Your guide to choosing the right music for video content

By March 14, 2017Opinion

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like music? Well, apparently, it’s a thing. Researchers at the University of Barcelona and the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University found that roughly 3% of the global population have specific musical anhedonia, a condition which is caused by a lack of connectivity between key areas of the brain.

But thankfully, the remaining 97% of the world’s population seems to be made up of avid music-lovers so including a few good tracks in your brand’s video content is a no-brainer.

To prove our point – think back to the last decent party or event you went to. Was there good music? There was probably good music. And the same rule applies to the latest video ad you remember watching – because a few carefully selected songs are enough to enhance the tone and feel of your video’s overall message.

However, there’s a certain art to selecting the appropriate background music for video content, and it largely comes down to what you’re trying to say, who you are trying to reach and what you are wanting to achieve, says Scorch Films’ Director, Steve Jay.

To make this arduous process a little more straight-forward, we asked Steve for a few expert tips on how brands can pick the best music for their videos.

When it comes to music selection, context is key

Before you start making any decisions about the type of music you want in your video, it’s worth thinking about who you are trying to reach and why. Is it a corporate video showcasing your brand’s products or services? Or is it a video you are using to communicate with your own staff? And where will the video will be played – at an event or internal meeting, or will it be more of a professional video that is sent out through email to key clients and prospects?

“Choosing the right tracks largely depends on the overall purpose of your video – are you trying to create a feeling of excitement or achievement, or are you attempting to evoke more serious emotions such as empathy or responsibility?” says Steve.

“Taking the time to write down a clear purpose for your video and detailing how music will enable you to successfully achieve this will help manage expectations in the long run.”

It is also worth detailing the right genre of music. Sure, you might think Drake is a lyrical genius, and we aren’t saying you’re wrong, but before you go ahead and decide what songs you want to include, write down who you imagine will be watching it, and what type of music they would enjoy listening to. For instance, would they recognise a song by Drake – or are they more likely to prefer a bit of good old-fashioned Earth, Wind & Fire?

“If you are certain that your audience enjoys a very specific genre of music, such hiphop or EDM, then go for it. But if you’re trying to appeal to people from all different audiences and age groups, then we’d suggest choosing songs that are a little more generic. It’s not worth alienating your audience with anything polarising.”

Getting your hands on that perfect song

Okay, so now you’ve probably watched a few other branded videos with music, and thought of a few songs that might work – you may have even found the perfect song – but that doesn’t mean you can have it. All music that you use for commercial purposes, whether it is used internally or externally, needs to comply with copyright infringement laws – meaning you need to have permission from the artist or recording studio.

Thankfully, there are easier ways of meeting UK copyright law than sending an awkwardly written message to Drake grovelling for the rights to use his music. There are a range of music licensing libraries like Deep East Music, Marmoset and Tunefruit that have the rights to an impressive number of songs to suit all different budgets.

“Music libraries have become an incredibly useful tool for video production companies, offering a range of different licensing agreements depending largely on what the music is being used for. Many of them also have useful features that allow you to find tracks based on the emotion you are trying to convey, as well as the genre, instrumentation, and sonic density.”

It’s all in the timing

Once you have a good understanding of who you are trying to target and you have a few songs in mind, it’s time to start thinking about how this music could fit into your video. Play around with a few different video editing software packages and see which one best suits you.

For instance, background music is great for setting the tone and feel of your video, but one common mistake we see brands make is including music that messes with the overall message of the video.

“It’s worth bearing in mind that if your video features a voiceover, it is much easier to use songs without vocals, or at the very least, make sure the singer’s voice isn’t playing at the same time as the voiceover. Good background music is often music that you don’t notice – so make sure that the focus is on the person talking on screen, not the loud music in the background that viewers have to turn down.”

Another important decision to make is whether or not you need intro and outro music at the beginning and end of your video.

“Including music at the opening and closing sections of your video not only helps set the tone, it also holds your message together and leaves viewers with a feeling of completion. Another useful idea is to turn up the volume at certain points to divide your video into segments.”

It’s also worth thinking about which parts of a song you want to play. Most pop songs are made up of a similar structure; a verse, pre-chorus, chorus, another verse, another chorus, bridge and an ending – and chances are these transitions will probably not be in line with narrative structure of your video.

“In most cases it is necessary to repeat, readjust and cut the song to better align with the structure of your video.”

It’s not always easy, but having high-quality and relevant music to back up your video’s main message is incredibly effective. If you’re struggling to produce videos that engage, or you are looking for a few sound design tips, get in touch with Scorch Films today.