We’ve spoken in depth about getting the best from your video production in terms of idea conception, the film set, film content and much more. Many video projects will require dialogue to get the point across, particularly in demonstration and ‘how to’ videos, and almost every video ever made will be enhanced by music. Music can be the key element which adds professionalism and polish to your commercial video. So with that in mind, we are going to look at three ways to enhance your commercial video using music.
A note of caution before we continue! Although there is copyright-free music available out there, you need to be absolutely certain that you have permission to use any music you choose in your video production. In brief, if you want to use a commercial song in your video, you must obtain two licenses – a synchronisation license to use the song and the master license to use the recording of that song. It’s a big and tricky subject that we don’t have space to cover here, but a master license will need to be obtained from the record label (or from the artist themselves in the case of independent artists) and a synchronisation license will need to be obtained by the music publisher. Whether you’re looking to enhance your commercial video using music or using it in a non-commercial project, for your own company or on behalf of clients, you need to make sure that the use is legal. A further element to keep in mind is that licensing music early in the project could curtail the chances of a budget issue later.
The Bookend Approach
We’re pretty sure that everyone everywhere has watched a video where the music throughout was distracting, if not irritating, for being too loud, the wrong pace, out of context with the video content or purpose or worse.
Depending on the type of your video project, you may find that music simply isn’t needed through the whole video. A corporate video or film, for instance, may actually benefit from having only short bursts of music or a bookended approach.
Often music can actually be more powerful when it is used intermittently – it can better accentuate a point or a climax in the video. When music is forced throughout, the viewer may get tired or bored. The bookend approach gives the viewer some breathing room and this can allow the environmental and background sound to help shape the audio of your project.
If you are going to use a bookended approach, it’s a good idea to pick one music track or theme to open and close the video, especially on shorter video projects.
Giving music or sound design a featured role in the opening and or closing sections of your video will help to set your tone, hold your message together, and leave your viewers with a feeling of completion. A way to do this is to pair music or sound design with an image for three to five seconds.
Using bookend music, or simply turning up the volume of the music at certain points, can also be used to divide your video into chapters or segments.
While video images are great, the music in your video can really help to stimulate your audience and set the mood/tone.
Essentially, music is entertaining enough in itself that, when in the background, it can keep us focused even on otherwise un-entertaining things.
In choosing music for your video, and to truly enhance your commercial video using music rather than turn the audience off, you need to consider your target viewer. What’s their age, background and interests? Whereas an executive of a blue-chip corporation may not identify with hard rock or hip-hop, this may be a perfect style choice for a younger audience. If you’re trying to reach a broad market or many age ranges, look for music that has a broad appeal; you won’t want to alienate or dis-engage your audience with anything too genre-specific.
You will need to decide what role music will play in your video; whether the music supports or drives the message you’re hoping to convey. If your audience notices the music too much, it could be pulling away from rather than adding to the overall impact. Be clear about whether you are conveying broad information or if you are trying to impart technical details that your viewer will need to focus on without distraction as this will dictate what kind of music you should use. Detailed technical info should have a supportive underscore that doesn’t pull the attention of the viewer, but if you’re trying to convey broad concepts, then you’ll need foreground music that evokes greater emotion.
When choosing your music you’ll also need to decide whether or not to use vocals.
Vocals under dialogue or an interview can be distracting and off-putting, but if chosen carefully they can also carry your message through, and can sometimes add some humour, if appropriate to the theme. If you choose a vocal track for your project you must work out whether or not the words support what’s happening in the scene/video. Good non-vocal tracks can often convey the same emotions without words and in many cases could be considered a safer bet.
Music Without Dialogue
Video marketing relies on ensuring your music is the perfect fit for your campaign, brand and product. But what about the idea that your video features nothing but music?
One of the added bonuses of a music-only marketing video is that they make great content for social networks that auto-play videos which don’t have sound to begin with.
When we’re scanning through our social media we may not always be in a position to have audio with the video’s that come up (i.e. in a hospital or at a conference – little bit rude that one, you should be listening to the speaker, but you know what we’re saying) so you can assume that your prospects may be hearing nothing at all when they catch your video on Facebook, for instance.
Videos that feature only music and have no narrative or sound effects need to be compelling enough visually to draw people in without the promise of dialogue, and this effect must be achieved with or without the sound. Of course, you need to add music which will capture the imagination of the viewer if the sound is on, but keeping in mind that often it may not be. The old silent movies are an excellent example of how this can work.