Video is inherently a visual medium. When people are getting started with corporate or business video, they usually focus on the visuals – what camera to buy, how to compose a shot, what lights to use, etc. Don’t get me wrong – those are all important, but the audio, specifically corporate background music, is arguably as important to the final product as the visuals.
For years, the stereotypical corporate video background is usually represented by music laden with 80s keyboards and soft-sounding guitars. Throw in an anchorman-sounding voiceover, add some shots of people walking and smiling at each other, dub it to a VHS tape with a hard case, and you’ve got yourself an old-school corporate training video for the ages.
Of course, expectations have changed with video in a business setting, as viewers have tiny attention spans and a large amount of skepticism with corporate content. The music needs to add credibility to the overall project.
Here are some examples of how to find the right music for your video:
1. Listen for cues from TV shows, documentaries and movies
Major productions often have someone solely dedicated to either finding the right music in post-production – or in the case of some TV shows and movies – a team composing original music. There’s a reason those people have those jobs – they’re fantastic at picking the exact song to match the tone and pace of the film.
While you won’t be able to match those agencies’ budgets, listen closely to the genre, tempo, length, etc. of what they picked. You’d be surprised at what you can find that’s similar on cost-friendly stock-music sites.
2. Where to find background music for corporate videos
Assuming you don’t have the budget for popular music for your corporate video, which you most likely don’t have since the costs are exorbitant, don’t fear: there plenty of ways to find background music for business videos.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll break down your options into two categories – subscribing to a music library or using websites offering free corporate music.
Typically, a music library subscription is a good play when you need a high volume of tracks. You often pay a set fee for a period of time and have access to the library. The fee is a hefty investment, but what you pay per video goes down the more you use.
Where I most often steer newbies is to royalty-free music sites, such as Audio Jungle, Pond 5 or Premium Beat. They each have their own licensing nuances, but you can generally find a pretty decent track for $75 or less.
At the risk of sounding like a snob, I’d guard against sites that offer free background music for business videos. There’s a reason it’s free, and while there might be some good tracks here and there, you’ll probably spend more time looking for the needle in the haystack rather than paying a nominal fee to get something you need right away.
One watchout on all music options is to carefully read through the licensing details. Don’t just click through it as if you were agreeing to a phone’s terms and conditions. There can be important language related to where you can use a song, how long the video can exist on the Web and other factors you probably haven’t considered.
3. Let music guide your edit
For beginning editors, music tends to be the last thing they think about in post-production. I’d challenge you to make it the first thing you find.
When you’re conceptualizing how everything will come together, think about the type of music you think will tell the best story. Do you want energy? Pick something with a good beat. Are you looking for the audience to think deeply? Look for something sparse and emotional.
4. Use comp downloads to find the right track
Many royalty-free sites will not offer you free corporate background music but let you download a comp (a.k.a. “free”) version of a track. It will have a watermark every few seconds so it can’t be used without purchase., but at least you can get a feel for how it would sound in your project.
I recommend downloading a handful of options to find the right one. It’s very common for me to think I have the right song when I find it, but when I start editing, it just isn’t working. If you have another couple of options to swap in, it can make your song-choice process more efficient.
5. Make the right adjustments in the final edit
Before you make the final render, be sure to adjust your song’s volume levels to make sure you can still clearly hear dialogue (if applicable) or ambient sound.
You can make these edits right in your editing software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can perform your audio mix in a dedicated audio application such Adobe Audition. The latter gives you more options, but it is a lot more complex than the standard editing application.
6. Lean on your production partner to help with music
Personally, I love the challenge of finding the right music for corporate video. Every day, we help our clients find songs that match the tone they’re looking to strike with their projects.
Overall, I’m hopeful your biggest takeaway is to please avoid just grabbing the first track that you find and throwing it on the timeline. Music can sink your project just as fast as poorly lit video or bad shot composition.