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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

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  • Anonymous

    Hi everyone in CDBaby,
    Just wanna say THANKS a million for all your coolness and in helping us DIY musicians. I'm based in Singapore, a musician for many years and teaching recently. Listening to your podcasts has inspired me to get out there and just let the music out. I am taking a lot of your advice to heart and I can only hope that they work. Well, they BETTER work. Haha! This month I'm focusing on getting my online presence and do social networking (Love your topics about it). At the same time I'm starting to write my materials. You are REALLY a great help. Keep it up! And as soon as my songs are out, I'll definitely let you know and sign up as an artist!

    All the best,
    Les Merquita
    Singapore

    • Awesome. Glad to help. Looking forward to hearing your album.

  • Jeremy Gilbert

    Find music directories online and submit your videos or your website link. If you want to promote your music online and eventually get a recording contract or get in touch with record producers, then go to music directories to be discovered. The nearer you are to the people in the music industry, the better are your chances of getting discovered.

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  • I have had great success using Youtube as my single means of promoting my music. Thus far I have over 60,000 subscribers watching me on Youtube. I have loads of success with daily vlogs. My listeners become loyal fans of not only my music, but of me. They feel that they know me on a personal level because I share fun moments in my daily life with them on a regular basis. Instead of just listening to a random artist’s music, many of them feel like they are supporting a good friends passion for music. Video logs are so effective!
    Another amazing tool is to invite your existing audience to be a part of your music video. They will be so excited to see themselves involved in the vid for your new song. They’ll most likely share the video with all their friends. Its also amazing to see community come together, and makes the video more meaningful. In a song I released for breast cancer awareness, I asked viewers to submit videos of them holding a message of hope to people who are suffering. I got over 100 entries of beautiful sentiments from sincere people. It was so amazing! Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHbYhS-2zX4

  • Adam_B_Harris

    This is great. A couple here that I haven’t thought of and will get on to. Here’s my take on number 11 using Japanese Sci Fi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxGPIggMl0Q Great fun, working on another one at the moment.

  • That's great to get your fans involved like that. I'll check out the videos now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sweet. I like how his cape flaps in the space wind.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Thanks for reading and replying! PLUS a big PLUS, I'm discovering Callie Moore's beautiful music and she's here in Singapore! hat are the odds of that happening. Simply awesome! Thanks again CDBaby. All the best.

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  • Brenda-gross

    I tried this and it worked great…There's a shot of my choir black and white picture, in my MUSIC VIDEO…titled "Thank You"…..There's no mention of it being the choir, so it just looks like some friends that got together to take a picture when it is actually the choir…..you can see it at http://www.breakoutchoir.com under the MUSIC VIDEOS page …I also have chord chart and lead sheet links on all of my songs for other groups to have easy access when they start to cover one of my songs…one more things I'm going to add is licensing information(just came to me)….

  • We made an interactive video for our new song using just our Iphones and Links functionality from Youtube. Is not the best video but at least we got views! Check it out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSU3hyt3hZU

  • Using just our Iphones and Youtube, we made an interactive video. It is not the best video but at least we got views! Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eOpkmFpSik

  • Cha

    My two cents :
    Share your songs lyric, chord chart or simply “show and tell” how to play your songs instrumentally. Do anything that make people (fans) feel like ‘to know you’ or being part of your music. I do it with ‘how to play reggae on acoustic guitar: http://youtu.be/bpn6QClNFLg

  • Unfortunately not in Germany, your content is blocked by GEMA, excluding all your German fans… sad!

  • Emanuel
  • Emanuel

    please check out my video!m/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

  • Nathalie Kraemer

    Thank you CD Baby for your enlightening articles. I have followed your many advices, especially how to get out there and establish a presence on the internet with the overwhelming amount of talented artists. I am still learning and building, especially using YouTube and social media on a daily basis to communicate with fans/ people. In an article I read about what makes a video viral, it mentioned cuteness, animals and funny as main themes. So I am currently taking a comedic twist on my music. Ha! Check out my channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/illuminathik
    In my next videos I will also try out to involve people by asking them to submit their artwork that could be featured in my next music video. By watching and analyzing other YouTube ” celebrities”, may it be make-up tutorials or fitness trainers or singers, I noticed that fans like to feel like they are your friend because they get to know you on a personal basis, so make Q + A sessions with your fans, film it and put it on YouTube. People like to learn things from you, so add your lyrics, show them the chords or tricks on how to sing or play your song.

    I’m excited in making more videos!
    CD Baby you rock!
    Nathalie
    http://www.officialnathalie.com

  • Nathalie Kraemer

    Thank you CD Baby for your enlightening articles. I have followed your many advices, especially how to get out there and establish a presence on the internet with the overwhelming amount of talented artists. I am still learning and building, especially using YouTube and social media on a daily basis to communicate with fans/ people. In an article I read about what makes a video viral, it mentioned cuteness, animals and funny as main themes. So I am currently taking a comedic twist on my music. Ha! Check out my channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/illuminathik
    In my next videos I will also try out to involve people by asking them to submit their artwork that could be featured in my next music video. By watching and analyzing other YouTube ” celebrities”, may it be make-up tutorials or fitness trainers or singers, I noticed that fans like to feel like they are your friend because they get to know you on a personal basis, so make Q + A sessions with your fans, film it and put it on YouTube. People like to learn things from you, so add your lyrics, show them the chords or tricks on how to sing or play your song.

    I’m excited in making more videos!
    CD Baby you rock!
    Nathalie
    http://www.officialnathalie.com

  • Nathalie Kraemer

    Thank you CD Baby for your enlightening articles. I have followed your many advices, especially how to get out there and establish a presence on the internet with the overwhelming amount of talented artists. I am still learning and building, especially using YouTube and social media on a daily basis to communicate with fans/ people. In an article I read about what makes a video viral, it mentioned cuteness, animals and funny as main themes. So I am currently taking a comedic twist on my music. Ha! Check out my channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/illuminathik
    In my next videos I will also try out to involve people by asking them to submit their artwork that could be featured in my next music video. By watching and analyzing other YouTube ” celebrities”, may it be make-up tutorials or fitness trainers or singers, I noticed that fans like to feel like they are your friend because they get to know you on a personal basis, so make Q + A sessions with your fans, film it and put it on YouTube. People like to learn things from you, so add your lyrics, show them the chords or tricks on how to sing or play your song.

    I’m excited in making more videos!
    CD Baby you rock!
    Nathalie
    http://www.officialnathalie.com