Is Custom Music Worth The Cost?

3 min read


If you’re looking for that perfect tune for TV, radio, or video spots, there are plenty of websites out there with tracks you can purchase the rights to. Places like Premium Beat, Audio Jungle, and scores of other music houses create tons of music for public use every day. But what about commissioning a composer to design a piece of custom music?

First, it’s important to point out there are lots of benefits to using library tracks. The cost of those tracks is usually quite affordable. And you can find quite the variety of genres, tempos, themes, and more. Some library tracks sound distinctive enough that they actually sound like custom music.

So, Why Invest in Custom Music?

Think of it as buying an off-the-rack suit versus having clothes tailored for you. The bespoke option gives you a perfect fit, and you’re not going to have that awkward moment when you enter a big event and discover that 20 other people are wearing the same exact outfit.

By using custom music, you also have access to all the instruments that make the track. Fancy a trombone solo? You can isolate it or crank it up in the mix. Custom music gives you the creative freedom to really play with the arrangement and make it your own.

What custom music ultimately does is create a unique identity for your client. It’s something that can be associated with their brand for a long time—maybe even decades. It’s the sonic equivalent of brand colors and typography. So, it’s got to be memorable and timeless, but it’s hard to find that kind of thing ready-made.

Which Brings Us to Our Next Concept: Mnemonic Devices

Everyone knows the familiar “bu-da-ba-ba-baaa” of McDonald’s, or the “bum-bum-bum-bummm” of Intel (and Intel even capitalized on the sound’s familiarity in a recent commercial). These brief fragments of sonic branding function as an earworm, something your audience will remember and associate with your brand.

Think of it like this: A mnemonic device is like a shortcut to your bigger piece of music. It’s roughly 3-5 seconds and contains just one instrument (or very few instruments). The mnemonic device works in tandem with your full-length piece and should literally be a part of that bigger custom track. Think about that Intel commercial mentioned above. The whole commercial revolved around just four familiar notes and gave the audience a way to associate their brand with everyday life.

That’s why those few notes are so crucial, and why it takes so much time, thought, and energy to create them: It’s what your audience will remember. It’s the identifier for your brand.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Use Original Music?

There are tons of reasons custom music may not be right for you. It can be expensive. It takes longer to create. The process can be tedious and pretty daunting if you’ve never done it before. Music can be extremely subjective, and what may sound right to you may not resonate with your audience. And you’re potentially restrained by the capabilities of the composer. (Not to mention the process of finding the right composer can be its own beast.)

But maybe you want a special bit of music that’s truly yours. Something memorable. Something audiences will hear in their heads just from looking at your logo or brand colors. Music is just as important as the video footage or radio script, and if you plan for a long-running brand campaign, the music associated with your brand is an investment, both in budget and time. You want to create something that is worthy of being heard over and over again. And with custom music, you can create something that will have audiences singing the perfect tune.