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How to choose background music for audio ads

Picking background music for ads is a mix of art and science. And the choices you make as you build your own audio ads can influence your audience’s listening experience. Read on to learn more about background music in advertising.

Background music is one of the hardest working elements of an audio ad: it sets the vibe and tone of your message, helps your ad fit into the Spotify listener experience, and can be a critical factor in whether your ad resonates with your audience. If you’re new to making audio ads for Spotify, you may be wondering how to master the art and science of picking the right music for your message. That’s why we made this guide, with best practices from producers, creative strategists, and the audio experts who built Spotify Ad Studio, to help you navigate the music selection process. Here are our top tips for picking background music for your ad.

How to pick music for ads

Put on your listeners’ headphones.

The first step to making background music decisions is putting on your listener’s headphones. No, really—we recommend that you play around with a Spotify Free account to acclimate yourself to the ad-supported Spotify app environment. We think you’ll hear ads that inspire you, and, ultimately, help you craft the message that works for your listener.

Understanding your listeners’ experiences on Spotify Free will lead you to an important conclusion: maintaining their streaming context is critical. In other words, it’s important to avoid music or sounds in your ad that will jar the listener and interrupt their streaming vibes. Ads without background music can also have a jarring effect. Try these two Spotify ad background music best practices for creating a seamless audio experience:

  • Use background music to maintain the listening experience. Unless you want to promote a more serious message or create a podcast ad—where your audience’s listening experience won’t be centered around music—we think it’s a good idea to include background music or relevant sound effects in your ad.
  • Stick to one music track in your ad. When it comes to music and dynamic sounds in your ads, we think less is more.

Choose your background music last.

Before picking your Spotify ad background music, you should also consider your targeting tactics, message, and overall campaign strategy. Choosing background music should be the last step in your creative process.

  • Factor in targeting. Are you looking to reach listeners based on their favorite genres? Or in a specific mood or moment using real-time context targeting? For example, if you’re targeting the Folk genre, we recommend that you choose a track that matches so it’ll feel like part of the playlist and—you guessed it—won’t disrupt the listener’s experience.
  • Write the script first. It helps to have your script and an idea of what you want your ad’s voiceover to sound like before selecting background music. This way, you can align the music with the content of the ad or your brand’s overall feel. For example, a tech brand promoting a new product launch may find that a digital electronic track pairs well with its brand message.

Complement your message, don’t compete with it.

Spotify ad background music supports the voiceover and overall narrative of your message. But it’s not an element you want listeners to notice on its own. If it’s too overpowering, it can distract from what you want your audience to take away from your ad. There are a couple of sonic elements you may want to consider when choosing a song to support your message. We recommend these three audio best practices to keep your message on track:

  • Stick with low-frequency sounds. Let’s get technical for a minute: if a lot is going on at the high end of the frequency spectrum (e.g. flutes or whistles), the music can distract listeners from the voiceover. This is because higher frequency sounds tend to feel like they’re in the forefront of a track. To avoid letting your music steal the spotlight from your message, we recommend that you use music with lower frequency sounds.
  • Balance the cadence of your voiceover. If you have a fast-paced voiceover, a busy piece of music can make your whole ad feel hectic. Think about the tone and quality of the voiceover you want when choosing your music. And counterbalance a high-paced voiceover with mellow or minimalist music.
  • Simplicity is key. To keep your background music minimal and unobtrusive, we recommend you choose songs that are rhythmic, not melodic. If you can whistle the tune, it could be too much. We think the best background music is purely instrumental, with no vocals.

Saving your background music selection for last and factoring it into your targeting and messaging tactics can go a long way. We think this will help you make more strategic choices, and allows you to choose music that will sound great to your audience on Spotify, too. So we encourage you to take advantage of Ad Studio’s unique targeting options, script ideation help, and robust library of free, licensed background tracks to help you make effective audio ads. And, if you think your song choice doesn’t sound right the first time, don’t worry. With Ad Studio, you’re in full control. Spotify makes it easy to change your background music and even adjust the sound mixing yourself with our audio revision tools.

Try our platform today to increase the effectiveness of audio ads for your business.

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