When marketing and promoting your music, video has always been a dominant player. Originally, music videos were the primary visual marketing format. As music videos began to rise in popularity and morphed into theatrical productions, “behind the scenes” videos added an extra touch point around the music video and song. As press kits evolved with the digital age and became harder to define, video became a popular medium to introduce and showcase acts. Youtube and affordable camera and editing tools gave birth to webisodes and tour diaries. It seems crazy to have multiple video formats to promote a single or album but over the last couple of years another form of music promotion has been gaining popularity, the album trailer.
Album trailers are unique because the allow for more artistic freedom than a BTS or EPK. The only goal of the video is to create anticipation about an upcoming release. Since that is basically achieved through the existence of the trailer, you have free range of creating whatever type of content generate the most buzz. So far there are several clear genres of album trailers and depending on factors such as genre, demographic, and emotional appeal, some are more appropriate for certain types of projects than others. Ultimately, an album trailer is a more flexible music video because it isn’t bound by a single song. Instead, album trailers promote the whole album and can use as much or as little of the album as is appropriate.
1. Album Biography
While most album trailers rely on images and the music to convey the energy and ideas behind the album, an Album Biography trailer uses words to literally tell the story behind the music. Often they will explain connections to the last recorded piece of music and the journey of creating the new collection of songs. While explaining the background of the record does remove the shroud of mystery, it allows acts to describe their work without revealing any of it. The soundtrack to biographical album trailers may include a looped intro to a couple songs as the background music and reveal a snippet of a chorus to close out the video, but they don’t typically reveal as much music as the other type of album trailers.
Robert Plant – lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (Album Trailer)
2. Mini Art Film
Creating a Mini Film for an album trailer can be difficult to pull off, but allows for the most artistic freedom. A great mini artistic film promoting an album will reveal very little definitive information about the release. It should contain an original soundtrack or limited bits from the album. The artist doesn’t even need to make an appearance in the video. Instead, the marketing power of this album trailer comes from conveying the emotions and ideas behind the record and since it reveals very little about the record, it leaves fans wanting more and brooding over its meaning. This trailer typically comes across better for more established artists.
Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes (Album Trailer)
3. Music Video clip
If a abstract mini film, sounds a little excessive, picking a clip from a song off the record and filming a short music video to it, may be more appropriate. Because you are giving away part of the album, there isn’t as much pressure on the film to convey the meaning and ideas of the record. The song sample will communicate a lot to viewers about what to expect on the album and accompanying b-roll can fill in some of the blanks. This goal is still to create anticipation, so pick out a one poignant verse and chorus, then black out to the album title and release date, for example.
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Album Trailer)
4. Multiple song snippets
Of course, you can always go the straight forward samples at the grocery store approach and create a video that samples several songs off the record. The sound bites can be accompanied with studio footage but can also incorporate b-roll such as landscapes or scenes that capture the emotion of the music. This is a very common type of album trailer but doesn’t create the same mystery and anticipation that you get when you reveal less information about the release.
The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress (Album Trailer)
These four types of album trailers are common visual marketing and promotion strategies for music. They are by no means an exhaustive list because each project will require a unique strategy and approach. Album trailers are a great weapon to have in your promotional tool kit, because with all the noise on the internet, the more touch points you create, the greater chance you have of breaking through.