From planning and creative direction, to filming and editing, here's our guide for making DIY promotional videos at home for your upcoming release.
Written by amuse
Promoting your music through video content has become a solid way to get your fans engaged and connected to your music. Especially in the short-form era, taking social media by storm, and making promotional videos have never been more important to get your music to take off.
Set your goals and audience
The first step of the planning process is to choose a specific goal and target audience for your video. It can be tempting to use general worldwide awareness as your target, but this will be a major inhibitor of your video’s success. Once your goal and target audience is chosen, it’s time to craft a targeted message. What does the audience want from your video? Should it be entertaining or educational? Is there a call-to-action? These details will help set the direction and tone of your video.
Build your creative direction
Next up is setting the creative direction you want to take. How can you take the audible message of your tracks and create visuals that convey the same emotion and message? No matter the level of production (and budget), promo videos should be able to define your look and feel as an artist.
Just look at the creative directors behind Rihanna (Ciarra Pardo), Tyler, the Creator (Tara Razavi/Phil Toselli), and Billie Eilish (Cour Design). Their work has turned these artists into icons. Want to know what it’s like working with these artists on creative direction? Here are two interviews with Tara Razavi and Phil Toselli — Tyler’s creative producer and creative director.
Photo: Julian Berman
Visuals give you the chance to enhance the listening experience for your fans beyond the song itself. Start by creating a mood board that guides the look and feel of the video and focus on building a visual identity for your music. It’s important to enforce a cohesive visual aesthetic across all your assets.
Write a script
In order to create a promo video that drives the results you want, you’ll definitely need to write a video brief and script. Not only will these help you understand your goals, but they’ll also help you understand your fans and the value you want to demonstrate to them.
These insights help you craft the perfect promo video script:
While many artists aren’t able to shoot actual music videos right now, there’s been a spike in the number of animated visuals and lyric videos—like the one for Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj’s “Say So” remix. If artists want to film something themselves in their own homes, labels are open to it. “You have artists who are already comfortable, or are starting to get comfortable, with more of the raw shoots that can happen at home,” Carlos Cuadros, director of digital marketing at RCA Records told The Ringer. “Musicians at the end of the day are creators, they’ll find a way to continue to bring that message through video.”
As covid restrictions extended through 2021, stay-at-home life has become the dominant visual language of music videos. One of the first artists to explore shooting raw music videos at home was Drake, who, on April 2 last year, released “Toosie Slide,” the first clip from a major artist to be shot from home during covid. Directed by his longtime personal chronicler Theo Skudra, the video featured Drake moving through his Toronto mansion wearing a black balaclava.
If getting in front of the camera like Champagne Papi is not your vibe, you can also piggyback on user generated content created by your fans. One artist that has nailed down the art of using user-generated content to engage with her fans is English pop artist Charli XCX, who asked her fans to send in footage of their lives in lockdown for her upcoming “forever” music video.
Unable to meet their favourite artists IRL, fans are seeking more connectivity online, and UGC can provide artists and their fans the chance to create a meaningful two-way communication channel.
These days, there are a heap of good (and free) mobile apps that can help you edit your promo video on your phone, just as good as if you were to use a professional editing suite. iMovie, VSCO, Splice and VideoBoost are some of our favourites. For the artists that prefer to go a little more “pro” and edit on desktop, consider investing in Adobe Premiere.
If you’re goin’ DIY, keep in mind that different platforms require different cuts, so pull together a list of distribution channels before you start editing. Creating a video for Spotify canvas? Read our guide to creating an engaging Canvas here.
Got any tips of your own to share on video production? Made a no-budget promo video that you’re proud of? Tag us on Instagram, we’d love to see it.