How to Choose the Right Music for your Video

Choosing music for your video is a challenging proposition for many Indie Filmmakers and video content creators. If you haven’t got the budget to use a composer to write you something bespoke then you’re into the ‘joy’ of searching music libraries for a suitable track.

For some reason the Search process is a frustration for many with no fast way of identifying music within a library without the time consuming element of listening through numerous tracks; many of which are ‘nearly’ good enough but nothing ever seems to be perfect.

There are whispers that some libraries will soon use sophisticated algorithms to analyse a soundtrack that you input and then the library will supply recommendations that are similar (based on Shazam’s awesome EQ-signature recognition technology).

However, until that is mainstream there’s no getting around the fact that searching for music is a lengthy process. However, here are a few points to consider while you’re hunting for that elusive soundtrack.

Look for a music library that speaks the filmmaker’s language

Ever lost your luggage at a foreign airport where no one speaks the same language as you? It’s a nightmare that ends in you not finding all of your luggage and wasting a ton of time. That is what happens when a common language isn’t being spoken. That’s why the best thing you can do is to find a music library that speaks the filmmaker’s language. You want to see film and video genres broken down for your search-ability. If you’re a wedding filmmaker or corporate filmmaker you’re more than likely going after a certain sound which composers and musicians may describe in a different way to you. A simple and understandable search menu that speaks in terminology you understand will save you a ton of time.

Look for a music library that offers ‘stems’

For those of you not familiar with stems: they are essentially the building blocks of a piece of music (groups of instruments, but broken down into sections) which allow you to customise a piece of music further if you edit each stem – for example, muting a part, or shortening single instruments etc.

A lot of up and coming libraries (and some that have been around for a while) are now making sub-mixes and stems available to their customers for greater control and flexibility. Companies like Epidemic offer stems as part of the download once you’re a customer and have purchased a track.

Another company that offer various mixes, and some at varying lengths, is Audionetwork. This is useful if you like a piece of music, but wish there were some different varieties of the same track to use in a longer form piece of work or edit; which actually makes your video soundtrack sound more ‘composed’.

Look for a library that has an App to control the music

Over the last few years a few companies have sprung up that offer additional technology to influence a piece of music that is offered via their library. Extreme music springs to mind with their ‘customix’ technology built into their browser.

But another library has taken this concept to a new level with their plug-ins for Adobe Premiere and Final Cut, namely Filmstro. Filmstro have created a standalone desktop editor that allows for easy customisation (lengthening a track to the desired length and synching key moments to specific cuts in your edit) along with intuitive controls to change the mood and tone of the music to match your scene as it unfolds.

What’s more, they offer all of their music for free (in static form) but you can create nearly unlimited versions if you dive into using the App and their three proprietary controls – Momentum, Depth and Power.

Use the BPM to help you edit a static track

If you don’t have the flair or patience for getting involved in adaptive solutions, then you can still chop and change a static track to suit your needs a little more.

Be sure to have the BPM and know your way around an audio editor such as Audacity. You’ll need to set the session to the BPM of the track you’re importing and then you can slice up a track to create loops in order to further lengthen areas or try and cut down on sections.

Post-Production

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