These days, when most of our time is spent tapping away at one device or another, online video is everywhere. From educational videos and make-up tutorials to drunk cooking, giraffe sex and the latest celebrity gossip, we spend a huge chunk of our time watching things online. In fact, according to Comscore, just in October and just in the US, 189 million viewers watched 49.1 billion online content videos, with video ad views totaling a whopping 24.5 billion.

So how can you, as a photographer or videographer, get a piece of that very large pie? More and more companies, brands and marketers are looking for ways to create videos that will engage and resonate with viewers from all different walks of life.

shutterstock, tutorial, online-video, music, video-editing

Via Shutterstock

Now for a long time, the online content creator’s mantra was “tell a compelling story.” After all, if your viewer isn’t invested in the story you spin, why should they care enough to watch your video? But as more and more videos fight for our attention, that mantra has become “tell a compelling story quickly.” According to YouTuber extraordinaire John Green, experts say most low-engagement viewers will decide whether or not to watch a video within the first twelve seconds, so you’ve got to hook your audience fast, delivering a quick one-two punch of stunning visuals and emotional resonance. How do you tug at those heartstrings faster than you can say “emotional resonance is the key to views,” you may ask? Music.

Lucky for you, our friends over at Shutterstock have a few tips for adding audio to your video, using both voice-over narration and music to craft your story.

Step One: Match the Tone of the Music to the Tone of the Subject

The music you choose will instantly set the mood for the viewer, giving them a sense of what kind of story is to come: giggle-inducing cat video, Hallmark sob-fest or something in between. For their example, Shutterstock used this video, titled “My Brother Theodore.”

From the first few measures, the upbeat track sets a playful, whimsical mood. Combined with the child’s narration, it gives the video an instantly fun and imaginative feel. Now hopefully, since you’ve done such a good job of hooking your viewer, they’re going to keep watching all the way to the end, so you also want to keep in mind the track as a whole: transitions, pauses, quiet moments, swelling drama—all can help you more effectively tell a multidimensional story. Which brings us to…

Step Two: Get the Timing Right

In video editing as in life, timing is everything. Shifts or transitions in your music should line up with big moments of drama or changes in tone for the story you’re telling. In “My Brother Theodore,” the first big musical transition cues up with the introduction of the narrator (00:27), and the second is timed with the big reveal of Theodore’s favorite hobby and the visual introduction of Theodore himself. The music also cues the viewers to the fact that the story is winding down, as Theodore splashes to the music’s denouement.

shutterstock, tutorial, online-video, music, video-editing

Via Shutterstock

For more helpful tips, be sure to check out Shutterstock’s tutorial!