5 Tips For Licensable Trailer Music

In an industry of a lot of music, and competition and struggles to sound as big and professional as possible, it’s not uncommon to feel that trailer music can be hard to write. Trailer music has a very high production standard, it requires a proper structure so that it builds anticipation and excitement and thus be useful for editors in trailer houses. A lot of factors come into play for a track to get licensed in a big movie or game trailer, tv spots and so on.

Here I have written down five tips I believe are very useful for treading further in the grand quest for locking in those music placements. Some of these really helped me get my bigger placements (such as Warcraft, Independence Day 2, Starcraft 2, etc). Hopefully at least you will pick up one of them and increase your chances of acquiring a license, so – here we go!


#1 – Keep it simple


This is probably the absolute best tip getting out of a creative writer’s block, and to make something that’s actually useful. Just keep it simple! If there’s too much crap going on, it will be hard to balance the mix properly – especially in the low end and low mids where the braams and hits have their oomph. Remove things you think the track can actually do without – just test it. It is also a lot easier to continue a simpler track, and make it into something great than it is to evolve a complicated one.

Keeping it simple goes to all the aspects of the track; mixing, orchestration and composition. So basically: Simpler mix, simpler and cleaner sounds, and simpler melodies, harmonies and structure. Simplicity just sounds good and is the easiest route to go, so why not take it?


#2 – Copy what works (and add 10%)


Most beginners that go into the fine arts of creating music (and a lot of other things for that matter) think that it’s wrong to copy and mimic others. It’s a common belief that we should always be creative and original and that if we copy we’re mere thieves – *EEEHH* WRONG! Copying and mimicking is what composers have done for millennia! They copy what works, and then they add a bit of themselves in it (sometimes a lot more than a bit).

If you study any music genre you will find the great similarities between many artists, and many times even straight up plagiarism – but to a large extent, that’s totally fine! Just make sure you add 10% of yourself – which you most likely do subconsciously – and you’ll be laughing. If the formula works, why not use it? Why try to reinvent the wheel again? Go on Youtube and copy the crap out of a track – you’ll learn A LOT!


#3 – Use cleaner sounds


This is another big tip that will help you if you’re not already using it: don’t use too many twisted, distorted and grungy sounds. For the majority of the track, u