Music is emotion. That is the single most important thing to remember when selecting music for your video. The track that you choose and the way you use it, has a huge impact on the style, tone, and pace of your video. Music has the unique ability steer your audience and make them feel a certain way about your video and ultimately the message you are trying to deliver. This notion leads us to the first rule of music in video content.
Know Your Target Audience
We just finished a project with a client where they had a very specific idea of what style of music they wanted. Our creative director had a listen and said, “What is this a Prozac commercial?” To him, the song was hokey and uninspiring, and I had to agree with him. Listen to it here. However, when we brought up our concern to the client, she explained to us how that music targets exactly who she needs it to target. “That’s middle America, that’s my customer!”
We totally understood, and we now had a clear picture of the target audience and how we want this content to make them feel. We sent them some new samples that were a bit more inspiring, but still evoked the same emotion from the viewers. The results were positive and our ability to see each other’s perspective helped us find the perfect track for the project.
This open-minded collaboration we experienced leads us to the next rule.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something Different
Whether you are sampling music in pre-production or testing it with your footage in the editing room, having an open mind is essential. Think about how many different artists, styles, genres, and instruments there are. In fact, the sites for royalty-free music we are going to recommend in this post allow you to filter by all these categories and more, including BPM (beats per minute) which will really set the pace of your video.
Looking back to the example mentioned above, we were able to change our client’s mind in post-production by sending them the project with 5 very different music options. They did not ask us to do this because they were pretty set on what they wanted, but we just did it anyway. We said, “Please, just have a listen.” They did have a listen and they were able to warm up to a slightly faster-paced, more exciting music track.
So I urge everyone to just try different styles of music before they make a decision and see what kind of emotions they can get from sampling various tracks.
How You Use Music is Just as Important
Even if you pick the perfect track for your video, you still need to use it the right way in order to optimize emotional output. For this, you need a good editor. Understanding the narrative, and being able to use music to drive the story is the key to evoking the desired emotion and capturing your audience.
Just laying a music bed under your content is not ideal. A good, experienced editor is able to edit footage to a music track in such a way that they become one entity. It sounds corny, but a bad editor can make viewers notice the music in a bad way. For example if it is too loud, clunky, barely audible, or climaxes in all the wrong spots, it WILL have a negative effect on your video.
Where to Find Music
Here are some of the tools we use to find music for our projects.
Audiojungle has a massive collection of royalty-free music with prices starting at just $1. I wouldn’t recommend those tracks...but hey, everyone has a budget. We like Audiojungle because it is quick, easy, inexpensive, and is geared towards some of the more corporate style videos we produce for various industries. It always seems to have what we need.
The downside of audiojungle is that a lot of the tracks are overused, and some of the better tracks you have probably heard on a TV commercial or web content at some point. Also, the lack of creative, professional sounding music pieces is a cause for concern if you are trying to move away from the hokey, corporate style that audiojungle satisfies.
2 - Premiumbeat.com
Premiumbeat is like Audiojungle on steroids. While it is a bit more expensive, the value is present in every track you use from the site. Premiumbeat has everything we like about Audiojungle’s search features, filter options, and preview capabilities, while providing a more original, professional, and versatile library.
This is just one more step up from the last two sites. Musicbed.com is more expensive yet more quality options. It has similar filtering capabilities but the feature we like the most here is the ability to filter by mood. Mood options include contemplative, ecstatic, and somber. Talk about variety...
SoundcloudSoundcloud is not a royalty-free site but it does feature some great musicians trying to share their gift. If the stock sites are not cutting it for you, try to find some popular tracks or artists on SoundCloud that suit you, and reach out to the artist to see if you could work out a deal. They are usually pretty eager to get their music out into the world!
5- Composers Who Create Custom Music
If you really cannot find what you are looking for on any of these sites, the other option is to reach out to a composer. There are talented musicians who specialize in scoring video content and can tailor the music any way you like it in order to optimize your video’s success.
Here are two of our very own productions where we used custom music from a composer to score the project.
6 - ccMixter
ccMixter is a community music site where you can find an abundance of music that falls under the Creative Commons license. The site lets you listen to music, sample music, create mashups and more. Some creative commons licenses may require that you give credit to the source within your video.
For more info on where to find great stock footage, images, and royalty-free music check out this blog we wrote last year.
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154 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013