Listen up! How to Choose the Perfect Music for your Explainer Video

by Samantha Ferguson on 31 May 2017

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When creating an explainer video, there are so many things to think about (the messaging, the graphics, the length) that it can be easy to forget about music. But music is a crucial component of any video, from the start-up explainer, to the Hollywood blockbuster.

Music will give your video life and it can also help to combat the shrinking attention span that marketers are now faced with. The perfect music will reinforce the tone of your brand and give your video a polished, professional feel.

It would be super cool to present your brand, service, or product to the world alongside your favourite Beatles track, but unfortunately, using commercial music is very expensive. Large brands license songs from artists quite regularly for their advertisements and videos, but for a small to medium sized business, it's not a cost-effective decision. To put it into perspective, the cost to license a track can easily amount to that of a small house!

Instead of setting your heart on using a song you heard on Spotify, think about using a Royalty Free track instead. If you choose wisely, the results could actually be better than licensing a track, and you'll have unlimited use of that song in the future, should 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, 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 that they like, and once that payment is made, the person/brand/producer who bought it can use it as they wish.

It's a no-brainer:

Royalty Free music is a much cheaper way of obtaining a good quality soundtrack for your video. 

Is Royalty Free music...free?

Royalty free music varies widely in price. On the odd occasion, you might get lucky and find a track that's free to download, but it's not common. The usual rule of thumb is: the cheaper the track, the shorter it is. It's also likely for cheaper tracks to come with some conditions attached, for example, the track might not be licensed for use at profit-making companies, or for distribution on YouTube.

Although royalty free music isn't free, it's by no means expensive - especially in the grand scheme of creating an explainer video. Tracks are usually priced between $5-$50, with longer tracks being a little bit more expensive. Short tracks, like 'jingles' and sound effects can be purchased for as little as $1!

Normally, the musician who makes your royalty free track charges an up-front fee for the piece. Once you've paid that fee, you should be able to use the track as you wish without penalty (but check the terms and conditions if you're not sure).
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 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 do I Find 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 highest quality file you can find 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:

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 when you find one you like.

What kind of track should I use?

There are a number of factors to consider here. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of tone does my company have? (Whimsical? Corporate?)
  • What kind of message is the video trying to get across? ("You NEED this product!", "Here's some friendly advice.")
  • What kind of age group do I want to target?

Asking yourself simple questions like this can help you to focus on the genre or style that's right for your video. For example, 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 suitable track, overlay it 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.

Final Thoughts

When you get an explainer video from Wyzowl, everything is included. From the script, to the storyboard and animation, all the way through to sound effects and music. Our expert animators choose royalty free tracks to suit your video, but you get the executive decision to change the music until it's absolutely perfect! Get in touch to find out more.

Video Marketing

Samantha Ferguson

Written by Samantha Ferguson