Adult Video Soundtracks

John Scura
There was a time when adult music soundtracks were only good for a few laughs. Characterized by schlocky electric keyboard ditties and wakka-chikka-wakka-chikka guitar riffs, most porn music was, well, a joke.

But those days may be gone because a new trend is growing in adult entertainment. Directors and producers are starting to place a premium on quality music for their projects.

“I spent $10,000 on music in my last movie,” director Eon McKai tells XBiz. “I wanted all name artists, and I hired a music licensing guy.”

The film in question, “Nue Wave Hookers,” features a variety of current musical artists who are on McKai’s growing list of soundtrack musicians. These are performers who people actually buy tickets to see, such as the Ponies, Electrocute, Gravy Train and Avenue D, to name just a few.

“Adult videos are more youth culture-based now,” McKai adds. “I want more street cred for my projects, so getting real artists involved is important. I’m really interested in music and I’ve directed music videos, so I use some of those artists and contacts in my adult film work.”

Skin Muzik
The trend toward higher quality music in adult entertainment also has created an interesting offshoot — the industry’s first company dedicated solely to creating adult film musical soundtracks. Called Skin Muzik, the San Bernardino, Calif.-based company has broken new ground in the industry.

“We’re unique in the sense that we have a staff of composers in-house,” Skin Muzik owner AJ Green says. “We also have a music library that can be licensed. If someone doesn’t want to have something composed, they can go to the library and find an original track, something that’s pre-made. We know of individuals doing this, but we don’t know of any other companies making music for the adult market.”

It seems that producers — historically bottom-line people who are interested only in low-budget productions that sell lots of units — are loosening their purse strings and helping to bankroll this new trend. Some companies serious about paying for quality soundtracks are Digital Playground, Red Light District, Danni’s Hard Drive and VCA.

“At VCA, we’re slowly getting back to making bigger budget movies,” McKai explains. “As budgets continue to climb, and as younger and younger directors enter the adult business, there’s more desire to have really interesting music.”

“Producers are more concerned today with music that fits the actual title,” Green adds. “We get all kinds of crazy ideas and suggestions from them, but we try to balance it. We try to limit the producers’ involvement and just keep them abreast of the final product and the cost. The director is the one who actually sits in with us. We’ll watch the video scene-by-scene and the composer will ask the director what the mood is and what type of genre works — hip-hop to whatever you can think of.”

The emergence of hip-hop musicians in the adult field is another interesting development. Snoop Dogg surprised everyone a few years ago when he appeared in “Girls Gone Wild: Doggy Style.” Unhappy about the complete absence of women of color from the production, he decided to make his own movie. Produced by Hustler Video/Larry Flynt Productions, “Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle” became an award-winning soundtrack.

Snoop Dogg’s success inspired other rappers to enter the adult game. The 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell formed an ongoing alliance with adult director Justin Slayer. Crunk king Lil Jon was the centerpiece of the “American Sex” series for Video Team and wrote the music and appeared in “Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz” for Vivid Entertainment. And Digital Sin plans a late-2006 release of its interactive sex DVD “Groupie Luv” with music and on-screen appearances by rapper 50 Cent.

“There will be more and more hip-hop artists doing adult soundtracks,” Green says. “The hip-hop artists of the 1990s are trying to reinvent themselves or tap into a new fan base.”

McKai concurs. “It’s fun when you can watch a video and recognize the music,” he says. “Like when Snoop Dogg got involved, it was wildly successful. But the people on my soundtracks are not faded hiphop artists. It’s all totally current.”

McKai uses the music of these artists to underscore a new movement he has helped to create in adult entertainment. Called “altporn,” the genre features models with the “punk/goth-girl look, the kind of girl who you would see at the mall or the coffee shop,” according to the director, who debuted this style in his film, “Art School Sluts.”

But one question still nags budget-conscious producers from the old-school way of doing things: Do porn fans really care about the music on an adult film? The answer is yes, according to Peter Reynolds, vice president of sales and marketing at VCA.

“Absolutely,” Reynolds insists. “There’s an emerging market of young people who respond to that kind of stuff. I’m a music fanatic myself, so it only makes sense that music would be used more in an adult product. It definitely helps set the mood, and it’s a long cry from what it used to be back in the 1970s and 1980s — that cheesy background music.”

VCA recently used the music of Rancid and Death by Stereo in its release “Joanna’s Angels.”

Not to be outdone, Digital Playground enlisted Skin Muzik to create the original score for its production, “Pirates.” Since its release, there’s been so much demand for the movie’s music that Digital Playground is releasing the soundtrack on a separate CD.

Bring Out The Emotion
“We’re spending money on music because we just want to make a great product,” Digital Playground founder and “Pirates” director Joone tells XBiz. “You can’t really take stock music and make it fit into a scene. When you compose new music for a scene, the artist actually can bring out the emotion and content of that scene. We’re a little bit different from most companies in that our whole goal is to make movies that are really compelling. Coming from a filmmaking background, you want your movie to be as unique as possible.”

Reynolds agrees that the music is just one part of the sea change taking place in adult filmmaking right now.

“It’s part of the creative process,” he says. “These aren’t just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am movies. These movies have art direction, costuming and music [that] plays a very important part. That’s what separates us from a lot of the other companies that are shooting Porn Valley product. We’re using directors with a totally different outlook.”

Still, all of the producers and directors XBiz spoke with for this article are realistic about the support role music plays in adult movies.

“Don’t get me wrong,” McKai says, “for the customers, it’s all about the sex. But I get emails from fans who say they buy the movie for the music. It’s probably just an excuse to buy the movie, but people sometimes need an excuse to feel comfortable buying porn.”