What is the right background music for a explainer video?

Explainer videos are the “done thing” when it comes to launching a new product or presenting an idea for a new business or start-up (pitch video). These videos are usually posted on company websites, but above all on video platforms like Youtube or Vimeo. The latter in particular allow businesses to reach a large audience on a low budget (tips: https://www.quora.com/Clever-ways-to-make-your-YouTube-video-go-viral). A real “explainer video industry” has emerged in the meantime (source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/24/rise-of-the-explainer-video/).
 As in any film, music, sound effects and voice-overs also have an impact on how the quality of an explainer video is perceived. Music can transport meaning and support the plot, create or enhance moods.

The right combination of all of these aspects will ensure that the audience stays “on the ball” until the very end.

Making it short
 It is especially important to use the right music in the case of short videos lasting 15–90 seconds. This should both fit the product and support the plot. The aim is to “hook” viewers from the very beginning and ideally keep them on the line until the end. The ideal music for an explainer video should be emotional but low-key and relate to the story.

How to find the right background music for a explainer video?

1. Sound brainstorming
 First of all, you should consider what function the music should fulfil in the explainer video.

How is the narrative? Factual? Serious? Humorous?
 What visual style should you choose? Live action? Animation? Purely typographical?
 The choice of music should be geared to the narrative style.

A well-known and efficient method is brainstorming or mind mapping.
 In this process, the team puts all its ideas down on paper and evaluates them together.
 This produces all the important requirements for the right music in an explainer video.

Other questions about the choice of music:

1. What music appeals to customers?
 Are there musical stereotypes for your product category?

Here are a few examples of typical music styles:

  • Fashion=electro
  • Urban/streetwear=hip hop
  • High-tec start-up=minimal pop
  • Organic/vegan/food=singer songwriter/guitar pop

Some music suggestions for typical explainer video categories:

Startups or Productdemo

Example 1 — “The Whistler”

Example 2 — The Product Presentation

Tech / Webservice / App etc.

Example — Tech-Backgroundmusic (via AudioJungle)


Example — Corporate Finance (via AudioJungle)

Delivery Service
 Example — Background Music for delivery service

Example — Food Video Background Music

2. Should you consider product-specific sounds or sound effects?
 If it is a digital product such as software or an app, the UX sounds used in the app should also come up in the video to enhance product recognition among users.

Sound effects also make sense when text is faded in, for chapter markers or to support specific statements or visual special effects.

3. Sound branding?
 Is acoustic brand recognition required?
 Should the video have a sound logo or a jingle at the beginning or at the end, for example?
 If you are planning in the longer-term and are looking for something unique, you should consider having one composed especially.
 Professional agencies (e.g. the Audio Branding Agency »audity«) offer support in developing a brand sound.

4. The right voice
 Before choosing a suitable speaker for the video, you should consider the impact you want the voice to achieve: Should it sound “authentic”? Should you talk yourself? Is a more professional, serious or specifically advertising effect required? And should you get a professional to speak the script (Our recommendation for voice over artists: VoiceBunny).
 Especially if you are considering trying it out yourself, make sure you do not use poor recording equipment.

5. How much will it cost?
 High-quality royalty free music is available from as little as $30, and sound effects now cost as little as $1. If you want a professional speaker, you should expect to pay fees from $100.
 (Our recommendation for voice over artists: VoiceBunny)

You can therefore get a reasonable sound package for your video for around $200.

Typical music styles in explainer videos

 Ambient music is a very laid-back music style comprising long sounds and reduced melodies with little movement. Ambient is suited, e.g. to videos with little dynamics (long film sequences, slow motion etc.)

Ambient sound sample (via AudioJungle):

Soundscape or authentic athmosphere for voice-over:
 If you want to do without background music completely, you can work with voice-overs and additional soundscapes or authentic athmosperes. This is suited to products and services that related to nature or outdoor activities, for example. It is important here that the soundscapes and sound effects give an authentic impression and do not sound artificial.

Contemporary pop:
 Many explainer videos use minimalistic pop music. This usually comprises a lead instrument like an acoustic guitar or marimba, an ambient pad and hand percussion (cajon or drums).
 You can’t do much wrong with this music style, but it may sound similar to many other videos.
 Contemporary pop includes new folk, new pop, pop, singer songwriter and minimal pop.

Pop sound sample (via AudioJungle):

 Using electronic music (e.g. minimal house, dub step etc.) gives a particularly young and trendy sound to a video. This music style is particularly popular in the technology or fashion industry.

Electronic sound sample (via AudioJungle):

 Classical music is always a good choice for presenting high-quality, timeless products and services.
 There is a wide range to choose from, ranging from gentle background music to a bombastic “Hollywood” sound.

Classic sound sample (via AudioJungle):

The ideal speed
 Not too fast, but not to slow — between 90–120 BPM

How important are sound effects?
 Placing the right sound effect at the right point will spice up any film and rounds out an explainer video. This is true for both animated and a live action films.

Sound effects are above all suitable for
 • Text overlays
 • Chapter dividers
 • Supporting a specific statement
 • Adding sounds to visual special effects

I know the requirements now … but where do I find background music for a explainer video?

There are two options: You can either buy royalty-free music or commission a new composition.
 What are the most important differences and what do I need to know to make my decision?

Royalty-free music from a provider
Pros: Low-cost, quickly available through direct download…
Contras: May not fit exactly or be individual enough

Recommended providers:

AudioJungle — Stock Audio Web Site for royalty-free music. Over 335,700 royalty free music tracks and sound FX From $1.

ClipDealer — Open marketplace for royalty-free media, offering a wide range of high quality music and Sound Effects.

LuckStock — Royalty Free Music and Audio Marketplace. A group of enthusiasts from Europe with experience in Music Production and Licensing.

Shockwave-Sound.com offers quality Royalty Free Music, Stock Music, Production Music and Sound Effects for use in films, games and other media.

The Music Case — Royalty free stock music. The Music Case is hosting over 76,000 tracks from composers from all around the world serving thousands of creative people and companies from over 40 countries

Tips & suggestions:

If you are looking for PRO-free music (PRO = ASCAP in the USA, Gema in Germany, SUISA in Switzerland…), you should check this with the respective provider.
 For example, music provided by Audiojungle or Clipdealer is exclusively “PRO-free”.
 You can search for these providers in real time on Audiobello, the search engine for royalty free music and sound effects:

New compositions:
 Pros: Usually an exact fit and individual
 Contras: Considerably higher costs, not immediately available
 Providers: e.g. audity

To ensure ease of use, you should make sure that the provider offers PRO-free (Ascap-, Gema-, Suisa-, AKM-free) music productions and that this is explicit on the invoice.

What about the public domain or complete free and licence-free music?
 If quality is no object, this model can be an alternative.
 There are many sources where you can find royalty-free music. However, many are untrustworthy as the author is often not named. Users of free licence-free music therefore risk being admonished. If you want to be on the safe side from the beginning, it is worth spending money.

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