The choice of music you select for your video can make a big difference in the impression and feeling it gives your viewer. Music can be used in a variety of ways in video - creating a sense of emotion, increasing or decreasing the energy and excitement, helping the pacing of the visuals, and more.
In fact, the RIGHT music can even influence buying decisions. But choosing the perfect songs for videos isn’t as easy as picking your favorite and adding it to any video. The music should be in sync with your story, even tugging at the heartstrings. A song that does NOT complement the storyline will fail to elicit emotions and could jeopardize the success of your video.
There are quite a few things to consider, such as tone, audience, and budget. Today, we’ll explore 7 of these factors.
How to Pick the Best Songs for Videos
1. Know the Role of Music in Your Video
First, you’ll need to think about what role the music will play in your video. Meaning?
If you’re making an explainer video, you’ll likely want something subtle that doesn’t distract from the main message. You don’t want to pick a song with a lot of lyrics or vocals. But when you choose songs for videos promoting new products, you’ll probably want something memorable and exciting.
Take a look at this example Living Sky Technologies used for their content creation software, Write Way.
2. Consider the Genres
There are SO many genres and options within those genres. It’s like taking your child into a candy shop and saying, “okay, you can only pick one treat.”
When you want a calm and relaxed atmosphere, ambient music is best. Corporate videos tend to use songs that are more engaging and inviting. Cinematic will likely be your genre of choice if you’re a filmmaker, but this genre can also work well with animations. Don’t be afraid to play around.
The libraries of songs for videos are endless – and that can feel overwhelming. That said, you can make this process feel less intimidating by playing your video while experimenting with different genres. It’s an easier process of elimination that will help you determine what feels right and what elements are important to you.
3. Know Your Audience Before Choosing Songs for Videos
Yes, it’s important to choose songs that fit the video itself and the overall theme. But another factor that might help you narrow down your genre and music choice is the
sort of audience you are trying to reach.
Consider the age and generation of your intended viewers. If you have a mixed audience, ambient music is generally the best choice. You may find that hip-hop or indie music scores resonate better with a younger audience.
We’re definitely not stereotyping here. Of course, there are plenty of twenty-somethings who love oldies and plenty of boomers who love the Top 40!
4. Remember the Tone
Earlier, we mentioned tone in passing. Instruments like high brass, or notes with high ranges, evoke uplifting feelings like happiness. Lower tones, such as bass and low brass, can suggest strength.
*Tip* Even though we’re focusing on songs for videos, it’s also important to remember that it’s not about background music all the time. Sound effects, dramatic pauses, and lulls can all create a sense of drama and pack an even greater punch.
5. Don't Use Music That's Well-Known in the Music Industry
You should avoid anything by Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or anything you hear – or have heard – on MTV. Trust us on this one.
These are a nightmare for licensing, and most people don’t have the budget to license these songs for videos unless they have a couple hundred thousand dollars laying around. If you go ahead use them anyway, you might face quite a bit of legal trouble. Even with attribution, if copyrighted music is used, there WILL be an issue of infringement.
Alternately, you could search a royalty-free music library, like Bensound or Audioblocks, for a similar track (which does exist!) or search for older music that has now entered the public domain.
In our blog, The 7 Best Royalty-Free Music Sites to Make Your Video Stand Out, we explain the differences between royalty-free and free music, and we provide some of the best royalty-free music sites for you to choose from.
6. You May Run Into Different License Types for Songs for Videos
You can use a limited license song for non-commercial uses. What does that mean? Simply put, you can use it for internal training purposes, but marketing? That’s a big no-no.
As for paid licenses, that’s when you pay for a royalty-free song and can use it as many times as you like, even in marketing videos. Again, free licenses and “free background music” don’t necessarily mean royalty-free, so it’s always a good idea to check first.
*Note* Some creative commons licenses make it possible to use music free of charge if the artist is credited.
7. What if My Heart Is Set on Certain Music Tracks?
We understand that choosing songs for videos can be a challenge – especially once you have your heart set on one. If you’ve browsed all of the royalty-free songs and free music archives and STILL don't hear anything you like, you could always reach out to a composer with a reference track.
There are many professional composers who can listen to a reference track and create something even better suited for you. Russ Davies, for example, and Billy Moffat are two composers who can do this.
Composers take what you have in mind and create a piece that matches the mood and pace of the script more closely. Whether it’s a song on iTunes or something you’ve heard as an intro to a podcast, they can compose a custom track that will match the mood and ensure your music score is one of a kind. Custom music does come with a price tag and can be tens of thousands of dollars, so be sure to communicate your budget upfront.
We hope this guide helps if you need to find music that’s unique to you or if you’re searching libraries for the right song for your project.
Still feeling stuck? We can help you create the perfect video or decide on whether to select royalty-free or custom music for your next video. Contact us today!