How to make a perfect music video

What makes a good music video great? Get inspired with our tips for making a music video.

Never underestimate the power of a music video. A good video will expand on the song’s creative content, give your artist brand a visual accompaniment, and above all create some promotional buzz around your music online.

With so many people discovering music on sites like YouTube, having a presence there is essential. Videos are vital shareable content. One music video generates masses of clips and stills that can be posted across your social media accounts, for fans to share in turn.

For new artists, your music video is a chance to introduce yourself to people who’ve stumbled upon your band or producer channel on YouTube. It’s also often the first time your fans get a visual representation of your style and influences, aside from on social media and promotional images.

But what makes a good music video great? Start thinking about adding your first visuals to your songs with these tips for how to make a successful music video.


You don’t need fancy equipment

There’s no need to invest in an expensive video camera or lighting rigs. You just have to be clever about how you use the kit you’ve got.

All you need is a smartphone, a computer, and an idea. Video editing software that’s free and simple to use is easy to come by – find some online tutorials and get stuck in.

Don’t want to shoot live video? There’s plenty of apps online to help you make a powerful video out of atmospheric visuals.


Own that low budget

Don’t try and shoot an epic on an ancient phone. Lean into the lack of professional kit – work with what you’ve got and cultivate a DIY aesthetic on purpose. See what retro video equipment you can get second hand.

Beastie Boys – princes of scrappy off-the-cuff DIY music videos

Plan everything – or don’t

You know your creative process and your artist brand better than anyone. How you approach the process of planning the music video is up to you.

If you’re a planner, work out who you want to star in the video, mindmap themes and emotions to get started, and move on to storyboarding once you’ve worked out a plot.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video doubled sales of the single

Alternatively, head down the impromptu route… Just start shooting. If it fits the song, there’s nothing wrong with a smartly edited video showing your mates enjoying a party. Buddy up with your artistic friends and get stuck in.

Either way, make sure you pick the right song. Think of any particularly dynamic songs that are begging for a cinematic accompaniment, songs that tell a story, or your best track that you want to promote first.


Get a director

Got zero interest in learning how to shoot a music video? Then find someone who knows their stuff. Reach out to creatives in your local area and shoutout on social media to find a video director.

If you’ve got a budget to spend, employing a director will add another creative voice into the mix, and widen your online reach. Networking with other creatives is great for inspiration. Who knows what collaborative opportunities it’ll open up.


Get weird

It’s your video – you get to choose what it looks like. Don’t want to star in your own video? You could enlist that old friend who works in animation instead, or try making your own stop motion video.

Your music video can be as simple as a well-shot live performance, so that fans can get a glimpse of your individual personalities and who plays what instrument. Or you might naturally go for eccentric art school vibes with elaborate costumes and punky editing.

The official video for “Shiver” by Coldplay featured nothing but the band performing the song

What’s everyone else up to?

Don’t let Hollywood-worthy professional music videos put you off making your own. Use them as motivation. Watch the most iconic music videos ever, and videos that are currently trending – forget about budget and soak up the creative inspiration. How can you apply the techniques to your own song? You don’t need to be Spike Jonze, but you can take inspiration from him and other greats.


Whether you start with a lyric video with cryptic visuals that will have fans wondering which mysterious band this is, or showcase yourself as a proudly independent solo artist by placing yourself centre stage, a music video is your chance to show what’s at the heart of your music. Enjoy yourself and have fun.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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