Jukedeck: the simple way to create a soundtrack you can be proud of
The growing popularity of video means more of us want to use music as a backdrop for our productions. Finding suitable music you can legally use can be a real challenge. The Jukedeck team have focused their musical, machine learning and software engineering prowess to solve this problem. The result is an ingenious service that only takes seconds to compose original music you can lawfully use in your creative works.
A carefully orchestrated soundtrack creates atmosphere and brings the scene to life. Consider the foreboding inevitability that the repeating 2-note motif in the Theme from Jaws instills. Or the sense of triumph and hope as John Williams’ majestic Star Wars theme plays alongside the opening roll-up. Or the mysterious, eerie anticipation that the haunting Doctor Who theme has inspired for more than 50 years. The music makes it all work. The story would not carry the same weight without it.
I needed a soundtrack for the videos in my recent Red Zone post to make them more interesting (scroll to the end of the post to find them). When Brett Terpstra mentioned Jukedeck in his Systematic podcast a few weeks back, I filed a note in my reference system knowing it would come in handy. Jukedeck doesn’t disappoint when it comes to creating unique musical compositions for presentations, slideshows or videos.
Create music the easy way
Jukedeck lets you customize, create and download a unique soundtrack in a few seconds. First you select a genre from piano, folk, electronic or ambient. Each genre has several options to fine-tune the composition to match the mood you want to convey. Enter the length of the track you need and you’re good to go. I’d recommend finishing your video edits first so you can create a composition of the right length.
You can also control instrument choice and even specify the tempo in beats per minute. The folk and ambient genres include an optional percussion track.
When you hit Create Track, Jukedeck’s computerized composer generates an original work to fit your specifications.
Areas that work well
Jukedeck is dead simple to use even if you know nothing about music. I generated three or four different compositions for each of my videos and picked the one that best expressed the mood I wanted to convey.
I was impressed by the variation between each composition. Even with the same settings, Jukedeck created incredibly varied pieces. The Jukedeck team have clearly poured many hours of research and experimentation into building algorithms capable of such musical diversity. Composing, recording and engineering even a short piece could easily take a day (or more). Now it’s possible in a few seconds.
Areas for improvement
There are a few areas that could improve, but I’m not sure if people without a musical background would even consider these problems. Let me also preface this section by saying I’ve made limited use of the service so far. The tracks I created were all less than a minute long. This short duration may not give Jukedeck the opportunity to perform at its best.
- The ending of some compositions sounded a little abrupt and unnatural to me.
- With percussion enabled for the ambient genre, the percussive instrument sounded more synthetic than the others in the composition. This made the percussion track sound out of place.
- In some tracks, the percussion part felt rhythmically disconnected from the rest of the composition. It just didn’t fit with the other instrumental parts. (The same could be said for several drummers I’ve played with too).
It would be great if you could tweak the composition after it was created. There was one track that I liked apart from the percussion. Unfortunately, there is no way to reproduce the same track with different options.
These are only minor quibbles. It only takes a few seconds to generate a new track if you don’t like the first one Jukedeck serves up. I expect these minor inconveniences will be addressed as the service develops.
You can create and play as many tracks as you like. Pricing models vary, but individual accounts include five free downloads per month. Jukedeck exports MP3 files, so you can use them just about anywhere. Your work must also acknowledge that you used Jukedeck to create the music. Given the problem Jukedeck solves, I think that’s completely reasonable.
Jukedeck is a really clever service. Next time you’re looking for some music for a video or slide presentation, make sure you take a look. In fact, go and play with it for a while just to see how advanced computer-generated music has become. I can guarantee it will cost you a lot less than commissioning Harold Faltermeyer or Jean-Michel Jarre to compose a soundtrack for your next video.
Question: Do you know about any other cool sources for royalty-free music? If you do, leave a comment below.