What is Trailer Music?

By Richard Schrieber •  Updated: 12/09/21 •  2 min read

Trailer music is music that is written with the intention of being used in motion picture advertising, or “movie trailers” as most of us would call them.

When I first started out in trailer music I didn’t even realise it was a thing. I thought that the music featured in a movie trailer was taken from the score or soundtrack.

It wasn’t until I was brought in the start writing custom trailer music that I realised that it was an industry in and of itself.

What about commercial music?

You may be thinking, “well what about commercial music that is used in a trailer, is that not trailer music?”

No.

Trailer music is a branch of production music produced for use on promotional footage for films.

You can of course have commercial music used in a movie trailer. It happens all the time but it is not written for the purpose of being used in trailers.

Is all music in movie trailers epic?

Another misconception is that all trailer music is of the “epic” variety; huge sweeping orchestras, massive brass bwaaams, and deafening drums.

(If you are interested in how the term “epic music” came about, you should check out my interview with trailer music supervisor Rueben Nava.

There are tonnes of different styles of trailer music that are being produced today. A lot of them are mimicking the use of commercial music. Re-envisaging it with a trailerised structure or aesthetic (big hits pretty much).

Why trailer music?

The reason we have trailer music is all thanks to the trailer houses.

A trailer house is the production company that produces trailers.

The people who were cutting (editing) the trailers used to use music from the movie’s score. Or sometimes commercial music.

However the score wasn’t always finished. OR sometimes the commercial music just wasn’t adding the right amount of power and drive.

As a result, a new group of forward thinkers started writing music specifically for these trailers.

Now we have a diverse industry of composers and producers making all kinds of different music to be used in trailers.

We call it the “trailer music industry”.

Richard Schrieber

I am an award winning composer for movie trailers, I am the founder of The Trailer Music School and Protege.school. I podcast, blog, vlog and jog. I also love coffee, nachos and self-improvement.