How to Choose the Perfect Music for Your Video Content

September 4, 2019 5 min read11

Shakespeare famously wrote: “If music be the food of love, play on.” With this grandly moving statement the Bard was, if anything, underestimating the degree that music impacts all of our lives. Music is an essential part of almost every major human ritual, from birth to marriage to death. It can ratchet up the tension in a scary movie, provide emotional comfort for the depressed, and even help spark political revolution. Music is so much more than just the food of love. It is the food of almost everything. 

For those who aren’t professional content creators or marketers, the presence of music in all of your favorite videos (and other types of content) might sometimes get taken for granted. Music is so ingrained in every aspect of media that separating it from a commercial or movie trailer or product demo seems impossible. Try to picture the video below without any background music at all – just the sounds of our client’s voices, the honking of cars on the street, and the diegetic grunting of athletes mid-workout.

Hard to imagine, right? Don’t you think it would feel incredibly awkward and forced? Music links scenes together and provides a steady foundation that video content can be constructed on, but still tends to receive little recognition. That’s because background music, like good weather or a reliable WiFi connection, usually only gets noticed when it’s not there.

When your brand figures out what music to feature in your piece of content, video or otherwise, you are making a decision that will color the overall effect of that content in a variety of ways. So how do you make sure that your choice is the most intuitive one possible, when you may not even know how to make that choice in the first place? Deciding how and why to feature music in your content can be tricky, which is why we want to lend a hand by breaking down a few essential factors to keep in mind.

Think Musically

Before you even begin to integrate music into your content, it’s important to have a solid grasp on some of the science behind the music-commerce relationship. Over time, a variety of experiments have proven the often unexpected effects that music can have on potential customers. One such experiment discovered that musical genre has a pretty serious impact on customer retention. When a product or service does not align with the musical archetypes that might usually be associated with it, then the audience’s ability to recall that product later drops significantly. An example of this might be if a commercial for a sleek laptop used old-fashioned country-western music. But if the music does align with the adjoining archetype, like if that same laptop commercial used a shimmering electronica score, their retention actually increases. 

Another test performed to analyze music in restaurant environments found that, overall, slower-paced music encouraged diners to take longer with their meal and spend more money on alcohol. By contrast, playing faster-paced music in a restaurant resulted in a more rapid customer turnover rate. However, neither one of these facts is useful in a void – each must be considered in the context of what you are trying to achieve. 

For instance, the former might be good for a fine dining establishment that makes most of its money from selling liquor, while the latter could benefit a fast-food joint that tends to get bogged down with long lines. Similarly, while Christmas music boosts sales when played during the holidays, it’s hard to imagine similar results in a different context. In other words, don’t just think about music as pleasant background noise for your content. This is a factor that can impact your potential customers one way or the other, so always keep the specifics of what you’d like to achieve in mind. 

Select Your Source

There are multiple resources that you can pursue once you’ve decided what kind of music you want – and more importantly, what you want that music to accomplish. The first, and arguably the most ideal, is to hire a composer. If you know exactly what you need for your video content, a professional composer will be able to craft an original score tailored to your brand’s specific purposes. Every tonal shift, every orchestral swell, and every single note will be 100% within your control, which will result in the most thematically optimized musical score possible. 

However, hiring a composer is also likely to be the most expensive way to obtain music for your content – though it should be noted that many composers are far more affordable than you might expect. Still, if your brand would prefer to save some money and avoid the hassle of dealing with another team member, consider exploring a music library online. These databases, of which there are many, provide tens of thousands of tracks from countless genres for you to affordably license and feature in your content. Many of them even come pre-optimized with a variety of lengths and mixes, to further cut back on work for your editors. 

The challenge here becomes curating your ideal soundtrack from such an endless assortment. Again, we come back to specificity of purpose. Remember, the more you know what you want in advance, the less time you’ll waste sorting through hours of 30-second song snippets. Always keep your audience and their tastes in mind as you try to figure out the perfect track to play under your video spot or interview. While younger audiences might prefer hip-hop and indie rock, older ones might tend more towards genres associated with luxury products, like classical and jazz.

If you’re not sure which track to use, try testing them out. Use one track on your video and then the other to compare their impact back-to-back. Even if you cannot download a full track with an audio watermark, simply stream it on the database while loosely synced to your video for a taste of its potential. 

Putting It Together

With any piece of video content, the goals tend to ultimately fall under “selling a product/service” and “spreading brand awareness.” However, as multiple case studies have shown, authenticity is invaluable for accomplishing both of those objectives…which, ironically, often means trying not to seem like your objectives are important to you. Music can be one of your most valuable allies in that subliminal tug-of-war. A skillfully assembled backing track helps audiences connect to your product or service without openly shilling for it, the same way that a romantic melody can set the mood for love. 

So the next time you put together a piece of content, don’t treat your music as an afterthought. Production companies like Lemonlight can work with your brand to show you how music takes video content to the next level. Whether you are creating a custom track or using a database, we can help assemble something that not only complements the intentions of your content, but elevates them too. 

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