In this article, you will learn how to choose music for YouTube videos. Music in a video works the same way as spices to a dish. It adds more ‘flavor’ and enhances the effect of the visual part. So, let me help you to make the right choice. We’ll start with some basics:
- Dive into music theory
- Talk about the audience
- Review the basic filters you can use to find music for YouTube videos on music stocks
As a bonus, we’ll discuss some helpful tips to improve your video.
A bit of theory
Generally speaking, music is all about conveying and evoking emotions. One might say that perception of music is subjective: everyone experiences it in their way. But according to scientists at the University of California, some types of music evoke the same emotions even in people of different cultures.
The subjective experience of music matches 13 overarching feelings: amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and excitement.
We can express these emotions in music with several means: tempo, mode, loudness, melody, and rhythm. How do they make us feel? Let’s examine it from a closer perspective and see how it may affect your choice of music for YouTube videos.
Finnish scientists found that fast tempo leads to excitement and anger. A slow tempo brings sadness and serenity. See for yourself!
Sometimes video creators like to use increasing pace or repetitive chord progressions. They do it on purpose to immerse viewers in a tense atmosphere. Take a look at this great example by IKEA using Antonio Vivaldi’s music.
Conversely, listening to slow or meditative music has a relaxing effect on the body and mind. By choosing a relaxed and slow rhythm, you have an infallible tool for calming your viewer. By the way, you can get our playlist with relaxing music.
An Australian study analyzed the reaction of 1,000 consumers to a series of audio tracks. The researchers found that strings playing short and sharp notes in a primary key caused feelings of happiness and excitement in 87% of respondents.
Meanwhile, the transition from a major to a minor key caused sadness or melancholy in 83%. 90% found the acoustic guitar sounding caring, calm, and sophisticated.
So you need to have a clear idea of the emotions you want to evoke in viewers and what kind of music can trigger them.
Compare the previous video with this one. What do you feel?
Do you remember the type of music that goes with scenes of chases, battles, and fights? Exactly. Most often, they go with energetic, intense, and powerful tracks like in the next video. Such tracks will definitely add some energy to your videos.
A melody is perhaps the most recognizable element of a musical composition. It can be a heartfelt vocal piece, a sophisticated piano line, or a delicate trumpet sound. Melodies can be simple or complex as well.
Complementing harmonies brings happiness, relaxation, and serenity. But clashing harmonies make us feel commotion, anger, and unpleasantness. They can work differently: alone or together with other melodies. It brings a more complex composition.
The rhythm becomes the last (but not least!) point that evokes emotions. A smooth/consistent rhythm makes us feel happiness and peace. Rough/irregular rhythm provokes amusement and uneasiness. Finally, a varied rhythm gives us joy.
Think about the audience
When choosing music for YouTube videos, think about the people you’ve made it for.
The more you know about your audience, the more accurately you can decide on music for your video. You don’t need to know everything about your viewers. Some basic information like age, geo, and interests is enough to get started.
Let’s take the audience’s age as an example. There are tunes we associate with age groups. For instance, people often associate сhildhood with soft piano sounds, marimba, and a mark tree.
So, if you are making content for children, think of peaceful or fun music, or both. The track LITTLE TRAVELER by Draganov89 would be a great choice. But if you’re running a channel on boxing or other manly stuff, you’d better consider hard rock, alternative, and similar genres.
The audience’s interests also impact music selection. Assume that you want to create a video for teenagers. Likely, they listen to modern music. But which one?
Do a little research to find it out: spend some time in popular music communities, listen to top charts on Spotify and the like. Scroll the TikTok feed (for work, of course) and note popular tracks and artists. Then you can find teenagers and talk to them about music to check the results. This may be a challenge, but at least you’ll learn a few things, for sure.
Age is not the only factor that can influence the choice of music. It is always better to consider several ones, including regional specifics (geography).
Imagine your video about the nature of China for Asian viewers. It would be strange to use Korean or Japanese folk music in this case. While these styles may seem very similar to western audiences, they are entirely different for the locals.
So, find out more about the music and culture of the region you will be filming and choose the one that suits you best. It can be Chinese folk or instrumental music in this case.
Where to find your audience info
If you are already running a channel on Youtube and have a viewer pool, the primary source of information about your audience is your Сhannel analytics. It is a great tool that gives lots of food for thought. Below are some screenshots from our channel analytics page.
If you don’t have a YouTube channel yet, watch what your potential competitors do on YouTube. Do it regularly. Pay attention to the tracks they use. Study the descriptions below their videos. Read the comments. This will help you get a picture of their audience and their preferences. Also, this can be a great source of new ideas and inspiration.
How to find the right music for YouTube videos on music stocks
Now that we have decided on the audience and theory let’s try to find a suitable track on the stock. We will use Fugue, a free music stock, but it will work just as well for other ones. There are two common filters for finding music: genre and moods.
Once you’re done defining your audience, art begins. The first way to find music is to use the moods filter. It is an extended palette of emotions.
Genres convey the mood of the video. Knowing the genre, you can imagine which video it is best for. For example, acoustic music is best for melancholic and thoughtful videos.
Here are some excellent matches we have already made for you:
- Ambient: for meditative and mysterious videos
- Epic: for sweeping, powerful, and victorious videos
- Synthwave: for bright and adventurous videos
- Jazz: for soothing and subtle videos
Feel free to use all the tracks from Fugue since we have plenty of them! But don’t rack your brains if you get lost in this diversity.
Before publishing the video on YouTube, check it for copyright infringement. The same applies to music – you can get a strike for illegally using someone else’s track. You can read more about it in YouTube’s manual.
You can legally use tracks from Fugue in your video, but note tracks with the Content ID tag. If you see this tag on a track in Fugue, it means that the track is registered in YouTube’s copyright database. If you use it on YouTube, it will most likely result in a claim. It’s not the end of the world, of course. But you’ll have to spend some time disputing the claim. Other platforms are fine with such tracks.
Some useful tips to help you find the best music for YouTube videos
Avoid using looped tracks
Most of them are monotonous and annoying. Try to find tracks with a duration equal to or longer than your video.
Even if you choose an excellent track with various paces, ups, and downs, you can use some extra techniques to grab viewers’ attention.
Use a fragment of another composition or stop the music and surprise with a sudden silence. Breaking the constant rhythm gives an excellent result. Just try it.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. However, do not forget that music should accompany your YouTube video, not eclipse it.
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About the author: Lisa Zelenskaya, music producer at Fugue. Passionate about music and media. She explores new genres, styles, and musicians even in her spare time. She also loves teaching kids and presenting new artists to the audience.