Vol 3, Issue 21: The Ins & Outs of Music Videography

ANTI-HERO: Unpretty (2005)
Video is undoubtedly a powerful medium, and in the view of many entertainment critics, “the ultimate medium of the future”. From a cultural perspective, it The business point of view also points out, that perhaps one of video’s most beneficial attributes, is that it has the ability to evoke emotion, and illustrate complex meaning through imagery and representation.allows audiences to link an artist’s work with his/her image and name. The popularity of even poor quality “home-mades” on sites, such as Youtube, once again reaffirms video’s social significance.

As society becomes ever more encompassed in the “Digital Age”, the growing importance of video promotion, among musicians, cannot be understated. Back when I was still a rambunctious munchkin, video taping devices were known by their full name, camcorders (hard to believe, I know) and a foreign sounding version of the video tape that went by the title of “Beta”, was all the rage.

Things, suffice it to say, have changed considerably since my childhood, and instead of having to rely on film, and the mucky business of hands-on editing, digital methods have made video taping and production accessible and understandable to virtually anyone in the general populus. Accordingly, with this newfound ease of video manipulation came the novel expectation that all musicians should have promo videos as part of their professional portfolio. Lucky for all of you, turning this prospect into a reality has never been easier, or for that matter, cheaper. But just so we’re clear from the get-go, cellphone clips do NOT count, and should not be used, under any circumstances, for marketing your band. Their image quality sucks, their audio is even worst, and if you are looking to make a professional impression, well you lost me at “cellphone video.”

In terms of a starting point when it comes to making promo vids, the following things should be considered:

1) Video Type

Should you go live or traditional music video? Both versions, obviously, have their advantages, and if possible, I say do both. However, if you are restricted, for budgetary reasons, to invest in only one form, your decision should ultimately be based on your band’s career direction.

Whereas live videos have the ability to showcase your band in action, and demonstrate to potential talent buyers why your act should be booked over comparable others, music videos work to expand a band’s fanbase because of their ability to be aired on a variety of programs (both online and via mainstream media). In addition, the release of a music video often accompanies that of an album/single, making it an easy means to generate publicity for your band.

A final version of the promo video that your act may choose to undertake is that of the “on location” (ie: in the studio or on the road) or “behind the scenes” footage reel. Not only can these vids be shot for an extremely inexpensive cost (ie: usually filmed completely with handhelds), but as well, hardcore fans absolutely revel in this kind of up close and personal encounter with their favourite bands, while such videos also allow industry execs to get a taste for your personality and band dynamic. With that said however, generally this last version of the promo video is typically not released unless your band has already established a fairly substantial following.

2) Budget
Although making a flashy million dollar production would surely be quite the experience, I understand that it is not realistic for the vast majority of indie bands. You’ve got to use the resources that you have at your fingertips, and that’s why again, I recommend taking advantage of Fanshawe’s (or your local college's) multi-talented student body.

One of my very first music videos, for an acoustic track off of one of my demos, was shot and edited by a friend of mine who was studying MultiMedia and Design Technology. Not only did I get great promotional material out of this venture, but she was also able to submit the work as a project for one of our classes; hence, it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to find a student who is able and/or willing to assist you in making a vid, never fear as there are a variety of freelance music video makers in and around town that are indie-friendly. Checking postings on boards such as craigslist, or kijiji, and/or resources like overhear.com and mygiglist.com is definitely a good place to start.

Remember that your video’s budget should reflect your opportunities for airplay. As we learned last year, the likelihood of submitting a video to MuchMusic and achieving airplay, without a pre-existing contact, is extremely low. Therefore, your vid’s quality should be geared towards online. With this in mind, I do not recommend spending in excess of a couple thousand dollars. It’s not worth it, and because of internet compression, the extra quality that you paid for will most likely NOT even be noticeable.

It’s also important to keep in mind, that if your video requires extras, the vast majority of people are willing to volunteer.

3) Content
Last, but not least, what should your video (if a traditional music video) be about? As mentioned in my intro, video has the capacity to tell a story, and to relate your musical expression to who you are/what you’re all about as an individual act. I’ve seen far too many generic videos, from indies, strictly constituted of jam sessions in dimly lit warehouses complimented by sporadic zoom-ins and excessive head-banging. For the sake of my own personal sanity, please, do not use this plot (or lack thereof) as your video’s storyline – it’s overdone, out-dated, and does nothing to set your act apart from others. The best (and most memorable) music videos, in my view, relate directly to their song’s lyrical message; they’re emotional, and reflective, and balanced out by the perfect amount of rocking out.

With my band’s debut video, “Unpretty”, our vision was clear from the start. The song, beyond its references to the fashion industry, is essentially about overcoming obstacles, and challenging conformity. To visually promote this ethos, each of the members in my band played out a role in which they reached a breaking point, and literally were confronted with a wall they had to smash. The “breaking through to the other side” was symbolic of one achieving and expressing their genuine identity, without having social limitations imposed upon them. In the video, the plot comes to a climax when I jump on stage, and the song concludes with the crowd screaming for more.

In telling you this story, whether or not our track or accompanying storyline strikes your fancy, is not the point. Rather, I am merely trying to impress upon you the importance of taking risks, and sticking true to who you are as a band. Beyond receiving extensive worldwide airplay, our video has been nominated for numerous creative awards. I can safely say that had we gone the generic “indie rock band” video route, this certainly wouldn’t have been the case.

About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry is the former frontwoman of Canadian hard rock bands ANTI-HERO & HER, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services for female rock musicians.

Her bands toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest, and achieved label status.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, ANTI-HERO's critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase. Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.

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