We know the right song can make or break your project. That’s why every track in our library is vetted by award-winning producers. Hear for yourself. We've curated a playlist with our best vlog music.
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You probably don’t think of content creation as a casual activity. It might be a full-time job, a side hustle, or even a hobby that you’re passionate about. But whichever way you see it, it’s probably more than just a passing interest.
Filmmaking is an art, just like music composition or watercolor painting or poetry writing. And pursuing that art requires you to wear a lot of different hats.
All of those hats have something in common. The end goal is to tell a story, to make the viewer feel something. Videos can be nothing short of modern magic, a way for people to experience a place or a time or a lifestyle outside of the norm.
Creating this kind of next-level content isn’t just about knowing which lens to use. It’s not about how you use lighting or effects. It’s not even about the quality of your script or on-screen talent.
Telling a good story means knowing how to bring all the pieces together. And one key piece — something that often gets overlooked next to flashier things like cameras and coloring — is background music.
There are unsung heroes in every industry and field. (In fact, there’s a good chance that you have experience in that role if you’ve worked in video for very long.) But the concept of overlooked or underappreciated workers applies to non-human things too.
Background music does a lot of the heavy lifting in video content. Spending too much time in a scene or delivering too much exposition through dialogue is awkward. But adding in the right song can bring location to a place or hint at the subtle emotions in a conversation.
In other words, background music lets you cram more storytelling into your video without dragging things out or adding onto the runtime. A smart song choice can be a life hack for a content creator, and it’s a tool worth understanding and using.
Let’s look at some examples of how background music can develop your storytelling style.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Howard Shore’s theme for the Shire is memorable and evocative. The music somehow gives life to a place that had been in people’s imaginations for (at the time) almost 65 years. That, in itself, played a large role in why this piece of music became so popular.
In terms of the opening scenes of The Fellowship of the Ring, you can feel the calmness of the Shire and see it unfold on the screen. But the background music validates what our eyes see because we can feel that same peace and security.
The connection between our sense of sight (the visuals) and our emotional understanding (the music) is something only background music can achieve.
Here’s another example of how a song can perfectly set the tone for a setting and story.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy historical dramas (or British television in general), the opening credits of Downton Abbey are a prime example of what the right background music for video can do.
There’s no dialogue or action, but the music pulls viewers into the world of the 1910s in pre-war England. We only see glimpses of the house and its decor, but the score creates a kind of drama right away.
There are notes of mystery and intrigue, hidden behind an impressive orchestral arrangement that feels both modern and like it belongs in the show’s world. The underlying tensions set a tone for the rest of the show, and that only happens because of the background music.
The emotion of this scene is perfectly layered, and the background music plays directly into it. At the start of the clip, you can feel a rising sense of danger as Maximus prepares to kill Commodus, despite the fact that it would surely mean death for Maximus too.
That tension vanishes as Lucius runs out. Maximus realizes his hope of vengeance is gone, and the sudden silence — followed by the music’s abrupt return — shows us the evolution of his emotions. His chance is gone, and now he is in an entirely different sort of encounter.The conversation ends with one of the best lines of dialogue in modern film history, accompanied by a powerful orchestral swell. We can feel all of the justice and rage inside of Maximus — it's a goosebump-inducing moment, and it would fall flat without Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s musical genius.
Of course, it’s easy to see how good music can really benefit a multi-million dollar film production.
But how does that translate to indie films, or wedding videos, or YouTube content? Can something like royalty free background music for videos replace a Hans Zimmer score and bring the same kind of emotional impact?
That’s a complicated question, but the short answer is “Yes.”
It isn’t all about the production budget. That is a lasting truth about all forms of creativity, and music for video is no exception.
The right music at exactly the right moment can change everything. Your song choice can ramp up the spookiness, supercharge a love scene, or force viewers to catch their breath when a chase scene culminates in a life-or-death fight.
The important thing isn’t paying thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars to have a famous composer write music for your videos. Instead, it’s more important that you focus on finding music that fits the mood or tone you want to build.
Context is everything, and background music is a valuable building block. We started this conversation off talking about storytelling and how content creation is an art unto itself.
But part of doing either well — creating art or telling a story — is knowing how to combine different components into a single entity. When the sensory content and the emotional context come together, it’s something even the most skeptical viewer will connect with.
Music is just one of the layers of a larger final product. And while researchers are constantly exploring just how deeply music can affect us, you don’t need a scientific journal to tell you that certain songs change your emotions just as easily as physical stimuli.
That’s something we’ve all experienced firsthand, and that helps us appreciate the value of choosing the right music for video projects.
Unfortunately, almost every song in the world — including the best background music for video — is copyrighted.
“Copyright” isn’t some kind of villain, hoarding all of the best stuff behind a paywall just to be a jerk. But this system does create a set of rules and processes that creatives must follow in order to get access to any song.
Think of it this way: You wouldn’t want someone else to use pieces of your video content to promote their channel or product. And if they did reach out and ask permission, you would have a lot of questions (and probably expect to get a cut of the profits).
Similarly, music copyright is a system that was created to protect artists and musicians and make sure that they are compensated any time someone uses one of their songs.
Obtaining the license to use copyrighted music can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. An individual song isn’t owned by just one person — rights are often split up between the songwriter, performing artist, record label, and more.
And to actually become legally cleared to use a song, you need permission from every single person with a claim of ownership. If even one copyright holder turns down your request, then none of the other responses matter. Unless everyone agrees, you can’t use the song. Period.
Here’s a hypothetical situation. As a content creator, you come up with a clever video concept. You spend a few days filming it, another few days editing it, and then find the perfect background music — it’s a song that hits all the right emotions at all the right times.
Then, as an expert on music licensing, you reached out to all of the song’s copyright holders. It took a few months (and a few thousand dollars) before they all got back to you, but that’s okay. You know this is the video that is going to make your channel launch into the YouTube content creator stratosphere.
Now let’s say your request to license a song is approved. You’ve dealt with the copyright stuff and now you’re ready to drop the music into your timeline and finally upload the video.
But there’s one more step to think about.
Another big part of music licensing is royalties. This is the part where you share a cut of the revenue with the copyright holders. Sure, you paid them up front for the music license, but they will also be entitled to a form of profit sharing in the form of recurring royalty fees.
Is your video a commercial project? Will it be placed on a monetized channel or platform? Does it contribute to you (or someone else) generating income? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” then the copyright holders may expect a piece of that revenue.
This will be part of the music licensing agreement, so it shouldn’t come as an unpleasant surprise later on. But it is a regular part of the copyright process, and it’s something everyone has to deal with, from filmmakers to ad agencies to your local café that plays music 24/7.
Copyright law is the process for protecting someone’s intellectual property; royalties are how they get paid for the success of their song. It’s not that different from a professional athlete, who receives a contract signing bonus as well as a weekly (or per match) salary.
These are two sides of the same coin, and it’s a coin that you’ll get to become very familiar with the longer you are in the business of creating video content.
There is no way around music licensing (unless you write all your own music). But there is an easier, faster, and cheaper way to get access to songs that you can use in your videos.
That’s where royalty free music steps in to save the day.
The easiest way to think about royalty free music is like stock footage. A company like Soundstripe will partner with a musician and negotiate the rights to a song. (In our case, we own 100% of our library.)
And because Soundstripe owns the rights to that music, we are able to license that song out to filmmakers, YouTubers, and other content creators.
More importantly, because we own the music, we can license it out for much cheaper than a traditional record label would.
Royalty free music is not a loophole or some sneaky way to cheat the system. It’s a growing industry, and a way for people to get quality background music for videos at a cheaper cost.
We own every song, which means we don’t have to charge you any royalty fees. And instead of paying $60 or more for a single-use song license, you join a subscription program and get unlimited downloads from our library. No hidden fees or charges, and every song you license will be covered forever.
When it comes to finding great music for your next project, we’ve got a library full of radio-quality songs that you can license. And yes, since we hyped up background music, there are entire playlists of royalty free background music for videos just waiting for you to discover.
Great music has the power to capture the interest of your viewers in an iron grip. And at Soundstripe we offer the highest quality music for video creators. All that’s left is for you to start exploring our library and hear how a Soundstripe subscription can help you take your content to the next level.