I bet if you think of your favorite movie, you can hum the theme song or some of the music from that film. Music is an important part of a great movie- so important that Hollywood pays top composers huge amounts of money to create the perfect, catchy score.
If you’re needing music for your new movie, you can hire a composer to custom write music for each and every scene but that may strain your already tight budget. Don’t worry, you can find great, original music on the web and much of it is free or available for a very low price.
I’m talking about Royalty-free music. If you Google ‘royalty free alternative music’ for instance, you will find pages of websites that offer alternative rock music for free or for a small licensing fee. That’s the good news. The bad news is – you’re going to have to do a lot of digging to find the music that fits the mood of your movie.
The best way to start off is to create a rough list of the songs you will need. Perhaps you want a quick uptempo rock song for the opening credits or maybe you have a few steamy scenes where a slow blues number will work nicely. Once you have the basic ‘music outline’, you can start your search for royalty free music that will fit your movie. The same goes for short films or even personal YouTube videos. Make a plan.
I suggest looking for royalty free music sites that have their music categorized and are easy to navigate. You don’t want to waste hours of your time clicking on song titles, wondering what you’re going to hear next. Oh great it’s some cheesy accordion song!
The best royalty free music sites will have easy to navigate categories such as Progressive Rock, Symphony, Blues or Country Music. This makes it much easier to find the music you are looking for.
One feature that I find extremely valuable is the vocal and non-vocal versions of a particular song. This helps develop a ‘theme’ that can be recurring throughout your movie. (Think ‘Titanic’). A lot of soundtracks use the non-vocal version of the song to create a recurring mood for a few scenes and then hit the audience with the vocal version during the closing credits. Don’t be afraid to use the same song in a number of scenes. Think about the theme song for ‘the Godfather’ and how many times the same melody was used over and over to great effect.