Finding music to match your audio stories

Never underestimate how long it takes to find the right music to go with your audio stories.

Sometimes I spend days, listening to tracks to find the right music to fit the piece I'm working on.

How to find the right music for your audio story

Some people start with the music.

I don’t.

Before I even start looking for music, I edit my interview down into a basic structure, leaving gaps in between the scenes where I know I’d like to put music later.

I then think about what sort of feeling I want my music to give the listeners e.g. happy, sad, reflective etc… when they're listening to the piece. 

The search engine I use to find free non-commercial music is Dig CC Mixer

I then search Dig CC Mixer's database with the feeling word I'm after e.g. “happy”. It can be a bit hit or miss. So if I can’t find anything under say,  “happy” I’ll try another word like “fun” or “upbeat”. And then I’ll literally listen to hundreds of tracks until I find something that I like.

I look for tracks that are subtle and with little to no lyrics.

If I still don’t get any hits, I drill down the type of music which might match the feeling I am after. So for happy, I might search for acoustic, rhythmic or percussion based tracks. Your happy could be different to mine.

If I find something I like that isn’t suitable for the piece I’m working on, but could be good for another story in the future, I’ll download it and save it to my computer.

Then I'll rename the track title to include the feeling word I associate with it (to make it easier for me in the future). 


And then I'll put it in the right "feeling" folder. It took a bit of time, but now I've built up a bit of a free music library. 

I also make note of the source in a word document in case I use the music in the future and have to reference it.

If I find a track I like, I also listen to the producers other music to see if I like any of their other tracks that I could use in future pieces. Usually if they have one track that I like there will be other tracks that I'll like too (bonus). 

Seeing if the track fits

You never really know if the music is going to work with your audio until you hear them together.

I do this by dragging the music onto a separate track below the interview tracks so I can listen to them together. I keep it pretty rough. I just want to get a sense of how they sound together.

You just seem to know if the music works or not. If I am having a lot of trouble and I can't find anything, I pair a track that is completely different to what I thought I wanted (like something "dark" or "moody" if I thought it needed something "happy" and "bright") and sometimes this type of juxtaposition works a treat.

If I’m lucky and the music works, I’ll edit the music to fit in with the audio. Otherwise, I get back on Dig CC Mixer and keep searching!

If I can't find anything there, I try for free tracks here:

If you know of any other great places to find free tracks, please let me know on twitter and I'll update this post.