Why Music Affects Viewer Engagement - Melodie POST PRODUCTION
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Watching Television Music Emotion Viewer Engagement

Why Music Affects Viewer Engagement

Every producer knows that music plays an integral part in their productions. Above and beyond just sounding good, it has a profound impact on viewer engagement and how audiences perceive their content. But why?

In this blog post, we’ll look at the simple science behind why music affects viewer engagement in such a deep way and how film, video and audio editors can harness this power to create more effective content. Let’s dive in!

Emotional Response

Music has the ability to evoke a range of emotions – joy, sadness, fear, excitement etc – because the physiological response to music is rooted in the way our brains process sound.  This response is fairly primal, and helps us respond to potential threats and rewards in our environment.

For example, the sound of a predator approaching might trigger a release of adrenaline, preparing us to fight or flee. Similarly, music that’s upbeat and energetic might trigger the release of dopamine, creating a sense of pleasure and reward. These emotional responses can help to drive narrative and create a deeper sense of connection with audiences.

Viewer Attention

Music can also have a major impact on viewer attention, focus, and motivation. Research has shown that certain types of music can help improve attention and focus, making it easier for viewers to stay engaged.

One example is music creating a state of “arousal” in the listener – which is a state of heightened physiological and psychological activity. When we are in a state of arousal, we are more alert and attentive, and our brains are better able to process information.

Plus, the right music can help to maintain the pace and flow of a video, keeping viewers engaged and interested. For example, music is often used to create a sense of tension or anticipation, helping to build suspense and keeping the viewer engaged. Equally, music can be used to create a sense of relaxation or calm, which helps offset more intense or emotionally charged content, preventing viewer fatigue. 

Brainwave Synchronisation

‘Brainwave synchronisation’ is a phenomenon in which the electrical activity in our brains becomes “synchronised” with an external rhythm, such as that provided by music.

Research has shown that music can have a profound impact on brainwave activity, with different types of music having different effects on brainwave synchronisation. For example, fast-paced music with a strong beat has been shown to increase brainwave activity in the beta range (which is associated with increased alertness and concentration). In contrast, slow, calming music has been shown to increase brainwave activity in the alpha and theta ranges (which are associated with relaxation and creativity).

One of the key benefits of brainwave synchronisation is that it can help to create a sense of unity and connectedness with the audience. When the audience is fully engaged with the content, they are more likely to pay attention, remember the information presented, and perhaps in the case of training videos and advertising, be inspired to take action based on what they’ve seen and heard.


Studies have demonstrated that music can enhance the encoding and retrieval of information, making it easier for viewers to remember what they watched.  One reason for this is that music can act as a powerful mnemonic device, helping to associate specific information with a particular melody or song (Jaws anyone?). By associating information with a memorable tune or melody, viewers are more likely to remember what they watched (and long after they watched it).

Neurotransmitter Stimulation

Music can impact viewer engagement by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that help to regulate various functions in the body (including mood, motivation, and pleasure).

Research has shown that listening to music can release certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine is associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation. When we experience something pleasurable – such as listening to a favourite song – our brains release dopamine, which creates a feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Oxytocin, on the other hand, is associated with social bonding and trust. It’s often referred to as the “love hormone” because it’s released during social interactions such as hugging, kissing and other forms of physical touch.

By stimulating the release of dopamine and oxytocin, music can make the viewing experience more enjoyable and engaging for the audience. When viewers are experiencing pleasure and reward, they are more likely to pay attention to the content.. easy right?!

Furthermore, the release of these neurotransmitters can also help to create a positive association with whatever the audience is watching, making viewers more likely to seek out similar content (or subject matter) in the future. This is of course especially powerful for brands and businesses.

It’s fair to say the science behind how music affects viewer engagement is complex, but the underlying principle is simple: music has the power to evoke emotions, impact attention, synchronise brainwaves, affect memory and even stimulate the release of brain chemicals.

By understanding and incorporating these scientific principles into your work, you can create more effective and engaging videos that resonate with your viewers.

Read more: Top 7 Ways To Trigger An Emotional Response Using Music

Evan Buist

Supporting an international roster of composers & representing an extensive catalogue of quality, independent production music. Previously an engineer, sound designer and composer with brands like Paramount Pictures, Fox Sports & National Geographic Channels.