10 Professional Tips for Using Music in Your Production

We are lucky to have worked with some really exciting and wonderfully talented people over the years and one such person, Claire Batchelor, has been kind enough to write us a piece about music and production. Claire is a composer who we first worked with on our feature documentary, The Silent Cancer, and, as she produced such a rich and vibrant score for the film, we have regularly collaborated with her since:

10 Professional Tips for Using Music in Your Production

Mood

Mood is your first port of call for your videos’ music.  For a corporate video or advert, analyse your clients’ needs and objectives to decide on the mood and feel of the music, before thinking about genre.  I would do this because some genres lend themselves to certain moods better than others.

Genre

Ever feel like you only look at genres and styles of music you like, know more about or have used before?  There might be something that would work better with the picture that you haven’t considered – keep an open mind and see what you find!

Creativity

Think outside the box.  There’s no reason why every corporate video should sound ‘corporate’.  If your ideas about corporate videos are out of date, it could give your clients’ customers the impression that they are out of date.  Don’t always go for the safest option – be creative, get inspired and watch your clients thank you for it!

Originality

Some concepts have been done to death, so why not come up with something new?  People are comfortable with things that they know, but the danger of this is customer inertia where they’ve heard a song or seen an idea multiple times. When customers hear a well known song on an advert or TV programme, their attention can wander as the stimulation is minimal.  One way to tackle this is to do a cover version to get the best of both worlds (see my blog post on this) although this idea is starting to be overused as well.

Juxtaposition

A great way to capture an audience’s attention is to use clever juxtaposition of the music and picture.  For example, using classical music over a hip hop dance troupe in slow motion, or a soft piano piece over what would be a roaring car engine.  Think of it in simple terms to get some ideas – loud music for something soft, light music for something heavy, scary music for something cute.

Quality

Is essential!  Some corporate videos out there, and TV programmes too, suffer from music that hasn’t been recorded well, isn’t mixed properly, and doesn’t sound right.  It’s just a case of production values – don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘It’ll do’.

Cost

Good quality music doesn’t have to cost the earth.  Yes it will cost something, but instead of assuming you can’t afford a bespoke piece or certain kind of music, it’s always worth finding out to see if it’s possible.

Integration

Ever thought of having an original song (e.g. We Buy Any Car) as part of your campaign? If so get a composer on board right from the start to guide you through the process.  They may be able to foresee issues that others in your team wouldn’t, have a clear idea of how the whole thing will work and what preparation needs to be done. 

Copyright

If you want to license any existing music, always sort out copyrights for music well in advance as they may take a while to come through.  Also there is a common misconception that you can use 2 or 4 bars of music copyright free – this is not the case.  Here is a good article on this.

Timing

If you are thinking of using a composer, get them on board sooner rather than later.  Remember that we specialise in putting music to picture and may have a fresh view on something.  It’s a shame when a composer is brought in at the last minute, they come up with lots of ideas, and then none can be implemented because it’s too late in the production process.

More articles by Claire Batchelor on www.clairebatchelor.co.uk

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