Music videos seem to be king these days. Artists are making videos of stunning length and quality, putting as much money and effort into the video as they are into the song itself.
Beyond that, nothing goes viral like a great video. So many songs have been made hits because of their video that it’s almost cliché to say, “you should really be making music videos”.
But seriously, you should be making music videos. Low budget, medium budget, whatever you can afford, you need to be making them and putting them out into the world.
The holy grail of music video promotion is MTV. MTV literally pushed music videos into the mainstream, breaking artists, breaking songs – it was at the leading edge of popular culture.
Now, admittedly, YouTube, Facebook, and the internet has been slowly making MTV’s existence as the purveyor of great music videos less significant. But it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at!
MTV Jams and CMT are still very popular and it would be great to have a song in the rotation. So, how do you make it happen?
It’s at once easier and harder than ever to get your video into MTV’s rotation – they’ve made it possible to submit your video online, but the crushing weight of all the artists wanting to get played has made the submission process murkier.
Here’s my advice.
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Create Great Original Content MTV Will Love
On MTV’s submission form, it says very clearly: “Original content is king, the more creative you get the more our music programmers will take notice.”
Genuinely creative, original, and high-quality content is the first thing anyone looks for – and it's more than just your video. It’s also about your music, the arrangement, the production, the mix. Everything has to be top-notch before anyone takes notice.
You video also needs to be no less than amazing. I don’t mean high budget – OK Go’s treadmill video was one of the most popular MTV videos ever – it just needs to be great.
Whether it’s funny, emotional, or just looks really cool, something about it needs to make it stand out from the crowd.
Submit Your Music Video To MTV’s Artists
Once the video is finalized, your next move is submitting the song to MTV using this submission form.
It takes a while for MTV’s music supervisors to comb through all the submissions. I would recommend submitting just before you release it though, that way as soon as it’s in their queue, you can start building momentum.
MTV accepts all genres except Country. However, if you’re making Country music, you can submit via the same process to CMT.
The music video needs to be at least 1:20, and no longer than 4:00. Realistically, the video needs to be the normal length of a pop song. between 2:40 and 3:50. Their music programmers are always trying to fit in hundreds of hours of videos, so if yours is too long, it won’t make the cut.
You should also submit the video with your hookiest, catchiest, most unique song. They’re looking for fresh music that people really want to hear!
Build Fan Excitement Around The MTV Video Release
Before your video is played on-air, you are given an MTV artist page and your video is hosted there as well.
MTV specifies that the more you send people to that page, the more people watch your MTV-hosted video, the more likely it is that the music supervisors will give you a chance.
So, you need to figure out how to build excitement around your release, while simultaneously pushing people to watch the video on MTV. If you really want this, that’s what you need to do.
There are a few good ways to send people to a specific place for a video. For example, you could release the video on MTV’s site before anywhere else. That way, you force anyone who wants to watch the video, to watch it on MTV’s site.
People do this all the time, but often they give their video to a music blog like Noisey to premiere. You’re doing the same thing, except you’re premiering the video on MTV’s site.
You should have a good content plan to build up to the release as well. Release still shots of the video twice a week leading up to the release. Get your fans involved in a contest based on the theme of the video. Make Facebook ads with a little preview of the video. And so on.
At the end of the day, you’re doing all this to build excitement around the release so you can make the video more appealing to MTV’s music supervisors.
Build Publicity Around The Video
If you have a publicist, videos are great to publicize. You should have them going after reviews, features, interviews, anything that will build the buzz and ultimately get people watching the video.
The other thing an indie publicist can do is service your song to MTV for you. They may have personal connections with supervisors or people who make decisions at MTV.
When someone gets a video sent to them by somebody other than the artist, they automatically take it more seriously. It sucks, but it’s true. People like to know that somebody in the industry thinks this is worth their time.
The more press you can build, the more connections you can leverage, the better your chances are of getting into rotation and more importantly, staying there.
Keep Pushing Your Fans To Watch and Request The Video
Speaking of getting your video to stay in rotation, the best way to do that is have fans request the song. When the Total Request show happens, get your fans on that! They’ll be excited to be a part of it, and supervisors take requests seriously.
Beyond that, keep pushing people to the MTV-hosted video. If your video has sustained views, that means it has sustained interest, making it more likely that they will keep you video in rotation.
Have you ever had your video featured on MTV? What worked for you?