The underlying audio tracks of your film set its mood. If you’re editing a recap of a youth activity, you’ll want something energetic. If you’re telling a story of someone’s personal triumphs you’ll need something moving and uplifting. A poorly picked track can make even a well shot film feel awkward.
I might be a bit nit-picky, but I usually spend about an hour or more just trying to find the right track for whatever I’m creating. Most of the time I know exactly what I’m looking for to match the mood of the film in my head. It’s a tedious process, but there’s not much room for error.
For example, in our I Dare You to Dream promo, we knew we needed something very subtle. We wanted the audio of what’s happening inside the house to stand apart from the music track enough to make the viewer feel like they were in the house – clanging glasses, tumbling dryer, dripping faucet, etc (a little secret: the original dripping faucet audio we created had a hiss from a bad battery, so I spliced in a sound effect). We also were looking for something that built anticipation as the young girl reached the “Mom, I dare you to dream” ending.
When finding music for films, 95% of our tracks (including I Dare You to Dream) are found via The Music Bed. They have a fantastic browse feature that helps you narrow down your choices based on a number of criteria like track length, mood, and genre. They also take care of the licensing for you. For non-profits that means roughly $79-$149 depending on the scope of your project. If you’re capturing a wedding, they have a $49 option. That may seem spendy to newcomers, but try licensing a track for film on your own and you’ll appreciate the service. It’s also about integrity and not using an artist’s work without their permission. The Music Bed has you covered.
What do you use?[Update 6.12.15] I came across another licensing service this morning: songfreedom.com.