How to Get The Most Out of Music in Your Videos

Q&A With Our Lead Creative, Andrew Whipp

When you think of a well-made video, you may think of its outstanding visual effects or how you connect to the subjects. However, what some people fail to realize is the importance of the audio aspect in a video. Music has a profound influence on the way people feel or interpret a video. I sat down with Andrew Whipp, Green Buzz Agency’s Lead Creative to discuss just what makes music such an integral part of the video process.

What makes music so important to a video?

I think that music can do a lot of things in a video. I don’t think it’s always the most important element, it’s just one component of many tools in an editor’s toolbox to make people feel something. But I think music is important because it can shape the tone and the feeling of the entire scene or video and it can help nudge people in the direction that you want them to feel. It can take something that may be neutral and make it sad or make it happy, you can use it ironically in like a comedic purpose.

So kind of going off that, how do you use music to evoke a specific emotion portrayed in the video?

I think you just try and find the right track and that’s usually a pretty arduous process, I’ll literally test out 10 or 15 different tracks sometimes for one little section just to see what feels good, what feels right. But yeah, you’re trying to find something that sits in the mix nicely and that pushes the viewer towards whatever emotion you’re trying to get them to feel.

With the 10-15 tracks that you test out, what’s your thought process behind narrowing them down to the right one?

I think it’s just a feeling thing, it’s hard to quantify. The more editing experience and storytelling experience that you have the quicker that process can become. Before that process even happens, you typically have a genre in mind, you’re like “I want this kind of song, this kind of pace, this kind of instrumentation,” then you can download your options and let them fly. In the case of ICF, we got the opportunity to work on a custom track with a very talented composer, Breakmaster Cylinder. It was great because we were able to fine tune every aspect of the track. The composition really brought the visuals to life by using a more personalized approach than a stock could offer.

If your video is aimed towards a specific target audience or demographic, do you ever choose music based off that or just based on the video itself?

I think that it’s important to acknowledge the target audience when you’re crafting the story, and I think music is part of crafting the story. But I also don’t really think too much about “oh, we’re trying to appeal to Latin American people, so lets put in some Spanish-type music.” It’s like, if the story is about Spanish culture or something, then it makes a lot of sense, but if you’re doing it just as a “I think this will hype up the audience I’m trying to reach so let me just throw it in there,” I don’t think that’s the best storytelling decision.

In the creating process itself, do you ever choose the music before you go shoot the video, or vice versa?

I’ve done both. I think music can be a really powerful tool to get your ideas flowing – you can literally build a story backwards off of music and go from there, and that’s what a lot of music videos are. But when you’re doing other forms of video, I think that it’s good to try out both; sometimes you have a couple tracks that you really like and want to fit and in and maybe get lucky, but to also find tracks that fit the story best once it’s all been put together.

How do you decide what type of music fits where in the story?

I think depending on the platform and the audience, like if you’re on Facebook and trying to catch people’s attention, you might use something a little more dynamic up front and save your heavier, slower stuff for the middle or end. But that’s just a strategic decision I think you make when you’re planning the story in pre-production. Like where do we want the big moments to be, where do we want the calm moments to be so you have that tension, that release.

Can you describe some of the platforms or sites where you get the actual music tracks from?

SoundStripe is great, we’re working with them right now. They have instrumental versions and vocal versions as well as like cut-downs; 30 seconds, 15 seconds, so if you’re making commercial spots that’s great. I think that’s what we look for in any music site is quantity, so a lot of stuff; quality, so it’s produced well; variety, so different kinds of stuff and then those stems and different lengths are really helpful too.

If you can put your finger on it, what would be your favorite usage of music in one of your videos and why?

I just love taking a song that does not fit in a video and making it work. So, the video we made with Nitin and Make-A-Wish, I used a funky Latin track that just kind of comes out of left field, but that’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s supposed to be a bit of a jam- a bit of a bop. So yeah, my favorite thing to do is surprise the audience with something that they didn’t expect and just go like completely out of left field.

Now that you can see how important music and audio is from the perspective of a lead editor and creative mind, what’s stopping you from finding some bops of your own during your video process?


Jake Pasquale is the Marketing and Communications Intern for Green Buzz Agency. He doesn’t like hearing sad music in videos because he then assumes something sad is going to happen.

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