Stevie Wonder said it best: “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.”
Music is an art form and a powerful vehicle for communicating ideas. When combined with film, video, or other forms of multimedia storytelling, it can be used as an effective tool to impact and persuade viewers.
Music’s crucial role in film & video
Even in the times of silent films, music was added to enhance the story. Still today, background music, or “the score” of a film or video, paces the story and helps it flow.
“Music is everything,” Filmmaker Ryan Booth said. “Think about the most moving, lasting images you have in your mind from the most iconic films ever made. Is there a single moment in your mind that isn’t punctuated by music? I’d bet that there’s not a single one. Music is the thing that takes you there. It’s the vehicle. It can’t be underestimated.”
When we think of classic films like Star Wars and Jaws, we can’t imagine their existence without those iconic scores. The music has become inseparable to the story.
Music in advertising
The same holds true in advertising. Unknowingly, music enters into our subconscious mind, persuading — even influencing — our decisions. Commercials, for example, select music that triggers our emotions. This is why brand advertisers drop millions of dollars to license a pop tune. If we associate a positive memory or feeling with their product, we’re more likely to buy it.
A little science on the effect music has on our brains
Filmmakers and advertisers have known for decades — whether explicitly or intuitively — that music is a powerful persuasion tool. These days, science has confirmed it.
Studies conducted by Dr. Petr Janata have linked music, memories, and emotion to the same part of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex. With the help of brain imaging, researchers are seeing how music can trigger emotions, activate memories, and even influence physical movement.
In short, music is much more than a tune you jam to during your afternoon commute. Research is just starting to show us just how much of an impact music has on our brains, behaviors, and lives.
How music can help shape YOUR story — and influence your audience
If you have a story to tell, then consider the significant role music can play.
If you’re crafting a story yourself…
First think about the tone or genre of your story. Is it heartfelt and emotionally heavy? Lighthearted and whimsical? Action-packed? Promotional?
Once you’ve got that nailed down, browse through music-licensing sites like Pond5 or Musicbed. With some searching, you should be able to find something that fits your story.
If you’re working with a professional storyteller…
Choose someone who not only focuses on the visual components of your story, but the equally important auditory components as well.
In the end, if you want to inject an idea into the mind of your audience, evoke powerful emotions, or even get them to take a specific action then great music coupled with a great story will help you achieve that.
“In my opinion,” said Taylor Clark, a musician, “music plays a vital role in how someone emotionally responds to film. When working side by side with the powerful storytelling of film, a beautiful experience is born.”
What’s your story? Music can help you tell it most effectively.