What Does It Mean to “Trailerize” a Music Track? A Deep Dive into the Art of Trailer Music

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"Trailerizing" a music track may sound like industry jargon to the uninitiated, but this fascinating process is integral to creating the emotional highs and lows of movie trailers, TV spots, and video game trailers. Let's break down what trailerizing means and why it's become a go-to technique for creating an unforgettable impression.

I. What is Trailerizing?

When we talk about “trailerizing” a track, we’re referring to the art of taking an existing song and overhauling it to fit the atmosphere of a trailer. This often involves deconstructing the song and reconstructing it to heighten its emotional resonance. You might have noticed that many modern trailers don’t actually use the film score from their respective movies. Instead, there’s a tendency to lean towards trailerized versions of well-known songs or even record cover versions of renowned compositions to craft the desired mood. This approach harnesses the power of familiarity, while simultaneously introducing a fresh take, making it highly effective in drawing the audience’s attention.

1. Brief Historical Aspects

But to truly appreciate this technique, it’s important to understand its origins. Historically, movies relied on their original scores to set the tone for trailers. A prime example is the 1966 trailer for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Original Trailer of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966)

As time went on, there was a shift. Filmmakers and advertisers started to recognize the need for music tailored specifically for the trailer. This bespoke music better encapsulated the essence of a movie within the confined trailer durations, be it 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2:30 minutes. Such music aimed not just to hint at the film’s narrative, but to truly captivate the audience, to make them feel the movie’s soul in just a brief window. A notable and famous example is the 2010 trailer for The Inception, written by composer Mike Zarin.

Original Trailer of ‘Inception’ (2010)

2. Examples of trailerized music

Fast forward to recent times, the art of “trailerizing” becomes more prevalent, especially in the context of films and games. This process of taking iconic portions of a song and placing them in a fresh context is known as interpolation. With trailers becoming a primary marketing tool not just for films, but also for games and apps, the technique of trailerizing is more essential than ever.

Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill in the trailer for Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 (Netflix):

‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush used in the trailer for Stranger Things 4 Vol. 4 (Netflix)

The Notorious B.I.G.’s Juicy in trailer for TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEAST (2023)

‘Juicy’ by The Notorious B.I.G. used in the trailer for TRANSFORMERS: Rise of the Beast (2023)

Audiomachine – Trailerized: Covers & Orginals (2020)

Trailerized: Covers & Originals (2020) by Audiomachine

II. Why Trailerize a Track?

Trailers are essentially advertisement tools for motion pictures. Their primary goal? To captivate. To leave a mark. And music plays an indispensable role in this. By trailerizing a track, the creators are ensuring they instantly seize the viewer’s attention. This precise structure and storytelling tool establishes a bridge between the content and the audience. It tells you what to feel, makes you yearn for more, and ensures the movie or game lingers in your mind long after the trailer ends.

Through trailerizing, you can now achieve a sound that can be epic, emotional, dystopian, or whatever the narrative requires. Moreover, by trailerizing a track, you immediately captivate the viewer because they might have already heard the song that has been trailerized. They may also have an emotional connection with the underlying song. By trailerizing this song and embedding it into today’s cutting-edge cinematic requirements in sound and impact, you combine both worlds: the classic song that evokes a certain connection and memory with today’s trends and styles in motion picture and game advertising and storytelling. This fusion of the familiar and the contemporary creates a powerful synergy that resonates deeply with the audience, making trailerized music an invaluable tool in modern marketing.

III. Structure of Trailerized Music

Delving deeper into the structure of trailerized music, it typically revolves around a three-act formula. It begins with an Intro, a serene beginning that paints an atmosphere, sometimes punctuated with ambient noises or dialogues. This is followed by a Buildup, where the atmosphere intensifies, adding layers of sound that make the heart race. And finally, we reach the Climax. This is the high, the zenith where every element, every note, and every beat converge to deliver a powerful crescendo.
Take for instance the trailers that brim with action or epic narratives. They often blend powerful song elements with cinematic instruments like strings or choir to give that rousing climax. On the other end of the spectrum, romantic or emotional trailers tread softly, paring down a track to its most tender elements, whispering emotions through instruments like the piano or solo vocals.

Technical Aspects

To truly grasp the essence of trailerizing, one must understand the intricate technicalities that go behind it. Many of today’s trailers lean into the nostalgia and familiarity of classic songs, reimagining them to fit the modern trailer landscape. To achieve this, the process of “trailerizing” often involves dissecting these classics and giving them a contemporary touch. Having numerous stems, or even individual tracks, of these classic songs at hand is pivotal. These stems help in achieving that signature modern sound, and it’s this blend of classic tracks and modern production techniques that helps create that sound we’ve come to associate with today’s trailers.

Additionally, many of the trailerized versions of tracks that you hear are crafted by specialized trailer houses like Audiomachine and Totem. Some major players, like Walt Disney Studios, have their very own in-house teams devoted solely to trailer production and music trailerization.

Legal Aspects

On the legal front, trailerizing a track is a complex territory. It can often be viewed as a remix or an interpolation, depending on the specifics of the situation, including whether it’s a cover version of the song or if the original recording has been used as well.


Interpolation in music refers to the act of using a portion of a pre-existing song in a new composition, often as a way of paying homage or creating a new…

Learn more about Interpolation »

For those venturing into the domain of trailerized music, it’s imperative to clear all necessary music rights, including both Master Rights and Publishing Rights.


In the world of cinema and gaming, trailerizing a track isn’t a mere rearrangement. It’s a symphony, a delicate balance between the old and the new, aiming to evoke emotions in the most potent way. Whether it’s making your heart race with anticipation or bringing a tear to your eye, remember: behind that brief bout of emotion is an art, a science, and a story waiting to be told.