How do I put music over a video?

Adding music to video refers to the process of combining an audio track with a video during editing. This could involve background music to set the mood, a soundtrack that enhances storytelling, or overlays of sound effects and foley. There are several benefits to adding music to videos:

Setting the mood – Music is one of the most powerful ways to influence the emotional impact of a video. Choosing the right background track can dramatically alter the tone, evoking emotions from viewers. Upbeat, energetic music can make exciting scenes more thrilling, while somber, melancholy music lends itself to dramatic or reflective videos.

Enhancing storytelling – Music works hand in hand with visuals to reinforce narratives and themes. Leitmotifs in film scores clue the audience into characters or ideas, while montages gain deeper meaning paired with poignant songs.

Smooth scene transitions – Using music underneath jumpy cuts allows them to flow together more smoothly by distracting from the visual disruption.

Filling empty space – Adding musical underscore during slow-moving or dialog-free scenes helps maintain momentum and viewer engagement.

Branding content – Having a consistent music style or branded jingle helps identify a creator’s videos and connect them.

Improving watch time – Studies show that videos with music tend to yield better viewer retention, keeping people engaged for longer.

With the proper music choice and attentive editing, adding audio can profoundly enhance the impact of a video, transforming it into a more compelling, memorable viewing experience.

Copyright Considerations

When using commercial or copyrighted music in your videos, it’s important to be aware of copyright law and issues around intellectual property. Simply grabbing a popular song off YouTube or ripping it from a CD and putting it over your video likely constitutes copyright infringement. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, you need permission or a license from the rights holder to use their song, which usually involves paying royalties and/or giving them a percentage of the video’s ad revenue.

However, there are some exceptions that may allow you to use copyrighted music without needing explicit permission, such as fair use. Fair use is a legal principle that permits limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as commentary, criticism, education, or reporting. To qualify as fair use, you’d need to use only short portions of the song, not the entire work, and your video would have to provide transformative value by using the song in a new context like parody or critique rather than just a soundtrack. However, fair use can be complex to interpret, so it’s recommended you consult an attorney if attempting this approach. For more, see this article or YouTube’s fair use overview.

Other options are to use music that is in the public domain, meaning not protected by copyright, or release under Creative Commons or other open licenses. There are also many sources for quality royalty-free music that gives you legal permission to use the songs in exchange for a one-time fee. We’ll cover specific sites and resources for finding suitable public domain and royalty-free music later in this guide.

Choosing the Right Music

When selecting background music for your video, it’s important to choose a track that matches the mood and tone of the visuals. The music should complement and enhance the video content rather than distract from it.

Instrumental music without vocals often works best for background tracks. Songs with lyrics can be distracting if the words don’t relate directly to the video imagery. However, instrumental covers of popular songs can be an effective option.

Look for music that aligns with the style of your video. For example, an upbeat pop or rock song would match a fast-paced montage, while a slow, gentle piano piece could suit a romantic scene. Try different genres to see what fits best.

The length of the music clip should also fit the duration of the video segment it’s accompanying. Shorter video segments may only need 10-30 seconds of background music, while longer portions can use tracks of a minute or more.

Use sites like Vidyard to search for background music by mood, genre, tempo, duration, and more to find the perfect match.

Editing Software Options

There are many great video editing software options to choose from depending on your needs and budget. Some top choices include:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro – This professional-grade editing software is the industry standard for video production. It has a steep learning curve but offers unmatched capabilities and integration with other Adobe tools like After Effects (Source).

  • Final Cut Pro – Developed by Apple, Final Cut offers powerful editing tools optimized for Mac users. It’s an excellent alternative to Premiere and popular among independent filmmakers (Source).

  • DaVinci Resolve – A free editor with professional-level color correction tools and multi-cam editing. The free version has some limitations but provides incredible value (Source).

  • iMovie – Apple’s free, beginner-friendly editing app for Mac and iOS. It has intuitive drag-and-drop tools but lacks advanced options suited for simpler projects.

  • Filmora – An affordable and easy-to-use editor for Windows and Mac. It has preset effects and transitions but fewer capabilities than paid professional software.

The choice depends on your budget, platform, and editing needs. For professional filmmakers, Adobe Premiere Pro is hard to beat. For beginners, apps like iMovie provide a simple introduction before moving to more advanced software.

Importing Music Files

The first step in adding music to a video is importing the music files you want to use into your video editing software. There are a few key things to know about music file formats when importing:

The most common file format for music is MP3. MP3 files compress the size of the audio file by selectively discarding some of the audio data. This makes the files smaller in size and easier to stream online. Most video editing software can import MP3 files.

WAV and AIFF files are higher quality uncompressed formats. They contain more precise audio data, but also result in much larger file sizes. These formats are ideal for music production but may be overkill for simple video projects. Check if your editing software supports these formats.

Some other formats like FLAC, OGG, and WMA are less widely compatible. Converting the files to MP3 first may be necessary if your editing software can’t import them natively.

When ready to import, locate the files through the File > Import or equivalent menu in your editing software. You can then add the music files to your project’s timeline or media bin. Most editing tools make importing music files a straightforward process. Just be mindful of the format for compatibility.

For more details, see this step-by-step guide on importing music files into editing software:

Syncing Music to Video

When adding music to video, you’ll want to align the music with the visual content to create a cohesive experience. Here are some strategies for syncing music and video:

Match music beats or key moments to cuts or transitions in the video. For example, emphasize a video clip change with a strong beat or musical accent. This helps the music feel like part of the action.

Fade music in and out gradually to blend it with the video. Abrupt volume changes can be jarring. Use your editing software’s audio controls to create smooth fade ins and outs.

Loop short music clips to cover longer video segments. Copy and paste the clip to repeat it. Crossfade between looped clips to transition seamlessly.

Try muting the original video audio and play music underneath as the sole audio. This ensures the music stays prominent in the mix.

Adjust music volume based on the video content. Lower music volume during voiceovers or important soundbites so it doesn’t compete. Bring the volume back up during montages.

Use sound effects to accent motion or impacts on screen. Time whooshes, crashes, booms etc. to the video action.

Following these tips will help sync your music track to the visuals for a professional, seamless feel. Let the music complement and enhance the video storytelling.

Adjusting Audio Levels

When adding music to video, it’s important to properly adjust the audio levels of the music relative to any other audio in your video, like voiceover or ambient sound. According to Epidemic Sound, the overall audio level of your mix should be normalized between -10dB to -20dB, with dialogue generally around -12dB to -16dB [1].

In terms of setting the music audio level, the music should usually be quieter than dialogue or voiceover. A good rule of thumb is to set the music around -24dB to -8dB lower than the dialogue [1]. This ensures the music enhances the video without overpowering the speaking parts.

When adjusting levels, use audio compression and normalization to even out the highs and lows in the music track. Compression brings down loud peaks and brings up quiet valleys, while normalization adjusts the entire track to a target loudness. This results in consistent audio levels that complement the dialogue rather than compete with it [2].

Proper audio mixing creates a professional sound where viewers can clearly hear the speaking parts over the background music. Keep music at a lower volume and use compression and normalization tools to refine the levels.

Adding Sound Effects

Sound effects can be a great way to enhance your video and add interesting transitions between scenes. When used effectively with the music, sound effects can create continuity between clips and heighten the emotional impact. Some common uses of sound effects include:

– Adding impact sounds like crashes or punches during action sequences

– Using swoosh or swish sounds to indicate scene changes

– Layering in ambient background textures like city noise or crowds

– Punctuating emotional beats with dramatic sounds like glass breaking

– Smoothing over jump cuts between clips with seamless transitions

There are many free sound effect libraries online you can access to find high-quality SFX assets. Great options include:

Zapsplat: Over 150,000 free SFX professionally recorded in MP3 and WAV formats.

Mixkit: Curated library of incredible free sound effects for video and audio projects.

– Epidemic Sound: Requires a paid subscription but offers a huge library of studio-quality sound effects.

The key is to browse these libraries to find sounds that enhance the tone and pacing of your video. Layer them subtly under the music to add texture and interest. Applying sound effects with finesse can take your video to the next level.

Rendering the Final Video

When exporting your video, you’ll need to choose the right codec and output format for your needs. The codec compresses the video file to make it smaller while maintaining quality. Common codecs include H.264, HEVC, and VP9. H.264 offers a good balance of quality and file size, while HEVC provides great quality at half the file size but may not be supported everywhere. VP9 is optimized for web video.

For the output format, .MP4 is a standard for online video. Other options like .AVI, .WMV, and .MOV may have less compatibility. The resolution and frame rate will also affect file size – lower resolutions and frame rates will be smaller. A good online target is 1080p at 30 fps.

There is a trade-off between quality and file size. To reduce file size, you can lower the resolution, frame rate, or bitrate. This will lower the visual quality but make the file easier to share online. It’s recommended to export one high-quality version as your master file, then create smaller files optimized for web as needed.

When uploading to online platforms like YouTube or Facebook, it’s best to follow their recommended export settings for optimal viewing. Many sites have resolution and bitrate targets. For example, YouTube suggests exporting at 1080p with a bitrate of 8 Mbps for ideal quality.

Adobe Premiere Pro has built-in presets for platforms like YouTube and Vimeo that automatically configure the ideal export settings. Using these can help optimize your video for each platform.


Adding music can greatly enhance the quality of your videos. In this article, we covered some key steps for combining music and video files:

  • Consider copyrights and choose royalty-free music or create your own.
  • Pick music that matches the tone and complements the visuals.
  • Use editing software like Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, iMovie etc. to import and sync your audio.
  • Adjust audio levels to achieve the right balance between music and other sounds.
  • Render out your final video with the music mixed in.

Some additional tips: add fade ins/outs on your music tracks; incorporate both foreground and background songs; use sound effects for transitions. With the right audio, your videos will be more dynamic, emotive and professional.

Great music literally brings videos to life. It captures viewers’ attention, sets the mood, and elicits powerful emotional responses. Enhancing your videos with complementary songs and sounds is well worth the effort.

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