This is a guest post from Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan, authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide and creators of Making Money with MusicThe most popular music search engine in the world isn’t even music-focused – it’s YouTube. The numbers are staggering: YouTube generates over 800 million unique visitors each month. But even more incredibly, it generates over 100 million social actions on videos every week, including comments, likes, and most importantly for musicians, shares.
Unlike audio, video goes “viral.” The rise of popular video-clip platform, Vine, in recent months, with it’s 6-second viral videos, is further proof video is where the action is. Plus, with each share, a video generates exposure. So, you need to get your music up there in some video form or another.
1. Traditional Music Videos
The most straightforward option is to make an MTV-type music video, one with musicians or actors made on a set or on location. This is also one of the more difficult types to make. If you choose this type, use good lighting, quality cameras, and solid video editing software. For an example, check out how ReverbNation artist Pomplamoose tackles this art form.
There’s no need for actors or cameras if you use animation software to create a music video. Plus, animation is eye-catching. If you’re a wiz with Flash, or Poser there’s no limit to what you can do. But sites like GoAnimate or Wideo can help you create new videos online with drag-and-drop tools and ready-made images, and there are more options appearing for this all of the time.
To create a mashup, you use your music and combine it with other people’s video footage, usually in a unique way. While you need to be aware of copyright issues, mashup videos have been a popular way for fans to express themselves, using video content from popular culture, or other videos on YouTube. However, if you want to avoid any copyright issues, you can always use public domain video content.
One great recent example of a beautifully-executed mashup video, was Pharrell’s “Happy,” which debuted earlier this year.
4. Still Photos
One of the quickest ways to upload a video for your music is to use video editing software to show static images or GIF animations while the music plays underneath. In fact, one of the most popular videos on YouTube, Nyan Cat, is just this: a GIF animation of a cat flying in space over and over again while the song plays. The creator of this video didn’t even make the GIF or write the song (although she did give credit to the creators), so it’s also an example of a mashup.
Video games are nothing but animation that you can control. Machinima is the art of staging video game action in real-time and recording it to tell a story or make a music video. Video games like Halo, Minecraft, and World of Warcraft have been used in this way. Although there are potential copyright issues, it’s become a separate genre of video with its own fan base. Picking the right video game to use can create additional interest in your video even if they’ve never heard of you as an artist.
6. Anime/Animation Music Videos (AMV)
Fans of Japanese animation (“anime”) like to mix their favorite music with clips from shows that they like, creating AMVs. They use their extensive knowledge of the shows to grab the perfect clips to sync the lips or action to the music. Like Machinima, this has become its own genre with its own subculture. Anime conventions even have awards for the best AMVs of the year, giving you an opportunity to tap a huge fan base if you create this type of content.
7. Live Video
If you play live, every show you perform is an opportunity to create new video content and exposure. Plus, this type of video can be useful to share with bookers to generate more gigs. For an example, check out ReverbNation’s “Passing Through” series which captures musicians performing live at their headquarters.
Consider taking your fans behind-the-scenes as you write new music, tour, or record your album. After all, not all your uploaded videos need to be music videos. Some musicians actively engage with their fan base this way, answering questions or sharing what’s on their mind. Doing so gives fans a personal glimpse into you as a musician and builds connections between you as an artist and your fans.
As you release music, think about the type of video that you can pair it up with. Upload it to YouTube and use ReverbNation’s tools to include them in your profile so they can be used in your marketing campaigns and electronic press kit. Plus, the more you put up, the more chances your fans have to share your content with their friends, expose your music to potential new fans, and ultimately, generate sales of your music.
Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual For The Do-It-Yourself Musician (Second Edition) and The DIY Music Manual. They also teach, speak, and write about music business. Their most recent project is a 15-hour online course called Making Money With Music available at creativeLive.com.