You know that feeling when you are watching a great movie and the music makes you really feel immersed in the story?
Maybe it’s a sad scene and the slow, emotive tune is almost bringing a tear to your eye.
Or it’s a happy scene, and the uplifting melody makes you want to smile or laugh.
Podcast music can do the same thing.
The audio you choose sets the tone for your show.
It’s a great way to grip your audience, separate segments, and make your show one-of-a-kind.
The tracks you choose will generally be used in the intro, the outro, and transitions between segments.
The intro plays at the very beginning of your show and usually fades out as the episode content starts to fade in.
It’s generally the first piece of audio that the listener hears, so it’s important to create the mood that represents your show.
It may be helpful to think of your podcast as not only a storytelling opportunity but also as your brand.
Your brand should be quickly recognizable to both regular listeners and those that are listening in for the first time.
Radiolab does a great job of this.
They start each episode with a short electronic sample and a voice actor saying “Listener-supported, WNYC Studios.”
If you are a new listener this brief intro immediately showcases the curiosity-bending world of Radiolab.
If you are a regular listener, this sound is quickly identifiable.
Think of a memorable way to introduce your show and find music that fits your theme.
The outro is the track that will play at the very end of the episode.
For the outro, you can choose the same music you used for the intro or you can choose a different track that helps you end the podcast track on the note that you want.
You can also use the outro music to record your end credits over.
This may include thanking your audience for listening, directing them to your website, or giving them a call to action.
This should give the listener a feeling of closure, so they’ll know the episode is done.
Our client, Michelle Skeldon, is a great example of using the same music for both the intro and the outro.
In her podcast, Be More. Make More., she has an upbeat sample that plays at the beginning of the show as she introduces the episode and the same track plays for a short period of time as she closes the episode.
Remember to pick something that suits the mood of your show.
Segment Transition Music
Some shows also incorporate segment transition music too.
This music signifies that you’ve finished one segment and are moving on to the next.
Segment transition music works best for shows that record multiple parts or interviews separately, as it can hide the difference in sound quality.
These music transitions are entirely up to you and are not completely necessary.
To decide if you want to use segment transition music, you can listen to several podcasts and see how different hosts use these in their own shows.
A great example of this is This American Life.
They use musical transitions between interviews, segments, or stories.
It’s a great way to engage your audience and keep them excited for more.
Where To Find Your Music
As you probably know, most popular songs are protected by copyright.
This means that you can’t use the bulk of famous songs- not even if it is only a five-second sample.
When you’re arranging music in your podcast, you need to make sure it’s music that you have the rights to use.
So, where do you even begin?
If you want an original piece, you can hire someone to create music for you.
This can be done through Fiver.com or another freelance hiring site.
If you want to find something already available, we recommend Audiojungle.net.
They have plenty of different genres and styles to choose from and by purchasing a clip of royalty-free music from the website, you will have the rights to use this in your show.
Don’t overthink this aspect of your show or try to overcomplicate your episodes.
You can always change the music later on if you’re not entirely happy with it.
As long as it sounds right for your brand and your show, you can’t go wrong.
Listen to our recent podcast episode, Our Guide for Choosing the Best Podcast Music for Your Show for more advice on this topic.
Ben Krueger is the founder of Cashflow Podcasting and he specializes in helping thought leaders and entrepreneurs amplify their impact through podcasting. He’s a world traveller, outdoor sports junkie and future enthusiast!