Having started my craft in the wedding video industry, I became far too familiar with the ‘wedding music video’. Often (though not always!) there would be beautiful visuals with the latest top 40 song playing loudly over a canvas of somewhat typical wedding footage. But no story. The video editor often seemed more concerned with timing the clips to his music than to bringing anything unique to the story at hand.
And it’s not just in the wedding world this happens. Far too often music just dominates our video stories. Yes, there is often good cause for this, as with music videos, but usually the approach should be one of letting the music enhance our story.
Some good questions you can ask about the songs you are shopping are:
When it comes to music, less is often more. As depicted in the classic Hitchcock film “North by Northwest” (video link below), the use of music is sometimes scarce. Watch this iconic scene, where music is not used at all, until the very end (and quite effectively, at minute 3:30, if you don’t have time for the full video–although this movie still holds up, FYI). Hitchcock decided to rely on just ambient sound to put across the feeling he wanted from the scene. The same applies to your video. Think of yourself like a soundtrack artist (for one thing, it’s fun to pretend you are Hans Zimmer!). Are you giving your story pace and dynamics? A sense of flow? Does your story bend and lessen so it’s all the more powerful at its climax. So yeah, one of the best tips in using music is just that: sometimes, don’t.
I love a good build in a song. As a composer of music myself, I put them in most of my songs because I love them so much. Video is no different. It should also have a build structure to it, at least to an extent. Most good video stories will have a clear opening, a clear ending, and an in between. Are you ‘riding’ each part of your video? A good place to start may be a standard curve of a big music opening, low or no music in the middle, and a climax of more music at the end. And remember this: you can get away with louder music and dynamics as you go on in your video (as opposed to the beginning) because your listener has been eased into it.
The options have increased for sure, which is great news! What used to cost a fortune (I mean, a literal fortune) is now pretty affordable for most (plus, you don’t need to steal music and break the law, which is always a bonus :). Here are a few good resources we’ve found.
Royalty-free with both monthly and yearly subscription options, and a substantial library to choose from. Easy search feature, and a wide variety of musical genres, all quite reasonably priced.
Only an annual plan offered but still, a decently sized library. No limitations on channels or monetization options. And new music is consistently being released, so options are always expanding.
This one gets kind of pricey, but wow, can you find some really nice music on here. Not cheesy but the kind of music great for filmmakers and content creators.
So, off you go and start listening! And remember, trust yourself with your intuition when it comes to selecting music. If you have a solid vision for your project, you’ll know it when you hear it. Get out there and have some fun dreaming and FEELING (cause that’s what music is all about anyway).