Music for a Song
April 9, 2013
Hey there, slugger, how big is your music budget? Oh, is that kind of a personal question? Well, don’t worry: finding that perfect track for your next video project doesn’t require Hollywood-sized resources.
Just because you can’t afford John Williams to write your music doesn’t mean you have to settle for anything less than great. There are numerous sites online (like us, Tunefruit) that can help you find the appropriate track (and license fee) for your project.
We might be a little biased (okay, we are), but to us, music can either make or break a film. Whether it’s a 30-second ad or a three-hour long feature film, the music is just as important as anything folks see on screen. Actually, we’ve pored over the scientific literature and we know that the music is just as important as the script, or the actors.
Music is a form of communication: a different part of the brain deals with music than with verbiage. So if you slave over writing your script and you storyboard each shot, shouldn’t you give the music the same attention?
Sure, it’s crazy to try and write the music yourself, but a basic understanding of how music is interpreted by the brain will really go a long way in working with your composers. Or if your budget is closer to $500 than $500,000, knowing the science will help you choose the perfect music for your project.
Here are some really cool things that music does to the brain:
1. A World Is Created
If you’ve ever studied music theory (or even listened to a tune before), then you know that music has structure. But if you’re the listener, you don’t even need to be aware, it’s all happening subconsciously. Your brain takes in all that sound, sorts it out, and creates structure. Every part of the music, from rhythm to timbre to pitch, creates a new world of sorts that subconsciously sets up expectations for you as the listener.
2. Emotion Is Evoked
This one gets more complicated. In fact, there are hundreds of very long journal articles about it (using really long words that I can’t even pronounce). But, to try and simplify this, let’s just say that music creates universal emotions in literally everyone. Unlike my ex-girlfriend’s Grandmother, music does not discriminate.
3. Motion Itself Is Perceived
This one is really cool - scientists, doing their science thing, have proven that the same parts of the brain that deal with motion light up while listening to music. It’s exactly why people dance! They feel the motion in the music and transfer that motion through the body. This one also gets really complicated, but it’s safe to say that the right music can create the feeling of riding a roller coaster, or swinging in a hammock on a warm, sunny day.
“The music completes the trinity - in the name of the script, the tunes, and the cinematography.”
So now that we know these things happen to the brain and that your viewers can experience both the music and the verbiage at the same time, you can easily double the effectiveness of your message.
Whether you’re making some cool cartoons and need a Bugs Bunny-esque orchestral score, or you’re making a horror movie and you need the music to lead your audience astray so you can scare them that much harder, the music completes the trinity - in the name of the script, the tunes, and the cinematography.
To help you along, we suggest that you follow a few easy steps to finding the right music track for your project.
Most sites offer some sort of search function that allows you to type in descriptive terms and come up with some relevant tracks.
For our site, we make sure that you folks can find a track using a variety of search terms that we call Deep Tagging™. Every site has their own flavor of algorithm that powers music search, all with a varying degree of success.
Let’s pretend you aren’t entirely sure what you’re looking for (this one’s a stretch), and your project is about going to Naples. You’re hungry and exhausted, so you search “meatballs.” Part of the magic of searching for music online is using strong descriptors. Don’t just search “Naples.” Search “Chianti,” “Pizzeria,” “Godfather,” “Venetian,” you get the idea. Creative terms will provide you with creative music solutions.
This is where everyone seems to get confused, and yeah, it can be confusing to license a track. Words like sync, master, exclusive, non-exclusive, usage, and duration get thrown around on different music licensing sites, and many times, they can be used to mean different things in their given context. So, how do you figure out which license is the right license for your project?
Editor’s Note: We at Wistia have also written a more extensive post about licensing music for business video!
You want to make sure of the following:
- Music on the site of your choice has been pre-cleared for commercial usage.
- You have a variety of price/license tiers to choose from that fit your budget.
- The catalog is curated (this is a big one, sifting through trash is for raccoons).
- The site you’re licensing from offers support and assistance for music search.
To tie things up, check out some Wistia users that used Tunefruit to license tracks: