Choosing the right music for your video can mean the difference between holding your audience’s attention and totally distracting them. But finding the right musical accompaniment in a sea of options can be pretty overwhelming. With help from Dan, our in-house music expert, we’ve put together a quick outline of the process we use when choosing music.

But first, let’s take a look at just how vital a soundtrack can be for your video content:

1. Define the Emotion Approach of Your Video.

The first step to finding the perfect music track is to define the emotion of the video. How do you want the viewer to feel? Should the viewer be excited? Intrigued to hear more? On the verge of laughing?

Music is an incredibly powerful way to not only drive the pace of your video, but to influence how your viewer will feel. The emotion associated with a video might be subtle, but it is still important to define that feeling, even if it is simply “calm” or “relaxed.”

2. Find Music That Matches Your Target Emotion.

Defining a target emotion narrows the scope of your search from “all music ever made” to a much smaller subset. However, finding the perfect track still takes some patience and the right tools.

Licensing libraries like Tunefruit and Marmoset have emotion-based search functionality to help you match a song with your video. Neither service is free, but if you are using video for commercial purposes, you should plan to pay for licensing.

3. Play the Video and Music Side-by-Side.

Try before you buy! Open your rough-cut video (with no music) in one window and play the music track in another. There’s time later to tweak the music so it matches the flow of the video perfectly, but you can start to get an overall feel of how the music sits with the video.

Also, try adjusting the levels on the music track and/or your primary voice track to make sure the music is not distracting from the narrative. Try playing the two side-by-side with your eyes closed at least once or twice. This helps you block out the distractions of the visual elements and focus exclusively on the audio.

4. Make Edits to the Music as Necessary

Don’t be afraid to edit and loop the music to fit the specific needs of your video. Rarely will a song match your narrative perfectly right out of the box. Use your creative freedom to repeat sections of the song and cut out others. Virtually all editing platforms let you cut and edit the music track in the exact same way you do with the video elements. Take advantage of this by customizing the track to meet your unique specifications.

Pay attention to things like sonic quality, and make sure to avoid distracting elements that will compete with the narrative of the video. And above all else, experiment! Don’t just select the first song you find. Try out different songs with different tempos and different instrumentation. We produced several tracks ourselves for you to experiment with. You might be surprised with what song ends up sitting nicely with your video!