One thing that new (and even established) video creators struggle with is selecting music for their projects. When you have access to tens of thousands of songs across hundreds of genres, BPMs, and lengths - finding the perfect track can be a challenge.
Does that Modern Jazz song fit better than that Drum and Bass track? Would a slower tempo do a better job at building the scene than something slightly faster? Fortunately, with a diverse range of music, you can be picky and narrow your options down. The key is understanding your video, your audience and sentiment you intend to convey. Here are some ways to help pick music for your video!
What is your video about?
One of the first things you should do when considering music for your video is determining what the video is about. Music will have a direct impact on how the video is perceived. If you are aiming for something thoughtful or inspiring, your music selection will be vastly different than an action scene. So, think about this carefully, and figure out the EXACT topic your video is about.
What emotions are you attempting to convey?
We've written about music and emotion in the past, and that should be required reading when selecting music. If you want your audience to care about the characters, you may want something more thoughtful. If you want to build tension, something ambient may be a better fit. Try listening to a song with your eyes closed - what sentiments come to mind when you hear it? Once you find the song that matches the emotion you want, you're closer to finding the right track!
How important is the music to the video?
When you go to edit the music into your scene, how important is it? Does the music need to be louder than everything else, and take center stage or does it sit in the background? Most commonly, music is used as a background to everything else that's going on in the scene. It sits behind dialogue, sound effects and other elements of the video. But, it can take the limelight as well. Car chase scenes or montages are notorious for using louder music. If you're a vlogger, having music that transition from scene-to-scene may be the right fit. Decide on the importance of the music in the video!
What genres fit best with your audience?
Many genres of music may fit into your video but knowing who consumes that genre may help in narrowing your focus. Here are some common genres and the audiences that gravitate towards them:
- Ambient music: Younger audiences, often under 30 years old.
- Music for children: Perfectly suited for children, but also parents.
- Classical music: Ideal for older audiences, or quirky hipster crowds.
- Country music: Male-dominated audience in their early-to-mid adult years.
- Drum & Bass/Jungle: Teen to young adult males.
- EDM/Electronic/House: Teen to young adults. Both male and female audiences are represented.
- Experimental music: Generally male, but a very obscure group.
- Folk music: Thirties up to fifties and cover both men and women.
- Grime music: Predominantly males from England, but, some crossover into North America.
- Hip Hop/Rap music: Teen and adult males make up the primary demographic for this genre.
- Jazz music: Middle age males and females.
- Pop music: Covers a huge swath of people, but, skews towards the sub-30 crowd.
- R&B music: Females dominate the genre, generally between 20 and 40 years old.
- Rock music: Male audiences in their late 20s to early 50s.
What pace should the music set?
When you're considering music for your video, think about the pace you want it to set. Consider the Tempo or Beats Per Minute (BPM). This is a measure at which music is constantly set at. A higher tempo means that the track feels more fast-paced, and as such will add that feeling to the video.
While conversely, slower tempos help to relax an audience. You should also consider the energy of a song, where a high energy song will mimic that intensity within the audience. Interestingly, you can have a high tempo, low energy song and vice versa, so it's important to consider both factors.
Have you tried multiple tracks to see what fits best?
Once you have narrowed your selection down to 20 or so tracks, you're in the home stretch. Start by putting each of the tracks into your scene and seeing which one feels like the best fit. You need not edit them in perfectly, but just comparing the track to the scene should be enough to narrow it down to a top 5. If one element of a song doesn't fit, consider looking to see if the track offers stems. Stems give you full control over each element of the track.
Do you have a license to the music?
Finally, once you've selected the track(s) that fit perfectly - you need to get a license to use it. If the song is in the public domain or has been released under creative commons, make sure you credit and use as intended. If you need to pay for a license, then make sure you do so. Stealing music is not right, nor is it fair to the creator of the track. If you don't think you can get the proper license to the music, then go back a step and try out some of those other options.