So, you’ve shot your video, and done an awesome edit. What other element do you need to set the mood, create engagement and make it both professional and memorable? The perfect background music, of course.
Here’s our guide to all the ins and outs of choosing and using video background music.
How to choose the best background music for your video
- First, you have to decide what role the music is playing – is it supporting your video, or driving it?
- Ie, do you need dramatic music, or music that is more ambient? If it’s supposed to be in the background, but your viewer notices it too much, it could distract from your content or message
- What mood or emotion are you creating for your viewer? For heartfelt emotion, you might want a classical, strings-led piece, whilst excitement or action needs a track that’s faster paced
- Use music to ‘top and tail’ your video. If you feature music more heavily at the beginning and end, it can help to set the tone at the start, and provide a more polished finish. And don’t forget that you can bring the music more to the foreground at certain points, if you need to divide the video into segments, or amp up the emotion
- What’s your budget? If you’re going to be using a lot of background music, it may be worth looking into a subscription to a music library, rather than paying for individual tracks
Using a music library
A music library gives you far greater options in terms of unique tracks, edits and quality. Libraries have different licensing agreements and price points available, depending on what projects you’re using the music for. Audio Network’s search tools enable you to filter based on musical style, mood or emotion, instrumentation, genres such as action, comedy, horror and docudrama and even by bpm.
Epic Background Music
Music can be the ideal way to create an epic feel – whether it’s for a nature documentary, or for blockbuster movies.
The BBC’s Natural History Unit are experts in fusing different genres of music to produce dramatic results in their programmes. In the trailer for their Seven Worlds, One Planet series, they bring together SIA and Hans Zimmer to transport viewers around the continents, while the footage demonstrates a huge breadth of nature and wildlife behaviour. The music,combined with the visuals, are guaranteed to leave you awestruck.
One of the best uses of music which masterfully builds tension to an epic finale is the more orchestral score used for the astonishing ‘Iguana vs Snakes’ sequence from Planet Earth II that became a viral hit.
Movie blockbusters with multi-million dollar budgets require an epic soundtrack to match, ramping fans’ emotions up to the max. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s trailer builds from a relatively quiet start to a deafening finish, bringing in elements of John Williams’ iconic score which has been a part of the franchise since 1977.
The Avengers: Endgame trailer, in contrast, is going for maximum impact, with a sweeping, victorious feel from the first few seconds and announcing itself as the must-see movie of the year.
If you’re looking for epic background music, check out our hand-picked playlist.
Music for gaming
Games music has become as important as the graphics and gameplay in putting its players right in the middle of the action, building pace and excitement, whilst also being flexible enough to change, depending on a player’s actions or situation. Soundtracks are becoming more sophisticated in terms of the instrumentation being used, with God of War by Bear McCreary, which included an Icelandic choir, Nordic instruments such as the nyckelharpa and plenty of orchestral bass to ramp up the atmosphere, winning a BAFTA for games music.
For inspiration for a gaming soundtrack, up the ante with our choices – there’s everything from galactic battles to retro electronica on our dedicated playlist.
Music for lifestyle content
Looking for music that will enhance reality, lifestyle or travel TV programming? You need our bespoke leisure and lifestyle playlists.
Our huge catalogue contains high-quality tracks in every genre, to fit any mood, with new albums being released every fortnight – so you’ll never run out of choice when you’re looking for the best music for your project.
This post was first published on 25/06/2015 and updated on 10/12/2019.