How to create a great web video: The music

by Matt Byrom on 23 January 2012

Music for your web videoWhen you commission a video from Wyzowl, or make a video yourself, it’s a good idea to think about using background music. A music track can help give your video atmosphere, and helps to combat the problems associated with short attention spans: music will hold the viewer’s attention as the video plays. The right piece of music will reinforce your corporate tone and message and give a demonstration video a slicker feel and a nice flow from beginning to end.

Using commercial music can be quite expensive, and on small projects, it’s usually not that sensible. Large brands often license songs from artists for adverts and videos, but the amounts they pay to the musicians can be more than the cost of a small house!

Instead of setting your heart on using a song on the radio, think about using a Royalty Free track instead. If you choose wisely, the results could actually be much better, and you’ll have unlimited use of that song in future if you wish to make a follow-up video.

How does Royalty Free music work?

Normally when a musician’s song is used, the company that uses their work will be asked to pay a royalty for the use of that piece. This happens for all kinds of use of commercial music: nightclubs have to pay royalties for playing music at club nights, just as larger radio stations have to pay royalties on all the tracks they play. The royalties are processed by organisations such as the PRS and distributed to the copyright holders.

As we mentioned earlier, brands sometimes pay artists money upfront to use their music on an advert that’s seen by millions of people, rather than paying a royalty for each use. If you use a piece of music from a commercial source, you could be asked to pay for its use in the same way. The upfront cost of licensing music in this way can be prohibitive for a small project.

Royalty Free tracks get around the problem of measuring how many people listen to the song, how many times the video is played and how much the artist is owed. You also don’t have to pay huge fees upfront or ask an agent to set up the deal. Video producers simply pay a one-off fee for a track, normally just a few pounds or dollars. They are then free to use it as they wish.

Royalty Free music a much cheaper way of obtaining a good quality soundtrack for your video. Common uses of royalty free music include presentations, corporate training videos and even sound effects on apps, and we also use Royalty Free tracks here at Wyzowl when we make videos for our clients.

Is Royalty Free music free?

Sometimes you may be fortunate and find Royalty Free music that’s free to download, but it’s not common. You may find that free tracks are quite short or come with some conditions attached. They may not be available to use for profit-making companies, or may be subject to particular terms which restrict the use of your video. You may not be able to distribute it on DVD or put it on YouTube, for example.

Normally the musician who makes a Royalty Free track will charge customers an up-front fee for the piece. Once you’ve paid that fee, you can normally use the track as you wish without penalty (but check the terms and conditions if you’re not sure).

Royalty free music is normally priced between about £5 and £50 per song, with longer tracks generally being more expensive. Short tracks, like 30 second pieces or ‘jingles’, will be priced at the lower end of the scale.

If you need several different songs for different clients, or you need to purchase a library to ensure you have a decent selection for each project, some companies sell packages or CDs containing a range of different styles and genres. Buying in bulk can be a more cost-effective way to get hold of a range of different tracks so you can try different styles and find something that fits.

How to I obtain Royalty Free tracks?

There are a huge number of websites that offer catalogued, tagged archives of Royalty Free music. Most of these websites provide high-quality downloads, including WAV and mp3. Choose WAV if you’re not sure which one to pick: mp3 files are compressed, and you may hear a slight difference in quality compared to the WAV. It’s always better to start off with the best quality files you can get hold of because you don’t know how your video is going to be compressed later. Any minor audio gurgles and other artefacts might become much more noticeable when your file is re-compressed and uploaded to YouTube.

Great websites for buying Royalty Free Music include:

Audio Jungle
Premium Beat

If you have any issues downloading large files, you can choose to receive a CD or DVD from some stores. This is a better way to build up a large archive of music; you can simply rip the tracks to your hard drive once you find one you like.

What kind of track should I use?

Consider the brand first of all. What kind of company is it? What kind of message are you trying to get across? Are you trying to make people feel reassured about a service you’re offering or excited about a new product? What kind of age group are you looking to engage? Jot a few of these ideas down to help you focus on a genre or style that’s right for your video. The track you choose for a new social media network will be very different than one you might choose for a furniture store.

Once you have a few suitable tracks, overlay them onto your video. Check the pace and make sure the music complements the movement of the animation and images. Ensure the volume is at the right level so the music isn’t distracting. If you choose a song with vocals, always make sure the subject of your song is a suitable match for the content of the video too.

Video Marketing

Matt Byrom

Written by Matt Byrom

My name is Matt, I'm Managing Director of Wyzowl. That means I chat with customers and make sure everything is running smoothly in the office. I love our business and hope you enjoy our blog! :)