If you’re editing video, when you start looking for music to add to a project, you shouldn’t have to worry that the perfect song is too long or too short for your clip. Finding a song that fits the pacing, mood, and style of your video is difficult enough, so making that perfect track fit the length of your video is a necessary process.

To do this, you’ll need four basic things — a video, a song, an editing platform (we’ll be using Adobe Premiere Pro here), and a sense of rhythm.

For our “Around the World in 80 Clips” video, we wanted to use this track from the Shutterstock music library:

Read on for the steps to follow, and to see our final video with the music added.

Step 1

Open your pre-edited video in your editing platform and import your song. It’s not completely necessary to have a final cut of the video, but the closer you are to a “picture-lock,” the easier the whole process will be.

Step 2

Drag your music into the timeline and allow for a waveform view. In Premiere Pro CC, you can enable this view by hovering the mouse over the Audio sidebar and scrolling down.

editing music for video

Tip: After listening to the song, you should be able to determine which parts feel repetitive — those are the parts that will be the easiest to cut around.

The idea behind cutting music is to make it seamless and unnoticeable. To do that, you have to find similar beats that will cut well together once you remove a chunk of the song. Usually, you’ll want the beginning and end of a song to be in your final cut. This is because those parts do their jobs very well already, leading in and out in a unique way that doesn’t require the use of fade-outs.

Step 3

Separate the beginning and end of the song. It’s in the middle of the track where we’ll be able to work our magic, and this is where your rhythm will come into play.

music editing tracks

Step 4

Music can be followed by measures (the beat). When listening to a song, you can usually pick out a specific timing (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3, etc). It’s on these measures that we want to make our cuts.

music editing cuts

Step 5

Finding these exact moments can be a little tricky, but as long as you have the general idea of where the cut should happen, matching the beat will come with a few minor tweaks. Once you’ve made your cut, move the clip back and forth frame by frame (CMD + left or right arrows) to find the exact matching moment.

clipping music

Step 6

The rest of the process is just rinse and repeat, but here are a few tips that will make your final music cut sound great.

– Cut sporadically throughout the song. Don’t just cut one big section out; keep it interesting by leaving in the different highs and lows of the original track.

music editing tips

– If you need to cut the song significantly, find parts that are either too busy (distracting) or too restrained (boring) and cut them out completely. Normally a song will have a verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/verse/chorus pattern, and you can usually cut the entire bridge out.

editing music

– Don’t forget that these are just tips, not rules. The bridge of a song could very well be the best part of the track and the most useful to you.

– If a cut is sounding a little “harsh” (when you can hear the cut, even though it’s on the right beat), you can usually fix this by adding a quick crossfade between the two edits.

crossfade

– Cutting songs with lyrics in them can be near impossible, but the with the right amount of tinkering, you may be able to find spots where an edit would work.

Our final video:

Here are some great examples of ads that have used edited tracks with lyrics to great effect.

Gillette – “When I’m Small” (Phantogram)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsIMz0krxdA

Chrysler – “Lose Yourself” (Eminem)

Motorola – “Black Skinheads” (Kanye West)

Nissan – “Make the Road by Walking (Menahan Street Band)

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below. And click this link for more information on the basics of video editing!

Top image: Waveform with triangle light filter by Swill Klitch