Podcast, Advice

A Guide to Using Music in Your Podcast

In a world where video content tends to dominate the digital marketing arena, internet radio and podcasters are often left in a scramble to compete. As a podcast or radio stream, the only media tools available for enhancing the audio experience for your loyal listeners are your voice, perhaps some royalty free background music, and most likely, a branded logo graphic. That’s it!

So, that means it’s time to get creative. Without the aid of any fancy video effects, like slow motion and zoom to express your message, music plays a major role in conveying your brand’s identity. With some simple royalty-free background music to gently highlight your voice, your podcast will be just as interesting and engaging to your audience as if it were a video. Here are a few professional tips on how to use background music to enhance your podcast or radio stream.


Intro Music

Once you’ve selected a few (yes, a few) royalty-free tracks containing music that reflects your branding, it’s time to put them to good use. The reason you will want to have a few sound tracks available is to represent different vibes which are consistent with your brand’s message.

For example, you will want your recurring Intro jingle to be uplifting and enthusiastic, which will entice the listener and create a connection. Your listeners will instantly be able to recognize your brand by simply hearing your program’s opening music. It is crucial that you have a legally licensed piece of music that allows you to reuse that same track in future projects in perpetuity though. So, you might want to avoid subscription-based music licensing platforms if you’re in it for the long run.


Outro Music

Just the same as the Intro music, your listeners will also connect with the Outro music as it slowly fades in while you’re wrapping up the episode and wishing your listeners well. The Outro music can easily use the same track as the Intro, however, you might consider this as a ripe opportunity and get creative by using a different song at the closing.

For example, imagine a newsroom-type podcast with an intense “bulletin news flash” sound for their bouncy intro music, but the outro music is relaxing and somewhat calming. The effect music can have on the listener will influence them into feeling more secure and accomplished with the new knowledge they’ve gained from your podcast. What seemed like a dramatic beginning has been resolved into a positive message worth sharing.


Commercial Breaks

The next piece of music you will want to obtain a license for is a track for your commercial breaks. You don’t necessarily want to use the same Intro or Outro music for your own brand while representing or promoting other brands because even if you endorse them, it’s not professional. It’s also not very unique or special for the one being endorsed because after a while, your listeners will become numb to the announcements and will only be reminded of your program’s Intro, meaning they won't really be listening.

For commercials and advertisements, you will want to create a special area aside from your own content that is dedicated to promotional content. This allows you to get even more creative and clearly outlines the structure of your program. Specifically, it helps you to maintain a dedicated and professional space for your regular commercial breaks. Your regular commercial breaks should have their own background music for your listeners and your clients will appreciate being properly showcased. If you promote another brand using your own brand’s background music, then promote them in the Intro of your program as well and try to connect it to the content in that episode. This will also likely open up the potential to generate added income by relating your show’s content to the promotion.


Ad Campaigns

When it comes to launching any ad campaign, especially on Facebook or Instagram, you need music. At the same time, you also don’t want to reveal all your cards or give away any spoilers, but a certain level of curiosity should be present enough to intrigue your viewers within seconds. By revealing your Intro music, you will definitely be spreading brand awareness, but is it really necessary? No. It really isn’t necessary and here’s why: You’re running an Ad Campaign, which is the best way to attract newcomers. Let the ad campaign work on its own. See this as another opportunity to be creative and choose new music that will enhance the campaign's performance and spice up the brand along the way. Whether the ad is a success or not, your branded Intro music will remain untouched and pure in its purpose. By attracting new listeners with a successful ad campaign, now you can allow the power of your program’s Intro music make its first impression as you initially intended.


Paid Promos

Such a vague term, “Paid Promotion”, so allow me to start by saying the above mentioned criteria about Ad Campaigns also applies to Paid Promotions when it comes to your brand. Obviously, with Paid Promotions, you can pay to promote your brand on other outlets. Ideally, you can also accept payment from outside sources for ad placement in your program’s commercial break as a “Paid Promo.” Regarding the latter, when a business pays you to include their promotion in your program, they will also be able to provide you with the promotion itself. The promotion they have prepared should already have legally licensed background music for commercial purposes. It is important for you to verify with your client that the music used in the promo will not risk being copy-striked under your brand. Just in case, it’s always good to create a buffer-zone between your paid promos and your commercial breaks. By playing a piece of music that routinely announces the commercial break as a separation from your content, you can create a clear partition that may help prevent any potential legal issues should they arise.


Dos and Don'ts

Just remember, it’s really all about how you want your listeners to feel when they hear your show. As long as the music isn’t too loud or unbalanced with the message, you’ll be fine. One of the great secrets to using background music effectively is by choosing stealthy music. Stealthy music is music that you can hear, but it doesn’t make you dance or trigger any muscles. You want to avoid using music that sounds like an old fashioned dance party and you don’t necessarily want your listeners to pay any attention to it. The perfect background music should slowly grow on your audience with time, sort of like the gentle strings from the Game of Thrones intro, not the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. Powerful background music is designed to lay low and remain out of the spotlight. You can enhance your brand’s message and identity by using joyous and motivational music that’s legally licensed and totally royalty free. Feel free to experiment with different styles, get creative, and let the music work its magic.


Guest Blog Author: Andrew Williams


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