Book Trailer 101

I was asked to write an article helping people select music for their book trailer from, but I’m not going to put the cart before the horse. If I could wave a magic wand and make book trailers better, it would have nothing to do with music.

Books are read. That’s what they do. That’s their super power.
Videos are viewed. One does not read videos.

Get Voice-over on your trailers. You are allowed on-screen text only for the title of the book. That’s it. Everything else – Voice-over.

You can get really reasonable VO work for $5-$10 at I’ve used them severall times for projects.
It is really easy.
It is really cheap

There is no reason to put text blocks in your video. Make it easy for people to understand your message. Go VO!


Now, did you get your VO for your trailer? Good. Let’s slot in some music.

Step one: Get a bunch of music. There are a lot of places you can get music for free. I maintain a list on my FAQ.

Get one or two pieces from each of those, or 10 pieces from one of them, but get different pieces. Get things you wouldn’t expect to use. Get a romantic piece, get an action piece, grab some weird march, try a piano concerto.

Step two: Try all of them.

Don’t get to one you like and stop… even if you think you found the perfect piece… keep going.¬†Were you amazed at how effective one of the pieces made your trailer? Great! Use that one. Let’s not overthink. :-)

Step three: Mixing

Make sure you can clearly hear all of the voice work. If it gets difficult to understand in parts, turn down the entire music track. Make it easy for people to understand your message. 

Ode to Joy

Part 1: I am a fan.
I found out about a great accordion player named Alex Meixner last year from a YouTube video he did in Pennsylvania. Alex Meixner is the most exciting, innovative, and proficient accordion player on the planet. And he puts on a brilliant show.

Music effects emotion. My job is writing music that makes people feel the way I want them to feel. Alex makes people feel pure joy. You cannot take in a performance and feel anything else.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see a performance in Pulaski, Wisconsin and it went exactly how I expected it to go.

Pulaski Polka Days is a thing… if you’re into polkas. Good bands come to play polkas, and people dance. When Alex Meixner took the stage, the dance floor emptied. He was not a background music act. By the end of the first set, people realized that this was not a normal “polka band”. This was an amazing band. The floor became crowded again, but with people watching the band.

Part 2: Performance

“Giving energy” is one of the most difficult things for a performer to do. You have to be so much more excited and interesting than your audience to get them on your side. It isn’t easy to rock-out on a crowd of people who don’t know who you are and don’t care about “rocking-out” themselves. If you’re good enough, it can be done.

The Alex Meixner band had some well timed fireworks. People love fast playing. They also did some non-standard rep, like “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” and “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. Bringing subtleties and dynamics into a live high-energy performance is what make the shows amazing.

Part 3: Shows.

If you’re in the Chicago or Milwaukee areas, go see a show this week. I don’t care if you don’t care about polkas. Go see a top performer. Have some joy! :-)

He’s also pretty decent with a natural trumpet. He might not be on the bill at Boston Baroque, but it would be a reasonable audition!

Let me know if you’d like me to post a video of me playing “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” on the accordion.


I have a cognitive processing condition. I call it “dyscaptia”. Those CAPTCHAs, little photos of twisted texts that are on various sites that are designed to confuse computers, confuse me.

CAPTCHA and me.

And I don’t mean that they take me a moment to figure out. I can not read them at all. I was off of Facebook for months because the password recovery process requires one of these things.

If your site requires one of these to use your product, or send a message… you will never hear from me. I have dyscaptia.

Oh! You have “alternate methods”, you say!!! One can just listen to the garbled audio version, you say!! Turns out no. I can’t. Well, I can listen, but I do not comprehend.

If they would have said you can either write a paper on symbolism in One Hundred Years of Solitude – or you can type in this CAPTCHA… it is at least possible for me to write that paper.

My work-around for CAPTCHA involves me getting on video chat with someone who will tell me what the hell the thing says.

It is mildly amazing to me, actually. There can be 5 people on the video chat – all of whom give me the same answer. And even when I KNOW the answer, I still can’t figure out how they got there.

So, either that Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart is wrong, or I am not human.


Got a great note from Maartin…

The possible solution to your problem: Rumola
If you use google chrome, I suggest you do, you can install this web addon called Rumola, with that you can bypass the captcha’s, it solves them for you, of course it probaly won’t work ALL the time, but it’s probably better than calling 5 other people on skype or something like that.

Here’s a link:


How to: The Music Business

Flock of Giraffes
I get a lot of requests for people wanting to know how to “get into the music business”. Some people are honestly confused – which is understandable, because I’m actually IN the business, and I am still confused. This document is for all of the people who make music – and want to make music more.

This document is not a happy/flowery/you-can-do-it document. But, I understand negativity turns people off, so I’ve included the positive (and very very wrong) version of things as well.


Great Publicity

“Will you score this incredibly complicated action movie I’m filming for my 6th grade film class? It’ll be great publicity for you because my whole class will see it – and you’ll be in the credits!”

That’s what I deal with all the time. Great publicity and $10 will get me lunch*.

Publicity Guy

If you are a content producer, please do not try to sell “publicity” to anyone. I get the “publicity” sell continuously – and what it generally means is that the product is abysmal.

Professionals understand which projects will increase their profile and which ones will not. No need to mention explicitly.

Now that I’ve annoyed everyone who has ever sold “publicity”, I’m going to go back to my music-hole and work a bit. I’ll probably not get much publicity by doing that, though. hmm…

*Please donate $10 for Kevin’s lunch.