It takes a great amount of skill to create music that works under actors and voiceover as well as with visuals and sound effects. A lot of production music available today is written by composers who haven’t actually scored music to visuals or for voiceover.
One problem is how melody instruments are used and how loud they are mixed within the tracks. When you listen to a music track on its own, it can sound great, but once it is inserted into your project, it can be overpowering and often become distracting to the point of having to have it so quiet that it defeats the purpose. Another issue is where instrumentation is placed in the mix of a stereo track. Panning is very important as voices are most often placed in the center of a stereo mix. If melodic instruments are also placed in the center (as opposed to being panned slightly left or right) they will more easily conflict with voices and can be distracting.
Music that evolves
Pay close attention to how your music evolves. Generally speaking, it is best to have it evolve in line with how your project does. This can be a difficult task to accomplish even with the best production music. If the music wasn’t produced with this in mind, it may be impossible to achieve desired results. Having said this, a good editor can do wonders to make your music work like a charm as long as there are enough sections within the track to work with.
Be sure that you receive broadcast quality audio files to work with. Stock Music Store provides 24bit-48khz WAVs & 320kps MP3s, which are the industry standard for high quality work.
As always, feel free to send in questions or comments.