Music is primed with power. It conjures up tearful memories. It pumps us up to finish a workout. And in podcasting, it can revolutionize your listeners’ experience.
“I want to go write music that announces to you that you can feel something, I don’t want to tell you what to feel, but I just want you to have the possibility of feeling something.”
— Hans Zimmer
The Language of Music
Music is a universal language. From the time we’re born, we inherently understand music and its enrichment of life. As we grow older, we experience it daily in entertainment, from podcasts to commercials and movies. We’re so used to having it that we don’t realize what life would be like without it.
Well now’s your chance: watch this clip of Jurassic Park without music.]
How weird was that? The same shots, the same dialogue, and sound effects, but a completely different feeling. The sequences of anticipations, the moments of awe and wonder—it all falls flat. John Williams’ score enhances the experience by providing, as Hans puts it, “the possibility of feeling something.”
As podcasters, we don’t have the advantage of visuals, which makes the presence of music—and proper placement—all the more critical. Whether you’re looking to evoke the feeling of wanderlust for your travel podcast or build a narrative climax, the right music will get you there.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
The Psychology of Music
Music gets in our heads. It can trigger memories—sometimes, they’re specific moments. Other times the memories are more translucent; a ghost of something faded over time. It can take us out of ourselves and place us in another mindset or transport us to a whole other world entirely. Studies have noted its role in our quest for meaning, soothing us from the harsh truth of our mortality. However, music impacts you. Psychologist Emery Schubert argues the bottom line: “the fundamental function of music is its potential to produce pleasure in the listener.”
Are you using music in your podcast? With its incredible impact on the listener, if you’re not using music, you’re missing out on providing a rich, meaningful, and connected experience for your listeners.
“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.”
— Johnny Depp
The Purpose of Music in Podcasting
If the words of your podcast are a picture, music is the frame. It provides a structure, whether you’re hosting a corporate podcast or telling fictional, spine-tingling tales. The purpose of music varies depending on the context, but here are three of the most common:
Music primes a listener.
You know that feeling you get when you hear the intro music to your favorite podcast? It’s like the first sip feeling with your morning coffee—it hits your senses and primes you for the show by setting the mood and the stage for what’s to come.
Music evokes emotion.
When Canon in D plays as a bride walks down the aisle, do you get choked up? Does your favorite dance song instantly put you in a good mood? Does the theme from Jaws cause your palms to sweat? Music has a direct line to our emotions. Tap into that connection whenever possible.
Music allows the listener time to reflect.
And that time is necessary because podcasts aren’t like films or books where people naturally infer meaning. You can’t expect a listener to draw conclusions if they don’t have adequate time to reflect. A musical break is a perfect opportunity for that reflection.
They say people may not remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. The same goes for music in a podcast—a listener may not be able to quote you directly, but how they felt from the stories you told and the music you used to help tell them, will remain etched in their memory.
A podcast without music is like cereal without milk. Sure, it’s tasty by itself. But it could be a whole lot better, even with just a little splash. Music has the power to revolutionize your podcast, whether it’s as simple as an intro theme song or as complex as elevating the story arc of a murder mystery.
What are you waiting for? Let the revolution begin.
- Music is a universal language. Is your podcast speaking it?
- Music has a direct line to our emotions.
- Music provides a more rich, meaningful, and connected experience for your listeners.
- Music is the revolution your podcast has been waiting for.