The trailer to a film can be the fingerprint to an entire project — it’s what tells your viewers just enough engaging information without giving away the best parts (c’mon, no one likes spoilers). It’s an art-form to master and can influence just how many viewers will be hooked enough to seek out the rest of the story.
Similar to commercials, the film’s sneak peek can be cut down and edited around the right music to tug on the heartstrings of the audience — from the lighthearted pop rock that lulls behind dialogue of a comedic romance to the rhythmic percussions guiding an action sequence. But what’s the right kind of music for your trailer and how does one even begin searching for the best fit?
We have three tips to help nail down the best music for any trailer or short video.
Considering Song Length
This is it, the first impression. And you have to do it typically in under two minutes. While the visuals and dialogue will help create a compelling exposition for the film, music is a surefire method evoking emotional investment from the audience.
This is why it’s not uncommon to see a range (one to two, or even three songs) with the first song defining the vibrancy and tone, the last song as the catalyst.
In the “Sorry For Your Loss” movie trailer, two songs were licensed for the project: “Possible Deaths” by Typhoon and “Golden October" by Ryan Stively.
The songs, while emotively different, still compliment each other through their reflective qualities. While it’s clear neither song plays from start to finish in the video, there’s an intentional shift and purpose for the music’s placement. When “Golden October” trails off, “Possible Deaths” illustrates a heavier mood, hitting home a somewhat mysterious quality to the film (remember the mentioning of hooking your audience, this is that moment).
When a project needs succinct music to perfectly fit within a timeline the Length setting aids editors in finding music to appease such time constraints. Get searching and check it out here.
It’s All About the Mood
We hinted at this above but the emotional qualities of a trailer can be what intensifies or lessens the trailer’s message. If the film is a dark drama set in the 1800s, the music should similarly help complete this palette. Will there be swelling moments of inspiration? Or is the audience meant to feel alienated? These are the kind of factors to consider when placing music to picture.
On the Marmoset browse page, there are two key settings to filter a song’s search. Toggle the Mood and Energy settings to find music that compliments the overall atmospheric tone.
A Certain Kind of Subtext
In deciding between lyrics and instrumental versions of a song, the lyrical version can offer subtext to a trailer — all without the audience even realizing it’s happening. Call it subconscious persuasion but it can help hit all the right points quickly and effectively.
In the “Sorry For Your Loss” trailer, “Golden October” alludes to the idea of missing someone or wishing to be reunited with them. This aligns with the trailer’s unfolding narrative as this also centers around the main character struggling with the death of her spouse.
To utilize a song’s lyrics to their fullest music searchers can check out the song’s lyrics from the Marmoset music search page. Simply play a song and if the artist submitted lyrics to Marmoset, an “open book” icon will appear on the bottom of the window. Click this icon and a pop-up window will appear with lyrics.
Check back next time as we continue offering more tips on how to find the music for every project.
There’s undoubtedly an art in getting people to stop in their tracks, to subtly convince people to invest their attention and money into a product or message. Then there's factoring in how all the other streaming content is also competing for viewers, so if someone's going to pause, it really better be worth it.
As far as clever and creative concepts go, Old Spice is on the top of most's lists — humorously enlightening while always stepping outside the box of what's expected. So when Wieden + Kennedy reached out to the Marmoset Original Music team, there was no question of us creating their latest commercial’s score.
In this particular project, the script described the main character as a wolf — who rides a motorcycle and of course, smells great. Different, unusual, and definitely pause-worthy. We knew we had to deliver equally stop you dead in your tracks kind of music.
“We jumped in at the exploratory stage,” says Graham Barton, Marmoset’s Original Music Composer. “I gave them several different songs, one was early ‘80s heavy metal, the other one I was inspired by that era of Duck Tales, so that was pretty late ‘80s. I also channeled a variety of vintage commercials, it was a little bit of a tribute to the old Crossfire ads. I included vocals in the pitch right off the bat — one is very Eagles sounding, one is really happy, and the one that went through is very chanty. We had to cast a wide net."
These songs that our producers pitched were roughly 30 seconds long, essentially full-bodied sneak peeks. Nonetheless, they exemplified a very developed palette of what our team can do. With Graham's personal background in classic rock and metal, he began honing into a specific time period (late '80s) to source his inspiration from. He offers up some of the places that helped guide his approach to constructing the Old Spice original score:
"There was a really small window from '89 to about '94 when they were really playing on like the hair metal," says Graham. "Music around the era of Power Rangers and Beetlborgs was inspiring to me. For the most part, genre-wise, when I heard about this project I knew I wanted to channel a similar energy.”
With three songs serving as viable representations of Graham's and our producers' creative brawn, the versatile pitch exemplifies how inspiration can be rooted in the most vintaged of abysses. It's music that's subconsciously rooted from childhood — but isn't that a sign of classic, and better yet, music that sticks with you? Why else would something carry over so many years later. The project's success could be due to this kind of uninhibited creative wandering along with a combination of knowing where strengths lie.
With Graham's vocals being a perfect match for channeling a specific kind of era (aka late '80s, early '90s) he notes the importance of recruiting when a project calls for it. For instance, if Old Spice called for a pop or indie vibe, Graham would instead recruit talent who matches that vocal tone a bit better. "I don't always get to sing on the songs I compose," says Graham. "So to be able to sing on the "Wolfthorn" [Old Spice] song was really cool."
Graham composing three songs that encapsulate different moods and genres illustrates the art of staying versatile, a tactic that can set you apart from your competitor. But there's also another variable at play that matters quite a bit, there's an invitation to collaborate openly.
"I’ve worked for other companies where they send something first try to see if it sells," says Graham. "But at Marmoset we kind of fine-tune before we send. Sometimes it can be the second version that we send or it can be the thirteenth version by the time we end up sending it off to the agency. It’s hard to talk about because any time you mention it to anyone it sounds like boasting, but we just care."
Check out the complete project below featuring Graham's catchy original score below.