For most bands, putting together a music video is an opportunity to express themselves, provide new content for their fans, and extend the life of a single or album. Yet somehow, the first piece of that—expressing themselves—tends to get lost in the mix. What results tends to be an underproduced, poorly shot, kind of boring music video that probably wasn’t super cheap to make, but also isn’t making much of an impact on anyone. Not really much of a win.
To avoid that disaster and create a music video that will actually make a lasting impact on your fans, we’ve put together a few tips. Even if you’re on an incredibly DIY budget, these tips will still help make your next video a hit.
Think About Your Favorite Videos
When in doubt, take a look at some of your favorite music videos and ask yourself: what is it I like about them? Similarly, as you’re doing your research pay attention to what it is that you don’t like about different videos. Try to go beneath the surface. It’s easy to say “oh, they had a huge budget” when looking at the videos of mainstream artists, but odds are that isn’t the thing that stands out to you. It’s a certain feeling the video gives you. It’s the colors. The narrative. The people. The overall feel of it all. Write down your likes and dislikes, and then think about how you can incorporate those same feelings, colors, dynamics, etc., into your own video.
Create a Narrative
There’s nothing more boring than a music video that’s just the band standing in one spot, playing their instruments. At that point, why even make a music video? There’s a place for that kind of thing and it’s usually in a professionally produced live video (great for your EPK and booking shows, but not really the same as a music video).
So, you want to get creative and give your audience something they can latch onto. While this doesn’t have to mean creating a narrative, it’s a great place to start.
Ideally it’ll go along with your song’s theme, but I’ve also seen videos that have nothing to do with the song, and still make for an interesting watch. Play around with a few ideas, run them by people outside your band who are unbiased (and not afraid to tell you what they think) and go from there.
Hire a Professional Team
There’s a lot you can do on a DIY budget, and that includes making a music video. You don’t have to hire the most expensive video team in the city, but you should be bringing on people who can properly shoot and edit the footage, as well as direct you. They should have an understanding of what your vision is, while being able to bring their own ideas and suggestions to the table, to take it to the next level. This is a pretty important part of the process, so don’t skip it to save a few bucks.
Finding the perfect spot for your video can be one of the most daunting tasks, but it’s also one of the most important. Once you have a grasp on your theme and the feel you’re going for, you’ll be able to find a location that compliments that. Once you have it, do a couple test shoots to make sure it shows up the way you want on film—don’t forget to test out different times of day and see what works best for your particular vision.
It’s really tough to have an exciting music video when it’s just you and your band standing around or bopping along to the beat of your own song. This is where other people come in.
If you’re doing a narrative style video, you might bring in local actors to help portray your story. Quick tip: you can save some money while highlighting emerging local talent by checking out local colleges with theater programs or the local theater itself.
Or, maybe it’s the kind of video that has a party scene, so you invite a bunch of your friends and some fans to join in (bonus with this one: fan engagement!). This one’s a lot of fun because it lets fans see you/your personality, but it also adds a whole different dynamic.
This isn’t one of those cop out style last tips—it really is incredibly important! If you feel all kinds of stressed out, it’s going to come across in your video. Try to remember why you’re pursuing a career in this crazy industry (the connection, the feeling of making a difference, touching the lives of others, whatever it is) and why you do what you do. If you can convey that in your mannerisms on screen, and in the video you present to the world, your fans are going to feel that, and it’s going to be infectious.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.