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How Podcast Music Works

by | Podcast

So you’re starting a podcast, and you’re wondering how podcast music works, right? Well in this episode I’m going to give you a few different ways to use podcast music, where you can get podcast music and the various things to consider when choosing your podcast music.

How do you use music in a podcast?

The most obvious place you can use music in your podcast is the intro and outro. The intro music really sets the scene for your listeners, and clues them into what to expect from the show.

For example, if you choose music that’s upbeat and #funkyfresh, you’re going to create a mood for your listener that boosts their energy and gets them super excited about the content they’re about to tune into.

If you use music that’s sombre and morose, you’ll likely be tapping into a different kind of mood for your listeners. I’m thinking of some true crime shows that use slow tempo, inquisitive music. The kind of music that makes you pause and think deeply about things.

You can also use music in your podcast to underscore promos or ads – this is a great differentiator that lets your listeners know that they’re in an ad break, not the actual content of the episode. Or, you can use music to transition into and out of an ad or promo back into the show.

OR, if you listen to episode 51: How To Structure A Podcast Episode you’ll hear how we use music to transition into special segments, like Pasta or Composer on Kids Q The Music!

What can music do to set you apart from other podcasters?

One of the things I love about custom music, is that it can really set a professional tone for your podcast. Whether you’re writing it yourself or you’re outsourcing it to a composer, it’s unique and special to your podcast.

But even if you don’t use custom music, if we go back to my first point on how podcast music works, you’re really creating that experience for your listener, and you know we’re all about listener experience here at The Ultimate Creative!

When you choose the right music, and edit it to fade in and out at the exact right moments to punctuate a story, or to cue up a response (yes a Pavlovian response) for your listener, you’re elevating your podcast to the “next level”. You’re saying “Hey, I’m a professional podcaster here!” And people will take note of that, even if it’s subconsciously!

What are the different types of podcast music you can get?

Depending on your budget you can have custom music created, you can license popular music or you can get royalty free music.

Custom music is a really powerful way to create a signature brand sound, that no one else is allowed to use. That means when people hear your music, they’re automatically thinking about your podcast and your brand.

Alternatively, you can license music that already exists. But be careful about using popular music – you can’t just take a song and put it into your podcast without proper licensing.

“In order to use any copyrighted music in their show, a podcaster needs to obtain a synchronization license. These types of licenses traditionally govern music use in TV shows, films, and commercials, as those media require the music be “synced” with the visuals on screen. In the case of podcasts, music is synced with the larger audio program, which is why this license is required.” – Anna WashenkoRain News

So if you don’t want to spend oodles of cash on copyright music and you’re ok with another podcaster potentially using the same music as you, you can get a royalty free license from a website like Envato Elements or from Sounds Like An Earful. You can use these tracks by paying a nominal one time fee and it’s a great budget friendly way of getting some music into your show!

How Custom Podcast Music Works

When you pick up a music pack from Envato Elements (for example) it will include a few variations of the same track that you can use in different parts of your podcast.

  • Full-length with vocals and without
  • 15 second version
  • 30 second version
  • Short transitions for segments

I’d recommend having your composer put together a similar package for you so that you have transitional music, you can layer music under promos without vocals if needed, and you can have different lengths for different purposes

In the episode embedded above, you’ll be able to hear a few examples of custom music I’ve done, including:

What kind of music should you use for your podcast?

I’m always on the side that whatever you do, it should match up with your goals. If you’re planning on creating a brand around your content and you really want it to stand out, having custom music is a great way to create that brand signature sound. Plus, you can use it in videos too!

Or perhaps the goal is to build your audience, and use your podcast as a marketing tool for your business. Getting a royalty free track or pack can still have the same impact, as long as other podcasts in your niche aren’t using the exact same music.

And of course there’s budget. Custom music can range from $100 to $1000 or beyond, depending on who you’re hiring and what their level of experience is. It can also include musicians, singers, heck, maybe even a conductor if you want to get REALLY fancy! So obviously the more bells and whistles, the more you’ll have to budget for your custom podcast music.


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