Music Video Tips #1


Just as it was with advent of the video age, modern day artists rely heavily on video and image content to “show” more than “tell.”  That’s the beauty of video; it’s dynamic, and more exciting than a photo, or text. Artists have been using video to showcase themselves for many decades now.  The Beatles did it 1964 on Ed Sullivan before MTV, score composers alongside animators did it before as early as 1937 with “Snow White”, and really, all major artists have done it before, during and after these times.   YouTube changed the game, and then came other standards like Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook, and dozens of other platforms, all of which feature video platforms and live stream features. Given all of these technological media advancements, it’s crucial for Artists to get in line with the times and utilize video as a way to promote themselves.

Here are some tips on how to get started, and how to ensure that your project runs smoothly:

“Video Killed The Radio Star..”

When it comes to media platforms; Radio came first, before TV, and then came TV, somewhat taking precedence over radio, and then came the Internet, which integrated radio, and film, and now here, in the Smartphone era, ALL possibilities are in the palm of your hand, literally.  And it’s ALL about the videos; tutorials, concerts, comedy shorts, news broadcasts, and music videos... You name it. Everyone makes videos now. It’s just the way it is, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon. It is imperative that musicians get with the program and begin producing high quality, compelling, entertaining video content.  So my first tip is this: Accept the reality that video IS the most modern format when it comes to cutting edge promotion and exposure opportunities.  

Pre-Production Is The Key To The Entire Project

A solid plan is worth more than any other aspect of your video project.  Without a pre-production plan, you’ll have no idea what you have, what you need, and what you need to do to pull it all together.  When I plan videos, I make a comprehensive plan which includes all details possible, including easily overlooked support details like the weather forecast, travel time variables,  budget notes, actor / actress rosters, storyboards, soundtrack running times.. You name it, and it’ll likely be there on the page. I cannot express how much time, energy, money, and frustration having a plan will save you.  Video shoots can be hectic environments, and even the most well laid plans sometimes go down the tubes, but I’ll tell you what, it’s still better than not having a plan. Think every aspect through and through, and get it all written down.  You won’t regret it.


Everyone’s “favorite” topic.. Paperwork.. This is one of the elements that amateurs, and startup producers love to skip.  Sometimes that is because they don’t know better, other times they do know about the need, but don’t prioritize it, and yet even other times they know about it and don’t see the value and actually disregard it altogether.  Really...none of these options are good options.

The paperwork MUST be done.  This really needs to be heard and understood.  If the paperwork is avoided or neglected, then the video will ALWAYS be in jeopardy of liability.  An actor that didn’t sign off might suddenly feel that they are entitled to more than the pay the received, and that would be grounds to disrupt a production with legal complications.  A videographer that doesn’t sign a release could argue that they own the footage, and that they were collaborators as opposed to work-for-hire. The scenarios are pretty vast depending how many people are attached to the project.  

So you may be wondering what kind of paperwork (contracts) you might need to look into - here is a short list:  

  • Talent releases for actors and actresses

  • Copyright Transfer agreements for anyone that contributed to the directing, producing, or writing as a work for hire

  • Music clearances if the soundtrack or score was created “out of house” by a third party

  • Video editor releases, since editing could be construed as its own creative process, there needs to be some protection in place.  

These contracts are all needed under the assumption that all services are work-for-hire.  In situations where rights, profits, and ownership is to be shared, then there are different contracts that need to be created such as Collaboration Agreements, and Video Master Agreements.  Don’t be scared to hear this, but for such needs to be fulfilled, you will need a contract, or entertainment attorney, or at least a professional contract preparation consultant. NEVER just use a release that you pull off the internet.. Those are most often sloppy, and not reflective of the specific needs from project to project.  

“That’s A Wrap..”

For now, I will stop here, but with the promise that there will be additional installments into this particular blog series about music video production.  Today, we have scratched the surface of some basic practices, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper, as you will see in the next installments. Without a doubt, I can say that the filming process is amongst one of the most thrilling and enjoyable aspects of being a modern artist.  “Show more than tell” is a good concept to chew on, and once the ideas start flowing, just be sure to write it all down, and to use that foundation to expand your vision. The rest is show business; costumes, scripts, the buzz of the shoot location, all very enjoyable parts of being a filmmaker.  Live it up.

Till next time,

Be well.

JCMW on Instagram

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