Making your own music video doesn’t need to be complicated. Find out how easy it can be from experienced music videographer, Yulia Hauer. If you’re an accomplished vocalist, already gigging and recording on a regular basis, or a newcomer breaking into the industry, it’s time to ask one question: are you taking full advantage of all available marketing tools? In my experience, there’s one thing today’s online platform can’t seem to get enough of – video – yet I regularly meet vocalists not maximising its potential. Why is video so important? Cisco is projecting that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019; this projection falls in line with several social media platforms continuously introducing new features to facilitate video content. Instagram for example used to be an app purely designed for posting pictures, but started allowing 15 second videos in 2013 and 60 second videos last year. One of the reasons moving visuals are so popular in marketing is because even a short music video can communicate an impressive amount of information in an engaging way; it’s a valuable tool in a world where people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This trend also extends to auditions. When speaking to session musicians and function bands about the importance of their new showreel, they often mention that while five to ten years ago it was acceptable to send only an audio file, most agencies nowadays expect to see visuals before booking a band. It’s becoming clear that no matter what business you’re in, if you’re planning on engaging with a wider audience and you want to communicate your branding efficiently, you will not find a way around creating good quality video content.
What is holding you back? As a vocalist and possibly the front person of a musical project, you’re surely already aware of the importance of your presentation and branding, and you probably engage with several social media outlets on a daily basis. So why is it that so many vocalists I work with are yet to take advantage of moving visuals within their online presence unless they are professionally filmed? There are various reasons such as: thinking they lack the necessary equipment, fear of being flawed on camera or not liking the way they look or sound when looking back at the footage, or worries about appearing too self-indulgent. How to create music videos to promote your projects and connect with your audience? Firstly you’ll have to decide what kind of music video would work best for you as a brand and will help you connect with your audience. If you’re a vocal tutor, why not try putting together some vocal tutorials? If you’re a session singer, how about recording some covers that really show off your vocal abilities to potential clients? There are so many more options: live performances, vlogs, music videos, behind the scenes, acoustic covers, tour blogs…the list is as endless as your creativity allows. While it’s extremely useful to use a professional filmmaker on some occasions, like when filming a music video or a full band live performance, there is a lot you can do with the tools you have. How to create your own videos
- Plan it. Don’t go into the shoot unprepared, even if you’re doing it all yourself. Write a script if you struggle to find the right words and practice the script or the performance. Nothing is more frustrating than having to do countless takes on the shoot because you’re not ready. If you’re planning a series of videos (tutorials for example), plan them all before you start the first one. This will ensure that you don’t repeat yourself and you can refer to your other videos (“If you want to find out more about x check out my other video about x”).
- Choose the location carefully – branding is everything. If you’re a folky singer-songwriter it might be appropriate to sit in your back garden and film an acoustic performance in front of a bed of red tulips. However, if you’re genre is punk or electronic music that environment might not be suitable for your branding. Try to set up your mise-en-scène (the arrangement of the scenery, stage or film set) carefully. Everything that is seen in the shot should be there on purpose. Also, think about the natural lighting you can take advantage of and don’t forget that it will change throughout the day.
- Don’t worry about all the equipment you don’t have. If you have a smartphone you’re very likely to have an incredibly powerful video camera right there in your pocket. Yes, of course a DSLR with a soft focus lens can do wonders, but good quality content will always trump whatever fancy equipment you might or might not have access to.
- Don’t ignore the audio side of things. Your built-in laptop camera and your phone do have a built-in audio recorder, but, especially if you’re filming yourself singing, it’s really worth looking into possibly recording the audio separately and syncing it up with the video later on. A lot of vocalists have a small recording set-up at home already, which is fantastic as it might also allow you to mix the audio afterwards.
- Don’t be too self-critical. Probably the most difficult task once you’ve started working on your videos is not being too harsh on yourself or your performance. Your very first attempt at putting together a music video might not be the greatest success and that’s okay. As with everything in life and music you’ll improve the more you do it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
- Mobile phone or camera We all carry around a fantastic camera in our pockets every day. If you don’t want to or you’re not able to invest in a camera, make use of the equipment you already have.
- Audio recording set-up Recording the audio separately when you do have built-in audio on the camera might seem unnecessary, but if you’re working in music I really think it’s worth spending some time and effort on getting the best sound possible. A lot of vocalists already have a recording set-up at home and, if you do, make use of that, if not, make sure to pay close attention to the placement of the camera mic and the acoustic environment you’re in.
- Source of light When it comes to getting great visuals, lighting is essential. As it happens, not everybody has studio lights at home, but everybody has access to sunlight (hopefully). Take advantage of it.
- Access to a computer While you might be able to upload the video you filmed straight onto your social media platform of choice from your phone, it’s recommended to download the footage onto a computer and make any edits necessary there. You may be able to edit on your phone, but a larger screen does come in handy when trying to add graphics or make attempts to colour grade.
- Video editing software There are many options for free video editors out there, check out TechRadar’s top 5 list here. A video editor will allow you to trim the clips, move different sections around, add some graphics (your logo, text), sync the recorded audio to the video and maybe even change the brightness and the colour grading of your footage.