How To: Select the Right Music for Your Project
July 14, 2017
By Michelle Maslanka • Producer

Studies have proven that music affects our mood. So choosing the right music track for your video is vital in evoking a specific feeling in your audience. But aside from the right feeling, your music track should fall in the right budget. Different types of music licenses come in at different price points. And with so many options, how do you choose “the one”?? Here are a few points to keep in mind when contemplating music options that will help you in the selection process. Now, doesn’t that sound like music to your ears?


Make moves early.

It is in everyone’s best interest to choose music early on in the project. If you can select the music before the edit is started, this helps set the tone and pace for the first cut. And if you can select music before the production begins, you have propelled the project even further in the right direction. The music may dictate not only how the video is cut, but how it is shot.

Speaking from experience, we once found ourselves in a situation where we were asked to change out the music in the LAST round of post-production. You can imagine our frustrations with having to go back and retool an edit we thought was about to be approved and finalized. This simply came down to a last minute change in opinion, and let’s be honest, this happens all the time; but the moral of the story is to strive for approval of music from the beginning.


Create the mood.

Music has the power to elicit feelings. An epic, cinematic song creates excitement around a sleek, new product, and an emotive, inspirational soundtrack pulls at heartstrings in a nonprofit’s fundraising video. And the goal, most likely, is that these feelings will lead to actions, such as buying that sleek, new product, or donating to that foundation’s worthy cause.

Music adds to the overall experience of the video, so you want to be very intentional when choosing music. The tone of the video will likely lead you to lean towards a certain style of music. Consider your audience too. What type of music will that relate to? What type of music will compel them to take action?


How much?

Great question. And the answer: how much do you want to spend? Really. You can purchase a royalty-free music track license for under $20 through some sites. That being said, the cost will depend on the type of license you will need for your project, which can be determined by factors such as how the video will be distributed (web vs. broadcast), audience size, etc.

Let me take a step back for a second. The important thing to remember is that you are technically purchasing the license for a music track, not purchasing the music track itself. This means you don’t own the rights to the song to use however you see fit; but you do have legal permission to use the song (likely limited to one end product) royalty-free and per that specific license's terms. To clarify, royalty-free means you just need to pay for rights to use the item once per end product. You don't need to pay additional or ongoing fees for each person who sees or uses it.

You can find a range of online royalty-free music libraries to search through. Typically, you can find a perfectly good track in the $20 - $50 range, but we have also needed to purchase licenses in the $200 - $300 range. It will come down to the specifics of your project, but the good news is that there are A LOT of options and tiers of libraries, so you are pretty much guaranteed to find something that works for your budget.

Here are some royalty-free music libraries, ranging in prices and licenses to help kickoff your search for the perfect soundtrack.




Happy hunting!