If you’ve ever done any video production work for MTV then you’ll know all about Pump Audio music. It’s basically a hard drive with about 700 gigs of generic background music, by studio hacks, in every possible genre and style. The whole point is that it’s license-free music to fill up silence. That’s it. It’s made to be bland and unassuming, and if you work in TV long enough it gets to the point that you’ll start recognizing Pump Audio songs in online/TV shows, commercials, etc. I swear I was watching a Taco Bell commercial once and I was like “oooh they’re using Trippin (Medium Mix) by Brian Shaw… I hope the PA for this commercial did his cue sheets cuz if he didn’t that’s a few thousand bucks the Shaw-man ain’t gettin y’heard!”
Something TRAGIC about Pump Audio:
A lot of new Pump Audio tracks are blatant rip-offs of popular hip-hop instrumentals, obviously because if you want the new Game song playing in the background while your VJ tells the audience to log on to mtv.clusterfuck.com, then you’re going to have to pay a bunch of money for it. So basically they have these dudes sitting around listening to the shitty new Game instrumental, and then they sit down and record an even shittier, more generic version of it.
Something KIND OF FUNNY about Pump Audio:
I think there’s actually a bunch of established musicians who were at one point or still do write music specifically for Pump. Actually I’m not sure if this is TRAGIC or KIND OF FUNNY I guess they’re both sort of interchangeable when the final product is intended to be mediocre. Anyways I remember once I saw that we used a song in this show that was written by none other than Chris Ballew (the lead guy from Presidents of the USA).
The alternatives to using Pump are no better. You can either use shittier Pump knock-offs (basically a more watered down version of an already watered down music library) such as Master Source or Extreme, or you can look at MTV’s “Selects List.”
The Selects list is a list of music from established artists that it’s free to use. The list is also woefully out of date and subject to whatever label MTV has signed a deal with at that moment, so you’ll see things like every song by Sting, Anthrax, and Better Than Ezra (surprisingly there’s quite a few) but almost zero songs from the last 5 years.
Anyways to try to have non-shitty music in the background of any MTV show is basically an impossibility. However, I found one! They used this in an episode of the current Real World/Road Rules challenge (and also in an episode of Living Lohan). When I heard it I was like “hey this is good!” I’m aware that I am openly admitting that MTV turned me on to this, which is lame, but not as lame as the fact that probably this is some internet/Brooklyn darling buzz band that ‘Sup magazine has already interviewed like 7 months ago.
The Ettes ~ You Can’t Do That To Me