Music is great to add more interest to a show – as a unique show opening theme; to convey an emotion, or create a montage. Music incorporated with video and film can portray expressions that can’t be shown with images alone (for example its use in drama and films), and can be used in factual and documentary programmes to connect and unify a variety of different scenes in perhaps different locations.

Getting Music for a Show

Contact local bands or music department students as they will likely be keen to help. The benefit of this is that your show will have a unique tailored soundtrack, and you will not have to worry about infringing copyright laws or paying royalties (which can be very expensive).

Free Music Online

Other than using local composers and musicians (which come with many benefits as above), the internet provides many further free resources (although not necessary of the same high quality) which are downloadable for free and royalty-free. Remember to always check the licence agreement of the sound before using it in your show – sometimes attribution to the original author is required, or it may not allow use in a ‘derivative work’, which can include videos. If you are unsure, it is better to find another. Below are links to some of these websites to save you time searching online: (very classically-orientated, but good to take a look) (great resource - useful for sound effects more so than music)

Using Music

The use of music varies depending on programme content, and do not assume simply adding an audio track will give the best effect. It is good practice to consider how the sound will benefit and express more from the video than the visuals alone can achieve.

A good composer will always create better results than that of layering audio tracks in an editing suite, because the music will be unique to the pictures, assisting in telling the individual story of the images. This is particularly true for dramas, but less relevant for other genres. In these, the priority is to convey the relevant emotion, or create unity throughout different scenes.

Do not be scared of using music in a creative way – experimenting is the best way to find out what works well. There are no rules, and if as long as it sounds good, that is all that matters!

Be careful with overusing music – it can get monotonous if used continuously. Allowing moments of silence can be much more effective in places. It is good to consider that a video is not only images, and that the audio is effective in further telling a story and adding a new dimension.


Just because you may have paid for a CD does not mean that you are allowed to broadcast or use the music in a video. Royalties are money which are paid to the musician or publisher each time the work is shown, and are frequently thousands of pounds for popular songs and works - so best to be avoided. If a particular artist or music style are integral to your show, it is possible to ask a musician (music department or band for example) and they may be able to compose something similar but not the same, thereby avoiding any copyright or royalty issues.

Royalty-free music does not have to be paid each time it is played. It is not necessarily free to purchase (you can buy these on CDs), but some resources on the internet are. These do not incur additional fees to perform or broadcast, but always check the licence agreement prior to be sure.