Production Library Music: The Story Behind the Sounds of TV, Film and Radio

Jon Moshier introduces us to the often-sampled, highly collectible, funky and analog world of 1960s, ’70s and ’80s production library music from Europe.

Production music, also known as stock or library music, is music made available for television, film, radio and advertising. It’s libraries of music organized by theme, tempo, mood, style and length produced in studios around the world and preapproved for easy and affordable listening.

Library music can be heard in a variety of productions from sports intros, television themes, films and advertisements. Classics include the Monday Night Football and  “Doctor Who” theme songs.

Library music is sought after by vinyl collectors and club DJs, used as inspiration for avant-garde experimentalists and heavily sampled in contemporary hip-hop.

Listen: More production library music, which you hear all the time even though you may not know it.

European Influence

Library music was created by session musicians and composers mainly in Europe. Famous players include Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw and Brian Bennett, who recorded for legendary libraries like KPM and Music DeWolfe.

The music back then was recorded in analog studios with whatever instrumentation was necessary: guitar, bass, drums, horn section, an entire orchestra. It was then collected by theme, pressed in limited quantity on vinyl with simple descriptive language describing the mood of each track and sent out to production houses and producers.

To learn more about library music, check out the next episode of Modern Music at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 13.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date

WDET is here to keep you informed on essential information, news and resources related to COVID-19.

This is a stressful, insecure time for many. So it’s more important than ever for you, our listeners and readers, who are able to donate to keep supporting WDET’s mission. Please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Jon Moshier
    Jon Moshier is host of Modern Music. Always with an ear to the underground, Moshier presents the best in new music and emerging artists each week.