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Music to your ears: Getting (almost free) music for your promotional videos

August 15, 2013

We’ve written about how important great sound is for reaching your audience at a professional level. But along with good quality sound recording, the right music is also an integral part of that soundscape. The style, tempo and mood of music you choose will immediately impact how viewers react to and interpret your video – for better or for worse.

Try playing a car commercial or a fundraising appeal from the United Way without the sound track. See how dramatically it changes the way you react to the commercial? Now imagine that same video with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Now imagine it with a heavy metal song. Try it again with a 1940s Big Band tune. Each one totally alters the meaning and impact of the original video.

So how do you pick the right music? What about a popular tune from the radio, iTunes, or a movie soundtrack? Unless you have several thousand dollars to dedicate just to the music, licensing a Bruno Mars or Justin Timberlake song for your video is likely out of your budget. That’s the amount you’d need to negotiate with the publisher of the song, plus performance rights to the artist who recorded it, plus the annual royalty fees.

But where else can you get more affordable (and good music) that will make your video soar? Your video producer will likely point you towards an online music library with literally millions of already-composed tunes in every style and genre.

The best libraries are easy to search on-line. They are usually categorized by genres of music, style and mood. Some even have a ‘sounds like’ category to help you find sound-alikes for popular tunes. Most songs are packaged in various lengths, so your video editor can choose a 15, 30, 60 second or longer version that works best for your video. Typically you can download a ‘comp’, a complimentary version, so you can test out the music in an edit and see if it works for your production. On some sites you can even interact directly with the composer to get variations created on the music. If that sounds like too much work for you, your video producer can often first create a short list of tunes for your project to help hone in on some strong choices.

Some of our favourite royalty-free libraries include:

While these music libraries offer an affordable alternative to licensing expensive pop tunes, they aren’t totally free. These libraries offer instead what is commonly called “royalty-free” music. Royalty-free means you’ll pay a modest fee called a “buy out.” You’ll see a pricing structure scaled to how you intend to use the music. Pricing may vary from under $99 for an in-house training video to several hundred dollars for a video that will get hundreds of thousands of views.

The downside is, library music is not original music. You have to be prepared that “your” tune could pop up again on someone else’s video…but with all the millions of tunes out there, the odds are small – and for the pricing, it really is the most affordable option.

We love helping clients find the right music for their videos to make every project ‘sing’. Contact us to discuss your next project!

This article was posted on August 15, 2013 at 13:19 in the Budgeting, Corporate category.

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