Day 7: Background Music – Do you Need it?

This is part of the 31 Days to Better Podcasting series by How to Record Podcasts. Find out more and get on the list

In the Day in Tech History I’ve been toying with the idea to put background music around the vocals. There are some that say it adds another level to the audio – although some people prefer no music in the background.

I remember when Tech Crunch did a podcast on Stitcher Internet Radio. I can still hear the techno beat they used in the background while the female voice was reading the news. BagelTech News (now British Tech Network) used a background music for Ewan’s daily show. Later I found out that music was free music you could get from Garageband.

Adding music to podcasts

Adding music to podcasts

Adding music to the background

The biggest problem is to get music that won’t overpower the main podcast. Any music with vocals in it will most likely mix too hard with your podcast and could cause problems.

I find instrumental music at 25% (or between -6 and -9db) works well. If the music is heavier (like Metal music) then you may have to pull down the levels more.

Music Ducking

A ducker is a device that will automatically lower the music volume if the main vocals start talking. Not too many people use a ducker – unless you are a radio station. There are VST ducking programs you can put into your recording software and it will lower the music when you put it in your show.

Keeping the background silent for the Podcast

There are many cases of shows that have no music in the background. There is music in the show – through an intro or outtro. Therefore, music is not necessary to make a show popular. However, it might keep people listening to an episode. Listen time is just as important as calling up the podcast. On average, audience drops sharply after 75% of a 5 minute episode.

Types of music for background

Types of music for background

What Types of Music Should be in the Background of a Podcast?

It is known that adding music to a show can add emotion. It’s best to keep a few songs to change the mood. If a part of the show brings excitement, a more up-beat song should be played.

On the other hand, it really depends on your podcast. For Day in Tech History, I am not sure if I would put in any upbeat or techno music. Maybe a nice orchestral arrangement. For iPad365, if I am talking about a game, I’ll put in game music.

Where Can I Get Royalty Free Music?

Remember – you can’t just put any song on your show. Led Zeppelin, Journey, Prince, Dr. Dre and Justin Beiber songs are some that are out the question. Good thing is there are a lot of royalty free websites you can go to get music. Pond 5 is a site that lets you get single songs.

I have posted a few royalty free songs on HTRP you can use.

Music can be the path to a more listened podcast. If done right you might re-invigorate your podcast and gain listeners.

Adding music to podcasts

Adding music to podcasts

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