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Independent Artists: Making The Music Video Decision

3Music videos can be a powerful tool for artists, helping them to both raise their profile and directly communicating and artists artistic image. That said, music videos no longer carry quite the clout they did a decade or more ago, and the typically high cost of production can making the decision of whether or not to produce a music video a tough one for artists.

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Guest post by Rich Nardo of TuneCore

[Editors Note: This article was written by Rich Nardo.]

As a child of the nineties, I remember the days when the music video was king. I first fell in love with alternative music as an eight year old, when I stumbled into the living room to find my sister watching “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and I spent hours obsessing over 120 Minutes as I got older.

A well done music video creates an almost mythical glimpse into the artistic universe of our favorite acts. They don’t seem to carry the same sort of clout these days, as we consume most of our new music through streaming, but a great video can still do wonders for an artist.

One needs to look no further than Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” or any of the visuals from (TuneCore Artist) Lizzo’s “Coconut Oil” EP for proof that a well-crafted video can still provide a powerful impact today, whether you’re an established act or a new artist looking to bring your career to the next level.

That being said, if you’re an independent artist on a tight budget, there are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to make a video.

These days, press is much less likely to cover a video, unless it’s also a new song debut or a release from a major artist. Also, while YouTube is a major source of music discovery, fans are just as likely to listen to a lyric video as they are to sit down and watch your meticulously crafted official release.

So how do you know if it’s a good idea to invest in a visual for your new single? Here are some questions that will hopefully provide clarity when you’re making that decision.

DOES IT BUILD THE STORY?

There is probably a story behind your song. Maybe it even ties into a mission statement of the entire release you’re planning.

Does your video help relay that message and, just as importantly, does it do so in a unique way? To say there are a lot of music videos out there would be an understatement. For yours to be worth putting money into, it needs to be relatable, engaging and inherently unique in order to draw interest to your little nook of the internet.

WOULD YOUR VIDEO BE BUZZWORTHY?

Let’s look back on the two examples I provided early – Childish Gambino and Lizzo. “This Is America” was an important and catalytic statement on race and gun-related violence. Lizzo’s videos became anthemic content that championed the body-positive movement.

What does your video say?

It doesn’t have to be political, but there should be something about it that can spark a conversation. If it doesn’t, there isn’t a lot of opportunities for it to generate the sort of attention for your music that would make it worth investing in.

WHAT’S YOUR PRESS SITUATION CURRENTLY LIKE?

Videos aren’t as enticing to tastemaker publications as they used to be, but they will often pick up videos from artists they already like. If you’ve started to build a foundation of supporters in the press world, than a solid video might be a good way to get extra coverage from sites that already cover you.

WHERE DO YOUR FANS LIVE?

Is your primary goal to get people out to your live show and market to your existing fanbase or are you trying to build streaming numbers and reach new people? If you’re already known (or would like to be) for your electrifying live show, than you’re operating in a niche world where your audience may be more receptive to a music video as an up-and-coming artist.

If you’re aiming to be a press darling or a streaming success story, you’re better off using the money you had allocated to a music video to hire a professional to help break you in those worlds.

WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION?

At the end of the day, you’re an artist. You make music to exercise your creativity and find fulfillment in a way that you can’t get anywhere else.

It’s important to know the answer to the question of whether you’re shooting a video to realize a personal goal with the project or to help your career. In my opinion, your answer to that question will be the most significant factor in deciding whether or not to move forward with a music video.

If it’s essential to realizing your creative vision, than it’s worthwhile to shoot a video to help make this chapter in your creative journey everything that you’ve been working so hard for it to be.


Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the VP of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.

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