Selecting Background Music For Your Video

Post Production Motion Design April 11, 2019 4 min read

The right music for your video is critical. Don’t believe me? Try making a horror movie trailer with happy music. You’ll get something like this.

Okay, they had a bit of fun with that one, editing it to be more cute and playful as a parody. But you get the idea.

Background music in a video is often something that a viewer isn’t even aware of until it’s bad or misplaced. It generally serves as a support system to the video or animation, like the foundation of a building. You don’t notice it until the floor slips out from under you.

But, while you may feel like you are a pro at video production or animation, and music isn’t your thing, it’s time to make it your thing. You don’t have to compose music for your videos, but you should definitely make it a priority to find the right music to fit your video’s pacing, style, and emotion.

Here are some tips for picking background music for your next video or animation project.

Think Music First

Many people make the mistake of finishing their video or animation, then picking a piece of stock music to go behind it. This is the wrong order. Music has rhythm and pacing that are critical to a good edit or animation.

When you pick your background music after you finish your video, you most often end up with something that feels stuck on. The natural rhythms of the music won’t match up to the edit points or pacing, and it will result in a disjointed feeling for the viewer watching.

On the other hand, if you pick a great piece of music that fits the pacing and style of your intended final video, you can actually edit or animate to the beat and the pacing of the music, giving you a much more natural result that will help to keep the viewer engaged and avoid confusion.

Second That Emotion

Pacing isn’t the only thing that a background track is good for. Emotion comes into play as well. Like in the movie trailer example above, the type of feeling that the music gives off will subconsciously sit with the viewer and will add to how they feel about the video.

If your video is meant to be motivational and inspiring, a melancholy piece or a pulsing dance track will likely leave the viewer conflicted.

We often listen to music with no notion of how a song will make us feel, yet at the end of it, we will definitely have some sort of emotion. It might lift us up, it might make us chill, or pump us with energy. But if it does its job, music will always elicit an emotion.

The same goes for a background track in a video. Even if it feels unimportant or is quietly mixed in, the music will make us feel some way about what we are watching. So, make sure your music makes the viewer feel the way you want them to about the video. Use it as a companion, not an adversary to the feeling you want to elicit from the video.

Don’t Skimp On Quality

You probably pride yourself on the quality of your video production, editing, or animation, so don’t lower that quality by picking poorly produced music. While style is a subjective quality, the production value is not.

Listen closely to the music you are picking. If the instruments sound fake to you, they will to your viewers as well. If the mix is off, like the drums are way too loud and the guitars are too quiet, or there is just way too much ukulele (it happens), find another track that is more professionally mixed.

Think about the music that you hear in movies, on television, and in commercials. Your music should be of the same quality.

The good news is, professionally produced music doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many talented stock music producers who know how to record and mix great music at a small cost to you.

If you have any experience listening to music, and you probably do, you’ll be able to tell the difference in a well-produced background track and a poorly produced one.

Take The Annoyance Test

Sometimes a piece of background music will seem really cool upon first listen, but after hearing it a few times, it will grate on your nerves or get “old” quickly.

Take this into consideration. Novelty music is just that, a novelty. Especially if you are creating a video or animation that might get viewed multiple times, be sure that your music doesn’t annoy the viewer. They will not want to watch a video again that has harsh or annoying music.

Many a demo reel has passed my desk where I had to turn off the audio in order to watch it. This was likely not the intended result from the video creator, but they didn’t think about how the music would affect the viewer and their quirky choice didn’t serve them well.

Ultimately, just because it’s “background” music, doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, the music you select may end up being the most important decision you make for your video. Take the time to find the right music. Pick something that enhances the emotion of your video. Use your music for pacing and editing, and make sure it’s of a quality that matches your video.


Great background music doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be custom made. And just because you are creating something for mass release or a big client, doesn’t mean that you have to pay more for it.

Check Out the Motion Array Background Music Library

Check out our extensive library of stock music tracks to see what we mean. All of our tracks come with a simple license that can be applied to any size personal or commercial project.