If you’ve ever watched one of those YouTube videos in which famous film scenes are presented with the music “removed”, then you’ll definitely have an appreciation for how important music can be for setting a mood and constructing the reality of what you’re watching.
As TV and film composer Brian Metolius says in Patrick Willems’ video essay about music in film:
“Film music acts as this invisible hand that is guiding you subconsciously [in] how to contextualise what you’re looking at emotionally or intellectually … When you don’t have it, you don’t engage mentally or think too hard about what’s being shown in front of you.”
The same is true of any other type of video; so, when working on marketing content, picking the right music can play a significant role in engaging your audience and getting your message across effectively.
So, how do we do it?
For most marketing content, the music should be fairly undistracting. As marketing expert Jeff Bullas writes:
“As a general rule of thumb, most music in marketing can easily fade into the background. Though the audience does notice it, they may not be focusing on it. The music in videos is often pretty simple and usually reduced to tones and instruments rather than to voices and lyrics.”
This is certainly the case when making something like a simple explainer video. In this video that we produced with Independence Advisors, for example, the fairly ambient music is mainly used to give the rhythm of the video an extra push - keeping the viewer engaged, but without distracting them too much from what’s being explained.
When making a video that has a bit more of a story to tell, that’s when other factors should come into play to ensure that the music is tonally and emotionally appropriate. One of the most important questions to ask is: who is the target audience for this project? As online video platform Vidyard write in their own guide on the topic:
“The more you know about your audience’s age, affiliations, and preferences, the more specific you can be about your music choice. If your viewers cover a wide swath of professionals in business, it’s best to play it safe with corporate tones, classic rock, and ambient music. But if you know they’re younger, indie rock, hip-hop, electronica, and dance music might be more appropriate.”
This was something that we thought about when producing the ‘Meet the Students’ videos we worked on with Birmingham City University. Though the music in the video below is still largely meant to sink into the background, it also fits snugly with the general tone of its narrative. The track chosen fits within the “lo-fi hip-hop” genre - which The Washington Post’s Steven Johnson describes as having “[a] signature mellow sound [... that appeals] to crowds of listeners on YouTube and Spotify seeking unobtrusive music for working, studying, or doing nothing at all.”
For the vast majority of projects, it’s very unlikely that we’ll have the budget to spare to licence copyrighted music by hugely well-known bands and artists. Therefore, much of the music that we use comes from online libraries that allow us to buy licences for compositions that are designed specifically for use in video production.
These sites, such as AudioJungle and PremiumBeat, are particularly useful for video creators because of how they allow us to filter by specific parameters like genre, instrumentation, tempo, and mood.
For projects with a higher budget, a longer timeframe, and more of a cinematic feel, bespoke music can also be a really good option. Commissioning people to compose, perform, and record original music can take up more money and time; but it also allows for more control over the tone of the video and how it evolves over time.
When working on a promo for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, for example, we commissioned an original piece from one of the institution’s students. As well as showcasing a musical talent harnessed by the conservatoire, this also gave us a bit more freedom to experiment with the tempo and structure of the final video.
When making a video to market your business, it can be very easy to see the music as secondary to the message that you want to get out there. By thinking about what kind of video you’re making, who it’s aimed towards, and what emotional undercurrent you want to leave in their minds; it becomes clear that music can be a great subtle way of reinforcing what you want to say.
If you have any other questions about the work that we do at Ember, or how we can help you, please get in touch with us.