Week five of Ellen Friedland’s series ‘Tips for Corporate Video Production’ hosted by the New York video producer herself! Back from last week, and once a week, a new set of tips will be published on ReelMarketer with a relevant tip to help you save time or increase production value on your next shoot!
Week 5: The Importance of Great Music for Producing Great Video
By Ellen Friedland
Great video requires great music.
Not that the fine-enough-royalty-free-music-library-download-for-$40 kind, or the talented-best-friend-studying-music original, can’t be used to produce a high quality video. But to move it up a notch, to produce a great video, great music is essential.
This axiom applies no matter the type of video or the music genre.
A few examples:
Music for Non-Profit Video Production
Producing a video for a nonprofit with a mission prone to emotion, many elements in combination can tell the story, such as speakers conveying experiences in passionate ways and visuals depicting powerful moments. Well shot, scripted in a cohesive manner, and edited professionally without adding any music, the video might be effective. Add nondescript background music and the piece will flow. But include great and impactful music, and hearts will be moved, videos will be shared and fundraising campaigns will be more successful.
Corporate Video Production Music
Producing a corporate video for any purpose (e.g., marketing, investor relations, HR, “about us” for the web), one mechanism is to rely completely on b-roll and/or motion graphics/animation. Well-scripted, strong visuals can tell a story quite creatively, luring in viewers. But to be successful, this type of video requires a great musical background that matches the feel of the storyline. To make any other choice will risk boredom prior to the video running its course. Boredom at a meeting means viewers pay more attention to their smartphones. Boredom online means that the “stop” button is clicked and the viewer is off to another website. The opposite, of course, is interest piqued, attention paid, and possibilities for business launched.
Music for Documentary or Feature Film
Producing a documentary or feature film with any hope of acceptance at film festivals – let alone the dream of theater screenings or TV broadcasts – great music may be the final touch that puts an otherwise excellent project over the top.
Whatever the emotion of the film – love, happiness, sadness, fright, anger, etc. – the appropriate musical score can convey feelings in complex and visceral ways that underscore the action and theme on the screen.
The challenge, of course, is that great music is hard to come by and usually expensive to purchase.
As best as I understand this confusing area, inserting pre-recorded music requires buying the synchronization and master uses licenses from the publisher and the record label. The fees are generally negotiable, but for popular music, numbers start in the five digits. Consequently, in my experience with corporate clients, in the balance between exorbitant fees and affordable (albeit often uninspiring) rights-free selections online, the scale generally tips toward the latter.
There Are Other Alternatives
Recognizing the popularity of video coupled with the need for quality music, increasing numbers of talented musicians are producing selections that they are selling through new websites that charge more than the royalty-free music library sites but less than melodies and recordings protected by major organizations like ASCAP. Purchasers pay various amounts for different uses of the material and for a limited time (such as a year) with options to renew when the period expires.
For instance, an organization using music purchased from such a website might pay $100 to screen the production at a meeting and $200 to put it on its website for a year, then renew the latter fee each year for the next two years. Over the three year stretch of time, the buyer will have paid $700 – far more than the one-time $40 fee on a royalty-free site, but incomparably less than purchasing a popular song – and will have the benefit of really good, compelling music underlying the video production.
An even better alternative in terms of effectiveness is to work with excellent musicians to create original music. While rates are more than the good quality pre-canned variety, original music – with or without lyrics — need not cost more than a few thousand dollars and can be created specifically to match the point and feel of the production or entity. Additionally, the rights to use the music can be negotiated on a one-time basis, precluding the headache of returning to revisit fees on an annually.
Ultimately, music, like other forms of art (including video production) is a matter of taste.
More times than not we have produced videos for corporate clients where all decisionmakers are happy with every aspect except the music: one likes a jazz sound, another prefers classical, and a third goes for a folksy melody. Coming to agreement on the genre is the first step.
But once accord has been reached, the quality of music can play a significant role in making that final product not only successful in accomplishing all its goals, but actually awesome!