Syncing Songs into Trailers 101

Although licensing songs into trailers can make big money the industry has changed somewhat in recent years. As we see music budgets dropping in the world of film and TV we are also seeing them drop for trailer syncs.

The budget shifts in trailers and film marketing has opened opportunities for indie artists to gain access to music supervisors in trailer houses that they may not have been able to access before hand.

One of the most common myths in the trailer house industry is that film producers only use songs for their trailers from the films soundtrack. This is incorrect. Multiple trailers can be created to promote films in theatre and online, they can produce up to 20 or 30 campaigns purely for TV alone. With 2-3 songs used within each trailer, that's up to 90 opportunities for placements!

So what exactly is a music supervisor working on a trailer looking for?

When a director and/or producer comes to a music supervisor with a music trailer brief, the music supervisor will ask the 3 magic questions.

- What is the demographic?

- What are the themes in which they wish to highlight?

- How do they want the film to be pitched?

These are the ultimate, number one criteria's that tracks will be assessed on.

The second type of criteria's that trailer houses look for are:




Uniqueness refers to the stand out quality of your music. There are a million bands out there that sound like each other so make sure you slap the music supervisors silly with your rare-to-find killer riff. If you think there is a specific part of your song that you think is stand out, just let them know the cue in your email.

Build refers to the songs dynamics, harmonically layering the track in steps to add rise or ultimate crescendo. Trailers are usually set in three acts and each montage normally keeps building to a climatic ending. Songs that build bigger and bigger as they progress are perfect for trailers.

Easiness refers to the clearance process. Their ability to listen too, pinpoint your contact details, and initiate a license. Ensure your metadata the f#@k out of every song including all co-writers (and their PRO's) detailing who has control of the master and publishing rights. Trailer placements can have a turn around of literally hours and music supervisors would love this process to go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Red Hot Tips:

1. Ensure that you always have an instrumental version available, and to include it when pitching your track(s) to a music supervisor.

2. Always send full songs and not cut downs.

3. Include cue points to highlight key lyrics or dynamic builds.

4. Having access to your stems is an added bonus.

Finally, don't always limit yourself to original songs; compelling covers (well known songs re-recorded/performed in a new interesting way/tone) are often in demand.