You don’t have to have a giant budget or be as visually brilliant as Michel Gondry. Affordable video and editing technology now allows DIY artists to get really creative when it comes to making content for YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, etc. Here are 12 different approaches you can explore:
1. The standard music video - Ya know, like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” This would be anything staged, with props, costumes, scripts, extras, and synced to the studio recording of the track.
2. Live concert footage - Just like it sounds: a video of you playing a single song live, or one that splices together multiple performances from a concert or tour. It could be shot on film like The Last Waltz or captured with your new iPhone.
3. Takeaway show – A kind of guerrilla-style music video, named for the Take-Away Shows shot by Vincent Moon for La Blogothèque. Think of it like field recording. Your band goes to a strange location (strange, in that it is outside of your normal rehearsal space, stage, recording studio setup) and performs for the camera, for the passersby, for whomever. And the intention is generally to capture the whole performance in one uninterrupted take.
4. Interviews – Fans love to hear about the inspiration for songs, the meaning behind lyrics, the band chemistry, the drama, the highs…so give it to ‘em. Get someone you know to interview you, or interview yourself (ala David Byrne or Cee-lo Green)!
5. Mini-documentary – Document the story of your band. Not much of a story to tell yet? Then make it a very short mini-documentary. People don’t have the attention span for much more these days anyway.
6. Video press kit – A quick (1-5 minute) movie that sells the story of your band, your latest album, your latest achievement, or an upcoming tour. You want to include any information that would be vital for a music journalist to know before they cover you in their paper, magazine, or blog.
7. Behind the scenes – We all love to get a glimpse inside the creative process. Keep your fans invested by showing them behind-the-scenes snippets of you writing, recording, putting up posters, fixing your gear, eating at your favorite taco cart, or practicing. These can be very short and very informal. Frequency can be more important than slickness with this approach.
8. Put your songs on YouTube with a slide show – Add a slide show of photos to your studio recordings and post them so fans can “listen” to your songs on YouTube. No time to make a fancy slide show? Just add the album cover, band name, album name, song title, and your website address.
9. Encourage fans to record covers of your songs – Why not? It worked for Steve Winwood! Maybe the next Justin Bieber will perform your song in his living room for millions of tweens.
10. Animation Tools – YouTube has a number of easy animation tools you can use for free. Use one of these tools to make a quirky advertisement for your CD release party.
11. Stock/archival footage – Filmmaker Kristiana Weseloh made a music video for my band THE SORT OFs using only free archival footage from the National Archives. If you have video editing abilities, this is a great option when you want to create a video quickly and cheaply.
12. Video songs – Video songs, popularized by Pomplamoose, are music videos that show actual footage of the song’s recording as if it were a unified performance. You hear the finished song, but all of the visuals are of individual tracks being recorded, edited together at a fast pace to keep things interesting.
Did I miss any? Probably so. If you’ve had success using any of these approaches to promote your music on YouTube, or if you’ve tried something that I didn’t mention, please feel free to comment in the section below and leave a link to your video.
-Chris R. at CD Baby