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Animation begins with the development of characters and images. But using music for animation makes it extra special. Minor keys, tritone chords, and changing pace all help to draw audiences into your story. If used well, music has the power to take moments and amplify them.

The best professional animators know how to use this power to their advantage. Here are some tips on how you can strike the right chord with your next video.


Background music for animation

Background music guides the audience through scenes. You might finish a movie without even realizing that the majority of it will have had music. Yet, if you were to take it away, it leaves a noticeable gap and a strange mood. This is because it has a direct impact on the way viewers understand the narrative.

This isn’t just down to creative license but scientific fact. Researchers found that when movie segments had background music, participants paid more attention. Whereas when viewers watched segments with no background music, their attention decreased.

So, if background music for animation can mean the difference between someone engaging with your content or not, you’ll need to choose the right track. Here are some things to consider:

Length: Do you want one piece to carry throughout the whole animation or will you be changing the music track according to particular scenes.

Message: What are you trying to convey with your music choice? This could be a particular emotion or even a narrative element, such as a character acting suspiciously.

Pace: If characters are having a romantic moment, a fast-paced jingle may give off a comedic message. Consider, also, how tempo can change the message and emotion of a scene.

Being consistent with your music choices throughout your animation is important. Huge switches in style will be jolting to the audience. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t play with the relationship between your music and visuals.

Using a children's nursery rhyme in a scary scene can cause confusion and tension. Or, using action music in a clip where someone is doing everyday things could create a comedic effect. This is soundtrack dissonance and creates a gap that can amplify your audience’s response to a scene.


How to create animated videos with the right music

When selecting music for your content, think of it as a core part of the storytelling process. It's not there purely as an auditory accompaniment. It's there to enhance, alter, contrast, and sometimes even subvert the narrative arc.


Planning and templating

Start creating a music storyboard so that it aligns with your animation script. The storyboard should track the emotional arc of the piece and how music will enhance each scene.

Think too how music tracks will work together over the course of the film. Consider how each piece can complement and contrast with others in terms of pacing, mood, and rhythm.

If this is a client project, consult with them on this early. Their input will ensure that your choice of soundtrack matches their brand message and identity.

Some clients will surprise you, especially those with edgy or adventurous branding. They might want weird and quirky music to appear off-beat or surprise their audience and get a reaction from them.

You may find yourself choosing anything from big, bold and brash tracks to more subtle instrumental music or classically-influenced music to creative effect, depending on the product, message or story to portray, and the intended audience.


Balancing audio with clarity

A common complaint about many TV productions in recent years has been inaudible voices. The music occupies too much of the space dedicated to the dialogue and other sound effects.

Many tools feature automated ducking to maintain clarity of dialogue at all times. Side-chain compression and dynamic EQ can also ensure that the audience clearly hears the voices of the characters.

Consider using them in your animated videos to ensure any voices or voiceover is perceptible in the mix.


Matching the music to the platform

Many clients will want different versions of their animations to ensure the widest possible coverage. For example, you may be creating an animated film as part of a corporate video brief for a new product or service. However, with editing, your client could, for example, use it on social media campaigns as YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

On the original video, the music choices may be more nuanced. The different features of the product could have their own music and sound effects.

On social media, however, when content is short and attention spans are shorter still, your choices should probably be different. In these circumstances, music which is engaging and instantly attention-grabbing would work so they stay past the first few seconds.


How to make a YouTube intro animation with music

Animated YouTube intros can be a great way to personalize your account homepage. For returning and new viewers, a stand-out intro with a well-chosen soundtrack sets the tone for your content. It can also make your channel and the videos on it memorable.

On lifestyle or celebrity channels, for example, electro beats would add energy and excitement to the animation. 

For educational or informative channels, consider lo-fi sounds or inspiring and aspirational music

Try to sync the music with your animated intro for extra impact. If your opening animation is fast, match it to fast paced percussive beats. If your animation is slower, match it to chilled music, possibly with a crescendo towards the end to signal the culmination of the video’s action.


The power of music can bring animations to life 

The right audio — music and sound effects — is vital in bringing into life your creative vision. It can also be an incredibly enjoyable part of your content creation process, as you test drive different tracks against your animation to find just the right sounds for exactly the right moments. 

Universal Music for Creators has an extensive catalog featuring over 50,000 fresh tracks and 200,000 sound effects. Subscribers get unlimited access to our collection for use in their video content. Start browsing our collection to find the ideal better than royalty-free music and sound effects for your content and your clients' content.