When you have a solid voice recording, adding the right background music lets you set the emotional tone. Select the right sound track, and your production suddenly takes on a professional sound. Even subtle background music adds ambiance and feeling to an otherwise sterile recording.
Finding the right track requires some detective work and a lot of attention to nuance and tone. The process of looking for, and finding, that perfect accompaniment can be mystifying, but it doesn’t have to be. From identifying the best music services to trying out several tracks, this post gives you the information you need for confident audio mixing.
Search for “royalty free”
Start your process the way you probably start most things: by googling. Look for “royalty free background music” and scan through the mixed list of providers and listicles. Both Bensound and Purple Planet, my two preferred sound track services, pop up in the first 20 results.
Once you land on a site, click through a few samples to see if you like their style. Give yourself five minutes or less to browse and develop a feel for the productions as a whole. Then, if you’re feeling it, start investigating the legalities.
Not all royalty-free services are created equal. To decide if one’s a match, check out their licensing information. Often, you can download and use tracks for free if your production qualifies. Levels of licensing vary by service, but most allow free use of tracks for the following productions:
films shared on youtube or similar sites, facebook, or other social media
vlogs and audio intros for blogs
educational films or clips
If you produce apps, video games, DVDs, or broadcast media including advertising, music services will most likely ask that you pay a small licensing fee. All costs vary by provider and by production, so make sure you investigate thoroughly.
When you created your audio track, you carefully thought about your script’s tone, your video production’s purpose, and whose voice best complimented these elements. Choosing a sound track asks you to exercise these same skills.
It might seem overwhelming to think about blending all these aspects of your project together. The best advice you can follow is this: Trust your gut, don’t overthink it, and allow yourself to play a little. Try out several different tracks until one “feels” right.
Not sure where to start? Use the categories provided by the stock music site you’ve chosen. You can quickly narrow options down from there. Bensound organizes their tracks into a few key categories, like “Acoustic/Folk,” “Electronica,” and “Rock”:
Purple Planet’s categories reveal their tracks’ emotional tones instead, such as “Inspirational,” “Atmospheric,” and “Gentle”:
Putting it all together
Let’s walk through what this might look like in practice. For this real estate voice over script, I chose Ramona, whose soft yet upbeat voice matches the tone of the copy:
Welcome home! From a breezy open entry to high ceilings and a soaring ocean view, every space feels like a breath of fresh air. With a walk score of ninety-five, enjoy dinner on the town. Or, unleash your inner chef in your own well-appointed kitchen. Sustainable hardwood floors, energy efficient appliances, and a rooftop garden for truly local produce. Come see for yourself, and fall in love with home.
Here’s a sample of the audio without background music:
Looking at the script, let’s isolate some some critical keywords and phrases. Immediately, I notice “breezy,” “soaring,” and “fall in love.” We need to find a music track that compliments this feeling of openness and possibility.
With that in mind, this first sample uses a Bensound track and is geared toward first-time home buyers:
This version, using a track by Purple Planet, appeals more to sophisticated buyers looking for an upgrade:
Keeping in mind the flexibility of your video, you might want to add spacing to your audio before you mix in the music track. Notice that the second version runs 3 seconds faster than the first. Adding some extra pausing between sentences compliments the meditative feeling of that second track.
Making the final decision between these two options will depend on where this house is located and its price point. Part of what makes background music such a strong tool is its interchangeability. Try releasing two different versions and see which gets the best responses.