If you’re working in a creative field, it’s very likely that you already know what a creative brief is. Maybe you’re reading them…or maybe you’re writing them! In any case, the importance of a well-written and inspiring brief is paramount to communicating yours or the client’s wishes, goals, and path for a project.

The art of writing an excellent creative brief is a skill that takes some time to learn. I highly recommend the documentary ‘Briefly’ as an intro to what makes a great creative brief.

As a music supplier, we see creative briefs nearly everyday. We’ve seen the gamut of them, some very specific and others quite vague. Some good, others, not so good.

I would like to share with you what we consider is a well-written creative brief as it relates to music for your video project, because the process for finding captivating music is changing!

Consider the following when writing a creative music brief:

1. Know the role of music

Be prepared to explain the role of the music as it pertains to your project. Foreground or background? For example, if your video is educational, subtle background music can help set the mood but also ensure the viewer’s utmost attention is towards the technical information being presented.

Describe the character and mood of the music you want to hear. Common terms used are:

  • Dark
  • Light
  • Fun
  • Upbeat
  • Happy
  • Positive
  • Badass
  • Gritty
  • Playful
  • Uplifting
  • Empowering

2. What is the project about?

This is hugely important! We would even say it’s the most important part. Give as much information as possible as to what the message of the video is conveying. What will the audience be taking away?

If possible, send a rough cut of your video. Nothing beats seeing and hearing music selections within the actual video. We understand that sometimes this isn’t possible, as the video is being cut during the music searching process. In this case, a detailed synopsis of the video will aid in kicking off the music search!

3. Details about the project

This is the easiest part of a brief, albeit not very creative. Include all the information the music supervisor will need to know to understand the scope of the project. This will include things like:

  • Client: Who is this for?
  • Media: What medium will this be seen on?
  • Term: How long will it be aired for?
  • Territory: Where in the world will the video be airing?
  • Airdate: When will it air?

4. Audience

Who is your target audience? It will be useful to the music supervisor to understand the demographic when doing their search. This can be a crucial turning point in a brief! The music selections for a youthful audience will most likely be alienating to a mature audience.

5. References

“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”

—Steve Martin

Say what you mean with musical examples. This is an extremely useful practice! It’s important to describe what you’re looking for in words, but music is subjective. Text can be misconstrued. Adding 2-3 references will make sure we’re all on the same musical page. YouTube URLS, mp3s, etc. are all welcome.

6. Budget

How much do you have to spend on music? The price for library music varies widely depending on sections 1 and 3. For instance, foreground music and music with vocals/lyrics are sold at a premium.

Take a little bit of time to get familiar with different libraries and their rates for the type of music license you require. Base your budget around the average rate.

7. Schedule

Last but certainly not least: the all important deadline! How long will the music supervisor have to look for music for your video?

I hope you’ve found useful bits of advice to make your next creative brief an excellent one! With a well-written brief, everyone wins!

Jason Cliffen