February 18, 2014

Choosing Music for Your Video

Chris Lavigne


Dan Mills


Background music plays a wicked important role in your video. It’s a powerful way to drive the video forward and create emotion around your message. However, choosing the right track for your video can get tricky. Here are some tips that can help you pick the perfect song for your video project.


How do you want your audience to feel when they watch your video? Should they be excited about your new product launch? Warm and fuzzy from your customer testimonial? On the verge of laughing from your candid in-office culture clip? All of these feelings have styles of music that will help evoke a specific emotion.

Music licensing libraries like Marmoset and Tunefruit have emotional based meta-tags on their tracks like “empowering,” “playful” and “peaceful.” This feature is super helpful for finding a background track that elevates the emotional message of your video.

A great way to shop for songs is to split your screen up and try some out! In one window play your video without music. In another, test out some songs. This will help you find a match made in heaven.

Song form vs. video form

Most pop songs you hear on the radio have a pretty standard structure consisting of 4–5 parts (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, another verse, another chorus, bridge, and a massive double chorus to bring it home!). While you might pick a pop song that is stylistically and emotionally the right fit for your video, the transitions will probably not jive with your video’s narrative structure.

We recommend looping (repeating) sections of the song to better fit the flow of your video. When it comes to background music, you can repeat things more than you think. Don’t be afraid to loop the verse, cut the bridge, cut the last chorus, etc.

Avoid corny digital instruments

If you’re looking for an organic-sounding song with acoustic instruments like acoustic guitar, piano, or indie rock drums, make sure you find a track that has the real thing. Although some high end samples sound amazing, digital versions of acoustic instruments often make a recording (and ultimately your video) feel corny and dated.

Let’s say you’re looking for a song that kind of sounds like Mumford and Sons… put on your headphones and listen to some Mumford and Sons! Open up “Little Lion Boy” in one window, and your music site in another, then compare and contrast the sonic qualities between the recordings. It won’t take long before you can tell the difference between the good, the bad, and the corny.

Keep background music in the background

In a lot of cases, good background music is the music that you didn’t even notice. So if someone’s talking on screen, don’t let the music get in the way.

Watch out for songs that have sonic elements that compete with the human voice. Obviously vocals and group whoa-ing fall into this category, but poppy piano melodies and even whistling are also elements that will compete with the human voice.

A gift from Wistia!

This is going to be a lot easier if you have some songs to play with, so Wistia has made a bunch of music tracks available for you to use for free! Each of the songs has very different emotional and sonic qualities. Maybe one of them will work perfectly in your next video, or maybe none of them will. You decide!

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