A *Note* On Music For Video

This post was penned by Wil Wright, an accomplished composer and occasionally a DFP editor. Check out his work as a composer here, or explore his other musical projects: Senyru, Peak Physique, and LiL iFFy. The video embedded in this blog post features his music.


Greetings. This is William Wright, a video editor and (more relevant to this blog) the in-house composer at DFP. I’ve been writing and directing music for every imaginable platform of expression for my entire adult life, be it the theater, movies, commercials, tutorials, and so on. Whether you’re selling cookies, telling a story, promoting a political campaign, or any other reason a person might be organizing a video, music is incredibly important, and the decisions and expertise that go into directing or composing your music can be a major deciding factor in how successful your final product is.


Why do I need music for my video project? - While there are some projects where music isn’t necessary, they are rare. Some kind of musical element will show up in practically every video project. Think of your music as connective tissue, pulling all of the sound and silence together into one nice, cohesive experience. Beyond the cohesion, the music has an even more important job: your musical decisions will directly inform the energy and emotion of your video and your viewers. In movies, we hear a low drone and we know that something bad is coming. We hear heavy drums and we know that something exciting is coming We hear minor, slow music and we know that our character is sad or conflicted. The music in your video will work exactly the same way. Are you trying to pump up your customers? Are you trying to worry an audience about pollution? Whether we’re music directing your video or composing an all new, custom piece of music for it, understanding how your want your audience to feel is key. Even the simplest messaging is amplified and validated by the correct musical decisions.


Communication is key!

Heading into your project, the first thing you have to do is really understand who the audience is and how we’d like the project to make them feel. Ask yourself what the ideal response to your video is, and then start gathering some vocabulary and material that will help you clearly communicate the way your video is meant to make your audience feel. This guide can be as simple as words, but can also include pictures, videos and anything else that you feel evokes the ideal response. There’s no such thing as too many mood examples, as they will help us get to exactly where you’d like to be. These guides will help me to either compose or music direct your project effectively.


What’s the difference between music directing and composing?

Now it’s time to make some decisions about the musical element in your video project, and the first big one is: will we be licensing music or composing music for you? The most common move here is to license music, which means to pay a fee and use a piece of pre-existing sound, found on various online libraries. This can cost anywhere from a few dollars all the way to a few hundred dollars for standard library music, depending on how you’re using it. If we’re music directing your project, we’ll take the examples you gave us and find pieces of library music that best fits and gets the video where you hope to be, while keeping it in your budget. The drawback with library music, though, is that you’re basically at the mercy of what already exists. We can cut it up and move things around, but we can’t fine tune anything. That’s where your other option comes into play. At DFP, we have an in-house composer (it’s me!) on staff. If we determine that the best course of action for your project can’t be satisfied, or if the project is a little too close to your heart to settle for publicly available library music that has been used over and over, then this route is probably best. If we’re composing for you, we’ll be able to customize your music down to the fine points. Just like licensing, the cost and procedure with composition is fluid, and will depend on the nature of your project. Each path has its strengths and weaknesses. While quick and potentially cheap, licensing library music can be extremely impersonal and you have very limited control. While unique and special, composition can potentially cost a bit more and consume more time.


LET’S GET STARTED! Now that you know the in’s and out’s of why your video needs music, how to prepare, and the way we acquire or create that music, we can get to work soundtracking your cool video and making sure everyone feels exactly how they’re supposed to.


- William Wright, DFP Music Director & Composer
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