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The iconic KPM Music Library catalogue has been made available to download and stream in its entirety for the first time



Iconic 30,000 recording catalogue sampled by Drake, Jay-Z and others 

The iconic KPM Music Library catalogue has been made available to download and stream in its entirety for the first time after being fully digitised. 

The move by Sony/ATV Music Publishing division EMI Production Music means every recording in KPM’s much-sought-after catalogue is now available for sync licensing on www.emipm.com and is also on the leading digital music services, including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon. 

EMI Production Music Senior Content and Distribution Manager Paul Sandell said: “We are proud to have taken this initiative to make KPM the first major music library to be fully digitised and available to our global broadcast clients and music lovers to enjoy. There is no bigger name library music than KPM, which is reflected by its rich and diverse catalogue spanning 70 years, including some of the best-known television theme tunes. We know this launch will not be lost on the sampling community as some of the rarest gems from the EMI vaults will be available for fans to access for the first time since the original ‘60s and ‘70s vinyl pressings.” 

KPM’s music library contains more than 30,000 recordings, covering every genre of music from orchestral to cutting-edge indie. Among the countless gems are the themes to UK TV programmes including Grandstand, ITV News At Ten, the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage and Grange Hill. It also includes the celebrated KPM 1000 series, which was launched in the mid-1960s and became known as “Greensleeves” because of its uniform dark green album covers. The series introduced to KPM songwriters and artists from pop, jazz and other contemporary genres. 

KPM occupies a central place in a music subculture called library music, which is a rich, expansive and largely untapped source of music history chronicling the vast range of musical styles through the lens of television. Library music (or production music as it is also known) was born before TV but boomed as TVs became household items, creating the opportunity for composers and session musicians to experiment without the pressures of writing a “hit”. Library music is simply background music used for a variety of media sources, primarily TV, film and radio. 

KPM is the most established name in library music and for the past 50 years has been a division of EMI Music Publishing, which is now part of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the world’s leading music publishing company. It offers some of the most diverse and original music ever made and which was recorded at famous studios such as Abbey Road and Angel and locations from Ardingly to Los Angeles. 

Although the KPM Library is a significant piece of popular culture that has remained largely hidden behind the scenes, the richness of its catalogue has provided a never-ending source of repertoire for artists to investigate and sample. 

Among those who have turned to its archive are Jay-Z, Fatboy Slim and Drake who scored a Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hit in the US with “Summer Sixteen”, which sampled “Glass Tubes” by Brian Bennett from the KPM archives. Bennett, most famous as the drummer with The Shadows, is one of a number of library music “superstars” who have written and recorded for KPM over the years alongside the likes of Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker and John Cameron. 

EMI Production Music has spent the last couple of years digitising the KPM catalogue, which has involved going back to the original reel-to-reel tapes on which the music was recorded. All of the KPM releases that came out on 78 RPM have been digitised and collated into the original 12 LP compilations that were first released in the 1960s, as have the complete KPM 1000 Series and recordings made for the Themes International label. 

EMI PM has now extended the digitisation process to other, lesser-known labels, including the German Library labels Selected Sound and Coloursound. It is also working on digitising the Berry/Conroy production music library and plans to digitise the Francis, Day & Hunter and Charles Brull libraries. Time is running out to preserve the original reel-to-reel tapes on which these recordings were made so the company is moving quickly to ensure the music prospers and continues to have a long life. 

The digitisation project has run alongside a sell-out KPM All Stars show that took place at the British Library in London last October when 800 people gathered to listen and dance to the library music of Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw, Duncan Lamont, Alan Parker and John Cameron. It was voted by Shindig! Magazine as its show of the year and further KPM events are now being planned. 

Music from the KPM library also regularly features on a monthly EMI Production Music programme, which is hosted by the company’s executives Paul Sandell and Will Clark and is broadcast by leading online UK radio station Soho Radio. The show features the best new library music as well as newly-digitised material from the archives. Guests so far on the show, which launched at the beginning of 2018, have included Brian Bennett, John Cameron, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Keith Mansfield, Richard Harvey and James Asher.

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