The golden era of music videos is now behind us. MTV doesn’t play them anymore, MuchMusic doesn’t play them anymore, and even the country stations (who held out the longest) are switching formats.
More and more, people are consuming their music on Spotify and Apple Music.
That said, YouTube remains the most popular way for people to listen to music online. Instagram videos and stories are extremely popular and both use the video medium.
So, should you be making a music video for every song you release?
Some artists still do, others are trying different ways of releasing content.
Music videos are very time-intensive, often very costly (especially if you use a videographer), and if they aren’t generating results, you may want to give your music video plans a good look.
Should You Make A Video For Every Song?
In a word, no.
I don’t think you need to be making a music video for the sake of making a music video.
If you’re making content, I think you need to understand why you are making it, what you’re trying to achieve with the content. Then, you need to make great content and not make it half-baked.
Making a music video for every song is kind of like posting on social media every day because you think you’re supposed to.
There may have been a time when it was an effective marketing tool, but it isn’t anymore.
The amount of content that already exists in the digital realm is completely overwhelming. You can’t just make any old music video and put it out expecting to get attention.
You need to be making music videos that break through the noise. Music videos that work.
What Kind of Music Videos Work?
These days, it takes a pretty special music video to capture my attention. If I were making a video, I would want to make something that was worthy of my own meager attention span.
What makes a video work in today’s market?
The Video Offers An Experience I Can’t Get From The Recorded Music
This is kind of the point of music videos. They are supposed to offer the viewer a deeper musical experience that enriches the music. It should enrich the music and it should enrich the brand of the artist.
Making a generic music video with a ho-hum story line that pantomimes the lyrics and is cut with shots of the band is not going to work.
Sure, you’ll get some views simply because you put it out, but it won’t have that “viral” quality and it may not get very many repeat viewers either.
You want a music video that people can talk about. That reviewers can review about.
The Video Makes Me Feel Closer To The Band
One of the beautiful things about making music videos now, is that you can make them on a budget.
I recently got into a band called Sure Sure from L.A., because of their cover video of “This Must Be The Place”, a Talking Heads song.
I loved their rendition of it. It kept me interested the whole time and I really liked the video itself.
It’s one shot the whole way through, but they used digital zoom to create cuts. It looks lo-fi and cool. It also cost them probably… $0? If you already have the means to record yourself, creating a video like this is simple.
And it works, because it gives you an idea about the personalities of the guys in the band. They are good musicians, have a quirky image, and make fun music.
This was confirmed by their no-budget lyric video for their last single.
I normally hate lyric videos, but this one is great. It looks like it was shot on an iPhone, or maybe a decent camera. The lyrics appear to be written in soap on the sunroof of a car.
All the other shots are just funny shots of the guys in the band dancing around playing their instruments.
It absolutely brings you into the band’s brand, it’s great content, and it cost them very little.
The Video Adds To The Art Of The Song
Sometimes, the video is as important a piece of art as the song itself. Videos can take a song to a whole new level.
For example, Hozier’s hit “Take Me to Church” was already an outstanding song by any measure. But combined with the video, it’s a true work of art.
The video brings more depths to the lyrics, which are already poignant.
Hosier’s heartbreaking video made headlines around the world and went viral, not because it was funny, but because it was moving.
Making a moving video is not easy (and it’s usually not cheap), but if you can pull it off it will be extremely rewarding for both you and your fans.
The Video Can Work Well On Social Media
If you can make a video that is still effective in a one-minute long Instagram clip, then you have done something right.
Unfortunately, artsy videos like the Hozier one don’t work as well when you try to cross platforms. Their story line requires a longer amount of time to develop and their shots deserve a bigger screen.
But the Sure Sure style, lo-fi videos work well. Even if you just post a little snippet of the song it still gets the point across. It shows off the song, the brand, and the band.
What Should You Post Instead Of Music Videos?
So, if you’re not making a music video for every song, what should you post?
There are many options that all serve different purposes. Here are some examples:
Post Just The Audio With An Image
At minimum, you should have the audio for every song available on YouTube with an image attached to it. The image can be anything, but it’s usually fine to just post the album art.
These are good to post, because you can make a playlist for all of your songs on YouTube, and then people can listen to the album all the way through on YouTube.
Sometimes, other users create playlists, and they will often use these audio videos.
If you’re not posting anything else, this is a great way to make your music available on YouTube.
Make A Live Video
There are a million ways to make a live video. If you have a budget, you can get into a studio with professional videographers and make something awesome.
You need to have live video anyways in order to pitch your live shows to venues and festivals, so this is killing two birds with one stone.
If you don’t have a budget, you can make something really lo-fi in your rehearsal space or in an unconventional venue.
You can easily do an acoustic video or even an a cappella video. This is a great way to generate content that will be relevant to long-time fans, because it gives them a new way to enjoy music they already like.
If you make a live video, I would recommend still having the official audio with an image available, in case people just want to hear the studio cut instead of the live version.
Lyric videos are a little bit risky in my opinion, simply because I think so many of them are terrible.
That said, they are cheap and easy to make, and you can get creative with them.
If you are making a lyric video, I would recommend doing something like the Sure Sure video, where you have the lyrics, but you also have other shots of the band.
Just having the lyrics on a screen with designs in the back can be cool, but I think it most often comes out like a bad karaoke video.
Do Something Truly Unconventional
I’ve also seen bands do other cool things to create video content.
This Christmas, Vulfpeck (my favorite band) made a video for their song “Christmas in L.A.” that was made up entirely of their fans cover videos. It was amazing.
I mean, I’m a little biased, because my cover video got featured in their video, but I just think it was a great piece of content.
It engages fans, it shows appreciation for fans, it makes a few fans feel very special, and it maintains their image.
They also broke it up into three parts on Instagram, and it worked super well.
All around, Vulfpeck are the kings of great lo-fi video content. Watch and learn!
How Many Music Videos Do You Need To Make Conclusion
Like many things in the music industry, creating video content comes down to what you want to do. If you want to create a video, go for it. Just make sure that you are considering the purpose of the content.
Don’t make things that people aren’t going to care about. Don’t break the bank. Just try to make something cool.
And, if you really can’t make anything cool, then just put the official audio on YouTube and call it a day!