Web Series Soundtrack Hack

(Anthony Ferraro) #1

“Web Series Production Hacks” is a new bi-weekly Stareable Film School column by Anthony Ferraro , creator director of the soon to be released web series Galactic Galaxy. Here I’ll share with the Stareable Community my limited resource workarounds, without compromising quality.

This week I want to share with you some simple scoring hacks I’ve come across and use a few myself. Music is often not dealt with as part of pre-production in tight budget scenarios. A lot of time and effort goes into location scouting, production design, casting and the monumental task of simply scheduling everything. Editing becomes a priority immediately after shooting simply because you want to see what you got. But the score is often ignored by most filmmakers and becomes an afterthought. Not because of ignorance or poor planning mostly because they are the last steps and often fall under the proverb “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it”!

Often times scoring falls to the editor by default and he or she will score with temp music that you do not have the rights to but helps with pace and tempo. That becomes a slippery slope, you can become married to a tempo and energy and then never get the rights to that track. Also if your picture cuts are married to the music once you change it out recutting is inevitable and that’s going to be double the work. Worst case scenario is your cut was better with music you cannot obtain, that will haunt you. My hack is simple, create a music library of the vibe you want for your project. I Would recommend 3 to 1, three song options for each scene or a moment you will be scoring. Make it clear these are the only options. That way the editor can audition the tracks from that group of preselections that are in your budget or already cleared.

The good news is great news actually, getting the rights to a piece of music to score your production has become very affordable and there are many free options. Filmmakers can get cheap or free scores by creating them through software programs like GarageBand or an online service like Filmstro that allows you to score your video with their library. Websites like Pond5 and Audiojungle have tracks you can get the rights to for around $20. If you consider the time investment of the free options $20 is a bargain. Also with the low-cost sites like AudioJungle and Pond5 you can download any track before you actually buy it. This makes it easy to fill up your projects music library. It will have an audio watermark but that is fine for trying out tracks in your edit. You can also find some free options too. I’ve used Free Stock Music quite a few times. And for free sound effects an excellent resource is Freesound.

Creating your own scores with GarageBand can be rewarding, it’s not too difficult to learn and with the newer version you can import your video. GARAGE BAND TUTORIAL

Is a customizable music library that always you to control several aspects of a music track to customise it to your image. It is subscription based. FILMSTRO TUTORIALS

Is part of Envato Market. At AudioJungle you can buy royalty-free music and sound effects inexpensively. The site is home to a bustling community of audio composers and producers. They offer ‘Music Kits” to customise and rearrange music tracks without using complex software. Basically, they give you the separate elements of a track.

Similar to AudioJungle, Pond5 is a New York-based online marketplace for royalty-free media. The company licenses stock footage, stock music, stock photography sound effects, after effects, images and 3-D models.

Free Stock Music
There are many free tracks on this site. They offer a 100% royalty free license that allows you to use the music in all types of productions, for worldwide distribution, forever. There are never any licensing fees.


Freesound is a collaborative database of creative-commons licensed sound for musicians and filmmakers. They have just about any sound effect you are looking for.

There should be an option on this list to fit your creative and budgetary needs. I hope you found this simple hack useful. For more tips and shared experience visit my youtube channel Create Sci-Fi with plenty of informative videos on creating content.

(Bri Castellini) #2

I’ve only heard of two of these options, so this is a super useful list! Thanks, Anthony!

(Meg Carroway) #3

Nice! Thanks for these- will look into them now!

(Anthony Ferraro) #4

You are welcome!

(Joseph Steven Heath) #5

I have a few friends I go to for scoring music because I like to have original music as much as possible. But when I’m just getting a short sketch or something out that I’m not as worried about, then I use Incompetech. It’s free to use, you just have to credit. The big problem with that is that everyone uses it and that can possibly cheapen the impact or take you out of the scene. But it’s an option!

(Anthony Ferraro) #6

Thank You Joseph, I didn’t know this one, great share! I will add it to my list - downloading now actually, I love these libraries for my youtube how-to videos.

(Amen J.) #7

Good to know! For the moment I’ve been turning to my husband for guitar music, and he is looking to get more experience doing that, so once my episodes are released, heads up Stareable community. Take a listen if you like what you hear, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. He’s also generally knowledgeable about film and is good at watching something and coming up with a tune to match the vibe.

(Amen J.) #8

Also, one thing I noticed at BKWF was that pretty much every screening I went to used music from Kevin McLeod…I don’t know why that guys gives so much of his music for free, but he is a good source :smiley:

(Bri Castellini) #9

haha I bet he’s paid per song and then just gives up further rights. But that dude has got some good tunes!

(Bri Castellini) #10

My pal Danny Rivkin suggested a few others for this list:


(Jonathan Hardesty) #11

With a little editing finesse, Kevin McLeod tracks work REALLY well. One trick I tend to do to get mileage out of the same songs in a free library is use different parts of the song and do a little remixing between songs. And depending on the scene, there are tons of free stingers and drone sounds that can take you quite far.

(Anthony Ferraro) #12

me too