The Dos and Don’ts of Background Music

The Dos and Don’ts of Background Music

Background music is a fantastic way to convey your message and set the tone for your video…if you do it right. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to successfully apply background music to your videos. There are lots of factors to take into account and decisions you have to make before you can roll with it.

Today, I’m sharing some dos and don’ts for choosing the best background tracks for your videos.

Should I use it?

The first thing you should take into account when you’re considering background music for your video is whether or not it’s appropriate to use at all. That may seem like an odd answer, but hear me out. A lot of factors play into what decision is best for your video, intent, and content.

DO use background music if your video is for advertising or promotion. Use it as a way to promote your brand or product and draw in potential customers. A great track can make your video really pop, so have fun with it!

DO use background music if your video is for entertainment. Just make sure it makes sense and doesn’t drown out any speaking parts.

DON’T use background music throughout your video if it’s educational. It’s distracting from your content, and your primary focus is to get that content seen and heard by your audience. The only time it’s appropriate to use music in educational videos is for opening and closing bumpers.

What kind of music should I use?

There are so many choices when it comes to music styles that it can be hard to choose what works best. Here are some ways to narrow that down.

DO keep it on brand. Music is a great way to set the tone for your promotional material, but it’s important to make sure it aligns with your brand identity. If your messaging–music included–is out of line with your brand, it won’t resonate as well with your audience.

DO keep it consistent with the mood. It’s also important to make sure that your background music not only conveys a cohesive brand identity, but that it also sets the correct mood for your video. If your message is lighthearted and feel-good, don’t use music that brings the mood of the down; by the same token, don’t use peppy music for a super-serious message. Check and double-check to make sure the music, the content, and the brand work well together, and go to town!

DO keep it professional. What you listen to in your spare time is your business, but it’s best practice to keep music with offensive lyrics or content out of your business and marketing videos. Content of any kind that is offensive to others is off-putting and can undermine your professionalism. Even if it somewhat aligns with your niche brand…I don’t recommend including it.

DON’T use your friend’s band or solo recordings to do them a favor (…unless it’s actually good). It’s great to support your friends, but don’t make them part of your brand identity unless you are 100% justified in doing so. That means their music is professional quality, it aligns with your brand, AND it sets the right mood for your video and content.

DON’T use music you’re not allowed to use. If you don’t have a license or permission to use a track for commercial use, keep yourself in the clear and find another tune. When you choose your background track, make sure you’re fully informed on what kind of licensing agreement is on it. Some media is 100% free for personal and commercial use without attribution; some is free with attribution; some is only for personal use; and some requires a purchase for use.

How do I use the music in my video?

If you’ve never put a background track on a video, don’t worry–any editing software (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, etc.) will make this super easy for you to do.

DO blend the music. If someone’s talking, pull it down so you can hear them. If not, crank it up! If any other audio is essential (nature sounds, other atmospheric sounds, etc.), don’t let your music get in the way. (It never hurts to get another set of ears on your video before you roll it out, so grab a friend and ask them to give it a listen!)

DON’T use too much. A 2-minute video probably doesn’t need 5 songs in it. Stick with one song if you can, and go from there. Two songs might be necessary if you’re intentionally shifting from one mood to another in your video, so play with it and see what works best.

Where do I get my music?

DO try to find free music.Free Music Archive, SoundCloud (check the notes from the creators for free use), Bensound, Sound of Picture, and more offer free tracks for personal and commercial use. Make your own with loops in these inexpensive and free programs! It’s free, and building tracks can be fun if you need a quick solution.

DON’T steal it from your favorite band. Your stuff will get taken down–I guarantee it. YouTube and sites like it can track whether you’ve attempted to use copyrighted material on your videos.

DO pay for your track if it’s in your budget. If not, make room for it sometime! This might make it easier to find music that’s best aligned to your brand.

DO pay for your track if it’s in your budget. If not, make room for it sometime! This might make it easier to find music that’s best aligned to your brand.

There are several awesome, affordable resources for background music out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Cheap / $5 – $15 per track: AudioJungle has decent tunes a lot of the time, and most of their tracks come with length and dynamics options.
  • More expensive: PremiumBeat has options priced at $50 – $100 per track.
  • Affordable for regular content creators: costs $200 a year, but members get unlimited use of tracks listed with a license.
  • Super expensive but amazing: MarmosetMusic and MusicBed license individual tracks for online use. They charge about $200-$500 a song, but the music is high-quality and elevates your projects.


Sign up for Prep Your Course!

Want to film your own e-course using your iPhone, but not sure where to begin? My free, 7-video e-course will help you prepare for the big filming weekend! Fill in the form below to get the videos delivered directly to your inbox.

Have you used background music in your videos? How did it turn out? And do you have any favorite music sources not listed here? Email me at or share in the comments section below. Can’t wait to hear from you!

  • Awesome post! I’ve been looking to put some background music into my YouTube demos. Thanks for the recommendations. These are definitely better than the Camtasia defaults.

    • Wes Wages

      Glad to help Thomas!

  • Kevin Payne

    What website/service do you specifically use for your background music?

    • Wes Wages

      I love and