Choosing the right music for videos

Music for videos has changed… for the better.

Within most videos that are produced these days, whether they are for use online or shared internally, a music track is normally included. Now this might go without saying, but the track you use will need to be royalty free (or the video producers will need to own the license to it) because as great as it would be to use your favourite band’s music on your promo video, it could get you into a world of trouble. If you don’t have the rights to use your chosen track, your video could be red-flagged and inevitably taken down.

To avoid all the red tape – and make choosing your music far less scary than it may seem – there has been some great news lately regarding royalty free music, that has really switched things up for video production. The great news is that the quality of the music now available has improved greatly. Gone are the days where you would have to settle for a tinny, synth plugin for every instrument, low budget U2 with a hint of Coldplay sounding track, to now a wide range of real bands that play real instruments and create really great music.

This new, fresh approach to royalty free music for videos has provided a massive selection of good quality music to producers, that they can use to elevate the end product, because as any video editor will know; music is a key element to creating a great video.

And here are a few insights into selecting the perfect soundtrack for your video….

When in the post production will the music be selected? 

Within the post production process, the music tracks are some of the first things that will be selected and put forward for the client to choose from. The reason for this is because the tone of the music track, the BPM (beats per minute) and any light and shade in the track will heavily influence the cut of the video.

From time to time we will receive feedback such as; “The video looks great, but can we change the music?”. Now this actually has quite a knock-on effect because (unbeknown to the client) the video may now require a total re-edit, as cuts will need to be moved to keep in time with the music. If the music and the cuts don’t marry, the end production will feel very jarring.

It is a common misconception to those who aren’t involved in video editing that the music is chosen at the end of the editing process – almost the cherry on the top – but in actual fact it is a key part of the creative process at the very start.

Making the first selection. 

As music is so subjective and driven by personal taste we will often ask our clients to provide a steer. We’ll ask to hear a song from their personal taste that they feel will suit their video and we’ll ask questions about the tone they envisage for their video, or the mood they would like the video to have. We will then take all this information and provide a relevant selection of royalty-free tracks to choose from.

When choosing from the selection.

Here’s a tip: When you are sent the selection to choose from, always make sure you listen to the entire track, not just the first few seconds. Composers who create royalty-free music tend to add dynamics within the structure of the track so they might add in new instrumentation as the song builds. This might make you love a track that you weren’t so keen on in the first 20 seconds, or indeed have the reverse affect. If the song contains vocals, take a good listen to the words to ensure they are in-keeping with the message of your video. If you select a song with vocals but would prefer it without, options are normally available.

Recut the track.

If a song that you like the sound of is four minutes long, but the video itself is aiming to be 90 seconds, then that’s no problem! We will recut the music so that it has a start, a middle and an end to fit the length of the video. Too often we see videos where the music fades out near the end; this is down to very lazy editing! We won’t fall into this trap – we will always use cuts of the music that provide the most dynamic addition to your video.

Have fun with it.

Personally, I have found that the more unusual the track or genre of the music, the fresher and more exciting the end video will be. Sometimes the unexpected can make a video more engaging and enjoyable to watch, so don’t feel scared to have fun with the tracks you select!

If you conduct any research of your competitors’ videos, you might notice that they have used quite similar music in all of their promo videos. This may well be due to trends that appear in royalty-free music and ‘flavours of the week’, so if you want to stand out, perhaps take note of the genres they have used and go for something totally different. This will help your video be memorable.

If the genre selected is also a style of music that you or your company members enjoy, then fantastic. Having your own personality reflected in the music is a great way to tell your audience what you’re all about. Your choice of music can be key in the success of your message, so choose wisely…..