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Lend Us Your Ears: 3 Music Experts Chat Business Video

WFW animated explainer video production

We’ve written before about some great stock music sites because we use music in nearly all of our videos. However, tunes are just one component of the videos we create.

There are people out there who live, breath and sleep stock music and some of them work at the sites we listed in the linked post.

So we decided to reach out to a few of those music experts to get some insight on how music and business videos can work in sweet harmony.

1. When it comes to corporate videos, how would you define the role music is supposed to play?

Stirling Myles of Marmoset Music: Like any successful pairing of soundtrack and picture, music can provide so many elements to a story. It can bring emotional depth, it can brighten a moment of euphoria, it can drive the arc and feel of an entire story. Music can be a character in itself or a passive bystander.

When it comes to corporate films, music is an amazing tool for giving weight to a business’s mission and purpose.

When it comes to corporate films, music is an amazing tool for giving weight to a business’s mission and purpose. It’s capable of enhancing moments of ingenuity, passion and innovation, all integral things to a story of entrepreneurship. Music is an element that’s more felt than heard in film and it can honestly make or break a film if poorly executed. The role of music in the landscape of business films can help make a message stand out from the rest, music can be a call to action and an indelible, rallying anthem.

Dennis Dunn of The License Lab: The role music plays depends upon the type of corporate video production. If it is a product launch/demo or a promo video the music can play a much more assertive role in drawing the viewer in and holding their attention as the story being told in pictures unfolds. In a “talking head” video [testimonial], where a person is relaying a story, being interviewed or talking about the brand or product, the music must play a very different role, moving the story forward purposefully without interfering or distracting from the message being imparted. This is a fine line to walk in these cases and one of the reasons why music that is composed specifically as production music works best in these circumstances, as compared to music that is created with other intent and re-purposed to support content messaging.

The Tunefruit Team: The visuals tell the story to the eyes, and the music tells the story to the ears. OK, that’s a little poetic and heavy handed – but no doubt the soundtrack is much more than just a few notes under some moving pictures. Music sets the tone and emotion, it builds or breaks the energy (which in turn dictates the pace for edit) – it’s the punctuation which accents certain moments or pauses to create (and then relieve) tension.

The soundtrack is also a huge part of what the viewer perceives as your brand identity. It can be young/hip/now (i.e. Apple, Coca-Cola) or timeless (i.e. banking or insurance companies); adventurous (i.e. GoPro) or comforting (i.e. healthcare). You had to choose whether your logo was red or blue right? This is kinda the same thing.

If there is no voiceover on the video the music must command all of the ear’s attention. Tracks that are dynamic and interesting – perhaps with unique instrumentation or ear worm melodies (the kind you take with you in the shower) work best for this application. Or perhaps it’s more of a ‘song’ with lyrics that help convey your message. If there is a voiceover it’s important that the music support it with instrumentation that doesn’t conflict and a tempo that ‘feels’ correct with the speed of the read.

WFW animated explainer video production

2. Picking the right music is always difficult for someone who may be more business-minded, what tips do you have for those taking their first foray in music for video?

Stirling: Have patience. The process can take some time, especially when searching through so much music at once. I know this can feel overwhelming. I would first suggest that the filmmaker should make a list of words and descriptors of what their story is and think of these words when looking for music. Is the film anthemic? Empowering? Inspiring? We’ve set up a whole filtered search element on our site that helps narrow down the search for the perfect song. We want to help filmmakers find the song that feels right and perfect for what they want to accomplish with their video.

Dennis: Today, most production music companies will offer music supervision to their clients. This allows someone who is “more business focused” or less experienced in selecting music for messaging to pass the burden on to someone whose role is to do just that each and every day for a wide variety of clients and business types. This allows our clients to place their energies instead on their areas of strength, while we exercise our expertise at pairing music to the stories being communicated. And, for a client who’d like to play a more active role, a nice balance can be found in collaborating with our supervisors instead of turning the task over to them completely.

3. What’s a musical pet peeve you’ve found in corporate videos?

Stirling: Skimping on the music budget. It’s a firm belief that you get what you pay for and this definitely pertains to music licensing. Sometimes we see companies devote a music budget that’s peanuts when compared to everything else, and this results in licensing music at bargain-barrel prices, ultimately landing poor audio quality. As music plays an integral part in supporting the emotional weight and message to a film, it’s tough to see (and hear) it being an afterthought.

In corporate videos, music is most often the last creative element to be considered. Consequently, messaging that is otherwise solid is dulled by uninspired music.

Dennis: Generally speaking, the poor quality of music that is chosen to accompany the stories that are being told. In corporate videos, music is most often the last creative element to be considered and usually thoughts turn to track selection only shortly before deadline. Consequently, messaging that is otherwise solid is dulled by uninspired music.

Companies that understand this propensity change things up and shift the music selection task earlier in the creative process to allow for a more dynamic blend of picture, VO and music. This not only makes for a more compelling video visually and sonically, but it certainly allows these companies to distinguish themselves from others who are satisfied with “OK” messaging. And, differentiation is, after all, the name of the game, right?

Somday animated explainer video
stock music for video

4. Where do you see stock music going in the next 5-10 years?

Stirling: We would love to eventually take “stock” out of stock music. As artists ourselves, we want to elevate the respect for both musicians and filmmakers in their professions. Much like the farm-to-table movement, we would love to see filmmakers get to know where their music is coming from and the real people who create music.

Dennis: I think the quality and usability of production music will continue to improve in the coming years. Technology has certainly lowered the ability to enter the game and as a result the field has become open to all kinds of new talent. For those that stick with it, they will continue to improve their skills and capabilities, and we will see and hear things that we can hardly imagine at this point. I think this will also be pushed from the client side, as well. Meaning that clients will demand continued growth in quality so as to enable them to set themselves and their messaging apart from the crowd.

Tunefruit: Now that everybody has more power on their phone than NASA used to go to the moon rich media (video, photos, music) is everywhere. So the overall demand for video production (and the soundtracks to support it) will increase. And as technology continues to empower more people with the ability to create music there will be lots of supply to meet that demand.

But… More isn’t necessarily better – because choosing a soundtrack isn’t about slogging through too many options – it’s about finding the perfect track. And that means more curation and better search engines – the magic “Bam!” button that chooses the music for you. We’re still working on that one, but we’re hoping to have it first!

Thanks to our music experts for taking their time to chat with us and for all they do to make our videos great! Where do you see music going in the next few years? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Colin Hogan
Colin is the Managing Director at Demo Duck, a Chicago-based video production company, who has a deep obsession with making videos as often as possible. Follow Demo Duck on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.