- Apr 21, 2021
- BY: Drew Gula
How to Add Music to a Video in 5 Steps or Less
Music makes a big impact on the way viewers experience your films, so knowing how to add music to a video will make your job easier. More importantly, it will add another important resource to your toolbelt — a tool you can use on just about every project you’ll ever work on.
But before you go off and start dropping your favorite songs into project timelines, there are a few important things we’ll need to cover first.
After all, making the perfect video is a big deal. Making that perfect video without worrying about copyright claims or licensing issues is basically a masterpiece-level accomplishment.
How to Add Music to a Video
Finding good, uncopyrighted music for your videos might seem intimidating. But all you really need to do is follow these 5 steps, which stretches all the way from brainstorming the project to exporting the finalized video from your editing software.
Let’s get to it.
1. Think About the Tone You Want to Create
Choosing the right music can make all the difference for your video. Music has the power to affect our emotions, create certain tones, or guide our experience (even in a visual medium).
The art of filmmaking is just as reliant on good audio as the visual pieces, and you really can’t afford to overlook the importance of music and sound design.
In fact, it can be helpful to think about music during the pre-production phase. You can write out the emotional beats you want to hit as part of the script, or call out specific songs and genres when you fill in your storyboard template.
2. Browse a Royalty Free Music Library
Fast-forward to the post-production phase. You’ve completed shooting and now that you’re editing the project, you’re ready to add in music and mold the final film into the vision you can see in your head. To start, you’ll want to browse your go-to royalty free music library.
Now your initial reaction to this might be, “But why do I need royalty free music when I’ve got a whole library of songs on iTunes?” That’s a good question, and it’s something a lot of creators wonder.
The truth is that you don’t actually own that music, even if you paid for it. According to copyright laws, you purchased a copy of the song for personal use (listening at home, in the car, etc.). But personal use is a completely different process than licensing a song for use in a video project.
This is where royalty free music can help. If you licensed a song from a copyright holder, you will pay the licensing fee and also pay regular royalty fees for every person who watches your video. That chews into your profits, which is counterproductive for a filmmaker who’s trying to generate some income off this process.
And if you choose a royalty free music library like Soundstripe, you’ll get access to a collection of radio-quality songs that you can browse right now for free.
3. License and Download the Perfect Song
You’ve spent some time thinking about the kind of music you want, then browsed a few libraries. You chose the perfect song for your video...but you don’t really want to pay the licensing fee.
Let’s circle back around to something we talked about earlier. Copyright law is a pretty big deal, and it’s becoming more and more of a threat hanging over the heads of content creators. A single DMCA strike can damage your channel, your income, and even your reputation.
If you decide to ignore these warnings and use a song already on your computer, one of two three will happen. Either (1) you will receive a copyright claim, (2) you will receive a takedown notice, or (3) you’ll get a kindly worded email with the threat of being sued.
You still have a couple options if you get a claim or notice for breaking copyright law. You could pay to officially license the song (which could cost a few hundred dollars), allow the creator to monetize your video, or simply replace that song with something else.
But there’s always that risk of legal difficulties. The potential punishment of a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison — in the most extreme cases — just isn’t worth the risk.
4. Drop the Videos into Your Project Timeline
If you’re still waiting to hear how to add music to a video, you may be disappointed. Because this is by far the easiest part of the entire process: Take the song file, drag it into your video editor of choice, and pat yourself on the back.
Yup, it really is that simple. And most file types will integrate seamlessly, so the only thing you have to worry about is placing and trimming the song to fit the scene or clip.
If there was any complicated part of this step, it’s the concept of audio mixing. You should never have to do the work of an audio engineer (assuming you’re getting songs from a library with high quality songs), but you may have to adjust the levels or trim out parts of the song to match the tone you’ve envisioned for the project.
Still, if you did Step #1 and incorporated music selection into your pre-production process, you’ve got a clear idea in place. Even if your plan adjusts during post-production, you still know where each song goes and what kind of emotion or ambiance you want to build towards.
5. Repeat as Often as You Need Music
The benefit of finding a good royalty free library is that you can double-dip, triple-dip, etc. And if you use a platform like Soundstripe, you can even download something like a Premiere Pro plugin to make it even easier to browse and add music without having to leave your project.
That’s pretty much what it all comes down to. Understanding how to add music to a video isn’t particularly difficult, but there are a few nuances to the process that many creators overlook.
As a creator, you’re going to continually need to find music; following these steps will become as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth.
But a royalty free music service makes that task easier and cheaper. So when you need to add music to your next video — or maybe a current project — think back to this checklist and save yourself from wasting time and resources.
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