I watched hours of trending singer-songwriter content on Reels and TikTok and here’s what I found:

What seems to works best for singer-songwriters in 2024?

Performance videos!

But that’s just one of the commonalities I noticed.

In the post below you’ll see a highlight reel of a dozen videos by singer-songwriters that:

  • Were recommended to me algorithmically
  • Instantly caught my eye
  • Which made me turn up the volume to hear that they…
  • Sounded good

They all had some impressive engagement happening as well (likes, shares, comments), which served as a kind of social proof enticing me to check out what others had already fallen in love with.

After watching a bunch of singer-songwriter videos on TikTok and Reels over the course of a couple weeks, I noticed four traits that were worth pointing out. If you’re about to shoot a performance video, maybe some of these can serve as inspiration:

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Walking around while performing

There’s lots of playing and singing while walking. I guess we like walking now.

The walking provides a sense of energy, journeying, or travel. Which pushes and pulls the camera along with the subject.

Plus, walking outside can result in some interesting backgrounds.

A quick zoom or dramatic camera motion

The common advice used to be something like “grab attention within the first three seconds.”

But now it’s best to capture the eye within the first few frames. This leads us instantly into the action.

And one of the most obvious ways to instantly grab the eye is to begin with camera motion, zoom, panning, or rotation right from the first frame.

A static camera with a great performance

A lot of trending videos I saw had no camera motion at all. Stationary. Simple!

So this one isn’t really a “trend.” Propping your phone on a bedroom bureau or placing it on a tripod is nothing new.

But I’m including it here as encouragement that you still CAN get away with the easiest approach as long as the music is good.

The most important commonality?

As a general rule, quality performance videos seem to outperform POVs, confessionals, tutorials, and skits when it comes to music content. But almost all the viral music videos on my feed had something else in common:

One camera, one take. No cuts, no edits.

This gives the impression that what we’re seeing is real, risky, and vulnerable. None of the painstaking editing after the fact to craft a moment. Instead, you’re IN the moment.

Now, of course that doesn’t mean these were impromptu videos. A lot of attention was paid to the scene, the framing, the outfits, the color palette.

And the sound. In fact, several of these videos had pre-recorded sound and then they worked hard to make a convincing lip-sync that looks truly live.

How do you feel about that last part? Is it cheating? Or does it make it easier to produce content when you can worry about the sound and visuals separately?

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