Siren Cues Makes Debut

LOS ANGELES Associated Production Music and Ant Farm music producer Nathan Duvall have launched a new business partnership called Siren Cues, a collection of original music that is tailored for use in marketing films in TV commercials and movie trailers.

“Music has many uses in the commercial marketplace,” said Adam Taylor, president of APM in Hollywood, Calif., itself a joint venture of EMI and BMG. “But it is very important to the success of trailers, which are structured as short stories. We’ve felt for a long time that the trailer market was viable but never specifically addressed the kinds of campaigns being done now.”

The cues are collected according to popular genres, such as “action adventure, young male” and “urban drama,” then described further in musical detail. A separate collection of “back end” cues recognizes the popularity and effectiveness of a formula in which the music builds to a climax with a progressive meter, as opposed to the typically steady time signatures of popular songs.

“An effective trailer builds in an arc from beginning to end,” said Duvall, the trailer music supervisor involved in nine of the top 25 movie openings in history, including both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies, as well as Pearl Harbor, Signs and Hannibal. “The formula has sort of evolved from the late-’80s and mid-’90s to now being the norm.”

“But not everybody understands the formula and knows how to execute it properly,” added Taylor, who said he also predicts licensing Hollywood-based Siren Cues to the game industry (both for the commercials and in the games themselves) and for reselling movies from studios’ catalogs in HDTV and on DVD. “It takes time to do good music. And we needed to anticipate the needs of the market for the next few years.”

Duvall said he is “very excited to work with a company that can license a product across the globe.” Despite the small number of companies that specialize in trailer production, the industry itself is significant. One source pegged total spending by movie marketers on music for trailers at $30-50 million a year, with exclusive licensing deals running anywhere from $50,000-100,000 per film. Duvall said Siren Cues will offer a less expensive option to advertisers looking to economize. Already, trailers for The Alamo, Shattered Glass and Sylvia have licensed music from the “epic,” “suspense/horror” and “music of life” collections, respectively.