I grew up in New Zealand and moved to the US to pursue my childhood dream of writing music for movies. I studied at Berklee College of Music before moving out to Los Angeles. I'm kept busy writing for a variety of projects including film, trailers, commercials, TV shows and documentaries.
Today I work with my wife Gina Brigida - also a composer - from our studio just outside LA in beautiful Orange County.
Frequently Asked Questions:
-- Where can I buy your music?
I have an album called 'Genesis' up on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Google and BandCamp. The album has 27 tracks from trailers and films I've worked on.
Here are some of the links:
CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/markpetrie
Bandcamp: (hi res files) http://markpetrie.bandcamp.com/album/genesis
-- Can I use your music for free in a YouTube video?
Non-monetized, non-commercial YouTube videos (depends if YouTube lets you use it without authorization, and if the library who owns the music is ok with it). I can't give you authorization, so if YouTube is asking for evidence of it, you probably shouldn't use the track.
- Monetized videos (where you share some of the advertising revenue),
- if you're advertising something, essentially anything with the potential to make you or someone else money (unless you get clearance from the library that owns the music, which usually involves a lot of money).
Just to be clear: I can't give anyone formal authorization to use my music for free on YouTube. If YouTube is asking for it, then it's probably best that you don't use the track.
-- More info on using my music:
If you plan on monetizing a video, or are working on something you're getting paid for, or are advertising something that could one day make money, you're in a different category. Unless you get a formal license, you'll probably run into copyright notices on YouTube.
For anything other than YouTube fan videos, you really need to get a formal legal license to use the music. This covers you from getting your video muted or YouTube account suspended (yikes!)
If you want permission to use a track, by all means get in contact with the library that owns it, but bear in mind not all trailer music companies cater to low budget projects - they might not even reply to your request. They might be willing to work with you, especially if you can afford $500 or more for a license. You can simply google their name, or if you can't find them, contact me through Facebook and I'll pass their info along.
My solution for low/no budget productions - I recently launched a website where you can immediately download music that you can license for less than $50 per track. The albums work out to be less than $10 per track.
I even have music on there for free.
Here's the website where you can license music for professional projects and YouTube partner accounts (and even get some for free): http://www.royaltyfreekings.com/
You won't find the latest trailer music I've done - but there is a lot of action, comedy, acoustic, jazz, dramatic and some epic music there.
-- What software do you use?
I use Logic for most of the music I write, and for an epic trailer track there are about 80-90 virtual instrument tracks (including several different orchestral libraries, a dozen perc libraries, 3-4 choir libraries, maybe 5-10 synths depending on the genre), along with EQ, compression and reverb on most of them.
It's not just about the software though - there's no simple 'epic music plug-in' yet! You have to keep in mind that my music is also the product of years (decades) of musical training and 1000's of tracks, each time learning something that would make the next track better.
-- How do I get into writing for trailers?
High end trailer music is one of the toughest things for a composer to produce. The music is deceptively simple, with relatively uncomplicated harmony and melodies, but to keep it fresh and modern, a composer needs to find ways to use basic musical building blocks in a way that isn't cliched or dated. In addition to that challenge, the level of expectation for the 'sound' or production value of trailer music is huge, you could argue that trailer music has to sound as good or better than blockbuster film music. Less than half of the work that goes into producing trailer music is composition, the rest is making the music sound fresh, huge and real. It's an entirely different skill set to purely writing music, but just as important.
Because of these high expectations, it took me about 7 years of composing full time to get to the level where I was ready to start writing music specifically for trailers.
I would suggest to a beginner composer, to set their sights a little lower for a while, as there are plenty of avenues for making money from music that are far less demanding. What's important is that you write something every day, finish what you start, and constantly compare your music and production value to similar work by established composers.
Writing for companies that supply music for TV shows and commercials would be a great start. Most libraries will take your music, but won't pay upfront, while a few still do (your music has to be valuable to them though). Try to sign exclusive deals ONLY if you get upfront money. Building a residual income (royalties) is a great way to fund studio /software upgrades (which you need to do often, especially if you want to write for trailers). Having that income stream also allows you to be more picky with gigs. You'll need about 500-800 decent tracks in a handful of well connected libraries to make a living from royalties. If you're regularly writing for indie films where you can keep the rights to all that music, you'll get there in 4-5 years. If you don't have film projects, write when you don't have to. It will pay off in the long run - your future self (and family) will thank you.
Once you think your production skills are ready for trailers, compare yourself to the established guys (TSFH, Audiomachine, Immediate Music etc) and if you're certain your stuff stands up to theirs, go for it!