Setting The Tone: The Impact of Music Choice in Video Development

Why do people love to meticulously create curated playlists for events, for their day or for a certain mood? Well, it’s because they want to evoke a specific feeling or vibe with every selected tune. The same applies for your video project; your choice of song gives you the power to influence the way your audience feels. *cue in evil laughter* But seriously, music can be a critical component in developing the tone of your videos. So, let’s strike a few chords and give you some advice on the topic, shall we?

What is the primary goal of the video?

Is it for pure entertainment? Are you trying to sell something, or introduce a brand to your target audience?  

Knowing this helps to make an informed decision about what role the music will play in your project. It should support the overall tone, pacing, and help drive your intended messaging. 

For example, the goal of the following video was to take the viewer on a journey and create two feelings. In the first half (before 0:52), a sense of urgency and even panic. In the second half (after 0:52), a sense of relief in a bright and helpful solution. It was important to determine what musical cues to add in this video project that would effectively drive the messaging without distracting the viewer. The music helps to punctuate the sense of urgency in the beginning with the intense, dramatic undertones provided by strings in a minor key. The music shifts midway through the video providing the viewer with an uplifting piano and string arrangement, now in a major key, evoking a sense of achievement and a brighter outlook - a sense of relief. One video + two pieces of music = a flow of multiple emotions. Touché music…touché.


How will the music fit into your video? Here are some things to consider:

1 - Some videos may simply require bookends. Simply put, bookends are an intro and outro that help set the stage and tone to frame your messaging. i.e. Intro music, *cue important message*, outro music. Think of it as bridging the gap and leaving viewers feeling satisfied.

2 - Videos that have a voiceover may simply require a complimentary background track. That said, and I can’t stress this enough, always think of the first rule - what is the primary goal or emotion you are trying to convey? Background music for a video about breast cancer will be very different from a promotional video about female entrepreneurs.

3 - Musical transitions, stingers, and bumpers. In some cases, you may find yourself in a position where you’re creating a video with distinct segments. This is where stingers and bumpers are a handy tool. They help signal the viewer in an entertaining way that you’re moving from one segment to another. If you think of a sitcom you like, you can probably pinpoint a stinger or bumper pretty easily. Think of the “dun duh” in Law & Order, or the guitar riff between scene changes in Friends. These are just two examples of effective stingers or bumpers. 



Now that you know the goal of your video and where the music will fit, you need to also consider the pace and tempo of the music you're going to use. 

Tempo is how fast the song is - measured by the number of beats per minute (BPM). Tempo is a key factor in how a song can make someone feel. The higher the BPM, the more energetic the song will be. Think of rapid electronic music - those BPM’s can be crazy. Crazy, but useful in an action movie promo or sports montage. On the other hand, slower tempo creates a much more chill and somber experience which can be useful when developing a video designed to tug at the heart strings, for say, a charity. But WAIT! There’s also a middle ground, the key is to ensure the message is complimented by your song choice not buried by it. Ideally, your music is meant to be the sprinkles on top of your video, not the whole sundae. It’s a compliment to the whole package, but BPM can have a big impact folks!

What about pacing? Let’s chat about cutting to music.While the music is important in developing your video project, it’s crucial that the visuals reflect the tone the music is conveying, and vice versa. And most importantly, that your cuts are on beat! This is especially important to consider when the music is the driver of the video without a voiceover. A hype video, promo or montage are all great video examples of cutting to the beat of the music. Think of the music as the force that compliments, and drives, the visuals to convey the message and tone you’ve set. (For more on pacing your videos check out our blog Pace Yourself: The Importance of Timing in Good Storytelling)


So you have a video project, and you know the goal, the role of music, and the pacing of music you’re looking for - but where do you find the music!?

There are loads of sites with music libraries to choose from with filters and search functions that help you narrow down what length, BPM, genre, mood, tone, you name it, that you’re looking for. That said, there are also a lot of music licences to consider and it’s important to pay attention to the fine print.

Here are a few sites to check out: Elements EnvatoAudio JunglePremium BeatBensoundTotal Media Tracks, & Soundstripe. (Not sure how to start? Lean on an experienced partner like Association TV. *wink*)


Music is very subjective. There’s a spectrum where a song can completely inspire the whole direction and story of a video, or completely distract from the message. Some videos might require an extensive search in order to nail down the right track. In the end, music is a key factor in the impact of your video, use it wisely to amp up the audience engagement.

Contact us today to learn more about how our full service video team can help you stay in tune (see what I did there?) with your audience and deliver top quality video content.

Back to Blog

Related Articles

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

If you’ve already decided to move your association from analog to digital, you need to start...

Tag, You're It! Taking Your Digital Transformation To The Next Level

We’ve come to the end of this series, where I slowly but surely, give you tools and insights that...

Gaining An Edge In The World Of Virtual Events

If “pivot” was one of the most used words of 2020, what do you think was the most commonly asked...