Dec 11, 2011, 16:09

Recently, Art Holden, President of PresenterMedia, interviewed me to ask my thoughts about selecting the right royalty-free music for use as background music in PowerPoint and other presentations. We thought that this interview would be useful for our readers on Here is a summary:

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: Many of our users are looking for ways to help their presentations stand out.  How can selecting the right music make a presentation shine?

Mike Bielenberg, Music is that extra bit of polish that can help one presentation stand apart from another.  Getting this right is like undergoing a military inspection from the colonel and not just having everything in top shape, but actually having  a big sign outside saying, “Welcome, Inspector!”. Getting the music part right communicates that you hold yourself to a higher standard.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: What defines a business music track?  Are there certain instruments, tempos or musical styles that represent business music?

Mike Bielenberg, You want to keep it very, very middle of the road. Just having music at all says quite a lot so there’s no need to push the envelope of musical innovation here. Energetic classical music or some upbeat acoustic guitar music will be fine 98% of the time. Stay away from big bashy drums, screaming guitars or song lyrics. This isn’t a TV commercial.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: What are your feelings on sounds effects?  Do things like button clicks, and transition sounds help or hinder a presentation?

Mike Bielenberg, Having a subtle sound effect occur when you move from one slide to the next  is actually doing the audience a favor.  If I, as an audience member, am jotting down notes, daydreaming or answering a text message, It’s helpful for me to have an additional queue that the speaker has moved onto the next slide. Just being honest.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: Why should I license a professional background track, can’t I just use a popular song I have purchased?

Mike Bielenberg, The laws about this are very clear. Unless you are using a piece of music in the public domain (which fortunately includes a lot of good classical stuff), you need permission from the copyright holder to use that piece of music in a gathering of people outside of just family and friends. A business pitch made to people you barely know requires this permission. There are tons of production music sites out there with super-reasonable prices and great service that can meet this need.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: What common mistakes do first time users of background music make?

Mike Bielenberg, Using a popular song that alienates audience members and shows that they didn’t do their legal homework.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: Do you have any specific examples how the right music has elevated a project to new heights?

Mike Bielenberg, In the 1990′s a good portion of my income was earned composing soundtracks to meeting openers for Coca Cola.  They wanted big accounts, like McDonalds for example, to know they took those relationships very seriously.  The largest sum of money I’ve ever been paid to write a single piece of music was a fund-raiser video for GA Tech alumni. Every week when I drive through downtown Atlanta I see two very large buildings funded by money raised in that campaign.

Art Holden, PresenterMedia: Can you tell me a bit about

Mike Bielenberg, is the brain-child of my good friend, Chris Cardell who used to run the stock image company Jupiterimages. We saw how the stock photo industry moved to a point where the best deals in stock imagery were coming from amateur photographers, hobbyists, and professionals who had made their work available online for licensing. That was a big shift away from the offline hegemonies that previously existed. We knew the same phenomenon would occur in stock music so we set up a comprehensive website ( to help musicians upload and sell their music online at prices they choose. We’ve been very blessed to receive tens of thousands of music tracks from in incredibly talented community of musicians. All of that music is available for license and download from our website. And yes, our license does include corporate presentations!


About PresenterMedia: ( Our goal is to provide a world class PowerPoint and presentation resource at an unmatched value. We are a dedicated group of artists located in Sioux Falls, SD USA. Over the past 10 years, we have created hundreds of thousands of 3D animations, PowerPoint templates and clipart for sites like Animation Factory,, JupiterImages and Getty Images.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace with over 16,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians

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