The right trailer can set the success of a film, a video game or a tv show before they are released. It is a major element in the big marketing machine of studios’ release plans and the music that goes along with the visual part of a trailer plays no small part in that. There is a lot of players in the game that have this formula down to a tee: Extreme Music, Two Steps From Hell, Immediate Music, Audiomachine, Brand X, Ninja Tracks, Really Slow Motion, Confidential Music, HiFinesse, Sencit, Riptide Music, just to name a few. And each of them bring a different flavor to the table.
One of the more exciting things in the modern trailer music world is the incredible phenomena where a single sound can make a trailer track stand out. Writing trailer music is a very different style of music and different style of writing as a composer to begin with. Here are some of the most recognizable trailer sounds of the recent years:
1. The “Alarm” in the Prometheus Teaser Trailer:
Original Track: Audiomachine “Judge and Jury”
2. The “Braaam” in the Inception Trailer:
Original Track: Zack Hemsey “Mind Heist”
3. The “Distortion Booms” and “Stutter Downers” in the Elysium Trailer
Original Track: HiFinesse “Radius”
4. The “Pulsating Atmospheres” in the Titanfall trailer:
Original Track: Danny Cocke “Sinister Intent”
Bridging the gap between music and sound design, these special releases by Audio Imperia deliver sounds for both trailer sound designers and composers. Have a listen below:
5. The “Distorted Drum Kits and Synthesizers”:
– that you can hear in a lot of the music by Ninja Tracks, such as “Tension Ratio” or “Exposure” (below):
6. The “Distorted Risers” at the end of Twelve Titans Music’s “Artifice”, used in Avengers: Age of Ultron:
7. The “Filtered Guitar Alarm” in the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Trailer:
Original Track: Think Up Anger “Mission Ready”
8. The “Bowed Metal Sounds” in the Interstellar Trailer:
Original Track: Confidential Music “View From The Voyager”
There’s a growing number of trailer sound libraries out there – here are some of the most popular new ones:
9. The remix of Cat Stevens’ Wild World in the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer:
Original Track: Confidential Music “Shepherd” (the track was also used on the The Martian campaign)
10. And of course the very iconic machine gun style electric guitar sound of Attila Ats track “Shredder”
– used in the Oblivion, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness and many other trailers.
The focus on these individual marker sounds will only become more important. We live in a world where technology progresses faster by the minute and there is so much noise that is trying to get our attention. To cut through that, you need to create something that is truly memorable and instantly recognizable, because as unappealing as this may sound, trailer music is music for advertising and is there to help sell a product or to help sell tickets. Since there is only a very short amount of time in which you can sell a story to the audience you need those “Musical USPs”.
Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:
Huge Holiday Sound Effects Sale +
Get 300 free sound effects & access to 10.000+ premium SFX here
It is very hard to predict trends or predict which tracks will work with the audience. Things that have shown to be quite popular are piano intros with a lot of reverb (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, etc.) and of course the trailerized covers of songs (see #9 on the list above). The last category in particular seems to be becoming more and more popular and prominent in trailers of all types and genres, so keep an eye out for those.
• Behind the excellent Star Wars Battlefront trailer sound design – ft Charles Deenen, Csaba Wagner, Thomas Brewer
• Exclusive Insights From A Trailer Sound Design Expert – featuring trailer sound designer Bryan Jerden
• Behind the cinematic sound of Blizzard’s spectacular Overwatch trailer – featuring Paul Menichini
I talk a lot to up and coming trailer guys and if there’s a list of things that you could hand out to people who are interested in getting into writing for trailers, I would say:
• Production value: Almost more important these days than proper orchestration is the quality of your track. You need to be able to deliver a highquality, polished track.
• Be loud but be reasonable with your mastering and your compression. It is totally fine to use things like New York compression and multiband distortion on the master bus, but do it within reason. Things can always be made louder at the end, but it is difficult to bring things back down from an overly normalized and compressed track.
• Write for the trailer editor and make that a priority: Provide a number of sections in each track that are easy to cut while still providing a great and cohesive piece of music.
• More than ever it is important to find your own voice as a composer. There is a lot more competition and it is very easy for trailer companies to find young composers. So take your time, do your research and find the style that suits you best. You won’t be able to do a lot of styles well, so really be honest with yourself and focus on your own style.
• Melody is still important. Despite the fact that knowing synthesis and sound design well is very important, being able to write a catchy melody still means a lot. There is only a few composers that can do that well. So you could be one of them.
• Song titles actually do matter, so keep that in mind. You want to catch the eye of trailer editor, so tailor your song titles to what movie genre you think clients could use it in.
Most importantly, if you decide to go for a career in the trailer music industry bring a lot of patience with you. It takes time to get your first placement, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t land an international blockbuster trailer within your first two months.
Please share this:
The Audio Imperia Producers & Developers
Valentin Boomes • Danny Cocke • Joshua Crispin • Histibe • Dylan Jones • Bryan Leach • Darin Leach • Tomás Lobos Kunstmann • Paul Ortiz • Jeremiah Pena
About Jan Hoeglund
After finishing his graduate degree in Chinese, Jan moved to the US from Germany in 2010. “Fresh off the boat” he got got job working at an artist management agency handling the day-to-day management for bands such as Periphery, The Word Alive, We Came As Romans, and others. Being very passionate about cinematic music, trailer music in particular, he eventually switched over to working in the field of sampled instruments where he started working for 8Dio first, before joining the amazing team at Soundiron. He’s also involved in the Audio Imperia label, which was created to provide talented trailer music sound designers a creative platform to showcase their talents.
License agreement for users of Sound Examples downloaded through A SOUND EFFECT (www.asoundeffect.com) (as “Distributor”).
This end user license agreement (the “Agreement”) is entered into between you, a single user natural person (the “Licensee”), who has downloaded one or more Sound Examples through the Distributor, and the creator or creators of these Sound Examples (the “Licensor”). For multi-user licenses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Agreement covers one or more Sound Examples downloaded by the Licensee via the Distributor.
The Licensor is the creator or creators of the Sound Examples, stated as such in the downloaded file(s) (“File”) the Licensee receives after registering with a valid email address and name.
By downloading, the Licensee accepts this EULA and agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions set out in this EULA and the EULA’s with similar terms for each Licensor in the File. Any files or material included in the File not specifically mentioned in each Licensor’s EULA is covered by the terms below. By downloading the Sound Examples, you'll also receive the A Sound Effect newsletter from time to time. You can unsubscribe from this anytime.
1. Grant of License
In consideration for the download of the Sound Examples via the Distributor, the Licensor grants the Licensee a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty free license to use the Sound Examples (“Sounds”) on the terms and conditions set out in this Agreement.
2. Rights Granted
The license granted in this agreement allows the Licensee to:
a. install and use the Sound Examples on one workstation at a time, although the Licensee is permitted to make and keep backup copies of the Sound Examples on other storage devices, and
b. distribute and publicly perform reproductions of the Sounds, where these are incorporated in and synchronized with other media productions, which shall mean products that contains at least one additional media element to the Sounds (music, voice, image, etc.), including but not limited to radio and television broadcasts, film, music compositions, web sites, podcasts, mobile apps, advertising, multi-media presentations, video games and similar.
The Licensee is not permitted to distribute or perform reproductions of the Sounds where these are not incorporated in and synchronized with other media productions, including but not limited to in toys, product design, greeting cards, ringtones, applications such as soundboards, hardware devices, media authoring tools etc.
To the furthest extension permitted by law, the Licensee is prohibited from adapting, modifying or repackaging any Sounds, except as permitted in Clause 2.
4. Intellectual property rights
All rights to the Sound Examples are owned by the Licensor and other than the license rights granted in this Agreement all rights in the Sounds and Sound Effect Libraries remain the property of the Licensor. The Licensee must not claim ownership or authorship of the Sounds or the Sound Examples.
The Licensee’s right to use the Sound Examples will automatically terminate in the event of any breach by the Licensee of the terms of this Agreement. In the event of termination, the Licensee shall delete or destroy all copies of the Sound Examples which the Licensee has produced.
The Licensee shall indemnify Licensor and Distributor from, and against any and all claims, demands, suits, awards, damages, suits, injuries, liabilities and all reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees incurred by the Licensor and the Distributor with respect to any matter that arises as a result of the Licensee’s breach of this Agreement.
Licensor and/or Distributor shall not be liable for any damages or for any loss of business or business profits, business interruption, or any other direct or indirect loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of any of Licensor’s Sounds.
To the furthest extension permitted by law, the Licensee must not assign, license, sublicense, sell or otherwise assign the Sounds to any third party, except as set out in Clause 2.B.
9. Applicable Law
This Agreement is governed by the law of Denmark without giving effect to the Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods and the Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.