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The best way to choose stock music

Here’s the thing about choosing music for your project. There are mountains of options and that alone can hinder the process.
Here are some thoughts for when I’m searching on behalf of someone else.
There are a few things I always do when sourcing music for my clients. One, I have a conversation to understand as best I can the intent of the music. Two, how they define what they think they want. For example, they may say they want to use rock music, but their idea of rock music is The Eagles and mine is Metallica. Three, how open are they to listening to something a little bit off from their brief.
I then begin my search. I will try to cover off what the client has asked for first. Then I try and find a few things that are less conventional and unexpected. I also source a few tracks that I think would work but aren’t necessarily what was asked for. This gives a wide range of tracks that will let the client have some good options in various areas. I then ask my client to put up each track against their visuals or voiceover to hear how each music track works. A music track can sound great on its own, but once it is under voiceover, it can compete and just not feel right. The reverse is also true. You can hear a track that just doesn’t seem right, but after putting it up against your visuals, it becomes the perfect match. I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen to music selections in your project rather than on their own. When music is part of a production, it’s going to translate very differently than on its own. Most stock music sites (Sid Sonic included) will let you download preview versions to try before you license.
Here are some thoughts for when I’m searching for my own projects.
Because I’ve done this so much and it’s my profession, I’m going to try to give you some tips to hopefully make it a little easier for you. Most of the things I mentioned above are all relevant, but I’d add that it’s important to try and be as objective as you can when searching and try to remove your biases toward genres and styles. This isn’t easy and it is your project after all. You may not listen to or like a specific genre of music, but it may be right for your project. Good music is good music no matter the genre.
The more unique and interesting your music is, the more unique and interesting your project will be. Within reason of course. You never want your music to distract from your message, you want it to enhance it. I like to try out music tracks with world-style instruments as they are not as commonplace and often bring an interesting vibe without being overpowering. I also like to try the unexpected like putting a rock track where you would expect classical and vice versa.
One last thing. A lot of royalty-free music is written by composers that haven’t actually written music that is meant to support voiceovers and actors. What can happen is that the music is too busy and melodically fights with the audio that it’s supposed to support. You then have to turn it down to the point that it is just distracting the listener. Make sure your music works well with the other audio elements in your project.

As always, feel free to send in questions or comments.