Collegium 2/16: The Business of Music in Movie Trailers

(From left: Yoav Goren, Robin Joseph, Orlando Rotundo, and Kellie Maltagliati)

Collegium on Wednesday, February 16th featured a multi-dimensional look into the world of film trailer music. Led by Kellie Maltagliati of Trailer Music Live, the panelists discussed writing, licensing, and editing music for movie trailers. Trailer music by nature complements the film and aims to inspire movie-goers to make the trip, and the panel included a variety of industry professionals who work closely on distinct aspects of placing music for movie trailers.

Representing the creative side of trailer music was Yoav Goren, an accomplished film music composer and music publisher with nearly 20 years of experience. His company Immediate Music has provided over 2,500 licenses and is one of the foremost production music libraries for licensing and custom scoring in Los Angeles. In 1992, Mr. Goren relocated from New York to Los Angeles and began writing commissioned custom scores for movie trailers and constructing a library of licensable music for film. More recently he has composed exclusively licensed, custom trailer scores for box-offices hits such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Avatar, and Toy Story 3. During the discussion Mr. Goren also noted that over the years, the affordability of recording technologies has had a dramatic impact on the amount of trailer music that studios have to choose from, and that there is an increasingly high awareness with regard to styles and trends in trailer music. As a composer, he must master a range of musical styles to fit different films and create value in his library.

As Creative Director of Film & Telvision at Primary Wave Music, Robin Joseph works to find sync opportunities for her artists’ songs in television, films, and online. Her music clearance credits include films such as The Notebook and Wedding Crashers, and television shows such as Queer Eye for The Straight Guy and American Gladiators. During the discussion, Ms. Joseph noted the difficulty in pushing new music to trailers and getting a placement as many studios will choose commonly used music or license from a library. As a music supervisor she must also be very familiar with Primary Wave’s library so that she may direct the appropriate music to each project. She and Mr. Goren both agreed that one of the most prominent issues for placing trailer music today is that of money and budgeting, which often leads studios to explore any number of options and in turn creates competition among artists and composers in search of a placement.

Orlando Rotundo of Giaronomo Productions brought to the panel experience as an editor of film trailers. Giaronomo has won numerous awards for its work in creating trailers for some of Hollywood’s most successful films, such as No Country for Old Men, The Departed, and Pulp Fiction. One Mr. Rotundo’s primary responsbilities as an editor is to screen music and experiment with different audio-visual pairings to find the best, most effective match. In other instances, however, he must cater his work to a studio’s musical selection. Mr. Rotundo also commented on how advancing technology is speeding up the entire editing process and shortening project deadlines. Like Mr. Goren and Ms. Joseph, he cited shrinking budgets as one of the trailer industry’s primary issues as artists like Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Guns N’ Roses are notorious for charging six and seven-figure licensing fees.

On Saturday, February 19th, Yoav Goren’s music was performed live at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts as part of Trailer Music Live, produced by Kellie Maltagliati. The event marked Trailer Music Live’s New York premier and featured the NYU Symphony Orchestra and the New York City Master Chorale conducted by John Graham.