What type of artist are you?
You know the answer but that’s one of the first things we want to know. Who are you? “Tell us about yourself and your music?” It tells us so much, immediately guiding us on what type of music video to produce. There’s nothing like hearing an artist talk about themselves, no two people approach it in the same way. “I’m a poet” “I’m an energetic active person” “I’ve had a hard life and I reflect it in my music”. By understanding you; the path to the best creative approach becomes much clearer.
What stage are you in your career?
“I’m an accountant who’s quit my job to focus on music”, “I’ve been gigging and busking for 5 years and now want a video”, “My band’s taken an 8 year break and now we’re back!” So where are you? This matters. It really matters. All these points align to paths, paths that become more defined the more information we have, that’s why it’s so important for us to take the time to get to know you.
Say this is your first music video; then this has to be the one they remember, it has to make an impact. Why? Because it’s the first time the world will be aware of your existence. Usher’s You Make Me Wanna ... , Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time and Meghan Trainor’s All About That Base are all debut music videos and are (arguably) their most memorable. I think we all remember what we were up to when these videos first dropped and is usually the most recognisable and iconic visuals of their careers.
Okay, what if this isn’t your first video? What if you’re a veteran artist who’s had a much deserved break and now it’s time for a comeback? No band or artist comes back the same as they left off; maybe you’ve had a “rebrand”. As an artist this isn’t a new concept and if this section is particularly relevant to you then chances are you are already in the middle of one. Either way; this is something we understand. This has to be a new side of you; more mature, sexier, maybe you’re a bad boy now – who knows?
You see how where you are reflects what video is right for you? You can always tell when a boyband has grown up; they start wearing suits.
What type of music do you make?
You’ve got your own sound, genre or fusion and it’s all about who you are. Your type of music is going to make a big impact on your video. Yeah music is defined by the artist, but also the genre and within every genre there are conventions. Now that’s not to say you can’t break conventions, in fact some of the most innovative videos ignore conventions and divert your expectations like Alt-J’s Tessellate and Nirvana’s In Bloom, so if you want to surprise your audience we have a lot of clever ideas.
You need to communicate with your audience and your video needs to speak to your audience. Who can make this happen? A director who understands your music, a director who is connected to your kind of music. Chances are they like the same music you do and watch the same videos as you. There’s nothing like that feeling of being a director who connects with an artist over the music and videos they love. For us when picking the best directors for a production the type of music is an instant indicator of who will do the best job.
Who are the fans that make up your music audience?
It sounds similar to the last section and that’s because it is, but, this is shifting focus from you to your fan-base. Yeah it’s your music video and you can do whatever you want but considering who your audience is or would be is yet another guiding pin on the track to your ideal video. Take for example the big (and yes I know more mainstream) artists like Lady Ga Ga or Taylor Swift. They know what their audience wants and they sure as hell give it to them, it shows a connection to their audience. These fans wait in anticipation for the next video and are rarely disappointed. Now let’s not restrict yourself in the video department but what I’m getting at is certain audiences like extravagant performance videos, others quirky alternative videos, some go for something more simple. If you’re already an established artist you already know what your audience will respond to and the importance of not disappointing.
How about an approach to multiple music videos?
Do you want your videos to have a recurring theme, recurring visual or one epic video told in small parts? Granted there are more options than this, it’s still a good place to start. The recurring theme can be anything recognisable that can run through multiple videos without seeming out of place like Michael Jackson having radical dance choreography in his videos. The visual theme can be a style of shooting like Bruno Mars’ series of 1980s influenced videos (Locked Out Of Heaven, When I Was Your Man and Treasure) or even as simple as a recurring vibrant colour scheme like that of Nicki Minaj’s. Or maybe, just maybe you want to create one video told in small parts. I think the most infamous and parodied example of this would have to be R Kelly’s ‘Trapped In The Closet’ trilogy told in the style of an opera or something more stylish like The Maccabees’ spiritual trilogy (Marks To Prove It, Something Like Happiness and Spit It Out). This is a clever approach and demands a long term relationship with the director.
What about everything else?
Okay now these areas, though not as major as the previous, do deserve a mention – it’s for your benefit so why not?
How do you want to come across? It could be sexy, clean cut or a badass. Is this who you are or your stage persona? Sounds obvious but it’s important to know what element of you will be represented and how best to make it happen.
Is the video about the artist, the music or the message? Some artists or their management insist on playing a major part in their videos, no problem so does Beyoncé. Some artists, like Rudimental, prefer to be behind the music and not appear at all, very respectable and opens the door to more possibilities. On the other hand focusing on the message can lead to more artistic videos or ones with a richer narrative.
There you have it, all the major points with a few slid in between. So how do you choose the best creative approach for your music video? Essentially it’s up to you but the best approach is to really, really think about it. Think about yourself as an artist, think about your music, think about your fan base. With all these things considered it becomes a lot harder to go wrong.