How 'Twilight' Film Soundtracks Boost Musicians' Careers

'It was sort of like when they show up at your house with the big novelty check'

christina perri twilight
C Flanigan/WireImage
Christina Perri performs at Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco.
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Christina Perri is a Twi-hard – she even has a Twilight-themed tattoo to prove it. So when the 25-year-old singer found out her swooner of a love song "A Thousand Years" was going to be included on the soundtrack for the new Twilight film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, she was more than enthused. "I really had to contain myself," Perri tells Rolling Stone. "I was sweating I was so excited."

No surprise – having a track featured on a Twilight soundtrack offers unparalleled exposure. The movie series has a diehard fan base – the three films have grossed nearly $1.7 billion at the box office – and Twilight fans are music fans, as well: since 2008, the three films’ soundtracks have sold a combined five million copies in the U.S. alone. Joy Formidable frontwoman Ritzy Bryan, who learned a month ago that her band's moody track "Endtapes" would serve as the opening cut for the Breaking Dawn soundtrack, is confident that being included in the film will open new avenues for the breaking London trio. "I think we're definitely going to reach people that won't have heard of the band," Bryan says. "That can only be a good thing."

It’s a similar story for Imperial Mammoth, a virtually unknown Los Angeles-based husband-wife duo that consists of Leonard Jackson and Laura Jane Scott. "It was sort of like when they show up at your house with the big novelty check," Jackson says. "It’s almost mind-numbing."

The person responsible for selecting Twilight's musicians for the soundtrack is Alexandra Patsavas, who has been the music supervisor for all of the Twilight films. She says she relishes the opportunity to expose Twilight audiences to newer artists. "It never gets less thrilling," she says.

Not all artists however, have jumped at the opportunity to add Twilight to their resume. Bon Iver, whose St. Vincent-assisted song "Roslyn" appeared on The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack, was skeptical when first approached with the idea. "We were unsure as to whether or not we wanted to take part," says Kyle Frenette, Bon Iver's manager.

This ambivalence was nothing new for Patsavas, who says that certain bands have historically been reluctant to lend their music to anything involving movies. She feels, however, that Twilight is a special case – a film series that has "treated music respectfully." Ultimately, Bon Iver would come to agree. "Twilight was reaching an audience that we couldn't," Frenette says. "Taking part in the New Moon soundtrack helped expand Bon Iver's fanbase."

The process for selecting the artists to soundtrack a Twilight film starts early. For Breaking Dawn, Patsavas sat down with director Bill Condon when there was nothing but a script to work with, and the two discussed what kind of sounds are essential to complement the plotline. "The choices do get refined after shot footage is assembled," Patsavas explains. But the most essential question throughout the process revolves around whether the "music can actually be put up to picture," she says.

Surprisingly though, even after learning they will be part of the film, the artists — which for the Breaking Dawn soundtrack also include the Belle Brigade, Bruno Mars, Theophilus London, Iron and Wine, and more – generally have no idea where their song will be placed. "It’s gonna be a surprise," says Imperial Mammoth’s Scott.

That’s not stopping some of them from guessing, though. "I have this fantasy that it's gonna be in a very romantic scene," the Belle Brigade’s Barbara Gruska says of her band’s song "I Didn’t Mean It." "Or an awesome vampire werewolf fight scene."

Related
Rolling Stone's Guide to the Twilight Saga

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