A video trailer — for an audio art form — might sound like a silly thing (and sometimes it is), but as this discussion reminds us, people used to think music videos were a dumb idea too.
In fact, album trailers are perfect for our moment. Short-form videos satisfy our short attention spans. And users of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are now accustomed to viewing lots of video content in their feeds.
But if your video is more than a minute long, you’re really asking someone to make a commitment. They might get fatigued before they even click play. By keeping the trailer for your new album or single short (around 30 seconds), you’re compressing the most important info into something that’s highly digestible.
Once you do, share the hell out of it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (part of it, at least), your email newsletter, website, and more.
What should an album trailer contain?
There are no rules. Sometimes mystery is great. Then again, if you don’t have a diehard fanbase, maybe it’s best to just stick to the facts:
1. artist name
2. album name
3. an image of the album cover
4. tell us when it’ll be available
5. the URL for a website, music store, or crowdfunding platform where viewers can purchase or find out more details
6. audio from one or two of the new tracks
Here’s a trailer I just made for my upcoming album The Great Make Believer:
A little bit about my trailer, in case you’re curious…
I was working with zero budget here, and didn’t want to spend too much time on it, so I decided to use footage I shot last year in a fun-house, messed with the colors, played around with some effects, and then added simple text over the top. Nothing fancy.
Because the album isn’t available yet, I wanted to use this trailer to: 1) create awareness/anticipation, and 2) hopefully drive some additional pre-orders on PledgeMusic.com. I did NOT want to put a specific PledgeMusic call-to-action in the video, though, because as soon as the album is officially out, I’d prefer viewers go to my website to purchase it directly.
Instead, at the end of the album trailer, I displayed my website URL and then used a YouTube Card to temporarily link viewers to my PledgeMusic campaign page. For anyone that doesn’t see or engage with the Card, should they decide to come directly to my website (as the video requests), I’ve built a splash page for my website showing similar info, with the option to pre-order the album through PledgeMusic or just continue on to my site.
Once the album is released, I might create a short video that lets people know where the album is available (CD Baby, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.) — and I’ll also change the link on my website’s splash page so it leads to CD Baby, iTunes, etc.
In the meantime, here are some things I plan to do with my album trailer:
1. share the video on Twitter and Facebook
2. boost the post on Facebook after a day or two
3. make the video my Channel trailer on YouTube
4. set the album trailer as my “featured video” and “Channel ad” on YouTube
5. edit a 15-second version for Instagram (and, since text links are disabled in Instagram captions and comments, be sure to change the URL in your Instagram bio to wherever you want folks to go to buy your music)
6. share it (or a screenshot that links to the video on YouTube) in your email newsletter
7. embed it on your website or blog
What are some different approaches to album trailers?
When it comes to an album trailer’s purely visual elements, your options are wide open — just like with music videos.
But since this is just a 30-second teaser, you have the added benefit of being able to re-purpose video content that you’ll be using in a more fleshed out way later one, such as:
- Clips from an upcoming music video
- Still photos of band members
- Shots of your recording gear or instruments
- Footage from the studio
- Live concert footage
- The album cover with additional text
- Slow-moving landscapes, or video taken out the car window (this is a common one, and very vibe-y for atmospheric music)
- Or something more associative or abstract (like the swirling graphics in my trailer above)
Want to check out some other bands’ album trailers for inspiration? This NPR article has compiled some good ones. Yeah, some of them are pretty elaborate. But I’d love to see what you come up with going the DIY route.
If you’ve posted an album trailer video online, share the link in the comments below.