Sing Along

The right music can make all the difference for your next video.

We have a little experiment we’d like you to try next time you are watching a show, so humor us for a minute. Instead of muting the commercials (a trick we learned from Grandma once the remote blessed us with its presence) or fast forwarding through them (because who watches TV in real time anymore?), we ask you to listen to them. Just listen. Close those peepers and open your ears. What do you notice? We’re guessing the music sticks with you.

Communicating with sound

Think about it—we all start out as babies making sounds, not speaking words. From squeals to cries to growls, before we can form real words, we use sounds such as these to communicate our needs. It’s easy to see why music holds such allure for humans, it takes us back to the sounds that formed our earliest means of communication.

We know of no better example of this than Coke’s now iconic Hilltop ad, which Mad Men so brilliantly incorporated in its series finale. All you have to do is hum the first few bars (… I’d like to teach … )  and you know not only the rest of the song, but also what it’s promoting. [Full disclosure—We are admittedly a little afraid to test this theory with anyone under the age of 30.]

Picking memorable tunes

How can you select music that will earworm its way into the psyche of all who listen? A Nielsen study conducted in 2015 found that out of 600 ads considered “effective,” 500 included music.  When a person has a positive emotion connected to your ad, they are more likely to remember that ad and, ultimately, purchase the product/item/service associated with that moving advertisement. But how do you know what music will work best?

Start by asking what will be the best match between the scenes your video or ad is presenting and the sounds. Ask if the music meets the following criteria: Is it the right musical style for the video, does it come from the right era, is the lyrical content relevant to the topic, are the energy levels of the music and the video in sync?

Next, do you want the music to be the focal point or literal “background noise?” Some styles of music, for instance pop, can pack an emotional punch, but if you are promoting something more informational, you will want to pick tunes that don’t compete with the main attraction.

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Video or song—which comes first?

The concept for the majority of ads or videos comes first, and the music is picked to go with it. Occasionally the music will spring forth first and influence the video. There really isn’t a right or wrong in this scenario.

Some of your decision making will inevitably be tied up in your budget. What you can afford to spend will determine whether you can use a big-name musician’s work, if you can hire a composer or if you need to dig around to discover the work of some unknown band or performer. Regardless, when you are planning your next video project, be sure to keep music top of mind.