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Marketing Videos

Created for TXMI3530, but may be used as a guide to any branding, or marketing, video projects.

Sound is more important than you think

Most people can sit through shaky, or bad video quality, as long as the sound quality is good. Most people immediately become distracted, or irritated, by wind noise, crackle, unclear dialog, or other sound problems. Treat your sound as if it is the most important thing. Control the sound in the areas that you film in as much as possible.

Copyright issues for Soundtracks

Owning a copy of a single song in iTunes is not the same as having distribution or use rights. When you use a song without permission, you must be able to make a case for Fair Usage. Consider the purpose and character of the use. Will you make money from your use? Consider the amount used. Do you use the entire work or a short clip? What is the effect of your use on the marketplace? This Best Practices Guide can help you make decisions. 

Quick Tips

  • Fair Use usually protects educational (and non-profit) use of sound clips that are of short duration, and are also a very small percentage of a whole work. Please check with your instructor if you are unsure.
  • Incidental music is permitted. That means if music happens to be playing in the background of a location, such as in the Tate Center Plaza, or in a coffee shop, there is no copyright issue. You do not need to try to cut out the sound.
  • Never use an entire song without permission
  • How short is short? Very short! - 10 seconds doesn't sound like much, but it can be enough to provide energy in transition from one video segment to another. You don't really need minutes of music in a marketing video.
  • Content matters -- specific, clearly audible lyrics, which provide a quick critique or parody, are often interpreted as transformative fair use.
  • Consider using original music
    • You can create quick loops in GarageBand
    • Your friends may be talented musicians!

Another good reason to be careful about copyright -- YouTube will sometimes block or lock videos that have long durations of popular music!

Tips for using sound

Less is more! A common mistake is to find soundtrack music that you like and use it far too loud, and far too long. Tips:

  • Many videos benefit from a short natural sound break. This is a moment when you can hear what's really happening in the background: crowd noise, incidental music, laughter. However, your natural sound breaks should never have static, wind noise, or crackling. These are often used in openings, closings, or to switch topic, or locations.
  • Music should provide energy or tone
  • Music should not distract
  • Consider omitting music from the background interviews
  • Consider omitting music from segments with a natural sound break.
  • When filming, leave several seconds of silence before and after interviews. Having those extra seconds will help when you get to the editing stage.


GarageBand is a digital audio program that can record and play back multiple tracks of audio, and includes many pre-made audio loops. These audio loops can be imported into iMovie to use as a soundtrack.