Let's start this article with good news: it is in fact very easy to get in touch with a publisher.
The trailer music industry is quite a new thing. A relatively small number of people has ever heard of it before, but slowly and steadily more and more music producers seem to draw their attention to it.
Not only does it pay fairly well (it can be $5000 - $8000 for a TV-spot), but it's also a lot of fun!
Besides that, there is not as much competition out there as there is in the video game- or film music industry. It is totally possible for you to become a successful trailer music composer provided that you are willing to learn.
Publishers that don't clearly limit their team to a specific number of composers are always happy to work with new and talented people. There are several ways to heighten your chances of being perceived as a professional.
The following 4 tips has helped plenty of my colleagues and myself to get our music successfully distributed to music supervisors of big trailer houses.
Let's check them out!
#1. Get feedback first
This point is rather important: before you start getting in touch with a publisher you should make sure that you are good enough! There is only one first impression and you want it to be as good as possible, don't you?
If you have doubts whether you're good to go or not, make sure to ask other music producers (ideally from the trailer music industry) for feedback. What do they think about the arrangement of your tracks? How do they like your mixdowns?
Ask them to be as honest as possible so that you can learn from their feedback. Also make sure to compare the sound of your track to already successfully licensed trailer cues. You can find several of those on a Youtube channel called Trailer Music Weekly. This particular channel focuses on primarily uploading recently placed trailer cues from all kind of big blockbuster trailer ads – invaluable source for learning what trends these days as well.
Once you're pretty confident about your production skills and have gotten additional validation by other music producers, you can start contacting one or more publishers.
If you want to learn more about the art of composing music for Hollywood trailers, creating highly licensable tracks, and finding the right publisher, check out my brand new course from Evenant: The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer
#2. Create a convincing trailer music portfolio
There's a subtle but very effective method that will help you to leave a more positive and professional first impression whenever contacting a trailer music production company. I am talking about creating a solid trailer music portfolio.
This means that you should avoid sending a huge portfolio showcasing all the tracks you have ever created so far. Only send the relevant trailer music tracks you have made that will show the publisher whether you are a music producer they want to invest their time and money into or not.
By doing that you show the publisher that you definitely care about making them happy as your future business partner by providing them exactly what they need. This is a simple, but crucial approach that helps a lot to improve your first impression.
#3 Do your research
There's an easy trick that will not only increase the chances to get a response from the publisher but also increase your networking skills in general. Owning my own trailer music production company, I can tell you that many composers who want to work with us are sending us texts like the following one:
"Hey there, check out my music. Tell me what you think."
There are also messages like the following:
"Hey Chris/Kevin. Pleasure to meet you! I have heard about End Of Silence from a good friend of mine. I really liked the music in the trailer for X and Y which is why I decided to get in touch with you. Maybe I could offer my services to help your company? Here is a link to my portfolio. It would mean a lot to me if you check it out. Thanks for taking your time!
So what do you think? Which person would I prefer from this first impression without even hearing the music? Right, the second one.
It's an investment of a few minutes to leave a real nice and professional impression. Try to figure out the name of the owner(s) of the publisher if you can and address them by their name. This shows you did your research and it's not just another non personal "copy-paste" message.
Add an honest compliment, but not just something you just say to improve your chances, on what you like about the company. Be honest. Did you hear good things about their working atmosphere? Mention it! Did you really like the music they come up with? Mention it.
It only takes a few minutes of your time doing these things and I promise that this will give you a lot of bonus points from the recipient.
#4. Be persistent
It could happen that publisher X or Y don't reply to you. In that case, try other contacting methods such as email, social media or even try calling the company. If you don't get a response within a couple of weeks, send a friendly follow up. Do everything that is possible for you, as long as you haven't heard a definite "Yes" or "No". Many people give up way too quickly. Don't be one of them! Persistence is one of the key characteristics one must have to become a winner.
In case a publisher rejected your application, don't be discouraged. There are plenty of successful publishers out there. If they see potential in your productions, they will be happy to give you a chance writing for an upcoming album. Just try writing a cue. In case they feel it has no potential at all, and trust me on this, they will tell you fair and square.
Usually - once you've gotten accepted as a composer for a publisher, the supervisor of that publishing company will tell you what to do in order to improve the production or composition, provided that he or she sees good potential in your cue.
This is a great way to become better at writing trailer music as well. If many publishers rejected your application and even told you that you are not good enough, you should focus on becoming better until you simply give it another try.
I hope this article was helpful, and I wish you good luck in contacting publishers!
The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer
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Music producer, director and supervisor of the trailer music company End Of Silence. His clients includes film- and game production studios such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Disney and more.