Welcome back to the Book Video Workshop. If you’re just joining us, please be sure to visit the previous discussions: Day 1: Deconstructing A Book Video, Day 2: Writing the Book Video Script; and Day 3: Imagery to Tell The Story. (This post was updated on 3/4/10.)
Music plays a vital role in commercials. The point of music in a commercial – and a book video is a commercial – is to make it memorable. To stand out. In the book Television Commercials, Charles Wainwright writes, “Advertising execs say ‘of the three elements going into most television commercials — picture, voice, and music — certainly the most important, emotionally and from the point of view of setting the mood, is the music.’”
In this workshop, I’ve probably said at one point or another that each element is the most important. But in truth, they are equally important because it’s the combined creation that elevates it to an emotional connection with your viewer. (And you don’t want that emotion to be boredom.)
But before discussing what to choose and what to focus on, we need to explain where to find your music and what all those licenses mean.
What does royalty-free mean?
As writers, you’re well aware of what royalties on your books are: the percentage of proceeds from a sale paid to the author. This works the same in music – royalties are paid to the composer or artist depending on how the work is used. When you purchase a license, you are purchasing permission to use the music in a specific format. There are two contrasting forms of licensing music – rights managed and royalty free.
A rights-managed license is purchased to use content (i.e. a song) for a specific purpose. For example, let’s say a television commercial producer wanted to use a Brad Paisley song for their 30 second commercial. They would purchase a rights-managed license that gave them the permission to use that song (at a hefty cost) specifically for that commercial. If they wanted to use the song for any other purpose, they would need to purchase additional permission, or additional rights. The higher value placed on the implied endorsement from the artist, the higher the costs and the more restrictive the license. If you used a Brad Paisley song in your video, you would be in essence capitalizing on his reputation and connection to fans to better serve your product. It’s why popular songs are not available for just “any” purpose – they preserve the right to protect their name, their image and their brand as much as anyone does.
This brings us to the royalty-free side of licensing. If that same TV commercial producer acquired a royalty-free license for Brad’s song (not likely), they would have the permission and rights to use that song in any way covered by that license. Royalty-free doesn’t imply every usage is possible–it is still a license sold within a specific set of guidelines, but those guidelines are usually fairly broad and it does give the buyer the ability to use the song for a variety of uses without having to pay additional costs.
What you can and can’t do with royalty-free music
Royalty-free music is music licensed for commercial or private usage under a certain set of guidelines. In rights-managed copyrights, those guidelines are extremely strict. One of the easiest elements of working with royalty-free music is that the different elements of rights are included in the cost (or guidelines of usage).
Just as an author’s royalties might differ whether the format is hardcover, mass market, or an e-book, the rights for audio work are separated as well. There are mechanical rights, synchronization rights and performance rights. Mechanical rights give you the right to manufacture, record or distribute the copyright holder’s music. Adam Taylor, President of APM Music, defines synchronization rights as “the rights to synchronizing or editing the music in time to moving footage or audio.” And last, there is the right to perform, or broadcast, known as performance rights.
Now what you get within those categories depends on where you purchase your music. For example, for the video I did for my book SOMETHING ABOUT HER, I purchased a license to use the song, Serenade by Schubert as performed by Olive Musique at Premiumbeat.com. The license for all songs on PremiumBeat states:
This license covers the elements of mechanical (distribution), synchronization (new media, animations, etc) and performance/broadcast rights (television or radio programs). The license does not cover advertising or commercial TV/radio usage though.
Music downloaded for free. Some royalty-free libraries offer music at no cost, but they still have guidelines that must be followed. Most often, this includes attribution – a credit link on the media in a place where people can easily find it. If you are making a book video, you have to take into consideration the fact that others can easily grab your embed code and place your video on other sites. So the attribution should be included on one of the frames in your video, usually the last one. With purchased licenses, you are not usually required to show attribution unless specifically stated. You need to read the license carefully to see what is required.
Added 3/4: Since most authors will post their video to YouTube, here is a great explanation of how performance rights work with videos posted on YouTube. It also lists a great point: when using someone else’s music, be sure to also include the credits of that song in your description field, not just in your video.
Where to Find It
Royalty-free libraries are a valuable resource to anyone intending to produce their own videos, and there are plenty of them out there. They aren’t all free, you pay for the license, but the costs range from a few dollars up to $40. If that seems like a hefty price to pay for a song, remember it’s not the song you’re paying for: it is a license to use the artist’s work to benefit your own.
You’re also paying for something that is more unique among your competitors. Certainly, the price tag of the free option is unbeatable and many of the sources, such as Kevin MacLeod’s Incompetech.com, provide high quality songs. But also remember as the book video space grows more crowded, those same sources are being used by a greater number of authors just like you, creating book videos just like yours, from the same sources you are using. The song you downloaded for free might also be on ten other book videos in your genre. Weigh your options and choose the best path for your goals and budget.
Websites to find music:
Places you purchase music to use:
Do a google search for “royalty-free music” and you will come up with more options if these don’t suit your needs.
Selecting The Right Song
Now that you know what you can do with the song and where to go to find them, you have to choose. That’s the most difficult part – deciding what music to select (as well as working your way through the different sites and listening to dozens of them.)
Think of the music you love. When you’re in certain moods, you’re drawn to certain artists, certain songs. Each of those connect to a mood within you. The music you select for your video should work to create the mood in your viewer you want them to feel. A fast, upbeat song makes people feel light-hearted. Music heavy on soft, melancholy violin strings will make someone feel sad, perhaps wistful. What is the emotional punch you’ve aimed for with your script and your images? How can you impact that even more?
Music has the ability to take someone deeper. Different songs, used with the same video and script, will leave a different impression. The music you choose should add another emotional layer, on top of the script, on top of the imagery you’ve chosen – an extra punch. Don’t think in generic terms like “funny”, “romantic” – go deeper than that. If you need to show the humor in your writing, do you want quirky, silent-movie type of humor, or slapstick? Each of those creates a different sound. Get specific, because the more specifically you are focused, the easier it will be to find a piece that speaks exactly to you.
Also consider your genre. Romantic suspense is a fairly broad term, it covers a variety of books from edge-of-your-seat thrillers to adventure stories to spy stories and everything beyond. The music you choose can also more firmly set your book video within your niche. If you write about a serial killer, there should be a strong thread of tension, a dark overtone, an ominous feeling to your music. However, if you are writing about a government spy, the music would change accordingly — something with a beat that drives a little faster, a little harder, more action oriented. Find the specifics of the genre you write in and some specifics about your books or your characters and search for music that compounds those ideas.
When I chose the music for the video for my book SOMETHING ABOUT HER, I knew I wanted something sad, almost melancholy. My book is historical romance, so it needed to fit within that, but I wanted to go deeper. I’d chosen to focus the script on the emotions and situations that motivated my characters, and I’d kept my imagery simplistic, so I knew the music had to tip over the edges.
There were a number of choices and songs I loved. I searched on premiumbeat.com for quite a long time under words such as romantic, passionate, sad, melancholy…whatever combination I could think of. I knew in my head the “feel” I wanted…it was just a matter of finding the right tone. From the first note of this song, it matched what I envisioned.
One advantage to most music libraries is the search function by emotion/mood. Experiment a bit on the music library sites. Visit a few and test different elements of music, click on different keywords or genres, sample the songs. On the flipside, go back to YouTube and click on some random book videos. Then close your eyes and listen. That’s right, don’t watch the video — just listen to the song. How does it make you feel? Once you’ve done then, go back and then watch the video with the music. Do they match? Get a feel for what’s out there before you select a song.
Every thing we’ve touched on in this series has focused in on emotion. You have to imagine that each person watching the book has buttons somewhere you can push – one that tugs a heartstring, one that makes their body tense, one that pulls a smile or a laugh. Those buttons are your goal – that is what you need to achieve with the video.
The elements of your video, when picked correctly, will come together like a jigsaw puzzle. They will provide an emotional cheat sheet and give the potential reader clues what to expect from you and your book.
Our next workshop will talk about the final product — taking all the elements and putting it together, what programs are available, some tips and tricks, and building a finished product.