5 Ways To Use Music To Tell A Story In Your Video

September 21, 2016
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When we think about telling stories about our business or product using videos we often tend to focus much of our attention on the visual aspect of the story, followed closely by the graphics and then the voice over.
But have you ever thought about how much music contributes to your audience’s overall experience of your video? Music helps to show unsaid parts of the story, helps viewers to feel and connect on an emotional level with your product or service. Music can make them happy, sad and enrich the entire storytelling experience.
Think about your favourite movie. It’s likely you remember the story, the visuals but from time to time you also probably hum the soundtrack. When you hear the song ‘My Favourite Things’ or the theme from Indiana Jones what comes to mind? A Stanford University study found music helps those areas of the brain responsible for paying attention, making predictions about what comes next and updating the event in your memory.
In this post, we share how you can use music in your video and make the product/service memorable in your audience’s mind.
Connect characters with music
One way to make a character stand out in your audience’s memory is to use a leitmotif in your music.
Leitmotifs are repeated themes used to introduce a specific character, idea or situation – think of the dramatic score to signal the shark’s arrival in Jaws 2 or every time Michael Myers popped up in any Halloween movie.
It can help your viewers to anticipate what comes next, add some drama to the narrative increasing their attention to your message. It’s helpful if you’re developing a series of videos for your next product or service. This video features some of the most memorable leitmotifs in cinema history – how many can you guess?
Develop story with music
Every piece of communication usually has one or two key messages you need your audience to remember. What is the one thing you want to be top-of-mind for after the video is watched? Do you want to be a university with the best medical department or the super fund which delivers the maximum benefits on retirement?
Use leitmotifs to reinforce this message throughout the video or draw attention to the key messages you want to stand out. This Jewish Care video (one of Creativa’s clients) uses music to progress the visuals and story and slowly builds the viewer’s mood from a thoughtful and reflective feeling to a sense of hope towards the end of the video. This type of music can be used successfully for a crowdfunding project to show emotions the brand would like the viewer to feel.
Music to set a mood
How do you want your viewer to feel after watching the video? Sad, excited, happy, hopeful? Melancholic music with low, soft tones can signal a sad or tragic event used in not-for-profit videos or bouncy tunes can accompany a happy event, for example, the launch of a new, highly anticipated product.
Music helps to stir your viewer’s emotions and many decisions consumers make about a brand, product or service are based on emotions, not logic. This video for ACMA (another Creativa client) on domestic violence uses music to build a sense of tension and drama as the events unfold.
The music should match the personality of your product otherwise, it’ll fall flat. To choose the right tune, you need to analyse your key demographic. What music do they usually listen to and which tunes are they most likely to respond to?
Popular songs are a good choice
If an original soundtrack is not possible, choosing a popular song for your video is a good strategy too. It makes your brand or product immediately recognisable or helps to convey your character’s state of mind at any time.
A pop song can be more effective in cutting through ad clutter on TV and entertains the viewer making them more receptive to your sales message.
According to The Atlantic, in 2015, marketers focused their dollars on using pop songs in commercials with revenue from licensing deals reaching $355 million. Proceed with caution, however, in-depth research should be done on choosing the right soundtrack to accompany the message in the video.
And if you want to go down this route make sure you budget accordingly. Popular songs often come with a substantial licensing price tag!
Music provides context
Music provides context to the audience without having to be shown using words. For example, if the character is lost, providing animal sounds helps the viewer to know that he’s lost in a jungle. Music can remove a big chunk of narrative if used correctly.
Another tip is to choose music early while the video is still an idea. You can even choose it in pre-production phase and use it as a motivating tool throughout the process to keep everyone aligned in the direction the video is taking.
Before choosing music for your video, you need to define what, why, how and when to make sure it fits in well with the overall video strategy. Video and audio has to work well together to reach the final marketing outcome whether that be increased sales, conversions, recruitment or leads.
Now that you know what music can add to your video it’s time to find the perfect tune. Take your time, find a quiet space and put some headphones on. Once you’ve found that perfect song, the rest of the elements will fall into place.

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Creativa provides complete video production and animation services for clients direct or for agencies nationwide, specialising in creating content that engages Aussie audiences. Working with local crews dotted around the country to capture live-action video footage, we manage all the coordination for you. Whatever type of video you need, we’ve got you covered.