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How to Choose the Right YouTube Background Music for Your Video Genre

Soundstripe Team

Jun 26, 2018

Before you can create the next mega-popular YouTube channel like VSauce, Michelle Phan, or Bethany Mota, you need to deeply understand the ins and outs of your chosen video genre. Every genre includes norms that viewers expect. If you break too many rules too often, you’ll leave fans confused, or worse, uninterested!

One of the most powerful ways to signal your genre is your background music selection. Here’s what you need to know about choosing YouTube background music for the site’s most popular video categories.

Why YouTube Background Music Matters

Imagine you’re in a theater watching this month’s big horror flick. A girl in a nightgown tiptoes into the creepy basement to investigate a suspicious sound. As you hold your breath, the monster appears, jaws agape… to the sound of a folk banjo accompaniment?

Yeah, that just couldn’t work!

Music has an incredible power to stoke emotion and set the mood. What’s often less appreciated is how much music can also convey genre and set viewer expectations. Today’s audiences are highly attuned to musical cues. The youngest generation doesn’t even know life without YouTube’s incredibly wide array of channels. In this day and age of highly fragmented audiences, fitting into a specialized genre can help you cultivate a dedicated and loyal audience… but only if your videos hit the mark.


Young woman watches a video on her phone


Your stock music selections will immediately tell your audience what kind of video they’re watching and whether or not it fits their expectations for the genre.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular YouTube video genres and what type of music helps define them.

Sports Videos


 Man watches sports video on laptop while eating pizza.


For superfans who can’t get enough of their favorite teams, those who just want to grab the game highlights, or anyone seeking to lightly stalk their athlete crushes, there’s YouTube. The video giant is full of sports-related channels, including sports gag reels, colorful commentary, and athlete vlogs.

Common music for this genre supports the adrenaline-fueled battle theme of sports, often including heavy beats and powerful rhythms. This BBallBreakdown video featuring some of Kevin Durant’s brilliant plays  incorporates a powerful cinematic background score. (Hint: Skip ahead of the producer’s sales ad in the beginning of the video).

Top Music Genres for Sports Videos:

Beauty and Fashion Videos


Bethany Mota smiles at Go Red for Women fashion show


If you happen to be a teenage girl, chances are good that YouTube personalities Bethany Mota, Tanya Burr, Carli Bybel, and Marzia are your makeup, life, and love mentors. Beauty and fashion videos are a huge hit on YouTube and grab Generation Z eyeballs and heart emojis by the thousands. Most of these videos are fun, positive, and make you feel like the YouTube personality is giving your soul a hug with each video.

Take this breezy video by Bethany Mota, (over 10 million subscribers and counting), where she shows off her new summer wardrobe finds. (Spoiler: jumpers are IN!) Notice how the music mirrors Bethany’s positive and energetic vibe.

Top Music Genres for Beauty and Fashion Videos:

  • Pop
  • Electropop
  • Acoustic

Travel Videos


Woman sits on rock surrounded by foreign islands.


Many of us dream of gazing at rhinos on the Serengeti or hiking up a verdant green knoll in Ireland (even if we aren’t exactly sure what a knoll is, per say). Since most of us can’t drop everything and travel the world, we rely on YouTube personalities to take us with them on their journeys.

Travel is all about expanding horizons, finding beauty in strangeness, and moving out of your comfort zone. Many travel videos cultivate feelings of beauty and awe with their music choices. Take this Arctic whale watching video from Ben Brown that uses ambient music to great effect.

Top Music Genres for Travel Videos:

DIY Videos

It used to be when you needed to fix a leaky sink, you’d call your father or grandfather for their wise advice. These days, YouTube has all the repair and do-it-yourself videos any hankering handyman or woman could want. A new crop of personalities has emerged, willing to show their followers how to build their own patio, install crown molding, or sew a torn pant leg.

One such personality is Bob, who has built his channel, “I Like to Make Stuff” to nearly two million subscribers. In this video, Bob uses the raw power of rock music to teach his viewers how to make their own lounge chair. Notice how the rock music adds power and energy into the process of swinging around tools and creating something by hand. Other DIY videos also use music with a lighter, more bubbly touch to add a sense of charm to their creation.

Top Music Genres for DIY Videos:

  • Rock
  • Pop
  • Acoustic

Health, Fitness, Wellness Videos


Woman watches video while performing yoga.


Today’s most popular video genres include scads of sub-genres, where themes, tone, and music choice can become even more granular. Take the music in popular fitness or workout videos, for example.

This category is home to a nearly endless group of subgenres, including everything from this serene video from Holistic Habits that explains how to create an organic chocolate facial video to this bass thumping training video from fitness model Dana Linn Bailey (those abs!).

There is no one music genre that can possibly encapsulate the entire health and wellness field. Instead, as a creative, dig deep to find your niche and focus on the commonalities in music among those videos.

Top Music Genres for Wellness Videos:

  • Depends on subgenre!

How to Find the Right Music for YouTube

Now that you know more about how to find the right stock music to fit your YouTube video genre, the next step is to identify how to use these practices to your advantage. Does this mean that you should parrot the most popular videos within your genre and never deviate? No! What we’re saying is that you need to know the rules before you can break them.

We encourage you to use the best practices as you build your channel and following in order to develop your own unique voice. Once you’ve built up your credibility and familiarity with your fans, you can take them for a spin with unexpected music selections that play on your personality. Check out how BBallBreakdown brilliantly uses the pop-rap ballad “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa for this video. (Warning: Don’t use Wiz Khalifa’s music in your videos unless you guys are good friends and he’s given you permission. Check out our previous posts on music copyright to learn why.)

Now that you know it’s important to respect the musical norms of your video genre (without completely conforming to them), you may be asking where you can find the music for YouTube that you need. One of your best options for YouTube background music that is safe for commercial use is Soundstripe. Our library of available stock music, video, and SFX is growing every single day. Sort by genre, mood, or pace and then start building your playlist. Check out our subscription options today.  

Further reading

If you're looking for more YouTube-related content, these articles from the Soundstripe blog are worth checking out next:


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