Trailer music has exploded as a genre the recent years. It ranges from orchestral, to hybrid, to sound design based. Are you interested in getting into, or to level up, epic trailer music skills?
Great! Because today I have the pleasure to share an interview I did with Richard Schrieber, who not only is a successful and experienced trailer music composer, but also a great educator with both courses and YouTube videos where he shares his wisdom and practical tips with you.
First: Watch his amazing breakdown of one of his trailer cues here:
1. Hello Richard, what is your story on how you became a composer, and how you got into trailer music?
Well I will jump straight to how I got into Trailer Music first and work backwards. I was working for a production music library back in 2010 and they had some connections with a trailer music company called Pusher. Back then I didn’t even know that trailer music was an actual thing!? Which seems crazy to me now. Pusher had heard some of my hybrid rock tracks I had written and wanted me to pitch some tracks for some trailers.
Within a short space of time I was pitching on Men in Black 3 and The Avengers. It felt like I was learning to swim by being thrown in the sea during a raging storm. I was absolutely ecstatic to be working “in the big leagues”; trailerising my hero’s theme (it was Danny Elfman’s theme for Men in Black).
Sadly I was not up to par with either pitch BUT Men in Black 3 chose one of my cues for a short 30 second spell in the second act of the third trailer. I found out by searching on YouTube. Since then I have landed hundreds of placements, won 8 awards for my trailer music and now am doing it for a (blooming great) living.
The story leading up to that can be summed up like so many composers. I was in a band, didn’t make it, realised I liked writing music, pursued what intrigued me and what could pay the bills, found out along the way that this was more than a passion, it was more like an extra limb I needed and had to use (now the analogy is going weird).
Anyway. I worked really hard, lots of the time for free to get my music in the right hands and then to continually impress those people.
2. How would you describe a “trailer music cue”, the recipe if you will?
A trailer music cue is a piece of music that is used on a movie trailer. I make that distinction because there is a common misconception that only epic music lands on trailers. Wrong. I am the bearer of good news. You can write pretty much any musical style and it could land on a trailer it just has to feel authentic, have impact, and do a lot with not much.
3. In order to land trailer placements, what are your top tips for the actual music composition (including common mistakes)?
This could be a long list. There are soooo many variables at play here; composition, production, the way your music is pitched/sold and by whom, how they edit with your music, which trailer cut gets picked and which trailer house too. So many variables. So. I will boil it down to something simple that you can control.
If you write music that gets you excited and that lets you get weird (whatever that may be). Music that fills you with joy to produce, you will find that it is that music that gets picked. I myself am a big fan of outputting vast quantities of music to increase one’s chances of landing a trailer. At some point something has got to stick.
4. Would you mind giving some insights into the business aspect of the trailer music industry? Such as working with music libraries, publishers etc?
My biggest insight would be to see the industry as people. People. If you want to get into the business then the best way is not actually through sending your demo it is through building relationships with those people.
This could take the form of being very present on their social media accounts (it does work) or just finding common ground with them, or even offering other services you may have to offer. If you can get to know them so that they know, like and trust you, then they are far more likely to work and keep working with you. Basically, don’t be a d**k.
5. You have a course where you teach trailer music composition, why did you decide to do this course, and what does it cover?
I have five courses that teach trailer music now; the trailer music course, the hybrid trailer music course, and three cinematic piano courses (for period drama trailers, family trailers, and thrillers). I got into these courses because people kept asking me either how can they get into writing trailer music or asking for my contacts.
At first I was hesitant. Then I gave people contacts and asked them to send some stuff which funnily enough they never did. But, they kept asking. At the time I was learning a lot about the world of online entrepreneurship (Smart Passive income for example) and had written a few kindle books about creativity and productivity so I thought maybe I could make a course. I messaged some of these composers and asked if they would pay to beta test my course.
They did so I then had to actually do the course. I was even lucky enough to get Toby Mason to do a mixing and mastering masterclass for the course which has been a huge bonus. Once I had finished the course I didn’t know what to do with it so I uploaded it to Udemy and forgot about it.
Things started trickling in and people started messaging me saying how amazing the course was and how it trumped the competition (their words). So I started a facebook group so support these people. I then realised how much I enjoyed having a community and started producing stuff for them.
That community then became my Trailer Music School which is buzzing now. During this time I spoke to Vikram Gudi (Elephant Music founder and CEO) about maybe giving these guys an opportunity to pitch to go on an Elephant Music release. Which he loved so we ran a competition and it was a huge success.
Off the back of that a couple of those students have landed placements, publishing deals and a lot more confidence too. Off the back of that Vikram and I decided to launch Protege. A year long course consisting of 30 weeks with 30 industry briefs that if the students nail, then turn into releases to the industry.
We are training these composers and then launching their careers. It is an absolute game changer and we are so extremely excited about it. We already have the first wave of people booking on. We have capped the intake and the enrolment will close September 5th 2020. So next year is going to be huge! We do currently have a free course to let people test it out – and who doesn’t love a freebie – https://protegefreeweek.com/register
6. What are you goals and dreams for your music career?
My biggest goal and dream is through Protege, to launch thousands of composers careers and give them the blessing that I have; earning a living from their music so they can work where they want, when they want and spend more time with their families. That is what I want.
7. What’s your website, social media etc?
You can find me plastered all over the place but you can start here:
For more, you can check out my YouTube channel and The Trailer Music Composer’s Podcast you can check out all podcasting platforms.