When the first “Shrek” trailer hit theaters in 2000, it contained a cover of the Monkees’ popular hit “I’m a Believer” performed by the triple-platinum pop rock group Smash Mouth.
Nearly a decade later, the trailer for the fourth installment of the franchise, “Shrek Forever After,” contains the cover of another song: Maxine Nightingale’s disco-era hit “Right Back Where We Started From.”
But this time around Smash Mouth is nowhere to be found. Instead, DreamWorks went with the sounds of indie rockers Army Navy, a California band that came to the game armed only with a MySpace page.
The use of lesser-known indie tracks in film trailers is currently a hot trend.
When Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” showed up in the trailer for “Where the Wild Things Are” last year, it not only garnered interest from the band’s dedicated followers, but it also imbued the promo with an alt rock sensibility.
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs scored the film’s soundtrack with an assist from Coen brothers’ composer Carter Burwell, solidifying the pic’s indie cred.
Jared Gutstadt, CEO of the Gotham-based audio library Jingle Punks, recognizes these trends. “People are taking a lot of risks in trailers right now,” he explains. “You don’t necessarily hear the big-ticket songs you used to: bands like Coldplay or U2. Now we’re hearing quirkier bands as opposed to the tried-and-true songs we’ve heard a million times before like ‘Walking on Sunshine.’?”
Started in August 2008, Jingle Punks is one of the fastest growing indie music databases for production use in the country.
It houses more than 15,000 tracks of aggregated music from numerous unsigned acts all over the world, as well as 6,000 tracks of original compositions created in-house. This gives studios the option to use music that could potentially label them as trendsetters rather than relying on the status quo of the radio dial.
“Content creators can now become tastemakers,” says Gutstadt. “They can have a stake in discovering new bands and, in the process, become ground zero for breaking an act that no one’s ever heard before.”
And the use of music from bands like Army Navy is beneficial to a studio’s pocketbook.
The hefty price tag that comes with the use of one Coldplay or U2 song can instead be used on numerous songs from smaller bands, giving them exposure they might not have otherwise received.
“As more and more content is being created, the margin of profit is getting smaller,” says Gutstadt, “and sometimes that means lower price points and lower budgets for projects. Our clients get some cool credibility and also end up saving a little bit of money.”