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Effective Use of Music in Real Estate Videography

Published: 13/07/2019

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I recently posted an article called, "Shooting Real Estate Video with a DSLR--The Basics" that got a lot of positive feedback, including a comment asking where to get music for real estate videos and what to know about selecting music for them. It goes without saying that music can be a tremendously powerful element in our videography. So here are a few things to consider when choosing music for your video project... and I hope many other videographers will chime in with their own thoughts, too:

1. Determine what role the music will play in your video. In other words, do you want your music to be a central element of the video because you want it to make the final product more memorable? Or do you want the music to be a “supporting player” in the video?

2. Use intro and outro music as “bookends”. There is something to be said for consistency in our videos. Music can be used to “bookend” various sections of the video and it can even be used to divide your video into chapters or segments.

3. Explore a music library. There are so many different resources available to us to augment our videos with music. These libraries have different licensing agreements and pricing/membership packages. Here is a list of some good libraries to consider:

4. Licensing your selected music. In my experience, most music sources will send you a license “certificate” of some sort, when you’ve paid for the music. While this is not formal legal advice, it’s my sense that the license should give you the right to incorporate the music you’ve paid for into your project without having to worry about breaking any intellectual property laws.

5. Choose music that will speak to your audience. If the house you’re videoing is of a more traditional style in a quiet neighborhood that’s mostly populated by an older demographic, then odds are that hip-hop or house music is probably not going to be a good fit.

6. Take advantage of tone and frequency. Neuroscience studies show that most human beings have common responses to music. This research has found that tone and frequency impact us in certain ways and should be considered when choosing music for your video. For instance, if your video contains a lot of voice-over, it’s wise to avoid choosing tracks with complex melodies played on instruments that use the same “tones” as the human voice, such as from many string and keyboard instruments.

7. Pacing. Sometimes, pulling the music is a great way to add impact to a certain spot(s) in our video; and then re-start it, shortly thereafter. Be careful not to overuse this technique though, as it will lose its effectiveness.

Finally, in terms of how one would factor the cost of the music into a pricing model and how to address a situation where the real estate agent doesn’t like the choice of music, I will leave that to the more experienced videographers in our community to answer.

Brandon Cooper

15 comments on “Effective Use of Music in Real Estate Videography”

  1. 8. Survey the audience for real estate videos and determine whether they'd prefer silent video with captions, narrated video, or video with a music track. The results will convince you that you can ignore 1-7 above.

  2. As a music producer for both records and film, I think points 1-7 are well taken. Screwing up music selection can ruin a video. Picking the right piece and editing it properly can make even a mediocre video shine. And of course, don't use unlicensed music. It could be a VERY costly mistake!

  3. Music is such a personal thing, so I try and choose the music that is the least offensive to the largest number of people 🙂

    Classical, jazz, rap, hip hop, etc. all can be very polarizing to some people, and the reality is that many have the sound turned off anyway as they are watching at work, etc.

    BUT from strictly a business perspective, I choose the music and I don't offer choices to my clients as it opens up an whole bag of worms. If I start letting people choose music or change music, prices go UP. 99% have never had an issue with that practice. What matters MOST to them is they get their video 3.2 minutes after I shoot it..... 🙂

  4. Music is the very worst part of making an RE video. It should be the pleasant, but it just isn't. Time is money. These music sites are poorly organized, and the vast majority of tunes offered are completely unsuitable for RE video. That makes looking for music tedious and extremely aggravating. I would literally rather farm that part of the job out to someone who has mastered music application and acquisition.

  5. I can almost spend as much time selecting the music as it takes to edit the video. That's how important it is to me. I believe in #5. Yes Fred, you don't want to offend anyone but taking a little more time finding the right music can really help the entertainment of a video. And matching the demographics of the potential buyer is a guessing game but worth sticking your neck out for.

    We use video to elicit emotions. And music can add, or take away from the experience. I say use it, but not as an afterthought. Make it the first thought before you even import the video.

    I use Epidemic Sound.

  6. I've been following the topic of real estate video for nearly 30 years, i.e. from the days when it was shot on tape and distributed on CDs, and have been shooting real estate video for a dozen years.

    I published a real estate weekly and new homes magazines for twenty years, ran home shows for several years, and frequently attended open houses and resident events where people approach me after recognizing my voice.

    Listening to the audience for real estate video, some things are clear: buyers and renters want information, not entertainment, and find music tracks highly annoying in almost every instance.

    The approach to real estate video that I see on this site consists of giving people what they don't want and not giving them what they do.

  7. "...buyers and renters want information, not entertainment, and find music tracks highly annoying in almost every instance."

    I am willing to bet that if you surveyed consumers of most any product or service, they would say they just want the facts and are reluctant to admit they make purchasing decisions based on the emotional appeal of marketing messaging. Music is a major component of much major advertising video and has proven effectiveness. Conversely, poor use of music in marketing can have an adverse affect, and there is a lot of poor use of music in real estate marketing videos, in my opinion.

    My opinion is that, if music must be used in typical, low-budget real estate videos, it should be simple, innocuous background music that is not insipid.

  8. Brandon,

    Thanks for answering my earlier question here and I appreciate the input from all of the comments.

    Joe, I respect your years of experience, but that’s a pretty bold statement without any real data to back it up.

  9. Consumer product and service marketing has almost zero relevance in this context - especially since it's generally informed by in-depth research into the target audience and highly dependent for its effectiveness upon multiple exposures.

    Music isn't the only issue, and not even the major one with real estate video. Step back and take a realistic look at most of the real estate video that's being produced. It gives the viewer no information in addition to what's conveyed by the stills that accompany the listing. It often leaves the viewer totally disoriented as to what they're viewing, jumping randomly and incoherently back and forth between spaces. It's simply a waste of the viewer's time. Annoying music is frequently the only coherent, linear element - a poor substitute for an intelligent narrative or informative captions.

    A lot more thought needs to be given to what value real estate video delivers rather than to the technical aspects of producing it.

    Brandon - what I've heard from the many buyers and renters I've questioned on this topic doesn't amount to data. You're correct in that, but when the sentiment expressed by them is near unanimous, there's a lesson to be had.

  10. Joe, I think you have described the situation very well. However, high-quality video is very time consuming to produce, even for relatively short pieces, and it is really far beyond what most real estate agents or their sellers want to spend. So, we get these highly compromised videos. However, I don't think most agents are using video because they actually think it helps market the property better. I think they are doing it either to try to one up the competition or because sellers ask for it. It was the same with the spinning panos that realtors used to use. So, the quality of the production doesn't matter a great deal here for most. But you are right on thing. At least it should not be annoying. 🙂

    I want to make it clear that I am not dismissing all real estate video quality as mediocre. There is some very high-quality stuff that has been done, and some of it has been displayed in this blog, but I think it is the exception, not the rule.

  11. I with there were more more scientific studies done on this subject, but not just music, but other aspects of RE video production. In the interim, all we have are the reactions of our clients and TV commercials to offer us some guidance. And yes, we don't have days to produce an RE video, but hours so we can't be too picky as long as our clients like the results.

    I feel that the music can add to the narrative or distract from it. But the viewer (since you can't please all the people all the time) has the option to turn down their volume or turn it off altogether.

    I try to pick music that I think will we acceptable to the target buying audience just like I try to pace my videos to them as well. Younger people tend to like something more zippy, if I may use a scientific term, while older people in my advance age group tend to feel more comfortable not being rushed or hit over the head with a pounding beat. So that is how I pick.

    But in addition to that, I produce two versions of the video. 1. is a full coverage of the house, property, grounds and if it is large one the guest house, barn, stables, groves and views. More if there is more and if the subject matter is a marketing point. This one has longer clips, dissolve transitions, sounds of fountains, streams, pools, hot tubs and spa water falls and other audio clips that seem appropriate such as the sound or horses, and, since I live in mostly country settings for properties, the sound of the local birds at song. They can take over so have to be careful with that one. And I record all these audio clips separately. What I cut out is all other audio that comes with the video clips. 2. is a 45-55 second version of the first one. This one has fast clips, no more than 2 seconds, no transitions and only music audio.

    But in both cases, I time the transitions to the beat of the music so I want music that has a beat of 3 or 4 seconds apart for the long video and 2 seconds for the short. The short will as a result be more energetic. It is for social media and any other place, like property sites, where it can be the intro. Usually 12-14 clips. So music plays a bigger part for me than just background music, mood music, or something to fill the silence; it is an integral part of the pacing of the video.

    But if you don't use music, today in a world where music follows you every where you go from elevators to stores, from restaurants to hotels, to TV as you watch it, I think silence is not a comfortable things for videos especially if there is no other audio involved.

    Personally I use AudioJungle for most of my audio needs.

  12. Music makes or breaks a video. We make private contracts with record labels that we like. If you are producing quality work & send the label a nice video message explaining your'd be surprised at the deals you can make. I often reach out of Japanese artists as well since the market is saturated with English sourced content.

  13. @Joe Zekas

    Sorry, I'm relatively new to this site, but I have say you really don't bring much to the conversation. Seems like you love to "toot your own horn", and 3 separate posts basically dismissing everybody's comments (including the site owner)?

    I quickly checked out one of your videos . Is this the "intelligent narrative" you keep talking about?, you sound really enthusiastic as you talk for almost 4 mins!

    Whatever works for you I guess 🙂

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