Why adding sound to a virtual tour is NEVER a good idea

sound to a virtual tour

Sometimes we get asked by our virtual tour software users how they can add sound to their virtual tour. They are looking to add some enticing elevator tune, the latest track of their favorite rock band, or they might want to add some “sound effects” to hotspots.

To all of these users, we reply the same thing: We don’t have this feature  (anymore) – you should not add sound to your virtual tour.

Now I hear you say… but whyyyyyy??? I REALLY want my clients to hear this antiquated guitar solo while they are browsing my tour!

Trust us… we’re protecting you from yourself at this point, and here’s why….


8 reasons why you should NEVER add sound to your virtual tour:

1. Search engines DO NOT LIKE IT!

In fact, so much so, that Google & Firefox are now automatically blocking any noises coming from your tour.

In a recent article from the Guardian, we quote:

“Google’s Chrome browser now blocks auto-playing video with sound, taking a big step forward in removing one of the most irritating things about the modern web.”

Read the article here

Or from Firefox themselves…

“Isn’t it annoying when you click on a link or open a new browser tab and audible video or audio starts playing automatically? We know that unsolicited volume can be a great source of distraction and frustration for users of the web. So we are making changes to how Firefox handles playing media with sound. We want to make sure web developers are aware of this new autoplay blocking feature in Firefox.”

Read the article here


2. Your visitors DO NOT LIKE IT

Google stats say that the FIRST thing 95% of web visitors do when getting to a page that plays music is… mute the music! They obviously don’t like that tune, were looking for some peace & quiet, or are already listening to their own music and don’t want your track playing right through it!


Following up from point 2… your visitor needs to marvel at that beautiful virtual tour you made, not frantically searching for the mute button because they are visiting your tour in their office where they should be doing work instead of looking at virtual tours and now they have been caught out looking at the tour because of that crazy music and they might get the sack…. omg my hands are sweating just thinking about this one…

THAT is not the feeling you want to give your visitor – they need to be able to enjoy your virtual tour in all it’s glory. You are there to show them something they want to look at, not listen to music they never asked for…

4. The proof is in the pudding!

Facebook recently released stats that 85% of its users are looking at videos WITHOUT THE SOUND ON! That’s 85% of about 8 million views per day people!

There’s too much noise in people’s lives already, don’t add more by sticking some godawful royalty free (because you’re not actually wanting to PAY for the music do you?) violin track that will make you want to end it all… Quiet is the new noisy! Stick with it!

Read more about these Facebook’s stats here. 

Furthermore… none of the other huge companies are doing it! Amazon, Facebook, Google, Ebay to name but a few! Have you ever gone onto their website and had to look for a mute button? NO! Because there is no irritating noise distracting you from buying their stuff in the first place! And they have a multimillion dollar marketing team researching that stuff, so they would know!

5. You will loose visitors

Just because you like elevator ambient music, does not mean your visitor does! And especially with virtual tours, you want them to stay in your tour and look at all your pretty pictures! Research (and experience) proves time and again that people will abandon your tour earlier if there’s music playing automatically compared to tours without music.

Remember the goal is to get your visitor to see the WHOLE tour, and perhaps buy the property or visiting the business – the goal is NOT to have them to listen to music… we have spotify for that!

6. It will cost a pretty penny!

Let’s say, for arguments sake you could add music to your tours. What type of music would you add? You certainly can’t add the latest Beyonce or Metallica track, unless you wanted to pay copyrights for them… So you’re stuck with royalty free music, just like all the rest of us. So now you add a track that has been chewed up and spit out by 90% of other internet users – a track, I might add, that has no soul, flavour or ANYTHING to do with your virtual tour. Why… but seriously… WHY would you put your visitor through that?

7. You’re not in 1999 anymore!

In 1999 websites with music were all the rage… this went on until around 2002, then it became an annoying and frankly interrupting feature… Moving on to 2020 (yes that’s the year now people!) you don’t want to be seen using 2001 marketing techniques anymore! Get with the program!

If you are saying that your virtual tour is not interesting enough without music, then you have to seriously reconsider your photographic skills (or that of your photographer).

Moreover, it makes you look cheap! So you’re selling a 3.9 million dollar home and you added some royalty free “chill out” track that will make your ears bleed… “NOW i want to buy this property” – said NO millionaire EVER after going through that ordeal!

Moz (the SEO giant!) words it even better:

“Having background music was cool in the mid-nineties when the web was first coming together. Now it’s not, it’s considered dated and the mark of an amateur.  If you’re gonna put background music in, you might as well put on a pair of hammer pants.  You’re a fossil, go sit in a museum and fart dust.”

Read the article here

8. Speed is king!

In this day and age, people want everything at their fingertips within 1.2 seconds or faster.

Now say you have a tour of 10 images, each of around 16MB each. Then you might have added text and other images, some hotspots and then there’s the tour player. All this amounts to a great big heavy weight that each browser needs to download before the tour even plays.

Luckily our development boys are SUPER handy with compressing stuff and make sure that your tour still loads in 1.2 seconds.

But now imagine you add a music file to the tour. The music needs to be pretty long, because it’s a big tour, so that file adds another 20/30 MB to your tour.

This can easily add another second to the loading time. A second to you might not be long, but trust us when we say, it is a killer for your visitor count, and will probably result in people abandoning your tour before it has even started! (They didn’t even get to listen to your cool music!)

BONUS 9. A virtual tour is not a video

Oh, the amount of times we need to correct people when they ask to see the “video tour”…. it’s not a video people, its a virtual tour!

And the difference with having music on a video as opposed to a virtual tour is that you can EDIT a video to the music! So scenes change “on the beat” and you set the mood of a scene with music.

In a virtual tour you don’t have this luxury. Your visitor changes their own scenes and decide themselves what they look at so the music might be completely inappropriate for the scene they are looking at which will have an opposite effect to what you wanted to achieve…

Now we hoped we have convinced you enough to know that adding music to your virtual tour is NEVER a good idea. But of course, do challenge us in the comments below if you think we (and Google, Ebay, Facebook, Firefox etc) are wrong… we would LOVE to hear your arguments!

2 Responses

  1. Totally not true. I have asked many buyers and sellers if they prefer music or not. They want nice , cheerful , relaxing music. Without it, they feel the tour is incomplete or not working. They grow tired of the tour quickly and in to the next listing. This a propoganda being pushed on Realtors to once again change due to the technology changing and Flash being removed from Chrome!

    1. Hey Shelley, no worries, keep using it by all means 😉 I am sure you know better than Amazon, Google, facebook and all the other big players – by all means, don’t let us stop you! Peace xx

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