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Howto find the best music for your Corporate Movie, Advertising or Business Presentation

As you work on a corporate video or advertising spot you will typically have a few opportunities from which you select the best according to your budget:

  • hire a composer to do something custom for you
  • use contemporary (pop) music and pay for a license to the label/right-holder
  • search a royalty free or even creative commons library where you purchase a license for a single payment for your project

In this guide I am going to focus on the ladder opportunity “Royalty Free Music” but of cause you can also use the following hints for searching in any music database or for example when writing a project white paper for a music composer you want to hire.

Free Background Music vs. “Royalty Free” (paid) Music

A lot of free music platforms like No Copyright Sounds have nice music but usually the songs you find there may not be as many as on paid Royalty Free sites. Further you should read carefully the license terms, even for free music. Some songs are just for non-commercial use and often you have to credit the authors in a certain way.

To make your search a little more easy I recommend you to consider spending a few dollars on your corporate music. This is not primarily a question of quality but much more a question of range. Libraries like AudioJungle or Pond5 offer hundreds of HQ soundtracks for most keywords you can think of and prices are as low as 15 – 20 USD for a basic web video license, so why limit your choice from the beginning?

Step #1 Formulate the message & mood for your Corporate Soundtrack

Before listening to songs I recommend to start with a quick brainstorming where you describe the message and mood of your spot in simple keywords or with examples that come into your mind. Optionally you may also do a quick vision board, where you loosely drop a few pictures from Google Image Search that represent your keywords and moods. Such kind of visualizing is a very nice technique especially in case your video footage has not been shot yet.

At this point it’s a good idea to watch some successful films or spots that are similar in target group and mood to your project to understand what customers are “used to hear”. This will not only help you to catch some good ideas but also to know how to stand out of the rest by doing something different. But be careful, especially for a short advertise, the music should not offend the audiences expectations too much and finally take away the attention from your pictures and voice-over.

A good advertising music is well balanced between clichés and experimenting.

Step #2 The right Sound and Instruments for your Corporate Soundtrack

Now that you have a rough idea for the mood of you corporate media’s background music, we can go more into detail and make some conclusions on what music style and genre will be the most suitable for your project.

When it comes to lifestyle products and especially when targeting younger people, it has become common practice to use the sounds and instruments in your background music, that directly fit the taste of your target group and the spirit of time. For example when advertising for a modern and urban target group you could use a music style like this:

(Get this song)
(Get this song)

Eventually your video is meant to focus on a certain mood or emotion like happiness or sadness. In this case you should consider going on sounds and instruments that are kind of commonplace. Almost everybody is used to hear piano, guitar or orchestral instruments in music for videos. Those standard instruments will not takeover the viewers attention but are highly effective for creating strong moods like in the examples below:

(Get this song)
(Get this song)
(Get this song)

Another common type of advertisement is taking the audience into a certain setting. This can be a place or a point in time that represents the values or tradition of the product and typically end up in using music that “suits the topic”. Common examples are holiday and traveling, traditional “handmade” products or even any scene that plays at a venue that requires authentic background music, as a club or concert.

(Get this song)
(Get this song)
(Get this song)

Of cause you will also find such music on Royalty free Audio Libraries. For better search results I recommend to use keywords that describe the music style (e.g. Salsa, Hard Rock, etc.) instead of the setting (South America, Concert, …)

Step #3 The proper Tempo (not BPM) for your Background Music

The tempo is an important parameter concerning the drive of your music but is also often misunderstood, since the tempo in BPM (beats per minute) does not necessarily represent the tempo and drive of the song as you feel it. While the Dubstep Song below plays at 60 BPM, the second song is a Happy Corporate Song with 140 BPM.

(Get this song)
(Get this song)

I recommend searching for special BPM counts only in very special cases like the video editor told you or you know exactly that a certain BPM is optimal to fit the motion picture for any reason. Normally it is better practice to search for keywords that describe the tempo you would like to find like uptempo, driving, halting or similar.

Step #4 The proper Song Length for you Corporate Project

A very important parameter can be the song length since in a well made advertising spot or corporate movie you do not want music to start and stop with a lose fade in or fade out. You want a nice start and end and in general a song structure that suits your media as well as possible. Luckily, on most Royalty Free Audio sites you can search the stock music by length. Many authors on AudioJungle include various edits in their music downloads, which makes it easier for clients to find music that fits the project length.

On my portfolio ( → BaumannMusic on AudioJungle) you will mostly find audio items that include a full length and in addition two more edits of 1:00 length and also 0:30 because those lengths are often needed for advertising spots. Of cause I also offer to create custom lengths for fair rates.

Step #5 Music with Vocals vs. Instrumental

Music with vocals, can extremely push forward the mood and power of your spot but – according to my experience – only fits well in very few cases. Music with vocals must be selected carefully, because people’s taste of what is a nice voice is widely spread. While in Corporate Movies, music with vocals is very rare, in advertising it is more common to either use music with soft background vocals or – when it comes to lead vocals – very ordinary vocals that do not stand out too much.

Step #6 Try a lot of music in your Video!

Most Libraries allow you to download preview Mp3s with watermarks, so you can try them inside your project before purchasing a license and also export a preview of your film with that watermarked sound file. So my advice to you is not only to listen to a lot of songs but also try as many as you can find together with your motion picture!

A short Summary

So finally to sum up the most important advices for selcting Corporate Music for you Movie or Advertising:

1. Do not save at the wrong things and limit your choice to free music.
2. Formulate keywords before search and look out what kind of music others do use
3. better search stock music by keywords than by occasion
4. Do not overcharge the viewer with too experimental music
5. Be careful with Vocals and BPM counts
6. Try a lot!