If you’re like most, choosing music for a video isn’t exactly baked into your video marketing process just yet. It’s one of those as-you-go action items you don’t always plan for ahead of time.
And boy, do you regret it.
After about an hour of wading through music libraries and pulling out a few patches of hair, you still can’t seem to choose the best music for your video.
It’s not that you can’t tell good music apart from the bad. You’re just struggling to choose the right music. On top of that, you’re not a hundred percent certain if the music you’ll pick will get you in legal hot water — who understands all of that licensing stuff anyway?
But time is running out.
You have a Facebook ad campaign due out in a matter of hours and you need this video done. You’re desperate to get yourself unstuck from this rut.
Lucky you, we have put together this comprehensive guide to teach you how to choose background music for videos (no licensing headaches included), be it a brand video, a video ad, or just plain ol’ social media content.
So, let’s dig into how you can do that.
How to choose the best music for your video
Music should not be overlooked. If you want to create a video that truly makes an impact, you should never neglect music or sound quality.
Audio quality is just as important as video quality. Tons of studies have suggested that the visual quality of your video matters less if your audio quality isn’t top-notch. You have to pay great attention to audio, including the sound effects and background music.
That circles us back to where we began: how to choose music for a video? How do you make sure your picks will help your video stand out and better deliver its message?
Here are four steps that will help your video making go from obvious rookie to certifiable pro.
Step 1: Think about what role music will play
Not to be Captain Obvious, but we can’t stress enough how important planning ahead for your video is, including the music you’ll need.
Even if you’re pressed for time, you can still easily determine how you’ll use music in your video. You just need to ask yourself a few key questions. Knowing these answers will cut your search time.
- Are you using it as background music?
- As music bookends?
- As stingers to transition from one point of the video to another?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the important stuff, such as the ideal length of the audio track.
Videos that have voice-over might require a calmer sound while videos that put music front and center will need a more dynamic song.
If your video features a portion that explains your product, your best bet would be to lower or remove the music during the speaking portion to ensure viewers can hear and get all the information they need.
Lastly, consider the target audience for this video. You don’t want to alienate the very people you’re directly speaking to by using the wrong music for that group.
The point of this exercise is to have you determine first exactly what sort of video you are trying to produce, then reinforce it with the right music.
Step 2: Look for music that evokes a certain feeling
Music helps your video convey certain emotions and feeling—a vibe if you will. Read any marketing book and you’ll learn that emotions (and this vibe) play a great role in marketing and by extension, sales.
With this, you have to use music that’s aligned with the message you want to send throughout your video. Are you making a brand video? A testimonial? A Facebook video ad?
Different videos will call for different music. You’ll have to think about the right “feeling” attached to your video’s goal. For example, it might be jarring to use a tinny piano solo for a sales video and it might sound off if you add hip-hop beats to an inspirational testimonial.
By choosing the appropriate music, you’re making sure there is no disconnect between the emotion you wish to convey and the message you want to communicate.
Pro Tip: Use different search filters to help you find music faster. Promo.com, for example, lets you browse by mood, tempo, genre, and instrumentation.
Step 3: Make sure the music is of high quality
If you’re making videos for your business (such as, say, marketing videos), it’s in your best interest to set a certain standard when it comes to quality. That includes making sure the music you’re sourcing is nothing short of high quality.
As we’ve mentioned above, looking for royalty-free music in free sources like the YouTube Audio Library will get you mixed results. Not every song in that library is usable, following your standard quality. Some even use digitally produced instrumentation, meaning you’ll be using music that’s not performed in the real world.
The differences, though admittedly marginal, can set your video apart from sounding amateurish to professionally produced. An easy way to get around this is to source your music from premium providers like Promo.com.
Step 4: Steer clear of copyrighted music
Lastly—and this is perhaps the most important part of all—you have to make sure you are not infringing on any copyright when using music in your videos.
Here’s why you want to work with royalty-free music:
- It lets you use other people’s music for a single licensing fee
- Depending on the provider, it forgoes confusing licensing terms, such as traffic caps, medium restrictions, etc.
- It keeps your licensing costs at a minimum
We recommend you stick with paid providers to make sure you’re in the clear, legally. However, we still advise you to read the fine print as your provider might have different licensing terms.
If you’re using free music, it is your responsibility to make sure you are not putting yourself and your business in a bad place, legally.
Here’s a quick run-through of Creative Commons licenses we recommend you look for:
- Attribution lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the original work even for commercial use as long as you credit the original author.
- Attribution-Sharealike lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the original work even for commercial use as long as you credit the original author and use the same Attribution-Sharealike license.
- Attribution-Noderivs lets you redistribute, even commercially, as long as you don’t alter the contents of the work and credit the original author.
The Noncommercial CC licenses are usually a no-go when it comes to videos online, especially if you’re using them for your business, be it on your website or in social media.
A brief guide to royalty-free music
Royalty-free music is published specifically to be used in film and video projects. This is often the best way forward for those who want to bypass confusing music licensing options (there are six, apparently, each with their own specific permitted uses).
This means when you buy royalty-free music, you only pay for it once and forget about it. Where in other setups, you would have to consider many moving parts (such as medium, reach, etc.), which stymies your post-production process.
Getting royalty-free music provides marketing teams and business owners an economical way to obtain fully licensed music without the headache of going through rigorous licensing processes or hashing out extended licensing agreements that could end up costing you way more money down the line.
That said, you should read the fine print. Some music licensing sites, like PremiumBeat, will offer different tiers of pricing for different use-cases.
But there’s an even better way to make sure that you don’t run into music licensing headaches.
Promo.com (yeah, we’re a bit biased) offers simple pricing for plans that come with unlimited use of fully-licensed music and pre-shot video footage. (Check out our pricing plans here, if you haven’t yet.)
Lastly, there’s “music without copyright.” These are pieces of music whose creators offer under different free licenses, be it Public Domain or Creative Commons (CC). You can use music without copyright in your videos and projects, provided you follow licensing terms indicated by the author of the music.
Where to find royalty-free music for videos
Now that you understand how royalty-free music works and why it’s your best option when choosing music for your video, here are some of the best places where you can find great royalty-free music.
YouTube Audio Library
If you’re strapped for cash and on the lookout for free music to use in your videos, YouTube’s own music library should be your first destination.
Comprising free-to-use music from musicians and composers from the platform, the YouTube Audio Library provides a free solution for marketers and business owners who want to get their hands on free music. What’s more, the UI for finding songs is pretty intuitive.
Having said that, we want to stop you in your tracks for a second and offer a fair warning: not all music in the library is great or of high-quality.
You really have to wade through to find good, usable music, which may be counterproductive to your efforts as a video marketing team or a small business.
If you want royalty-free music without spending too much money, Artlist is a good option. For a flat fee of $200, you get a yearly subscription to the music licensing platform, giving you full access to their high-quality music, unlimited downloads and a license that covers any project, even commercial. Plus, once you download a song with an active subscription, it’s yours to use forever, even if you don’t renew your subscription.
The Artlist catalog has over 12,000 songs and it’s updated daily. To find the perfect song for your video as fast as possible, you can filter your search by genre, mood, video theme, and instrument.
Another good option is Envato Elements. At a single monthly fee, you’ll get access to select Envato products, including WordPress themes, fonts, logos, stock images, and—you guessed it!—royalty-free music. The selection is fairly wide, with about 94,000+ music tracks to choose from. The quality is decent, too, considering that the bundled pricing will only set you back $16.50 per month.
Discoverability isn’t its strong suit, however. Though you can filter by tempo, you only have two categories to filter your searches. That makes searching for the perfect music still a very involved process.
You didn’t think we wouldn’t put ourselves on our own list, did you? Well, we come from a place of knowing we offer a great solution for choosing music for your video.
Using the Promo Editor, you are matched with a curated list of music that goes well with the video you’re making. If you want to search further, you can easily browse through different genres, moods, tempos, and instrumentations.
In addition, you get access to Promo’s vast video library, which has gorgeous shots you can use to create your professional video. You can whip them all together quickly using the easy-to-use editor, which also lets you export in the correctly optimized format, be it for Facebook, YouTube, or elsewhere.
Choosing the right music for your video doesn’t have to be as grueling as it has always been.
There are resources and tools at your disposal to help you create a video that shines both visually and sonically. You just have to find and take advantage of them.
With Promo.com’s powerful online video editor that lets you whip up professional-looking videos using millions of visual assets and fully-licensed curated music, you may have just found the best one yet.