Creating a Successful Soundtrack
Here are some tips to help you achieve the best results with original music.
Choose the correct style for the product. Rules of thumb based on prior successful shows are good to follow.
• Sports fitness. Fitness products work best with dance and rock music providing impact through well-timed, hard-hitting and fast-paced edits.
• Business opportunity. For these shows, think newsy, upbeat music with brass and string themes à la CNBC.
• Housewares. These products usually fall into a style that can be described as up-tempo, happy, feel-good music. Piano is often featured with other synthesized sounds.
• Cleaning products. Cleaning products are typically presented with dramatic before-and-after segments that require high contrast musical imagery. These include brass accents, energetic rhythms plus well-timed sweeps and sparkles.
• Diet and weight loss. Weight-loss shows can go a few different ways. Slower, inspirational music featuring piano, guitar and strings will work well as an accompaniment for the classic life-changing testimonial approach. Light pop or adult contemporary instrumentals work great for a less emotional and more uplifting approach.
Once the appropriate style of music is selected, you must develop variations for the different sections of your show. The open, calls-to-action (commercials) and close should all use the same musical style for continuity and viewer recognition. This becomes your theme. It is also your sell. This music will serve to establish the most upbeat selections of your infomercial.
Consider your testimonials. This music should be more pensive than the open, calls-to-action and close. It should interact with each testimonial individually based on mood. The music should follow the story line and start with a more subtle arrangement. As the product is introduced, the music should shift and culminate with an uplifting resolution that is synchronized to the dramatic, life-changing results.
Consider the music for your host. Does the host need music? Generally, if the host does his job well, music is needed only for pitches to commercials, host wraps and bumpers back from commercials. In all situations, the music should stay out of the way. Try to avoid instrumental solos and sharply accented instrumentation that distract from the host's dialogue. However, if the host's delivery is less than perfect, has unnatural pauses, poor flow or technical problems, then music can be used under the entire host segment to fill gaps, smooth flow and mask unwanted noise.
Add carefully synchronized musical hits and effects to picture. These will enhance your open, calls-to-action and any graphic segments. Special use of sweeps, sparkles, hits and dings will strategically emphasize your product fly-ins, white flashes, price points and other important visuals. Customizing your show with these effects is one of the advantages gained from original music. Viewers will be drawn to all of your show's key points, thus improving overall response.
How to set correct music levels. One of the trickiest parts of creating music for your infomercial is setting the correct music levels under the dialogue or narration. If, like many producers, you add your music at the end of the production process, you are probably not used to hearing audio other than the dialogue or narration. Naturally, anything added at this point, namely the music, has a tendency to be mixed in too softly.
To ensure proper music-to-dialogue levels, follow a method many post-audio engineers use for mixing. Listen to the dialogue and repeat the words in your head right after you hear them. Then add your music and turn the level up slowly until you can no longer focus on repeating the words.
Next, lower the music level slightly back to where you can repeat the words in your head again. You will now have obtained a good music-to-dialogue level. This technique assumes viewers naturally focus on the words and ensures they will get the full impact of the music.