Voiceover background music can do wonders for your audio or video narration by enhancing the impact of the dialogue – but it has to be just right.
It’s not a competition between the voice and music, which is why background music in voice-over often starts soft and arcs as the narration grows to a climax.
Choosing the right background tracks, however, is not as straightforward as it may seem.
There are several factors to consider including the type of narration you are doing. We put together a guide on choosing the right background music for your voice-over narration.
Why Use Voiceover Background Music?
Have you listened to any type of voiceover without background music? It sounds bland, almost like something is missing – and it usually is.
When used right, music brings everything together.
Know your Audience
Background music selection falls into the post-production part of voiceover production. The preceding steps involve targeting the right audience, getting the message right, and writing the perfect voice-over script.
Voiceover background music comes last because it is meant to complement the rest of your voice-over.
Besides, knowing your target audience and their favorite genre of music will help you narrow down on the type of music to use.
Influence your Consumer’s Listening Experience
The very first step to picking the right background music is to listen. You can’t just choose a song because it has the right title or it falls within the appropriate genre – listen to as many tracks as you have to in order to find the right one.
It’s standard practice to add background music to voiceover, but you need to be intentional with the music you choose.
Regardless of the type of voiceover you are working with, the background music should always enhance the listener’s experience.
Voiceover background music also helps you connect to your audience.
Music goes a long way toward enhancing the emotional connection that your voice-over has with your audience. Songs can bring up old forgotten memories, and they can improve audience engagement and retention.
Set the Pace of your Voiceover
Background music helps set the tone and flow of your narration. Want something fast-paced and energetic? Use background music to get the attention of your listeners.
Want something slow and mellow for your older audiences? Use minimalistic music with acoustic undertones.
You can communicate different messages depending on the background music you choose to use for your voiceover.
Hide Mistakes in Your Audio
It’s not advisable that you publish audio with errors, but if you do, background music can help you avoid a whole lot of embarrassment.
Your audience might not even notice the difference, and you just might get away with bad-quality audio.
It’s a dangerous game to play, but if you have to, use background music to your advantage in this way.
How to Choose Background Music for Voiceover
So how do you know that a background track is perfect for a voiceover?
It’s simple: the best background music feels non-existent. It complements the audio so well that the audience doesn’t even know the music is there.
Your listeners should not divide the audio and the dialogue of your voiceover into two separate elements. They should be able to listen to both, at the same time, in a wholesome way.
To achieve this perfect balance of voice and background music, keep the music volume consistent – not too high, not too low.
Nothing should draw attention to the background music, otherwise, it will distract from the main purpose of the voiceover.
Here are the best practices for voiceover background music:
Limit the Distractions
Remember, the message of your voiceover comes before the background music.
We recommend that you use low-frequency sounds for background music. This is because high-frequency tracks (sounds that include whistles or flutes) easily distract from the dialogue of your narration.
Consider Tone of Voiceover
What is the tone of your voiceover? A fast-paced narration, for instance, cannot pair well with a busy background track.
It’s best to counterbalance an energetic narration with mellow background music, otherwise, your voiceover may sound hectic and distract the audience.
This goes without saying, but the best background music is rhythmic rather than melodic.
Can you imagine if the backing track of your voice-over had vocals? The audience would not know what to listen to, which defeats the entire purpose of the voice-over.
Set Voiceover Background Music Goals
The background music you choose to use will depend on the goal you want to achieve. If you are doing a commercial voiceover, the background music should align with the promotional goal of your commercial.
To produce a powerful e-learning voiceover, it makes sense to use minimalistic music that doesn’t distract from the main subject of the narration.
Background Music for Narration
When choosing background music for narration, you need to be extra careful not to drown out the dialogue (which is the most important part of narration). Whether it’s an e-learning or audiobook narration, you need to consider these practices when selecting a background track:
Who is the Voiceover for?
Keep your audience in mind when selecting background music for your voiceover. What is their age and what are their interests?
You should have answered all of these questions when writing the script for your voiceover, and you should consider them when choosing background music as well.
Generic background music might be popular, but chances are that it will hurt your voiceover more than it will help.
Always go for unique music that your audience will remember.
Male or Female Voice?
The choice of using a male or female voice artist for your narration depends on your brand goals as well as the interests of your audience.
The background music you choose for your voice-over has to complement the voice of the talent.
If the voice artist you choose has a light voice, make sure the instrumentals don’t drown this voice. A deep voice can get lost in background music that uses treble violin or piano sounds.
Less is More
Don’t mix too many different sounds into the same voiceover. Try to maintain a consistent tone throughout the narration.
Remember that background music is not there to only please the listeners – it should serve a greater purpose and help drive your message home.
You should also know when it is appropriate to forego background music altogether and do a dry voiceover recording. Sometimes, music distracts more than it helps, even when mixed right.
Listen to the voiceover with and without music to determine the best way forward.
Balance the Background Music and Dialogue
In the same way, giving too much presence to background music might ruin your voice-over. It’s important to achieve a balance between the dialogue and the background track.
Voiceover background music should complement rather than compete with the main narrative of your voice-over.
Make your voice-over background music too busy or too loud and you risk distracting your audience. Pick the wrong tempo or genre and you risk confusing or even turning off your listeners.
It’s not easy to get it right, but once you do, background music makes all the difference in voiceover.
Listen on Multiple Devices
Finally, listen to your mixed voiceover using different audio outlets. Try listening in external speakers, built-in speakers, and headphones to see if the sound quality remains consistent.
Your audience will listen to the voiceover using different devices, so ensure the sound quality is good across the board.
Use Good Quality Background Tracks
Now that you know how to select the best music for your voice-over, let’s talk about the quality of your soundtracks.
A quick internet search will reveal numerous royalty-free music that you can use, but most of it might not be good.
A cheap-sounding background track will ruin the quality of your voice-over.
After working so hard to perfect and produce your voice-over, the last thing you need is a cheap-sounding music track.
You can find good alternatives in YouTube’s music library, but you may have to pay in order to get a well-produced track.
And remember that royalty-free music is not necessarily free to use until you pay a one-time licensing fee.
If you don’t know which track to commit to, it’s best to try a few alternatives out first. Pick two or three samples to start with and see which ones best complement the dialogue or visual components of your voiceover.
Mixing Background Music into your Voiceover
It can be difficult to blend an artist’s voice and background music in a voiceover, but there are some techniques that help make it easier.
The ducking technique, for instance, involves lowering and increasing the music volume depending on the volume of the voiceover dialogue. Usually, the music level is lowered as the speaker talks, and it instantly rises after they finish.
While this technique prevents interruptions and distractions from the main subject matter, it calls unnecessary attention to the background music.
Best background music practices advise that you keep the volume to a consistent level throughout the voiceover.
Looking for Expert Audio Engineers?
It takes a little bit of talent, and a little bit of technical expertise to mix background music into your voiceover.
As they say, practice makes perfect.
You need to train your ears to feel when the background music is just right, but if you don’t have the time or energy for this, we have an easier solution for you.
Bunny Studio has expert sound technicians who can help you elevate your listener’s experience by mixing the perfect background track into your narration.