's music becoming stale over a period of time is to make it a viable revenue stream for musicians so that they're incentivized to keep creating original content for the site (which would keep the site's musical generations fresh). However, since we don't have any idea yet what it will cost filmmakers to license a track from Xhail, or how that will translate into profits for the artists whose musical ideas were used in that track, it's very hard to say what kind of value proposition the site actually represents for creatives. The Xhail site says that sales are split 50/50 with artists (and that they retain rights to the music they contribute), but until we know exactly what it will cost to license a track, it's entirely up in the air as to how much incentive musicians will have to contribute.
Ultimately, despite those concerns, Xhail seems like it will be an incredibly useful tool for filmmakers who want unique pieces of music for their content. To learn more, head on over to Xhail's website.