“Music is critical to the feel and tone of almost any piece of video content. Simply changing the backing track for a video can totally change the mood, and sometimes even the implied meaning of the content…” — Sommer
Music has the power to move people. Understanding how to use this art form in your video content will allow you to connect with your audience on multiple sensory levels.
Choosing the right background music for your video can seem like a difficult task.
The track you choose will set the mood and tonality of your video. Just think back to John Williams’ iconic theme for Mission Impossible.
Genres, tempo, pitches, beats, etc. are important factors when it comes to finding music that is suitable for your brand, your target audience, and your overall message.
According to a Nielsen article, ads with music were rated as more creative, memorable, emotive, and informative compared to those that didn’t have music in them.
Music can impact various aspects of your video content’s effectiveness. It can add entertainment value, increase memorability and evoke an emotional response.
If you want to learn more about how to use video to trigger customer emotions, check out our previous post here.
You’re probably wondering what steps you should take to seamlessly incorporate and choose background music plus sound for your video content.
Luckily, it’s not as overwhelming as it may seem, in fact the process of finding the right tracks can be pretty fun.
So, here’s what you need to know when you’re choosing tracks, tunes, and sound.
Diegetic and non-diegetic
Before we get further into it, let’s differentiate between diegetic and non-diegetic music.
Both of these can do wonders for your videos, but each serves a very different purpose.
Diegetic music occurs inside of or is a part of the video reality.
For example, if your video shows a group of boys breakdancing to a sick beat in a studio, then the track playing is called diegetic music.
When the music occurs outside the video’s reality, such as film scores and themes, then it is of the non-diegetic variety.
Now, how does one choose background music for videos? Read on and find out.
Plan from the get-go
When you’re setting the game plan for your video content, music shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Consider the role music will play before you start creating or producing your video. It would be wise to think about it while you’re in the first few phases, such as script-writing and story-boarding.
Think about the number of scenes that will require music; the difficulty of incorporating sound during editing, and how certain tracks will help push your narrative and overall project.
What role will music play in your video?
Is your video supposed to inspire? Excite? Spark joy or maybe make the audience feel somber?
To achieve the desired effect, you must define the role your music will play. Clearly establish what type of content you are creating and the rest will come to you naturally
Explore music genres and see what works best for your videos
Music is a galaxy of its own and sometimes having too many choices is a bad thing because it makes decision-making more difficult.
Narrowing your options to a particular genre could make things a lot easier.
Let’s take a look at some popular genres and find out what works best for different scenarios.
Since its inception, jazz has evolved and retains a distinct yet difficult-to-describe sound.
This genre of music isn’t used as much when it comes to video content but the possibilities are endless and you’d benefit greatly from exploring uncharted territories.
Don Sebesky—a man who has produced music for commercials throughout his adult life—said:
“Jazz does not inherently connect with certain products, so it can be used with just about anything. I’ve used it to sell everything from Reynolds Wrap to Alaska Airlines. What’s good about jazz—compared to pop—is that it doesn’t date.”
Jazz retains a fresh quality and has the potential to make your video content stand out with its unique sound.
Characteristics: distinct, expressive, soulful, cool.
Perfect for: Brand videos, intros, animation, reviews, presentation, testimonial videos, behind-the-scenes, etc.
The music in this ad is based on Richard Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ and combines jazz and funk.
Kubric fans will recognize it immediately.
Cinematic music gives off a sense of grandeur, greatness, and intensity. It’s perfect if that’s the tonality you’re aiming for.
Characteristics: Intense, grand, moving
Perfect for: Grand announcements, epic storytelling, corporate videos, etc.
Nike’s ad uses Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire”, which is perhaps one of the most popular instrumentals known to man. You can’t deny the resounding impact the music has on the video.
Ambient music is an excellent choice if you don’t want your music to overpower the video. This type of video won’t distract the audience from your video’s actual content.
Characteristics: calm; non-intrusive.
Perfect for: Brand/introduction, nonprofit, PSAs, nature videos, dramatic content, etc.
4. Classical Music
Classical music can be soothing or dramatic. The classics can really set you apart from the sea of saturated pop and electro beats.
Characteristics: Powerful, nostalgic, soothing, dramatic
Perfect for: Nonprofit, vlogs, nature videos, whiteboard videos, product showcase, PSA, etc.
This remix of Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” goes perfectly with GoPro’s adventurous video. Hey, no one said you can’t mix it up.
5. Ethnic Music
This genre refers to music that is unique to a particular region. It has cultural and historic significance as well. Remain mindful of cultural sensitivities if you plan to use this type of music in your video content.
Characteristics: Unique, has historic or cultural significance
Perfect for: cultural videos, travel content, artistic videos, etc.
Electronic music has gained immense popularity over the years. It can be energetic, thrilling, and even cerebral.
Characteristics: futuristic, curious
Perfect for: Product announcement, artistic projects, fast-paced/upbeat videos
7. Hip hop
Hip hop has a strong connection to urban culture. It is also popular with the masses
Characteristics: Rebellious, edgy, fast
Perfect for: Technology, gaming, motivational content, sports, stunt videos, etc.
According to Statista, rock music is the second most popular music genre among consumers. If the raw and gritty nature of rock music suits your video content, then by all means… rock on.
Characteristics: Gritty, raw, intense
Perfect for: Sports, gaming, and other fast-paced videos, etc.
9. Pop Music
Pop takes the number one spot in terms of the most popular music genre according to Statista. Pop music is exciting, catchy, and exudes positive vibes. If your videos are geared toward teens and tweens, pop music will work fine.
Characteristics: Catchy, fun, upbeat, energizing
Perfect for: BTS, vlogs, tutorials, product showcase videos, etc.
With a genre in mind, you can now move on to setting a budget.
Set your budget
Small: If you’re on a tight budget, look for music that falls under the public domain or has a Creative Commons license.
Medium: Search for royalty-free music. There are plenty of sources online where you can access a wide selection of tracks.
Large: You can have custom music made, this can cost you between $300 to $1,000. This is great if you intend to reuse a track or want to use it for commercial purposes.
Want to know where to find the best background music for your videos? If you do, check out our previous post here.
Do you have a winning formula to figure out how to choose background music for your video content? We’d love to hear all about it. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!