Music playing under the opening and closing credits is acceptable as it may help set the mood for the book. In the past, almost every audiobook included music during the credits. These days, the trend is to not include any music in the intro or outro of the audiobook.
A music bed should not be playing under the narration in the chapters or between scenes or chapters in an audiobook. Like sound effects, audiobook listeners can find music to be jarring.
You can use music from any source, but keep these 4 caveats in mind:
- Any music used in an audiobook must be licensed to you for this purpose. If the rights holder wants you to use copyrighted music in the audiobook, you should not use it without proof of an accompanying license.
- The music must be mixed with the narration to keep the files within specified levels.
- All of your book audio files must be either mono or stereo. They can’t include both types.
- The normal contracts between a RH and narrator do not include the addition of music. Selecting and mixing music are tasks that should be charged as additional line items.
I have used Audioblocks.com to find stock clips that I added to audiobook credits, such as in the clips below. The Audioblocks.com license includes this commercial usage.
Read the numerous negative Audible listener comments about the harmonica music between chapters of THE GRAPES OF WRATH audiobook. Click the “Show More” link at the end of the reviews a number of times and then search the page first for mentions of “harmonica” and again for “music” using a CTRL-F (PC) or CMD-F (Mac).
Other resources on this topic:
- This article offers more information about copyrights and music and lyrics.