Today, we’re doing things a bit differently, since I’m not going to review a sample library or software, but an online course on how to become a successful trailer music composer.
This course, called The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer, is brought to you by a considerably new online learning resource platform called Evenant. The course’s tutor, Christian Baczyk, is a trailer music composer himself and owner of a young trailer music company called End Of Silence. Some of the company’s music was already licensed to advertising campaigns for large-scaled Hollywood blockbusters like Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain America: Civil War and The Finest Hours.
The online course, which is made up of a combination of written lessons and video content/walkthroughs, sets out to not only teach compositional and technical tasks you’re confronted with when composing trailer music, but also focuses on the business and licensing part of this branch of the music industry.
Let’s find out together, what the course is covering exactly, and if it can boost your trailer music composing skills from zero to hero, like it promises to.
WHAT IS TRAILER MUSIC?
Although some of you might already know this, for the ones who don’t I’d first like to quickly line out, what trailer music is and how the trailer music business actually works.
As the name implies, trailer music is the music you hear, when you’re watching a movie trailer in the cinema for example. You know, these action-packed, epic, massive, somewhat aggressive soundtracks that run alongside huge battle scenes, explosions and fast cuts. That’s trailer music! Of course, trailer music isn’t restricted to cinema, since there’s also a huge amount of trailers for TV series, video games, sports events and much more. Even in TV shows, you’ll occasionally hear trailer music tracks.
Unlike most people assume, trailer music (for the most part) isn’t music that’s taken from a movie soundtrack, but is specifically composed for the advertising campaigns by so-called trailer music composers. These composers usually work for one or more trailer music companies, which assemble and release music compilations regularly and provide them to all the film production companies and trailer houses (the guys who edit and cut the actual trailers and underlay them with music).
As soon as a trailer music track is placed in an actual trailer, a licensing contract is concluded between the trailer house and the trailer music company. The licensing fee received by the trailer music company is then split up by a certain ratio between the company and the composer.
Licensing fees for trailer music placements can profit between 2,000 and 50,000 US dollars per track, which is why more and more composers try to break into the trailer music business – apart from the joy of creating massive, hard-hitting music.
WHICH TOPICS ARE COVERED?
The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer course covers a very wide range of topics, some of which are pretty trailer music-specific, while others are very applicable to general music production. Each topic features a number of lessons and concludes with an assignment for the student. Additional to the lessons, you’ll recieve a free sample pack of trailer music sound effects you can use, as well as a section of bonus tips from industry professionals.
Let me give you a quick rundown on the main topics this course is including:
Overview / Preface
In the first part of the online course, you’re being introduced to the world of trailer music and the different genres of trailer music that are common today. Christian, the main tutor, also talks about how much money is embedded in the trailer music business. In this section, you’re also provided with the free sound effects sample pack.
Trailers & TV Spots
In the next topic, Christian explains some trailer music terminology (“Hits”, “Whooshes”, “Braams”) and uncovers the typical structure of a movie trailer. He then talks about the structural and musical differences between a movie trailer and a TV trailer. The lessons are rounded off with an assignment and a short quiz, so the student can reflect on the things he or she learned.
How To Write Licensable Trailer Music
Lesson-wise, this section of the course is the biggest. The tutor gets back to the structure of a common music trailer and transfers it to the structure of a trailer music track (which, of course, has to reflect the action on screen). He breaks down the musical structure into five acts and gives a detailed description of the function of each of these acts. Next, one of the most essential parts of a trailer track is covered in-depth: the sound effects. Trailer music lives from a range of characteristic sound effects like huge impacts, searing risers and the omnipresent “braaaam” sound (think Interception). Christian gives a run down the most commonly used effects and shows you how to create your own. He carries on with the compositional part of trailer music, explaining typical and effective chord progressions, common ostinato patterns and the incorporation of dramatic audio cuts. Like before, the topic is finished up again with a quiz and an assignment.
Track Creation Walkthroughs
Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of this online course: an almost 3 hours long video walkthrough on how to create a trailer music track. Guest tutor and editor of the course, Walid Feghali, takes you by the hand from start to finish on how he approaches the composition and mixdown of a hybrid trailer music track. The three-part video lesson covers everything from capturing the initial song idea, over roughing out a musical sketch, to orchestrating and arranging the actual track. Walid also shares with you some finishing tips on the song’s mix.
Analyzing Trailer Music
Both a big section of the course and a huge part of trailer music composing in general is the analysis of successful and licensed trailer music tracks. In a couple of written lessons and video walkthroughs, Walid analyzes some of the most licensed trailer tracks to date and explains, exactly why they are being used so often. Since an essential part of getting your track licensed is providing the editor with enough hit points and space for dramatic cuts, Walid goes into detail on this topic here.
Back with Christian, he gives you an overview of the hard- and software that is necessary, to create professional sounding trailer music. He also talks about the membership in a Performance Rights Organization (short: P.R.O.) like BMI, PRS or ASCAP, to take of collecting your royalties.
Next up, the very important process of mixing and mastering your track is being covered. The tutor goes about proper volume balance, using reference tracks and keeping your arrangement simple to achieve a more powerful mix.
The Right Publisher
Now we’re transitioning into the business part of trailer music, learning about the purpose and tasks of a publisher, how to find the right publisher for your music and the important things to look for when searching for a publishing company. You’re also provided with a list of trailer music publishers at the end.
This lesson builds upon the last one, teaching you how to approach publishing companies and how to leave a memorable first impression. Christian Baczyk also covers the importance of having an up-to-date music portfolio and a personal website.
As the final part of the online course, the tutors assembled a collection of little bonus tips to boost your productivity and creativity while staying focused and healthy.
At the very end of the course, you’ll find a feedback form to let the tutors know, who you liked it.
MY PERSONAL IMPRESSION
I just recently finished the course, which took me quite some days to accomplish. Especially, if you’re taking the assignments seriously as well as listen and watch to all the video and audio examples, this course is quite time-consuming. However, taking the provided amount of detail into account, I have to say that this online course really leaves nothing untouched that is important to know with trailer music. I felt, that every part of this magnificent musical niche is covered explicitly and you can literally feel the enthusiasm and passion, that went into making this course. Both Christian and Walid love creating and talking about trailer music and it really is reflected in this course. Not only do you learn a lot of compositional things (I dare to say even as a seasoned composer) but you also get a deep insight into the important business part of trailers and trailer music, which some artists tend to overlook sometimes.
For me personally, the composition walkthrough and the analysis portion of the course were the most helpful, since I felt like it will help me along on my own compositional journey quite drastically. Although referencing and analyzing successful people’s tracks to become more successful yourself, seems so obvious, I think many composers (including myself) often forget to do it.
Another thing that caught my attention, was that while the course covers quite some advanced topics here and there, it is written in very easy-to-read fashion. It feels, like if you’re sitting down with a composer friend of yours, casually talking about trailer music. That helped a lot with following through the lessons.
I also liked the quizzes and assignments. While a quiz lets you reflect on the things you just learned, an assignment kind of forces you to take action, and get your hands dirty yourself. This changes your position from a passive reader to being active, which in my opinion drastically improves learning and memorization.
Whether you’re already composing trailer music successfully or are just starting out, I think this course holds a lot of essential knowledge and neat little tips and tricks on the topic for anybody. Furthermore, you’ll get a bunch of free stuff including a trailer sound effects sample pack, bonus tips as well as a couple of compositional “cheat sheets” to pin on your wall.
Covering the topic with so much detail, while at the same time staying very easy to follow, really helps with absorbing big amounts of information and storing them in your creative brain. I’d really recommend finishing all the quizzes and assignments, to deepen your freshly acquired knowledge and directly put it to use.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in composing trailer music as an exciting hobby or if you’re pursuing the dream of your music being placed in big blockbuster advertising campaigns, this course will definitely provide you with anything you need to know to get started.
The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer is available on Evenant for $137 and comes with a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee.