How to Source Music and Hire Voice Talent from Jason McCoy

When you create a book trailer, your ultimate goal is to engage people in your topic and get them interested in buying your book. One of the best ways to hook potential readers is to use appealing music that really connects on an emotional level. Whether you choose a level 1 book trailer (images, music and text), level 2 (with a voice over) or level 3 (live action), you’re going to need engaging background music that connects with your potential readers’ emotions.

So how do you go about finding it?

Sourcing Music for Your Book Trailer

Depending on your budget and requirements, there are different options available to you; free music, music that you pay for by way of a license or specially commissioned music.

  • Public Domain Music. Music that’s ‘in the public domain’ refers to either music composed in or before 1922, or to music that the composer has deliberately put in the public domain – so they don’t require any form of payment or attribution. If you’re interested in using 1922 and prior public domain music, it’s important to note that it only refers to the score itself, not a recording of it, so you’ll still need to hire musicians to play it.
  • Music with Royalty Free Licenses. A Royalty Free license means that you make a one time payment for a piece of music and then can use it however and as often as you want, without attribution and without paying the creator royalties each time – hence the term ‘royalty free’.
  • Music with Creative Commons Licenses. Depending on what you need, there are a number of Creative Commons licenses that give you the rights to use music in different ways.

You’ll notice that some of the licenses are for non-commercial use only, and it’s important to understand the difference between commercial and non-commercial if you’re intending to use Creative Commons licensed music for your book trailer. Despite the fact that your trailer isn’t actively selling a product, it’s for commercial advantage so you can only use commercial licenses.

  • Music Composed for your Project. Commissioning a piece of music that’s composed especially for your book trailer is great for ensuring complete originality and getting something that’s exactly as you envisaged, but it can run to tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s really only for budgets at the higher end of the scale.

Hiring Voice Talent for Your Book Trailer

If you’ve decided to go for a level 2 book trailer, envisaged the video script and found the perfect background music, now is the time to start looking for voice talent. You need to think long and hard about exactly what you’re looking for in a voice over artist, because you need them to gel with your book’s ‘brand’. Whether it’s male/female, a certain age range or a certain regional accent, the voice over for your book trailer has to connect with your target readership to make them want to go out and buy your book. A professional voice actor will certainly be able to adapt their style to your requirements, but there are certain things that can’t be changed!

So, how do you find the right voice talent for your book trailer project?

  • Recommendations. If friends, family or colleagues have used voice talent for one of their projects, maybe also a book trailer, an audiobook, an explainer video or e-learning course, ask them whether they were happy with their choice. Personal recommendations are often the best way of finding someone, but if you don’t know anyone who’s previously worked with a voice over artist, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
  • Voice Talent Agencies. An agency will have a wide range of voice over artists for you to choose from, but remember that you’re likely to pay more than if you choose an artist directly – the agencies will add their fee on top.
  • Search Engines. Searching for voice talent yourself will give you a lot of options, and you don’t necessarily have to choose someone who’s local to you. Most professional voice talent will have their own fully equipped studio to work from, and you can direct live voice over sessions via Skype, phone or other mediums.

Once you’ve narrowed your selection down, listen to the demos on their website to get an idea of their full range, read testimonials from other clients, and if you like what you hear and read, contact them to discuss your book trailer project.

Jason McCoy is a North American male voice actor and founder of McCoy Productions located in Maryland. He specializes in voice over for audiobooks, eLearning, commercials, radio imaging and explainer videos. With over 15 years of voice over experience, Jason has voiced projects for leading brands including Walmart, John Deere, Samsung, Ford, AT&T, Intel, PBS, Honda and many others!