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Music is a cornerstone in most videos, but you’ll want to do it right. Otherwise you run the risk that the video you’ve spent so much time putting together gets taken down, comes across as amateurish or interferes with your visuals.
Here are five common mistakes when selecting music for your video – and how to avoid them:
1. Using music without a proper license
Music is everywhere, so it’s tempting to pick a great-sounding track from your music collection and just use it in your video. But don’t! If you don’t have the proper license in place to use the track, it could end you in hot water. The copyright holders will likely have your video taken down, and may even go after you for illegal use of their music – not to mention the fact that composers, like everyone else, really like to be compensated for their work.
Remember, once you release your video, it might get spread around – even more than you expected or planned – and if that happens, you really don’t want an unlicensed track to be in the video.
How to license music for your video: If you have the budget, bring in a composer to do custom music for your project. If not, visit a stock music site and find a track that fits. It’s quite affordable to license a track, and once your video goes viral, you can use your time celebrating instead of spending sleepless nights worrying about that unlicensed track you used.
2. Including a track just because it’s your favorite
Don’t just include a track because it happens to be one of your favorites. Think about how it works within the context of your video, and if it works with your intended audience. Your choice of music can greatly affect how your video is perceived, so think it through before you just reach for that favorite track of yours.
How to find the right music: Many stock music sites allow you to download previews of the tracks you can license, and this can be a great way of trying out different tracks and genres before making your final decision. Use the previews in your early versions of your video to give you an idea of what works – and ask friends, colleagues or others who have useful input to chime in. If you get great feedback on a given track, it’s time to grab a license, put in the full version and release your video.
3. Messing up the mix
If you haven’t thought about the mix balance in your video, you could end up ruining your audio and ultimately, the overall impression of the video.
How to balance your mix: Whenever there’s dialogue or narration, keep the music low enough so that the voices can be clearly heard. If you’re using sound effects, be sure to balance things so the music and effects are not competing for the same space in your sound. If there are parts of your video without sound effects or voice-over, you can take the music up a notch. Be sure to compare your mix to other videos to hear if you’ve got the balance right.
4. Breaking the flow
If you don’t edit your music properly, it can severely break the flow of your video. Trying to combine two tracks without careful editing, not thinking about the music transitions or using too many tracks in a short period of time or is a surefire way of annoying your viewers.
How to create a great flow in your video: Edit your music so it follows the on-screen events, don’t cut a track abruptly, and create subtle transitions. Think of the rhythm in the music, and let this guide your editing. Doing so will make the music and visuals blend together much better.
And don’t be afraid to have passages without any music at all – it allows some breathing room and generates a far better impact when you cue that next track.
5. Distracting the viewer
Music with vocals or strong melodic content demand a lot of attention, and if you overuse tracks with this kind of content, it can severely detach from your visuals or the story or message you’re telling in your video.
How to keep your viewer focused: Go for instrumental tracks whenever you want your visuals or story to take center stage, and use melodic content sparingly. If you have sequences with montage-like content, this is an area where you can bring in the more melodic stuff, or vocal tracks, to great effect – if it fits with your overall presentation.
I’m a composer and music supervisor myself, and I hope this has given you some ideas on how to make music a strong part of your videos, and what to avoid.
Good luck with your video project!
If you need music for your video, do stop by my site – Music For Ads – where I’ve sorted through myriads of royalty-free tracks to bring you the very best music for videos.
I also create custom music for authors, creatives, experts and corporate clients who want to use their own distinctive sound as part of their brand to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Reach me at the link above.
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