Music videos are a great tool an artist can use to promote themself. They are one of the best assets for fans, booking agents, managers, and labels to get to know what an artist looks and sounds like. The task of creating one can be daunting for artists that have no experience with video production.
In this guide, we’ll walk through all the steps to creating a music video and provide tips on how to make a music video on a budget, or possibly even for free.
STEP 1 – CHOOSE A SONG
If you’re only releasing one song, then this is an obvious choice, but if you’ve released or are planning on releasing a full length album or an EP, you need to decide which song you want to release first into the world. When doing so, there are many things to think about when deciding which song to make a video for.
WHICH SONG BEST REPRESENTS YOUR SOUND?
You may have a bunch of different sounds on your album, but this is your chance to show the world what your music sounds like. If your album is heavy metal, but you have a slow acoustic ballad on the album, that might not be your best choice for your first video.
WHICH SONG PRESENTS THE BEST STORY OR CONCEPT FOR A MUSIC VIDEO?
You might have a song that lends itself really well to a music video, because it has a story or theme that would translate nicely on film. This might mean it’s the best song to make a music video for, even if it’s not necessarily your best single release.
WHICH SONG HAS GOTTEN THE BEST RESPONSE FROM FANS/FAMILY/FRIENDS?
As the artist, you might have your favorite song(s) on the album, but sometimes your favorites are not the songs that are getting the best response. Pay attention to what songs are getting the most streams online, which songs get the best response in concert, etc. If your fans already like the song you make a video for, there’s a good chance you’ll have a built in audience already, and they’ll be more likely to share it and help promote the video.
Sometimes your favorite songs are not the songs that are getting the best response.
STEP 2 – DETERMINE AVAILABLE RESOURCES
This is your chance to see what free or discounted resources you have readily available. When developing the concept for the video, keep this in mind so that you don’t come up with a music video idea that your resources can’t possibly live up to. Finding all the resources you have available is one of the best strategies for how to make a music video by yourself.
- Do you know anybody that has experience filming or editing music videos?
- Do you have any friends or family that would be willing to help on set?
- Quick tip: Can you get connected with film students that might be interested in filming a music video for class? If you get connected with a film school, there’s potential for them to provide crew, gear, and possibly even a location for the shoot.
- Do you know anybody that has a camera, lights, or any other film equipment you could borrow or rent for a discounted rate?
- Do you have access to any unique locations?
- Quick tip: A cool location can sometimes lead to the entire idea for a music video. Maybe somebody you know has a huge warehouse, shack, a boat, rooftop access, etc.
Talk to your connections to see if there are any props that you could use for the video. Maybe somebody you know has an old convertible, crazy costumes, piles of fake cash, a large inflatable shark, etc.
STEP 3 – SET A BUDGET
After you’ve figured out what free or discounted resources you have available, then you need to set a budget. However, remember that a low budget does not mean you can’t make an amazing video. The amount of money you spend on a video does not determine how good it is. Creativity does! We all remember the OK Go treadmill video and the fact that it cost so little, but was amazingly effective. So, if you don’t have much money to spend on the video, don’t worry. You just need to spend more time in the concept creation phase figuring out an idea that works.
Then, once you determine your budget, YOU NEED TO TRACK IT! As you develop your concept, you’ll determine additional needs that require spending money, so you need to write them all down and keep track of how much budget you have remaining. Sometimes, you’ll have expenses that take you over budget. At that point, you need to decide if you want to increase your budget, or if you want to reduce costs in another area. You can reduce your crew size, use cheaper equipment, etc.
The important part is knowing your budget and knowing what you’re spending, so you’re not caught off guard at the end with how much the video costs. This is an often ignored part of how to make a music video.
STEP 4 – DEVELOP A CONCEPT
This is your chance to show the world your creativity. First off, ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with this music video? For example, if you’re a rock band and you’re trying to let the world see you, then you might want a performance to be a big part of the music video. Other artists, though, might want to focus entirely on story or other captivating visuals, without having a performance part. There’s no right answer for everybody, just what’s right for you and your goals. Your concern shouldn’t be about making a “good” or “great” video, because these are subjective terms & perspectives that will certainly vary viewer-to-viewer. Your concerns should be more focused on making something that WORKS for what you’re trying to accomplish.
Once you’ve determined what you’re trying to accomplish, then you can create your concept.
DON’T STOP AT YOUR FIRST IDEA
Just like when writing music, the first idea is rarely the best idea. The same goes for creating a music video concept. Come up with as many ideas as you can.
- See if your fans/family/friends have any ideas.
- Watch other music videos and movies for inspiration
- Look at art or magazines for inspiration
There are thousands of music videos created every day. Your goal is to do something that is unique and represents your message. You can watch other videos for inspiration, but allow yourself to develop a concept that is uniquely your own. There is a near-infinitely broad spectrum of what can be considered “unique”. Even a shot-for-shot recreation of another video can be unique if it serves a purpose that plays well on screen.
MAKE IT SHAREABLE
Your goal should never be a viral video, for many reasons. First, it’s almost impossible to determine what will go viral. Second, there are millions of videos uploaded to YouTube every day, so the chance of going viral is insanely tiny. However, it is good to think about what your fans will want to share on social media. It could be a positive message, a cool visual, or just a funny moment. The point is, pay attention to how your fans are already sharing your music or previous videos, and keep that in mind when developing concepts.
This is also why the first 10 seconds of your video are very important. With thousands of videos being uploaded every hour, it’s integral for your video to captivate the viewer immediately, or else they may not share your video – they might even give up on your video in the first 30 seconds and continue scrolling until they find content that captivates them.