MUSIC FOR PODCASTS
According to podcastinsights.com, as of the start of this year, there were over 30 million episodes of over 900,000 podcasts in the US alone. 80% of listeners listen to an entire podcast episode, or most of the episode, and they’re listening to an average of seven shows a week. That’s a lot of content.
How do you make your podcast stand out from this vast crowd? One of the ways might be to license great music for podcasts, whether it’s for the intro, for podcast background music or to use for transitions, as it’s a simple, cost-effective way to make your podcast unique. Here’s our guide to the best ways of using music in podcasts, and how to choose it.
Start off with these 5 great tracks if you’re looking for podcast music to license:
What is podcast music?
Podcast music is used to intro and outro your podcast and to transition between different segments. Your intro music can act as your podcast’s ‘theme tune’ and the music should reflect your podcast’s mood and style.
Where’s the best place to get podcast music?
Whatever music you’re using, you have to make sure you’ve got permission to use it. Copyright is a form of intellectual property – in terms of music, it protects the creators of original songs, tracks or beds to ensure that their work can’t be used or distributed without their approval.
Where to find copyright music for podcasts
The Audio Network catalogue enables you to find podcast music in any genre and to suit any mood – and all the tracks are created with editors in mind. In the Editor’s Toolkit, you’ll find beds and soundscapes, hand-picked playlists, together with 30- and 15-second versions of a track, and a huge range of different mixes and stings.
How to choose podcast music
You’ve decided you’re going to be using music in your podcast – but what to choose? These are the things to bear in mind:
- What’s your podcast about? Fit the music style to the content
- What other podcasts are your audience listening to in this genre? What might they respond to?
- Where do you need music – for an intro or outro?
- Is your podcast one long chat, or a series of pieces? Use music to break up segments, or transition from one to the next
- Do you want to create a music ‘bed’ for interviews?
- What’s your budget?
What’s your podcast about?
The top 5 podcast genres are business, comedy, society and culture, news and politics and health.
Your podcast music intro and where to get it
If you want distinctive intro or outro music for your podcast – and if you’re recording drama or documentary, then you’ll probably need some background podcast music too – then the best way to ensure your podcast is as unique as your content is to license tracks.
Much like a movie score or a TV theme tune, music for podcasts sets the tone for your show and the intro music will give your content a distinct mood and sound, helping to create your podcast’s identity. Podcast transition music is an easy way to mark a change between sections and having a music bed playing under an interview can make it more engaging for your listener. Adding outro music gives you a professional ending.
The best music for podcasts
Start by thinking about which category your podcasts is in. If it’s news, then you’ll want a more hard-hitting, serious track for your podcast intro music than for a light-hearted interview podcast. Scripted fiction enables you to use music as a more obvious way to tell and support the story – so you could go to town with ambient soundscapes for a science fiction podcast, or classical music if your podcast is set in the past.
Pitchfork.com suggest listening to the This American Life podcast – together with Serial and S-Town, which the team also produce – for a masterclass in choosing and using background podcast music. The producers’ goal for the music is ‘emotional ambiguity or – more often – neutrality.’ Ie, letting the voices speak for themselves, rather than using music to manipulate your listener’s feelings.
Julie Snyder, one of S-Town’s producers, advises that, for a documentary-style podcast, ‘you’re usually trying to undercut emotions. If it’s sad, then you don’t want the music to be sad, and if it’s funny, you don’t want circus music.’
For more inspiration, have a listen to these dedicated playlists:
For drama or storytelling, take your pick form powerful pop to emotional opera. If you’re a hotshot chef with a podcast, then check out the Taste the World playlist. Bring the laughter with the Comedy playlist or choose from the tech playlist if you’re giving your expert opinion in that field.
For more advice on getting started as a podcaster, check out our Podcasting 101 guide.