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ClassicBeauty says

I’m working on a light upbeat tune with a simple repetitive chord structure, lots of acoustic instruments – guitar, banjo, hi string gtr, pno, drums & bass. At the moment I have a key change about 1:30 into the piece, which is about 2:20 total. It goes up a half step, but there’s no cadence or transitional chords – just a percussive bar and then it’s higher. The question for those of you who have been around the block here is – in your estimation, do key changes almost always lose you a bunch of potential buyers? I probably wouldn’t include it in the 60 and 30 if I do them.

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BrownHouseMedia says

A lot of buyers of music use it in video projects. They often need to edit the music to fit to the picture – when you have key changes it makes the editing much more difficult and will make your music less attractive to buyers.

PatrickAThompson
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PatrickAThompson says

A lot of buyers of music use it in video projects. They often need to edit the music to fit to the picture – when you have key changes it makes the editing much more difficult and will make your music less attractive to buyers.

+1 Very very true. I don’t always follow that rule, but I frequently fight myself to keep it in the same key.

How easy a track can be edited makes a tremendous difference. If you change keys, the music editor can’t really put an ending ‘button’ on the track if he’s using the original key because the ending is in a new key….

Also, it is harder to cut between sections… Say your track is A1 B1 A2 B2 B3, but the key change happens between A2 and B2… but the client wants only B1 and B3… there’s no clean way to cut between them.. but there’s a way around this..

Take Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”. Just prior to the key change, the track drops out entirely.. there is a clear moment of emptiness before she belts into the chorus in the modulated key. This is editor gold because you can create a clean transition from there.

But again, sometimes, the music just needs to modulate. It’s the struggle between art vs commericality. Do your thing, but keep the end user in mind, and I think you’ll find a balance.

Just my 2.3 cents. :)

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TortoiseTree says

I do it depending on the style. Like if I’m doing a soul, RnB or jazz track where lots of tensions, chromatics and upper structure triads are used I can “sneakily” go through keys and modes without it being too obvious and it all still sounds coherent. Some of my more film scoring style tracks are very modal hence again I can “sneak” around scales without it being too obvious.

In both occasions I’ve still scored sales. Now, if it’s a pop or rock track and you’re doing the ol’ raise it a half step to give it a fresh breath of air… that won’t work unless you do the whitney houston move as Patrick stated earlier. It sounds too obvious and it puts focus on the music, which it isn’t suppose to as chances are your music was used to support someone else’s project.

Mind you, if it’s a normal pop song which people buy to listen to on it’s own… I absolutely applaud key changing, particularly raising the half step or a minor 3rd!

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wingzara says

Wow. Thanks for this.

My most recent track posted has a key change but modulates back to the starting key.

The editing angle never occurred to me and I will definitely take it on board. Ditto the full drop out (a la Whitney Houston) if a key change is necessary or desirable musically.

Very valuable info.

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garethcoker Reviewer says

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with modulations, but you should try and upload an alternate version without modulations. This gives your buyer the choice.

You’re allowed to submit up to 4 variations on one file.

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curtisschweitzer says

I use modulations fairly often. In my experience there really isn’t a difference between tracks that have them and tracks that don’t. Bottom line, use your best judgement—you can’t base every decision off of the idea that it might be “harder” to edit.

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