By Tess Taylor. Film trailer music supervisor Marcy Bulkeley, Music Director for Adam Sandler’s Big Picture Entertainment, spoke to our group this week, listened to songs and gave feedback. This was the first in NARIP’s 10-part series with Trailer Music Supervisors.
Photo (L-R, back row): APM Music’s Gregg Allen, Matthew Naylor and April Flores, Four Jays Music’s Nick Page, NARIP’s Ernie Gordon, Robert Walls, independent song plugger Peter Kimmel, NARIP’s Mary Bee, Rain Perry, Gerard Vargas, North Star Media’s Molly Bohas, NARIP’s Mary Bee, Shok, NARIP’s Simone Grau, APM Music’s Steven Stern. (L-R middle row) Michael Plen, Brandon Intelligator. Seated: New Pants Publishing’s Robert Case, Big Picture Entertainment’s Marcy Pulkeley, NARIP President Tess Taylor
Bulkeley spoke about placing music in trailers versus in film and TV as the two formats have vastly different demands and time constraints.
Trailers tend to have a 3-part structure, she said. The beginning needs to grab attention, the middle provides background for the movie to draw an audience in, and then ends with a bang or uplifting feeling to entice. All this needs to occur in 2 minutes and 30 seconds or less, especially if the trailer is used in advertising where spots can be :15, :30 or :60 seconds long.
The film’s director rarely “creates” the trailer, which is conceived and guided by the film studio’s marketing department and produced at a trailer house such as Big Picture Entertainment. The studio’s head of marketing tends to have the final say with respect to music in the trailer, and this can be a source of creative tension between the studio (client) and trailer house who often differ on the type of music that should be used.
Very often the music used in the film is not used in the trailers, and it is not uncommon for two or more trailers to be produced for the same film to appeal to different demographics.
Budgets for trailers tend to be higher than for film placement because the rights tend to be broader, worldwide and in perpetuity. Music budgets for trailers range from $30,000 for the recent Crooked Arrow to over $1 million for Hangover II.
Big Picture Entertainment just merged with EMG Sports Marketing one month ago and now seek sports-action music cues.
“Sports marketing budgets tend to be smaller than trailers usually,” said Bulkeley, as television is usually regional or national, not worldwide, and campaigns run for a shorter period of time. But once music is placed in a campaign, the revenue generated can add up quickly.
Favorite Music Sources
Bulkeley likes “third parties,” a term used in the film TV world which are sources for small labels and publishers who may not be able to afford their own catalog marketing reps. She particularly likes Zync, Bank Robber and Static Music.
When receiving music, Bulkeley prefers digital zipped folders or links, and says she uses box.net and Fileblaze the most. She also likes Sound Miner which enables a preview (or pre-listen) before downloading a track, which is useful. Also:
- Metadata should be complete with song title, artist, all writers, contact info for all owners. Keywords are tremendously useful, see Keyword section of this article for more detail.
- If you submit multiple tracks, no more than 10 please. If I like one I will ask you for more in that direction.
- Give me some time to listen before following up.
- No hard ins/outs, i.e., no sudden starts and stops. I do prefer fade-in and fade-out so the editors can cut as they like.
- For intro cues, have an interesting build. Trailer music needs to have stop-downs to cut to, gradual builds with rises built into the cue are good too. “Stop-downs” mean that the song is playing and comes to a dramatic point and stops …then starts up again dramatically. This gives editors more to cut with to make the editing more dramatic.
- Always provide instrumentals if you pitch a vocal cue. It’s good to note the availability of an instrumental in the metadata and/or in the title of the song itself, i.e., “I Love You (Instrumental)”
- I prefer full songs rather than snippets please.
- Bulkeley said she dislikes it when a label or publisher submits material and “sneaks” in a track they want her to hear which is off-brief. “It’s annoying,” she said.
“Instrumentals Are Music Supervisor’s Gold & Platinum”
Instrumentals, says Bulkley, are “like gold, platinum, even higher than platinum for music supervisors!” Why? Because there is far greater flexibility, especially over dialogue, and instrumentals are much easier to edit, cut and layer. “We do a lot of internal editing,” she said. Supervisors and music editors appreciate receiving stems (i.e., individual pieces of songs) which is helpful when editing.
It is useful to include in the metadata if music builds at a certain point, for example, “dramatic crescendo / build at :38.” Some supervisors, such as Young & Rubicam’s Executive Director of Music and Creative Content Jessica Dierauer, also appreciate inclusion of the 2 or 3 most prominent instruments used in the track.
With so little time, builds for trailers need to happen immediately. Music with little or no build, which is dynamically even, is more suitable for film and TV placement, while trailers frequently require dramatic lifts, builds, power-ups and power-downs.
The importance of keywords to find music was emphasized repeatedly. What does this mean and how does it work?
Music must be appropriately and richly tagged with a description that matches the music and contains excellent adjectives. It serves creators and publishers to give thought to how they describe their music and what its possible uses might be so that it comes up in a search when a buyer or supervisor is looking for that (your) kind of music.
Bulkeley said keywords for the types of music she searches for most frequently include, “fun, energetic, sexy, current, hip, mainstream” or “ruckus, gritty, foreboding, spooky, sinister, dark, dramatic, intense.”
Bulkeley also gets many requests for “the new LMFAO.” “Isn’t LMFAO ‘new’?” she chuckled.
Feedback to Participant’s Music
Throughout the evening when giving feedback to a particular song, Bulkeley frequently mentioned where she would “see” the music presented fitting best, in past or current projects. Here is her feedback to some of the music presented:
- “Awesome, that would work for ‘A Thousand Words.’ I’ll submit it tomorrow,” she said of the track “Can’t Hold Back” performed by Aceyalone and Treasure Davis, submitted by North Star Media’s Molly Bohas.
- “That’s super trailer-friendly, fun, great for comedy and excellent energy with no intro,” she said of The Hot Gates’ track “Ready or Not” also submitted by Molly Bohas.
- “Super creepy with a great intro,” she said of “Ancient Voices Call” by Joel, submitted by New Pants Publishing’s Robert Case. “Have you considered submitting this for NCIS? It would be great for that,” she recommended.
- “That’s a beautiful song, would love to just sit and listen to it, it’s great for film and good as a middle piece [in a trailer],” she said about the Robert Case-submitted “Solitary Child.”
- “Great piece, it’s well-written, bright and builds at a nice pace, it would be excellent for sports,” she said about Paul Casey’s “Something’s Gotta Give” presented by DaBet Music Services’ Brandon Intelligator.
- “This is a great stand-alone trailer track, would be great for ‘Titans’ or ‘John Carter’ – it’s big, epic, fantasy, adventure music with a great outro. And I love percussion with the rise – awesome!” she said about Chris Piorkowski’s “Secret Village” presented by Peter Kimmel.
- “I love it, a brilliant opening cue, great for ‘True Blood’ – I wish I’d had that for ‘Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter’” she said about Nick Page’s “Do It 4 Free.” She also loved “Together” by The Alter State and said, “Wow! I love that, it could work for Ted Now, Seth McFarlyn’s live action movie with Markie Mark.”
- “I love the energy and songwriting, it’s warm and pulls you in,” she said of Rain Perry’s “Wild Child.”
- “I’m a huge fan of Matt & Kim, and that track works brilliantly for trailers,” she said of the Michael Plen-presented “Good For Great.”
- “PERFECT for trailers!” she exclaimed about Gerard Vargas’s tracks, “I love the power-downs, this is a perfect trailer cue and a perfect length.” She gave Vargas further encouragement, telling him he should work with a music library and that his material is “extremely trailer friendly.” She mentioned APM, Audio Machine, XRay Dog and Methodic Doubt as several possible libraries, and told Vargas he was welcome to say that she recommended him.
Photo (L-R): APM Music’s VP of Music & Marketing Sharon Jennings, Bulkeley, Taylor and APM Studios’ Steven Stern
The first in NARIP’s Trailer Music Supervisor Sessions series, this intimate session enabled registrants to prepare pitches in advance, meet Marcy face-to-face, have her listen to their music and receive immediate feedback. In some instances, attendees were able to tailor tracks to better suit Bulkeley’s immediate needs and be more “on brief” and therefore much more likely to be placed.
Click here to see more photos from this event.
About Marcy Bulkeley
Marcy Bulkeley is music director at Big Picture Entertainment, an entertainment marketing and advertising company, where she works on major motion picture campaigns and broadcast sports marketing campaigns. She is responsible for the music in the campaigns for Contagion, Inception, Due Date, The Town, Sherlock Holmes, Hubble 3D, Just Wright, Harry Potter 6 & 7, LOST, Modern Family, Cougar Town, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (seasons 5 & 6), and others. Marcy has consulted for Kathy Nelson (previously VP of film music for Universal Pictures), music supervised with G Marq Roswell at 35Sound, and consulted for Deutsch Advertising. Beyond the screen, Marcy provides background music services for retail and restaurant businesses in Los Angeles.
Sources for More Info
Big Picture Entertainment
Upcoming NARIP Music Supervisor Sessions
Key: MSS = Music Supervisor Session
Feb 22 Trailer MSS: Big Picture’s Marcy Bulkeley in LA
Feb 23 Film-TV MSS: CBS’s Samuel Diaz in LA
Feb 23 Film-TV MSS: BANG Music’s Brian Jones in NY
Feb 27 Ad Agency MSS: Y&R’s Jessica Dierauer in LONDON *JUST ADDED*
Feb 27 Ad Agency MSS: Saatchi’s Ryan Fitch in LONDON *JUST ADDED*
Feb 28 Ad Agency MSS: Y&R’s Jessica Dierauer in LONDON *SOLD OUT*
Feb 28 Ad Agency MSS: Saatchi’s Ryan Fitch in LONDON *SOLD OUT*
Mar 07 Trailer MSS: High Bias’s Toddrick Spalding in LA
Mar 08 Film-TV MSS: Whoopsie Daisy’s Madonna Wade-Reed in LA
Mar 08 Film-TV MSS: Michael Hill (Nurse Jackie / Showtime) in NY
Mar 10 Music Biz Brunch @ Discmakers in LA
Mar 21 Trailer MSS: BLT’s Serena Undercofler in LA
Mar 22 Film-TV MSS: Velvet Ears’ Liz Gallacher in LA
Mar 27 Film-TV MSS: Madonna Wade-Reed in LONDON
Apr 04 Film-TV MSS: Aperture’s Jonathan Leahy in LA
Apr 05 Film-TV MSS: Independent Music Supervisor Dan Wilcox in LA
Apr 11 Trailer MSS: Trailer Park’s Bobby Gumm in LA
Apr 18 Trailer MSS: Toy Box’s Maura Duval Griffin in LA
Apr 19 Trailer MSS: Create Advertising’s Heather Kreamer in LA
May 02 Trailer MSS: Ignition Creative’s Natalie Bartz in LA
May 03 Film-TV MSS: Fuel TV’s Scott McDaniel in LA
May 16 Trailer MSS: mOcean’s Danny Exum in LA
May 30 Trailer MSS: AV Squad’s Angel Mendoza in LA
Jun 06 Trailer MSS: Ant Farm’s Robyn Booker in LA
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