Unleashing the Right Kind of Music for Your Film Trailer

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

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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.

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Check back next time as we continue offering more tips on how to find the music for every project.

Posted on September 14, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Education, Marmoset, Music, Shared Work.