A Step by Step Guide: Choosing the Right Music for Your Video

With so many songs out there, it can be overwhelming when starting a new music search. We’ve been asked over and over again if there is a step by step method that can be used to make this process really easy and effective.

Step 1. Spotting

Let’s start by spotting your video. This is the process of mapping out your timeline, determining the music in and out points, and indicating any sync points where you need the music to hit a visual cue. Generally, you would make spotting notes during this process where you list styles or emotions you want to portray musically as well as the time duration of each song or score needed.

Step 2. Identify Your Goal and Role for the music

Do you want the role of the music to be Featured or Background?

Background music will generally be instrumental and minimal because it’s for use over dialog. We don’t want to distract the viewer with vocals or lead instrument melodies, we want to keep the instrumentation minimal. Background music shouldn’t really be noticed, we want the attention of the viewer to be focused on the dialog.

Featured music, on the other hand, is when the centre of attention should be focusing on the visuals and music as the main focus for the viewer when there is no dialog. Featured music is generally louder and more upfront in the mix. This is the time for the music and visuals to shine with lead vocals and upfront instrument melodies to create an emotional connection with the viewer.

Step 3. Determine the Music Style and Emotion

While the dialog is used to talk to the viewer, the right style or genre of music will “speak” to the viewer on a subconscious level. It will communicate what you want the viewer to feel emotionally, identify your brand, and help them relate and connect with your message to help gain trust.

Write down one or two answers to the following:

Think about your audience and choose a genre that speaks to them. The age of your demographic will help determine the music style. Let’s start broad such as electronic, or Rock, Pop, Cinematic Etc.

What is the Mood of your video? What emotion do you want the audience to feel? Let’s think of some moods such as Inspiring, Happy, Upbeat, Sweet etc.

Are you looking for a Song or a Score? What’s the difference? Songs are generally created for commercial release by an artist, where scores are generally music written for a film as background music.

Step 4. The Music Search

The method you choose is up to you and depends on the way you like to work.

Search Type 1: Filter Search

Filter based music search

This is the most powerful way to search where you can select from a variety of moods, genres, subgenres, scores that suit what you are looking for. This generally is a great choice if you have an idea of what you are looking for. For example, choose the Electronic genre and choose the Inspiring mood. Or go to the Business genre and click the “Emotional Builds” sub-genre. The right combination is the key. If you’re not sure of the genre, just start by selecting a mood.

Search Type 2: Curated Playlist Search

curated playlist music search

Curated Playlists are a great way to search for music if you want to search in more of a Netflix style layout. You can search by Project Use or Sound Properties or specialty sections such as Background Music for YouTube where you can find great background music that won’t interfere with your dialog.

Search Type 3: Matchrank Text-Based Search

This section is our newest addition and will allow you to use plain language text to search for the right song. For example, try searching for “inspiring, epic, cinematic”. This method can be a quick and effective way to search if you have the words to describe what you are looking for.

You can fine-tune your search by setting the Duration filter to the song length range you are looking for, and set the tempo to slow, medium or fast.

Step 5. Save your choices and let’s try it out

save your favorite music to user playlists

The moment we’ve been waiting for! Let’s make sure to save all music choices we like to a playlist and let’s hit play while we play our looped video section. Let’s see if the music makes us feel the emotion we’re looking for. Do some quick A/B tests with your music choices to see which song choices best connect you to the video. If you want to get more exact, you can download the music and throw it into your editing software, but first, it’s often enough to have a quick listen via the Soundscape site and then download your favourite choices after you have decided.

I hope this was helpful and will save some time in your workflow moving forward.

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