A Podcast’s Soundtrack: Stock Music Vs Custom Music

Nico Vettese
Sep 18, 2018 · 3 min read

When it comes to finding music for your podcast, you have a wealth of options available to you. With so much choice it must be easy to find music that’s not only sounding great, but adaptable to your needs, and represents the podcast’s style and flow….right? Nope! It’s trickier than it may seem!

Let’s go through the options available to you.

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Option 1: Your Favorite Bands

You listen to a lot of indie bands, a lot of the music you love, and they’re willing to license the track to you (perhaps even for free in exchange for publicity). On paper this may seem a great deal — well-polished music that you know, catchy so that it’ll stick in people’s minds when they listen to your show, and you get to make a connection with your favorite bands. However there are underlying issues which surface when going this route:

Not Designed for Podcasts

Bands don’t design music for podcasts. A 3-minute track is hard to edit down into a 30-second intro without some pretty obvious fade-ins and fade-outs. Also, this music wasn’t designed to fit into the background (especially if it has vocals!). You need music which enhances your narration, not music which competes with it.

Identity Crisis

There’s a good chance the band you’ve reached out to is already internet-famous — which is great for them but not so much for you. Every time their music is played on your show, the listener will associate it with the artist instead of with you — this strips your show, at least partially, of having its own unique identity and sound.

Personal Taste vs Brand Match

In many cases people use music that they love but which doesn’t suit their content. As an independent creative force this is a pitfall that you won’t realize you’ve fallen into; it makes sense to you so it’s fine. You may love telling children stories, and you may love hip hop in the gangster rap style, but combining the two would result in an end-result at odds with itself. Of course, this is a pretty laughable example, but what about an action film review podcast that chose soothing classical or jazz as its music style? The point is that music and content should match, and the art behind that matching is rarely obvious.

Option 2: Stock Music

You find a website that offers an abundance of royalty-free music — there’s music to match every mood, every style, and every show format. What’s more, because it is royalty-free, you can go commercial with your podcast, and keep all the profit.The problem lies once again with the internet-famous tracks. The large majority of creators all use stock music for its ease, but it takes away the originality of the show. You may find a track that is perfect for your needs, but you will also find that same track in many other shows, most of which will be in the same genre as your own.

Options 3: Custom Music

Working with a professional composer to create the soundtrack of your show is by far the best thing you could do for your podcast in concerns to its music. Suddenly you have a sound that fits the format, genre, and length, of your episodes — you will have your sound.

This option will evolve your show and present it as a consistent, coherent, and original work instead of as a hodgepodge of non-interrelated bits. You will have music that is instantly associated with your show, and heard nowhere else. Every time people hear the music in isolation, they will know it’s from your show, and will be drawn back to it in their minds. This is the power of branded sound.

Of course, custom music takes time and money, but if you’re serious about creating your own unique brand, end-to-end, top-to-bottom, through-and-through, then custom music is the best and only way to go.

Interested in developing your own sound?

Reach out to us by leaving a comment below or by emailing us via our website: https://portlandpod.com

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