How to select music for your brand video

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What are the ingredients of an effective brand video? High quality visuals are key to driving viewer engagement. Also just as important is the soundtrack, and advertisers are increasingly realising this. According to IFPI, music licence revenues are on the increase and a large part of this expanding market is related to corporate videos and advertising. 

One key advantage of incorporating music is that it brings a cultural relevance within a particular demographic. Volkswagen tapped into this recently when they produced a commercial featuring YouTube sensations Walk Off The Earth, making music using various parts of the new VW Beetle. A large number of Millennials will be aware of Walk Off The Earth – their cover of Goyte’s Somebody That I Used to Know has seen almost 157 million hits on YouTube. With its innovative use of music, this ad shows VW reaching out to a younger, digital-native audience. 

More than anything else, though, music builds an emotional connection with the audience. "Our response to certain kinds of noise is something so profound in us that we can't switch it off," says Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct. "Film composers know that and use it to shortcut the logical part of our brain and get straight to the emotional centres." You may not be producing a film, but when telling your brand’s story it is helpful to keep that cinematic mindset.

Getty Images Music team works with brands to select music that enhances the video and draws the viewer in – here are their six key factors to consider when choosing music for your brand video: 

 

1.  Determine how the music will support your message 

The first question to answer is about the presence of the music within the video. Will it be the most prominent feature? Alternatively, if there’s a lot of dialogue in the video, you may prefer the music to be transitional or in the background. These two examples will give an idea of how each approach works.

Chipotle’s acclaimed Back to the Start campaign made music a key focus of their video, using Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s The Scientist to provide a lyrical dialogue for the animations. The song choice conveyed the brand’s sustainable, back-to-nature values. Even though there is no voiceover throughout the video, the words of the song align so well with the visuals that the message is clear and leaves a lasting impression. 

With a different approach, Chrysler’s Halftime in America uses background music to mirror the emotion in a monologue performed by Clint Eastwood. Detailing the suffering of recession-hit America, Eastwood’s stirring speech is accompanied by low brass then, as he turns from sorrow to inspiration, soaring strings. The music is used in a subtle manner, but draws attention to key parts of the video’s message.

Most brand videos naturally fall into the second category, employing a voiceover and background music. The key to success is to use music to enhance the message, not distract from it. For the most part this will mean using high quality, and varied, instrumental tracks.

 

2.  Match your brand's personality

Aligning music with your brand’s personality can help to reinforce your message with your customers. On the surface, Levi’s Odyssey spot promotes their Engineered Jeans, with the tagline "Freedom to Move". But look at the personality portrayed: they say that those who wear Levi’s can defy the limits of walls, of rooms and even of gravity. They’re rebels and mavericks and the drama of the music reinforces this.  

That said, knowing your brand’s personality is only going halfway. An equally important element is appealing to your audience – and the audience you’d like to create. What types of music would appeal to your customers? 

 

3.  Establish your video's lifespan

Some brand videos are only designed to run for a limited period of time, as part of a short campaign or the lead-up to an event. In this case, using popular contemporary music can help your video seem “in the moment”. On the other hand, videos focused on company information, how-to or product demos are more evergreen and may benefit from using instrumental music that won’t date as quickly. 

 

4.  Consider similar songs and artist styles

When planning out your brand video, you may already have a popular song in mind. However, marketing budgets won’t always allow for you to feature the latest Beyonce track. In this case, try exploring artists from the same genre who have similar sounds or styles. The best way to start searching for the right track in the Getty Images Music library is to first recognize any key or unique characteristics of the song that you like (e.g., genre, mood, tempo, vocals, instruments), and then adjust our music search filters to reflect those elements. We also have a team of music researchers who can find original music that will conjure the same feel as the artist or band you’re looking for. 

 

5.  Build a playlist 

Getty Images Music provides over 180,000 tracks, so make use of filters such as genre, sub-genre, mood or vocals to narrow your search.  

A great tool to keep track of your selections is the Build a Playlist function. This allows you to curate tracks of interest until you make your final decision. By adding tracks on a rolling basis, you can get a sense of how your tastes are developing and more easily make comparisons between the options. Sharing functionality on the playlist also makes it easy to collaborate with others on your video project.   

 

6.  Decide what type of license you require

Determining your video distribution channels at the outset of your project will help to narrow down the best licensing solution. Consider all possible places up front that you may want to feature the video – E.g. trade shows, YouTube, company website – so that the license you choose is as comprehensive as you need it to be.

Another licensing factor to consider is track exclusivity. Do you want to be the sole brand associated with a song? 

 

Key takeaways:

  • Think of the music’s purpose. If it’s to emphasise a voiceover, it’s best to look towards quality, and varied, instrumentals. 
  • Matching music to your brand’s personality is vital – but also be aware of what will appeal to your current, and potential, customer base. 
  • Think of the video’s lifespan: whether you want it to be trendy or evergreen will have a big influence in your choice of music.
  • If you like an artist or band but they’re not within your budget, Getty Images music researchers can help you to find a similar track. 
  • By building your own playlist, you can share your selections internally and externally for collaboration and feedback.
  • Knowing where the video will be viewed is a key step on the way to deciding which licence you require. 

Browse Getty Images’ music collection across a wide range of genres, artists and categories.

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