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Sonoton claims to be the world's largest independently owned Production Music Library.[1] Formed 1965 by Rotheide and Gerhard Narholz in Munich (Germany), the company owns the copyrights of over 130,000 compositions and musical recordings of all genres. With more than 35 subsidiaries worldwide, Sonoton licences the use of its music for TV, motion picture, advertising and internet productions.


1965 Rotheide and Gerhard Narholz establish Sonoton as a company in Munich, Germany.[2] Gerhard Narholz, songwriter for artists such as Petula Clark, Bill Ramsey and Heidi Brühl, and composer for German feature films and television series, provides specific film and television music as background music, thus introducing library music in Germany.[3]

1965 - 1970 Sonoton continues to develop the library business in Germany. The initial TV-specific music catalogue is expanded into a variety of genres through works of other composers. 1969 Sonoton enters the international market through the British BERRY MUSIC company, who sub-publishes Sonoton productions worldwide on the library music labels CONROY, STUDIO ONE and PROGRAMME PRODUCTIONS. Sonoton enters the commercial record market, producing Easy Listening Music for Japan, which is released on Polydor Records and King Records, Tokyo.

1970 - 1980 Using the a.k.a. Norman Candler, Gerhard Narholz composes, arranges and conducts over 20 LPs with his large string orchestra, the MAGIC STRINGS, internationally released on the labels Decca Records/ Telefunken and King Records. In 1971, Norman Candler receives the “3 Star Award” from BBC London for “Best Album of the Year”.[4] Sonoton expands its Easy Listening catalogue with recording artists Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Ted Heath, Acker Bilk, Xavier Cugat, Horst Jankowski and Franck Pourcel.

1973 EMI buys BERRY MUSIC, the former Sonoton agent in the UK. This marks the birth of Sonoton's own record label. The unicolored album covers for library music LPs are replaced with individually designed, full color sleeves.

1975 Sonoton introduces the British KPM label to the German market. More international labels follow.

1981 Sonoton establishes its world music label SAS (Sonoton AUTHENTIC SERIES).

1984 Sonoton is the first library to release its music on CD.

1987 Sonoton establishes the CNS label (COMMERCIALS NON STOP), featuring specific commercial and promo tracks.

1991 Sonoton represents SONIA Classics, a collection of classical works on CD, for synchronization.

1992 Sonoton is the first music library to present its own music search programme, SONOfind, on floppy disk.

1993 Sonoton is represented by ASSOCIATED PRODUCTION MUSIC (APM) in USA.

1995 Sonoton begins operating its own music recording studio in Munich, Germany.

1997 Sonoton creates its own sound effects series, SONOspheres, which focuses on atmospheric sounds and effects.

1998 Sonoton introduces an online music search programme and makes its entire repertoire accessible via the Internet.

2001 Sonoton opens a new digital 5.1 music recording studio in Munich and presents library DVDs with 5.1 mixes of large orchestral recordings.

2006 Sonoton offers its entire repertoire on hard drive including an offline search system.

2010 Sonoton is the first European production music library to release its SONOfind music search[5] program as an app for iOS and Android based mobile devices.

Business model[edit]

Based on contracts with composers and recording artists, Sonoton owns the Synchronization and Performing Rights of its compositions and recordings, and licenses these rights to the audio-visual industry on a track-by-track or project-by-project basis. In countries where a Mechanical Copyright Society is in function (such as MCPS (Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society) in UK or GEMA in Germany), Synchronization Rights (the right to combine music with audio-visuals or/and advertising) are licensed through these societies. In all other countries (such as US) synchronization licenses have to be obtained from the local Sonoton representative.

Performing Rights (the right to perform music publicly, live or in any media, such as TV, film, etc...) are granted through local performing right societies, which usually have blanket agreements with broadcasters. Composers get their shares of licenses either through membership of a Mechanical and/or Performing Rights Societies, and/or through Sonoton, depending on the local legal conditions.


Sonoton music has been used in productions such as (selection):[6]

Further reading / Articles[edit]

  • Heppen, Miriam (May 2007). "Neuer Director Marketing & New Media". Horizont: 23. 
  • Redaktion (July 2006). "Sonoton HD MusicStation". Professional Production: 37. 
  • Redaktion (September 2001). "Archivmusik im Web". Professional Production: 77–78. 
  • Redaktion (September 1996). "Effektive Titelsuche in der Music Library". Medien Bulletin: 96. 
  • Breutmann, Martin (January 1995). "Per Mausklick durch ein Weltrepertoire". Dia Magazin: 45. 
  • Leibl-Engeler, Gabriela (June 1994). "Der Ton macht die Musik - Archivmusiken als Alternative". Radiotimes: 30–31. 
  • Winhart, Rita (September 1994). "Erste Musik CD-ROM von Sonoton". Pablo: 68. 
  • Thomsen, Dieter (September 1994). "Von Authentics bis Zeitlupe - Archivmusik nicht nur für Multimedia". Medien Bulletin: 89. 
  • Bangert, Heike (July 1993). "STEMRA Music Award für Sonoton". Professional Production: 69–70. 
  • Spiehs, Gerhard (December 1993). "Arbeiten mit Archivmusik". Digi Media: 75–76. 
  • Auer, Rudolf (June 1991). "Film ohne Musik ist wie Suppe ohne Salz". AV-Invest: 30–33. 


  1. ^ SONOTON - Production Music Library
  2. ^ "NARHOLZ, Gerhard". Wer ist Wer, das deutsche Who is Who. Verlag Schmidt Römhild. 1984. p. 892. 
  3. ^ "Narholz, Gerhard". Riemann Musik Lexikon. B. Schott's Söhne. Mainz 197. p. 255.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "NARHOLZ, Gerhard". Komponisten der Gegenwart. Wilfried W. Bruchhäuser. 1995. p. 910. 
  5. ^ SONOfind - MusicSearch
  6. ^ SONOTON - Production Music Music Library Musik Sound FX : Referenzen Archived 2008-04-22 at the Wayback Machine.