7 Tips For Making A Crowdsourced Music Video With Help From Your Fans

With consumers on lock down now taking in more content than ever, this is a great time for you to be putting out content and connecting with your fans. In this piece, David ‘D4’ Nguyen explains how you can make a crowdsourced music video by actually enlisting the assistance of your fans.

Guest post by David “D4” Nguyen at D4 Music Marketing.

With many of us ordered to stay inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s given musicians more time to write, produce, and release new music. It has also changed the amount of content people consume on a daily basis.

Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S and UK consume more content since the outbreak. This study also shows a considerable increase in online videos such as Youtube and TikTok.

This opens a great opportunity for you to create online content and reach out to your core fans and new fans.

At the moment, creating high-quality video content like a music video for your new release may be challenging. You may have to get a little creative, like with this music video shot entirely on Zoom. Or figure out how to make indoor video footage interesting.

One option you should consider is crowdsourcing videos from fans and creating a music video out of it. Here’s an example from Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.

Crowdsourcing in itself is not a new concept. It has been around for a long time and many great artists have done it. By asking your friends, family, and fans to chip in you can get great engagement from people who know and support you.

This is exactly what I did for an artist I work with. We asked his fans to submit a video for us to make a crowdsourced music video based on his new song. We reached out specifically to one of the artist’s Patreon community, friends, and family.

Overall, facilitating and editing my first crowdsourced music video went well. But there were things I would have done differently in the process.

If you’re looking to create your own crowdsourced music video during quarantine, I wanted to share some tips based on my recent experience.

1. Define your concept and vision

This is your first step and the most important one. Figuring out your vision is crucial to create a unique visual that will bring your song to life. It will also help define your fans role in the overall project.

You want to have a common theme that your fans can recreate to give your video consistency and cohesiveness.

For example, if you or your band are not going to be in the video, you need an element to tie it all together. Tash Sultana did this in her recently released, crowdsourced video “Pretty Lady.” She doesn’t make an appearance in it, but there is a choreographed dance that everyone does to help tie the video together.

There are many other ways you can go about doing this and your creativity will be your biggest asset.

2. Be specific with what you want

Once you have the concept and vision down, tell your fans specifically what you want them to do in their videos.

The song used in the music video I edited was inspired by current events. We decided to ask the artist’s fans to record themselves at home, vibing to the new song. The theme was to show despite what’s going on outside, that people were staying positive and enjoying themselves during the shelter-in-place order.

Of course, you can get more specific with your fans about their tasks than we did. On the other hand, leaving things too open-ended may lead to footage that may not fit your vision.

For our video, we expected fans to be a little more fun and creative, but a few submissions fell short. Although we appreciated everyone taking the time to participate, this put more pressure on me as the video editor. Leaving them out wasn’t an option, so I had to figure out how to fit them in without throwing off the visual aesthetic and energy we wanted to create for the song.

Communication is key. If you have a specific vision in mind of what you are looking for from your fans, you’ll need to verbalize it.

3. Simplify the process and give clear directions

To get more quality submissions, make the process as simple as possible for the vision you set to create. Make sure you provide clear directions to guide fans towards getting what you need. Doing a bit of extra work to make sure fans know what to do and how to do it can go a long way.

If there’s a certain action or dance you want fans to do, make a video and show them an example.

If you need the video to be at a certain frame rate, show them how to set it up on their phones. For our specific project, we asked fans to set the frame rate to 60 frames per second and video resolution of 1080p. I created a quick video tutorial that showed them how to do it on their smartphones with step by step instructions.

4. Ask for more video than you think you need

Editing will play the most important role in the creation of your video. Having more footage than required might take more work but will give you much more to work with. This will allow you to get your final product as close to your vision as you can.

We initially asked each person to send 1 minute of video so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time reviewing all the footage. In hindsight, that wasn’t enough.

Even with 40 video submissions, it didn’t give us a lot of wiggle room. Depending on your concept, you may want to ask fans to record themselves for the entirety of the song.

You may not always have control of how many fans who want to participate or how well-made their video might be. It’s always better to ask for more footage than you think you will need.

5. Use a service like WeTransfer to send videos

Once your fans are ready to send you their videos, you need to have a protocol in place for them. Emailing is not the best option since video attachments will be compressed and lose quality. I recommend WeTransfer.

WeTransfer allows you to send up to 2GBs and your fans will only need an email address to send to. Another option is for them to upload their videos to Dropbox or Google Backup and Sync then email you a link. I personally prefer WeTransfer because fans can easily do it from their mobile device without needing to create any accounts.

If you plan to include your fan’s names in the video credits, be sure to have them send it with their video submissions so it’s easier for you to track.

6. Inform fans about lighting

When it comes to video, lighting is everything. Properly exposed footage can make your job, or whoever is editing the video, much easier. Not everyone is a photographer or videographer so educate them on the basics.

You don’t want their videos to be overexposed (too bright) nor do you want any video that is underexposed (too dark). Depending on the concept or theme of your music video, let fans know what kind of lighting you are looking for and how to achieve it. Unfortunately, I had to deal with some poor lighting in the videos, but I made it work.

Here are some tips you can share with your fans to get good lighting from natural sources for phone recording:

7. Remind fans about the background

Being a part of a music video can be an exciting experience for fans. However, the background of their video can be something that’s easily overlooked. Remind fans to be mindful of what’s behind them in their shot before shooting their video. If the room is messy, tidy it up. Make sure there’s nothing visible that they wouldn’t want the public to see or doesn’t fit the music video.

One person sent a video of her dancing in the kitchen where you could see a bunch of knives on the wall behind her. For a song about hope and positivity, that isn’t exactly the imagery we want to show.

Alternatively, you can use backgrounds to your advantage. Having them be in specific rooms or have specific colors as background can reinforce the aesthetics of your video.

8. Embrace the imperfections

Because of the nature of this concept, you will be dealing with a lot of variables so don’t expect things to go perfectly.

Alternatively, if you embrace the “imperfections” of your video, you give more power to the authenticity of your message. We currently are living in very strange times and being as honest and non-perfectionist as possible can be a great way to connect with people.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask someone to redo their video if it’s not specifically what you’re looking for. We had someone submit a video while driving in a car, which was not exactly what we had in mind. Once again, communication is key.

Bonus: 8 Ideas for a Crowdsourced Music Video

David “D4” Nguyen is a freelance music marketer and content creator for D4 Music Marketing, an online resource he created to help aspiring and emerging independent artists improve their chances of making a living off music. You can read more of his work and follow his journey at D4 Music Marketing.

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