Look how famous YouTubers use music in their vlogs and get some inspiration on what styles.
Music brings your projects to life and adds that professional sheen. When indie vlogs first started in the 2000s with YouTube, they were a real amateur affair and you could feel it. It was often a guy with a camcorder just walking around and saying his thoughts. And while this style of vlog still exists, the trend has been more and more to get closer to the professional show. And to do that, one of the absolutely necessary things is to add music.
The best ways to learn to do something is to see how others are doing it. Then take away what you think is best and add that to your show. With that in mind, I’ve made up a list of 10 of the top YouTube channels of 2021. I didn’t use any criteria selecting these, I just tried to get a variety of the channels with the most subscriptions. Clearly something is working for them, and maybe we can get that formula to help you.
We’ll go through each video, dissect when they do their intro (and how they do their music), and if music is used in the background or other b-rolls throughout the sample video. Then we’ll also note if any transitions included sound effects. Finally, with each video, I’ll give you a link to our stock music album with the music style closest to the one they used.
One last note, neither Create Music nor myself endorse any of these blogs or the content on them. This list is strictly presented for educational purposes.
The King of Random
The King of Random, or TKOR, is a kind of backyard DIY show that was started back in 2010 by Grant Thompson. The founder tragically died in a paramotoring accident, but the show has been carried on by his team and kept the same spirit of the original. The show had 12.6 million subscribers as of this blog.
The begin their show presenting the subject, “Today we’re going to see whether a Waterpik can be turned into a Flamethrower?” featuring some light background music. The music turns up for the short, 5 second intro, where the audio is basically a drum roll and a hit. Then back to the show they maintain a light amount of background music. The music is low enough to not be distracting, but just loud enough to cover any audio issues from any background noise. They maintain an even volume throughout, without bothering with any audio ducking or other techniques.
Our album Feel Good Tunes is a great match for this, with good, upbeat rock that makes for great background music.
Tasty was a professional outfit from the start. It was established in 2015 by Buzzfeed, using carefully crafted, overhead video food shots to quickly rocket it into the first-place food channel. They make short, quick recipe videos, with a focus on money shots. They’ll also include trends and ingredients that have proven popular to watch, like spreading butter, sizzling bacon, or rolling dough. Then they’ll experiment from there.
In their more in depth instructional videos, such as the above one about omelets, they open with a description of the episode. Then they move on their title screen. During the intro, they’ll have a soft, generic upbeat rock or electronic track, then get louder for the title screen, and then back down during the speech. For videos that don’t have a speech, they’ll typically feature a whimsical, jazz or jazz adjacent style.
New Ideas is a strong selection of corporate-style electronic tracks that would be perfectly at home in an instructional video like one of Tasty’s. For their more whimsical short form styles, Happy Swing is a hot collection of swinging clarinets and muted trumpets.
Alternate History Hub
Alternate History was started by Cody Franklin in 2012 is dedicated to combing through history and asking “What If?” questions. Franklin goes over various scenarios throughout both actual history and pop-culture items, asking not only questions like “What if the Axis won World War II?” but also “What if the X-Men were real?” He teamed up with two other famous YouTube historians in 2017 to start the podcast, So That Happened. As of this blog, Alternate History Hub has 1.93 million subscribers.
AHH uses a soft background music that’s typically on theme to the period of history that he’s covering, or something humorously thematic. This one about the War of 1812, for example, features mostly piper music similar to what we imagine from the American Revolution. In another one about World War I, he uses music similar to the Threepenny Opera. When he can’t find something pertinent, he often uses a kind of corporate-sounding background track. The music is often interrupted in place of background music for various gags.
Our album Musical Menagerie has a great selection of orchestral pieces that can fit in different times and places around the world.
A Little Late with Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh is one of the hottest lifestyle vloggers out right now. She’s been vlogging on one channel or another ever since she packed up to leave her parents show some years ago. She was so successful at her vlog, that in 2019 NBC picked her up to host her own late night show.
Lilly’s show has an extensive use of music. She starts with her intro, which often doesn’t have any background music. When she does have background music, it’s typically something with an urban beat sound. She usually waits to use music though where it can be front and center: on transitions and b-rolls, where she either uses some funk-inspired music or a hip-hop beat.
Our Streets of Fire album is full of thicc, hip hop-inspired beats and rhythms that would probably be at home on one of Lilly’s transitions.
Mark Wiens has been on the road since 2009, making him one of the longest running travel YouTubers. He fills a specific niche in travel YouTube, and it’s all about food. He does occasionally offer the random travel vlog, but it’s a rarity to not see him eating something.
Mark Wiens starts with a smiling greeting and a run down of where he is and what kind of food he’s going to eat. Then he segways into his title shot, before moving along. He often has a soft, background music that’s generally a modern corporate sound. Then for his titles, he has something that kind of thematically fits where he’s going to be. It’s not ethnically accurate, but more about the feeling. In this episode, he goes to the beach in Thailand. His title screen has music that an American might think of as “beach music”, but it’s not necessarily ethnic Thai music. If you’re not a music afficionado and you’re doing a travel blog, this might be the best way about it so as not to offend one ethnic group or another by using the wrong music.
To capture beach vibes like Mark has done, check out our Ukulele Emotions album.
With 1.06 million subscribers, Miss Mina is currently one of the top travel vloggers out there. In 2015 she started out on a 6-month, female solo traveler trip and never stopped, having gone to every continent since then.
Miss Mina feels very authentic since she tries to preserve the style of earlier YouTubers. She forgoes a lot of the flashy effects and B-rolls for a much easier production style. Sometimes she uses music, and sometimes she doesn’t. When she does, it’s either a soft ambient soundtrack, or a jazz guitar ala Django Reinhardt.
Our Tres Jolie album captures the essence of French hot jazz, and to get the same sound Miss Mina has just one click away: choose in the mixer the setting, “Small Group” and adjust the mixer further how you would like to isolate just the guitar sounds.