Can the music content you post to Reels or TikTok create a sense of instant immersion? 

That’s the subject of today’s installment of Why It Worked

Scibilia’s maximalist musical masterclass

In the previous Why It Worked, we looked at Jon Poppii’s minimalist take on acoustic bedroom covers, and why his videos go viral.

Today we’ll be examining a very different approach: Marc Scibilia’s maximalist, daredevil, live-looping performance videos. Specifically, his stunty TSwift mashup of “Anti-Hero” in the style of Folklore.

This video is a music-promo masterclass in combining:

  • top-notch production
  • charismatic performance
  • process-oriented visuals
  • and suspenseful camerawork

Despite being 8 months old, it KEEPS showing up in my Instagram feed with a growing like-count (132k+), thousands of comments, and thousands of shares. 

Why does this content continue to have algorithmic traction long after it was posted? Let’s check out the video. And then scroll down for my take on why it works.

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A post shared by Marc Scibilia (@marcscibilia)

Could any musician make this video?

Ummmm, no!

I got exhausted just imagining the patch cables. Nevermind the arrangement, performance, camerawork, and (the most difficult part) keeping the studio uncluttered.  

Unlike the Jon Poppii video, which was deceptively simple, Marc Scibilia’s content draws some of its appeal by showing off a dream studio many independent artists assume is beyond their reach. 

It’s like HGTV for home recordists. A wishlist for producers suffering from synthesizer envy. 

Knowingly or not, Scibilia is presenting a musical lifestyle brand. He’s an artist sitting literally at the center of his own studio universe. 

And though I’ve used the term maximalist a few times already, the video really benefits from a tension between maximalism and minimalism. Between unlimited options, and the way a solo performer needs to build a looped arrangement sequentially. Between an arsenal of gear, and the way in which he can only use one instrument at a time. It’s maximalism, pared down. 

And even if you can’t match the studio setup, the production quality, or the performative pyrotechnics, there are lessons here to incorporate into your own videos. 

Here’s why I think this “Anti-Hero” video works:

The stunt nature of the arrangement

It’s a production mashup. He’s daring you to judge whether or not he succeeds in performing this familiar song in a different style. 

Whether he wins or not is somewhat besides the point. Or rather, it’s the last point. You’ve already watched to see if he could pull it off. 

This implicit dare draws in artists and producers, as well as general music fans. 

The quick shifts hold attention

The other stunt aspect of this video is, of course, the live-looping. 

You watch to see if he can build an interesting, dynamic arrangement without those redundant moments of downtime that often accompany looping performances. 

IMO, he nails it. 

The rapid shifts from one instrument to another also have a feel of risk. It COULD be sloppy. He MIGHT mess up. Even though the results are crisp, that sense of danger adds to the appeal. 

We love watching the process unfold

People really enjoy unpacking the mysteries of the creative process, whether it’s cooking tutorials, time-lapse painting videos, architecture podcasts, or… looping a song into existence. 

This video has a lot of “how it got made” energy. 

You’re invited into his world

Not only does this video clarify a process, but by watching it unfold in real-time, you feel like a voyeur to his creativity. 

Again, he’s encircled by his environment and tools. He’s at the center of his world. And you’re a welcome guest. 

Which is not exactly participatory, but close enough for TikTok. 

There’s broad instrument appeal

One other benefit to a looping video is you get to see lots of different instruments. 

In less than a minute, there’s something for everyone: guitars, synths, drums, voices,…

A dramatic zoom = instant immersion

The invitation, the implicit dare, the process… it all kicks off in the first moment of the video with striking camerawork the captures our attention. 

A big zoom at the start, and then dynamic camera motion throughout, emphasize the energy and dynamics as Marc hops from instrument to instrument. 

The camera is never still. It’s restless, like the arrangement and action.

It’s a single-camera take 

Despite the dramatic camerawork, there are no edits. This is all one shot, one take. 

That makes it feel real, risky, spontaneous. 

“One camera, one take” is a pretty good rule for most performance videos you shoot in 2024. 

It has more than cover-song appeal

A Taylor Swift cover song may’ve gotten a lot of attention on its own. 

But the mashup, lifestyle, and stunty aspects of this video widen its potential audience far beyond Swifties. 

If you do a cover song video, ask yourself: What ELSE can this be? Who ELSE can this be for? 

The caption enhances the spontaneous feel

There’s a story here: Of a guy trapped at home because of traffic from the nearby Taylor Swift concert. So why not stay home and record a Swift song? 

The caption says:

Since @taylorswift shut the city down and I’m stuck in my studio…figured I should make “Anti-hero” but in the style of “folklore”

It couldn’t have been that off-the-cuff, especially since Marc explains in another post how he spent all day programming Ableton loop-queues and mutes to execute the arrangement properly. 

But the story of spontaneity enhances our sense that what we’re seeing is happening right now. It makes you feel like you’re witnessing something not entirely premeditated. 

You have permission to lip-sync?

Okay, here’s one that might be controversial: I rarely believe these types of videos are “live.” 

And that’s not a specific accusation with Marc. He posts studio/looping stuff as a regular part of his social calendar, so I’m sure he’s got his process dialled in and probably IS doing these videos live, especially if he programs all the queues in advance. 

BUT… you might not have the same practice, skill, or gear. There’s also a wisdom to capturing great sound and great video separately, especially if you don’t have a video production team and lots of time. You can worry about sound first, then work to “perform” the track on camera. 

This might sound contradictory, but for the video to work at all, it can’t look pre-recorded — in which case if you can convincingly lip-sync, why not pre-record the audio?!

Just wanted to mention that since Marc’s videos set a very high standard. Don’t be a purist if faking the live performance makes a more entertaining video. The point is to move people. 

He’s… really good!

Last, but most importantly, all the things happening in this video would fall flat if you turned up the sound and hated what you heard. 

Marc is a great musician, producer, singer, and engineer. There’s immense talent and impressive attention to detail. 

Watch any one of his videos and you’ll see both. 


So, should you now feel the pressure to build the world’s coolest home studio?

That’s not what I want you to take away from this breakdown. But rather: 

  • How can you showcase your talents, while revealing something about your process at the same time? 
  • How can the camera motion instantly invite viewers into your world? 
  • How can you add suspense and dynamics to keep viewers’ attention, even if it’s only you on screen? 
  • How can you dare people to form an opinion?  

It might not be a live-looping video or a studio performance like Marc’s video, but if his work can inspire you to create a sense of in-the-moment participation and risk, you’ll be onto something good.

Happy video-making!

Check out more from Marc Scibilia on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok.

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