Custom Music Tracks for Video: Part One

“What do we want the audience to feel?” Music is an emotional tool, and it shapes the way a viewer digests a video.

Part One: Inspiration

One thing you need to know about me is that I love to cook. I grew up with a chef for a dad, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching him craft delicious meals. One of our favorite things is calling each other and comparing new recipes we’ve come up with. I love hearing him talk about the research he puts into a dish. His first step is always finding inspiration. He’ll look up 5 different recipes for a certain kind of dish, get inspired by the ingredients or techniques they call for, and then he’ll make something completely different, unique, and (arguably) better than any recipe he found. I take this same approach when composing a song.

When it’s time to cook up the perfect custom music track for a video, the first thing I do is look for inspiration. All great artists start with inspiration, whether it’s a writer working on a screenplay or an animator creating the perfect motion graphic for a Fortune 500 client. Writing an original score is no different.

The first question I ask myself is, “what do we want the audience to feel?” Music is an emotional tool, and it shapes the way a viewer digests a video. The same video can feel happy or sad, triumphant or hopeless, just by the way a composer carefully decides to shape the feeling.

Let’s say I want the video to make the viewer feel inspired and uplifted — the first place I’m going to go is musicbed to listen to Toni Anderson. This guy’s music just oozes uplifting, hopeful, “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of vibes.

When it was time for me to write a custom music track for our films “Legacy” (Ducks Unlimited”) and “This is our Calling” (Campbell University), Toni Anderson was my first stop. Sometimes, I’ll put on his music even if I’m just working around the office, because his tunes are so positive and uplifting; they make you feel like you can do anything, especially that end of year budget report you keep putting off

My second stop for uplifting inspiration for custom music tracks: Elevation Church’s vimeo page. Jared Hogen and the rest of their creative video team know how tell a story that inspires and moves you, and the music they choose is always a primary tool in shaping that emotion.

An exercise I enjoy is watching one of their videos on mute, then replaying the same video a second time with the sound cranked up. Sure, the video sequence is crazy beautiful on its own; but when you bring the music in… Man! — It moves you. At its core, that’s the one thing I want to do when I write a song — I want to move you.

In the next post, I’ll talk about what goes into composing a song. I’ll also talk way too much dried herbs. It’ll be delicious.

For a full library of the songs I’ve crafted, head over to our Soundcloud playlist and give the songs a listen.

— Dustin Owens

Read more blog posts