Choosing the right music for your video

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the importance of having music with your video presentation? When asked this question, a high proportion of business-based respondents said five or less. Yet ask them to name their favourite TV commercials and suddenly the importance of a great music track became evident. From Coca Cola and John Lewis through to Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate (who didn’t love that gorilla?) and Money Supermarket.com which used Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirrty’.

It’s an understandable disjunct – business people, quite rightly, are concerned with getting the right message across through the wording on the video and the impact of the visuals. A script can go back and forth between the client and the creative people many times before it us finally approved. If any music is added it’s often as a kind of afterthought.

So why do so many top brands use music so prominently and regularly? Here are a few of the reasons that we’ve identified:

1. The emotional connection

Who hasn’t been just a little moved by the clay modelling scene in Ghost, as Patrick and Jennifer get romantic to the strains of the Righteous Brothers’ ‘Unchained Melody’? Or felt the hairs of the back of their neck rise to Ennio Morricone’s theme tune to ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

The list is endless, and we all have our favourite movie moments, but the point is the same – music moves you. Use it well in your video comms and you can create an emotional connection with your audience that can only work to your advantage when it comes to making that all important purchasing decision.

2. Set the right mood

It may seem obvious, but different kinds of product and service require different kinds of music to enhance their appeal. Lush orchestral strings can carry the viewer gently along before rising to an exciting crescendo, cool jazz can add an air of upmarket sophistication; driving electro pop could be used to communicate a high tech vibe, perhaps for the latest tech gadgetry.

“A good video maker will always ensure that the music track doesn’t drown out any vital info”

On the other hand, if your target audience is wide ranging, you’ll probably want to go for a piece of music that isn’t too genre specific. A good video maker will be aware of the possibilities and will always ensure that the music track doesn’t drown out any vital info, or lie too low in the mix that it becomes a faintly annoying distraction.

3. Pace your message

A well judged piece of music will help dictate the pace of the video communications, whether they’re live footage, animation or simply a series of stills. Visuals that are cut to music add a sharpness and shape that carry the message forward in a logical, easy-to-accept flow, accenting the important parts of the sales message where necessary.

For a complex message with a wordy script, avoid a track that’s too busy or it will get in the way; for a message that’s going to rely on visual content, maybe with just a few captions to contain key points, then a wider range of options open up.

4. Custom made or off the shelf?

There are basically three ways to acquire a music track – have it especially composed and recorded (this can cost a lot less than you might think); pay for the use of an established track or plunder the ever-growing wealth of library music that is now available. The choice of ready-recorded music is huge and covers every conceivable genre from comedy to suspense, techno to classical. These days there are some really advanced search functions that speed up the process by narrowing down the choice.

The cost will depend largely on what your music is being used for the audience it will reach etc. Briefing a composer to create you something unique, on the other hand, ensures that no competitor can use the same track, and that the music can be precisely tuned to the pictures. The days when a whole orchestra had to be hired to create a decent track are long gone…one good musician/composer can often do the job now. Obviously, you will need to allow extra time if you go down this route.

If you want to discuss creative ideas with our team, we’d love to talk.

Further reading:

The Role and Impact of Music in Advertising

D&AD: Cadbury Gorilla Case Study Insights