Music is powerful. It’s the gateway to our soul in most cases. It can make us feel happy, sad, nostalgic, lonely, scared, tense, and well you get the picture.
It’s no wonder that music is so essential to the overall impact of a video.
Think of the soundtrack (music, sound design, and dialogue) as 50% of what you’re taking away from a video. So, audio and more specifically music are very critical to a video.
The point of this article is to help give you the fundamentals you need to choose the right piece of music for your video’s success.
Whether it be YouTube, a Fortune 500 advertising spot, documentary or full-length film, these fundamentals still apply.
Let’s get right into it.
8 considerations that we believe are essential to picking super powerful music to make your video stand out:
Pacing - What pacing is and how you can use it
Not this kind of pacing.
Pacing is an important technique in editing. It shapes the story through ebb and flow. Contrary to what pacing might sound like it’s not always about quick cuts. It’s the tempo that cuts are made. Fast cuts do not equal good pacing.
Pacing is situational, and it can be fast or slow. It depends on the context of the scene.
Music provides a big helping hand in the pacing of a scene and can help to move the story and picture along. Pacing is a hard concept to describe, so here are visual examples!
Slow = Building tension and suspense. Think of slowly evolving and droning high register strings, and the cuts are long. The viewer has time to think about what’s happening. An effectively dramatic technique.
Normal = Neutral. No drama. The music is a perfect balance of tension and release. Perhaps the most common type of pacing in a video.
Fast = Intensity. Could also be tension (those exceptions that I mentioned). Fast and driving drums are typically characteristic in music that works for a fast cut action scene. Check out the example:
To learn more about pacing, check out this blog post dedicated solely to pacing.
Density Of The Mix
Be mindful of the music mixes when auditioning music for your scene. Real quick, the mix is all the layers of a song.
Each layer is a part, and when all summed together, you get the finished song.
The concern is when we have a voiceover delivering a message.
The instruments in a dense mix can bury the voiceover or distract the viewer from listening to the message.
For example, drums, guitars, bass, keys, strings, and hand percussion could easily be a very dense mix. Many instruments are competing for the same frequency space leaving no room for the voice over.
Although, maybe your video doesn’t have a voiceover. Which in that case you can have a lot more flexibility.
Or perhaps it’s not a lot of instruments but instead a lot of notes. Who doesn’t love a shredding guitar solo? It’s too bad that fast and “busy” playing can create a dense mix by taking the viewer away from the main objective of the video.
We considered this when making our search filters on Bedtracks. We have a density filter that allows you to narrow down music from dense to sparse.
Here’s an extreme example of the filters at work.
Frequency Range Of The Instruments
As mentioned in the last point, frequencies can get in the way of our voiceover making it difficult to hear.
It’s wise to avoid choosing tracks with complex melodies played on instruments that use the same frequency spectrum (notes and tones) as the human voice – instruments including guitar, violin, cello, viola, and parts of the piano and keyboard instruments.
Here’s a handy chart we came up with that outlines how frequency and instrumentation can influence moods.
What’s The Role Of The Music
Consider the function the music will take in the video. Will it support the picture or will it take the foreground and drive the message?
The type of message will be the key to learning the role of the music to take.
Broad information can leave more room for the music to take a central role, but if there are lots of technical details, it would be best for the music to be background and supportive. As not to take the viewer’s attention away from the message.
Good background music
Good foreground music
Use music as “bookends” to your video.
A great way to add some thematic flavour to your video is by using music or sound design in the intro and outro of the video.
Bookends help set your tone, hold your message together, and leaves your viewers with a feeling of completion.
Music and sound design can be mixed to create a 3-5 second logo/sting used in the opening and closing sections of the video.
Or just turning the volume of your background music up can act as a sonic divider between sections of your video.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is significant because this will tell you what style of music to explore.
For example, hip-hop, indie rock, or electronic dance music all have varying subcultures and a range of ages.
If you’re aiming for a very targeted niche audience, you can get very specific with the style(s) of music they would find appealing.
Though, if you’re trying to reach as many people as possible across varying age-brackets think about going for music that is widely considered an accessible sound.
Use A Reference
Words tend to fall short when it comes to describing music.
It’s useful to use references to existing music that accurately sums up what you want your music to say.
Providing 2-3 links to your music supervisor or composer is worth its weight in gold!
Bedtracks.com has a useful tool called ‘Sonic Search.' You can drag and drop an mp3, or copy and paste a Youtube/Vimeo/SoundCloud URL into the search bar on Bedtracks.
After your reference track is analyzed, you’ll be directed to the search results page where your reference track will be sitting at the top of the list of similar tracks the Sonic Search tool has found.
The quality of music you get depends like most things in life on the budget.
It’s the old “get what you pay for” scenario.
Not to worry, there are tons of ways to get great music while on a shoestring budget.
While hiring a composer is the ideal situation with the best results it also happens to be the more costly option.
$300-$1000 for a quality composer to create an original score for a short video.
A custom score is out of reach for most small budget filmmakers, TV producers, and YouTubers.
Library music (aka royalty-free, stock music, needle drop, etc.) has upped their game, and you can now find radio quality production music at incredibly affordable rates.
You can pay between $10-$100 for library music for small business and personal use video (i.e., not broadcast or large company advertising).
Bedtracks.com is a great place to start.
We hope you’ve learned something from these 8 considerations for finding the best and most powerful music for your video!
These are by no mean rules or the only considerations you need to make, but we think it’s a great starting point.
All projects will be different and will have different circumstances.
Please comments below and share with your networks if you thought this was a helpful post!