There are far too many good videos that are one step away from being great. The video concept is solid. The visuals are good. Editing is tight and well done. The dialogue is clear and understood. So what’s missing? Music.

There are well-made videos that either lack a soundtrack or the music they use just doesn’t fit the scene. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only one part of the mix but when you consider it with care, the results can be amazing. Music adds depth to a scene, life to quiet moments and keeps the viewer engaged throughout. However, unlike video editing which you can learn, or a great idea that you can write down – music is far more about a feeling or emotion. And really, how do you search for music based on emotion?

How Music Affects Us

Sound and music have an interesting impact on our brain. For sounds we recognize, like a car horn or a bird chirping, the brain’s auditory complex responds. It takes in the sound, process what it is and tells us what we’re hearing. That is a bird. That is a car. It’s a direct response to the sound. But, when we listen to music something different happens. First, the auditory complex responds. Shortly after, other regions of the brain activate. The regions include those related to movement, planning, attention and even memory.

We don’t just process music like we process sound, our brains engage with it. There’s a great
article by Medical Daily that goes further on this topic – it’s a fascinating read. It also details why music is so important. It has an immediate impact on the person watching and activates those areas of the brain. That means they’re going to watch your video a lot longer than they would have otherwise. Of course, promotional videos for songs are all about the music, and we watch them almost solely for that purpose, so it’s kind of disorientating, odd, and a little boring to watch one without the audio soundtrack:

How to Use Music in Your Video

Composing a film score is generally the final element of the production. The director and composer sit down to watch the film, noting events and sentiment that the movie attempts to convey. That’s the same approach you should take to adding music to your own videos. Once you have filmed it, sit down and figure out what you want the audience to feel. If a scene is building tension, consider a heart pumping repetitive bass filled track. If it’s comedic, using something light and silly with piano or tuba can add that vibe. Or if you’re trying to create excitement, using a strong EDM track can deliver that impact.

Where to Find Music for Your Video

Now, this is the difficult part for most people. While major films have their soundtracks composed, you likely don’t have the budget to do the same. Assuming you want to keep music costs low, but production quality high, let’s look at a couple of options to using music in videos:

YouTube Audio Library: YouTube has a decent catalog – in terms of volume that is, maybe not exactly quality. You can use every track in your videos with monetization, sometimes without attribution. The tracks range from classical epics like Wagner to silly ones from Jingle Punks. With limited sentiment and genre search, you MAY find the right track for your video. But, you may also come up short. That said, you’ll have no worries about copyright complaints. Overall, it’s not a terrible place to find music. Something’s better than nothing, right?

Soundcloud Creative Commons: Soundcloud is an artist social network that allows uploading and sharing. The artist is in control of how they list the track – whether for download or just to listen to. Artists can also list their tracks under creative commons licenses. But, you’ll need to follow the license terms and more often than not, monetization is now allowed. You, one day, may experience copyright claims if they sign to a label. To avoid problems, take screenshots of the license terms and save them. Soundcloud search is poor, so you may need to listen to hundreds of tracks to find something good.

Epidemic Sound: Yes, this is for the big boys and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t count yourselves among them! Epidemic Sound has tens of thousands of songs, sortable by genre, mood, movement and even place. If you’re looking for a rock song, for an epic scene in the jungle, you’ll find Epidemic Sound has 106 tracks. Latin music, for a running scene in a Casino, delivers 9 results. You’ll definitely find the right song for your video and if not by yourself, you can always shoot them an email for help. Not only that, but each track is professionally produced for video productions. Perhaps best of all, you can monetize your video without fear of ever receiving a copyright complaint. For YouTubers, rates for unlimited music start at just $12 per month. For bigger productions, licensing music starts at just $0.99 per second.

Music is a small part of the bigger picture. Once you start using music effectively, you’re going to see improvements in audience consumption. Not only will the final video feel more complete, but it will make your audience FEEL something too. If there’s one thing to improve in 2017, it’s your channel soundtrack!