Let’s Make a Book Trailer — Part 16

Hello Everyone!

This is part 16 of my series: Let’s Make a Book Trailer.

The list of previous parts is getting a bit long, so I will merely link to the first and most recent posts:  Part 1 and Part 15 respectively.

As with the previous posts, the following are merely my thoughts on the trailer construction process.  Feel free to use or snort with derision.

Last time we applied zoom and pan to our trailer.  Our video application is Microsoft Movie Maker,  available with Windows Essentials 2012. You can download a copy here.

In today’s post we’ll look at finding background music for the book trailer.

Recall that our constraints for creating our trailer are:

  • We’re creating a “Teaser” trailer
  • Using PowerPoint to create most of the content
  • No video, music, animation or voice overs
  • Working with stock images or some commissioned images

We’ve now strayed from the original constraints considerably.  Pan and zoom and be considered animation, and music, is, well, music.

To keep things simple, we’ll assume there will be no voice over.    Voice overs will be covered in future posts, along with their impact on background music.

Applying Background Music to the Book Trailer

There is a three-step process to follow when adding background music to your book trailer:

  1. Finding the music
  2. Adding the music to the book trailer
  3. Editing the music within the book trailer

In this post we’ll cover finding the music.

Finding the Music

This is potentially the most time-consuming step of the process.  There are an enormous number of music resources available and finding the right piece can involve hours of listening to samples.

Music has a powerful impact on the book trailer and is almost required now.  Finding the right track is critical.

Before you start hunting for music, fix the following in your mind:  Use only royalty-free music or music for which you have acquired the appropriate rights in your book trailer.  Ensure that you have carefully read, understand, and comply with any usage restrictions on the music you choose. You do not want to run afoul of copyright issues.

Royalty-Free and Public Domain

“Royalty-free” refers to a wide class of musical works which can be used without paying on a per-usage basis.  Typically you pay a license fee or agree to provide attribution in the work within which the music will be used. License fees can range from free (requiring you to provide attribution) to a few dollars to hundreds (or more) depending upon the use to which the music will be put.  There are various “types” of royalty-free music, so be certain you understand the conditions under which it may be used.

According to Wikipedia, “Works in the public domain are those whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable”.  Thus, in most cases they may be used without licensing. As a rough rule of thumb, these are older musical pieces (very old in some cases) and may not be suitable for your book trailer needs.  Make certain the music you want to use is really, truly, public domain.

Music Sites

There a number of sites from which music can be legally acquired for use in video projects.  You can find a useful (though not exhaustive) collection of links to royalty-free and public domain music at 21 Sites of Free Music for your Book Trailer.  Google is also a great source of music sites offering creative commons, public domain, and royalty-free music.

In addition, there are sites dedicated to providing royalty-free music on a professional basis to film-makers and other creative individuals.  I find these sites:

  • are better stocked and organized in their music selection
  • offer a wider selection of tracks
  • are quite detailed in their licensing provisions
  • are somewhat more expensive on a “per-track” basis than other sites
  • usually offer customization features for any tracks licensed from them

Many offer sound effects in addition to music tracks.

I prefer SmartSound, but they are by no means the only site of this type.  Others include Musicbed, shutterstock, and songfreedom. For more music sources, check out this blog post: 6 places to Find Affordable Licensed Music for Your Videos.

Almost all sites will organize their music by theme or use (e.g. rock, classical, action, suspense, light, etc).  Frequently you can extensively filter for exactly the kind of track for which you are looking.   The sites will provide listening samples for each track and you will be wise to invest the time to review as many tracks as you can, particularly if you are paying to license one.


My recommendation is that you be prepared to spend money for the track you want and, moreover, you obtain it from one of the sites supplying professionals.  Their selection is larger, and many of the sites provide the ability to customize the music to precisely fit the length of your book trailer.  To see how this online customization works, you can try it for free at SmartSound (though, again, they are not the only site which provide this capability):

Let's Make a BookTrailer Part 16 -- Customize MusicAs far as cost is concerned, at SmartSound, for example, you’ll likely pay approximately $50 US for the track you select.

Adding music to your book trailer is really no longer an option; it must be done.  It will cost you time and likely money, but the investment is worth it because music has such a powerful impact..  Finding the right piece is critical.

What about it, would you be willing to pay for music for your book trailer, and if so, how much?

That’s it for this post, next time, we’ll cover adding the music to the book trailer and editing it.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you next time.


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