Video is primarily a visual medium, so much so that music is often an afterthought in video production. But try watching a video without any music… It seems strange and eerily silent. That’s why choosing the right piece or pieces of music can have a huge impact. For most corporate videos, you will be licensing music from one of the many stock music websites and sources that are available.
So how do you find the right piece of music for your video?
Royalty Free Stock Music
Licensing a popular track you’ve heard by a well-known band is usually far too expensive for most video productions, so royalty free stock music is the way to go. Of course, you can make your own music if you’re so inclined, or perhaps you know a composer that can tailor make a piece if music for you. If that all sounds a bit too complicated and time consuming, then royalty free stock music is the way to go. Royalty free doesn’t mean “free,” it means you pay a one-off fee to license the music from an artist and you can then use their music in your project without paying ongoing “royalties,” like you’d get with musicians and writers having their work re-used. There are many stock music services available online. Sites like Audiojungle.net and PremiumBeat.com have thousands of songs and audio clips produced by independent artists and bands, and each song is categorised with keywords like “upbeat”, “technology”, and “minimal”.
Try it Out
The best thing about the royalty free stock music of the internet age is the ease of use that comes with selecting a track. Stock music used to be a clunky, difficult to search system where you would buy a DVD with several hundred licensed tracks on it, and you would have to find exactly what you wanted on there or else you’d have to hope you’d find it on another DVD, or use a track that wasn’t quite right.
There is a hugely varying range of quality in terms of stock music. The quickest way to ensure that you are picking the right songs for your video is to write down some key words that you identify with the video. Pick adjectives to describe the mood you want to evoke. Words like “atmospheric,” “epic,” or “inspirational,” will all give you different results with similar styles. To ensure that the stock music you are getting is going to be the most useful, is that you can download a preview version with an audio watermark (usually a voiceover saying the name of the stock music company) so you can get an idea of what the track sounds like in your project, and how the pacing and tone feels. Don’t just choose the first track you hear; your music should fit the pacing an tone of your video, and that means trial and error when it comes to picking a track. Don’t be afraid to try a few left field options, they can often work out better than expected. Ask yourself what kind of adjectives fit the mood of your video. Serious? Energetic? Sad? These words will help you find an appropriate track to match your keywords.
Once you find a track that fits the mood of your video, don’t get fixated on it. Musical taste is highly subjective, so test it out with a few people before paying for the license. Luckily, stock music providers will let you try to the music with an ‘audio watermark’ before you finalise your purchase, so you can try before you buy.
What to Listen Out For
Once you have narrowed down your selections and dowloaded their preview files, listen through your project with each piece of music and see what you think works well and what doesn’t. Begin my listening to the rhythm of the song. If you have an editing timeline already, you can slot the music underneath for a rough guide of what to expect. Editing to a beat is very effective for videos without a lot of dialogue, so if the tempo fits, that’s a great start. If your video needs some more energy then you might want to find a track that is more up-tempo (you can even search by beats per minute on many sites). Most of the time for video accompanying a lot of dialogue, the melody of the song is less important, but you should also take note of where the chorus is and if there are any shifts in tone you can use to craft your story.
Remember, Your Taste is Subjective
As we mentioned before, music is incredibly subjective. My list of favourite bands and artist may vary wildly from your favourite bands. And that’s ok, you’re not looking to find your new favourite band on a stock music website. You just need music that fits. So set aside your personal taste and you might be liberated enough to try that Corporate Dubstep genre you’ve been hearing so much about.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
You have so many thousands of options for your stock music, and the perfect track is out there waiting for you to discover it. All it takes is an ear for rhythm, and an idea of what emotions you want to evoke in your video. So download as many track previews as you want and test it out. You never know, what might not work for your current project may be perfect for another.
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience by using video.
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