When we first started producing 2-Minute Explainer videos for companies in 2004, we resisted the idea of putting music in technology marketing videos under the narration. It seemed sufficient to “bookend” the video with music in the opening (usually a “logo spin”) and closing. It seemed to us that if you’re trying to explain a serious concept like Business Intelligence or Service Oriented Architecture, the background music makes the video less serious and more commercial or “sales-y.” And background music can become tiresome after a couple of minutes.
Sales pitch or explanation?
On the other hand, if you’re making a straightforward product pitch, particularly one that runs only a minute or so, well-chosen music can significantly enhance the viewing experience. For example, here’s a sales pitch where the overall tone of the narration and visuals is casual and whimsical. It seems to need music.
Here’s an example of a fairly serious and technical video we created for Cisco which did not use music. The version on the left is straight narration. The narration in the version on the right is backed by some fairly serious music (Prelude in F-Major from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier).
Choosing appropriate music from a royalty-free music library is time consuming, and can be very tedious. Audio Jungle, for example, offers more than 300,000 tracks. Tracks tagged “corporate” (about 86,000) are generally appropriate. These are further categorized with not-terribly-meaningful tags like “motivational” and “inspiring.”
One of the least effective approaches for explainer videos is simply to choose music you like, or music that you think your audience might like. For one thing, if the music is to go under a narration, and its melody is in the human vocal range (mid-range on the piano) it’s likely to drown out the narrator’s voice unless you set the volume so low that it’s essentially unheard. If it has a strong beat, or a nifty tune, it may end up sounding like the muffled din of a noisy neighbor’s party.
One way to get a good music background is to give the producer some idea of the type of music (or mood) you’re after, and ask to see the video with different choices of music in place. Two choices is the common practice — properly adjusting levels is an exacting task. As in some of the example videos linked here, the music will be watermarked; that is, in these videos, you may hear the words “Audio Jungle” annoyingly spoken from time to time because I’ve used sample tracks downloaded from that source, as we might do to provide a client with music options.
Changing the mood by using music in technology marketing videos
A Buyer’s Journey Video Bundle we recently created for Cirba had no narration because it was primarily used in the company’s exhibit at VMworld. Music in the foreground rather than in the background can change the impact of the video rather dramatically.
Sources of music
There are many sources of music available at a wide range of prices. We often select music from www.audiojungle.com, where there are thousands of tracks suitable for explainer videos available for $20.00 or so. Searching for tracks tagged “corporate” can help narrow things down, although it’s still very time-consuming to find the perfect track.
Here are a few other sources.
www.bedtracks.com (interesting because you can upload a “reference track” to indicate to the service what type of music you’re looking for)