At Showbott Entertainment, we see hundreds of promo videos for our artists and potential acts every week. We’ve also got thousands of great promo videos for you to watch on our site! But we often get asked the question, what makes a good promo video for a musician, band or DJ? In this blog, we try to highlight some of the key things a musician should consider in order to end up with the best looking (and sounding) product.
When a potential customer is looking to book a musician, band, DJ or entertainer for their next event, it’s not always possible to see the artist performing live before making a final decision. So, the next best thing is to watch a promo video or two showing off what the artist can do and give a true reflection of how they sound whilst performing.
The key here is realism. Whilst music videos like Shinigami Eyes by Grimes might be an impressive visual spectacle, they don’t give you much idea of what a Grimes gig might look and sound like…
Customers would much prefer to watch a true representation of the product you actually offer than be disappointed when you perform at their event. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to capture live footage from previous events. But as we all know, a quick mobile phone video or GoPro capture isn’t going to look or sound as impressive as if you were standing there watching the artist perform.
Live footage is incredibly useful to the customer and shouldn’t be overlooked – but is there a medium ground between shaky mobile footage and the artistic creativity of the Grimes music video…Here are Showbott’s top tips to achieving a successful and high converting promo video.
CHOICE OF VIDEOGRAPHER:
This is crucial – and shouldn’t just be a friend of the band or someone’s aunty with a DSLR because they’re available or cheap. A good videographer will see things that us mere mortals don’t; and utilise them in your promo video. Perhaps it’s the angle of where you setup and perform, use of lighting, extracting more energy from the performers etc.
You need to be comfortable performing in front your videographer and willing to take direction from them. You have employed them for their expertise after all. If you’d like more direction from them during a shoot, then don’t be afraid to ask for this – and discuss your artistic vision for the video prior to arriving at the shoot as it might dictate choice of equipment, lighting or even time of day.
When filming the Rockafella Acoustic Duo videos, despite filming in the Summer, we waited until late evening so that the shots through the windows were filled with darkness and street-lighting to match the ambience of the bar where the promo was filmed. This was at the suggestion of the videographer and made a huge difference to the end product.
During the same video shoot, other aspects of the venue were utilised in the final videos to increase the artistic element, whilst still largely focusing on the performers.
Always be sure to check out what equipment your videographer can bring to the shoot too…perhaps they have Gimble for super-steady close up shots (like the one shown here in the Emerald Skye shoot below) or different lenses to capture wider shots.
The equipment used during a shoot can completely change the final output of the video and clarifying this with your videographer beforehand is vital to achieving the same end goal. You also need to consider whether want it to be a live performance? A story-based video? Something else entirely?
Another crucial decision is choosing the right venue for your promo video. Where would you typically perform? In a wedding venue, at a festival, in a bar, nightclub, outside, inside, in a church? Some venues charge extortionate rates for a daytime or night time hire, while others are happy for you to use the space for free or for mention on social streams.
The type of venue will also dictate the kind of music video you can make. An acoustic singer/songwriter might want to film in an intimate setting like a coffee shop or living room. A rock band might want to film in a larger venue like a club or stadium. And a DJ might want to film in multiple locations like a club, festival, and/or beach party. Once you’ve decided on the type of venue, it’s time to start thinking about the look and feel of your video.
Are you going for a high-energy video with lots of quick cuts? Or are you going for something slower and more relaxed? Do you want to feature your performance front and centre, or do you want to focus on the crowd reaction? These are all important questions to answer before you start filming.
Once you’ve got the logistics figured out, it’s time to start thinking about the actual shoot itself. If you’re working with a professional videographer, they’ll be able to help you with things like lighting and camera angles. But if you’re filming yourself or working with someone who isn’t as experienced, there are still some things you can do to make sure your video looks great.
First and foremost, pay attention to lighting. Natural light is always best, so if possible, try to film during the day or in well-lit rooms. If you’re filming outside, make sure the sun is behind the camera so that your subjects aren’t squinting into the sun. And if you’re filming indoors, try to avoid using fluorescent lights which can give your video an unnatural green tint.
Next, think about your framing. When filming people, it’s always best to have them fill up at least 60% of the frame. This will help ensure that they’re easily visible and that viewers can see their expressions clearly. And when filming musical performances, be sure to get some close-ups of instruments and hands as well as wide shots that show the whole stage/room.
Some venues allow Haze/Fog machines, which is great way to add some character to a venue and improve the lighting on offer. Just be sure that your haze machine doesn’t set off any smoke detectors and check with the venue if this allowed before firing one up!
If you’re not taking footage from a live gig, have you considered whether you invite an audience along to the video shoot? This may help to inject some energy into the room, give the performers a crowd to bounce off and adds another visual spectacle into the video shoot. Incentives for attending the shoot could vary but consider why an audience might want o come along and watch a video shoot in production.
What will you wear for the video? Will there be multiple costume changes? Is this reflective of what you would wear to perform at a typical gig? Are you planning to keep the clothing casual or are you going to dress to impress? There are all things that need to be decided before the shoot. If there are multiple members, do you coordinate with one another or are you intentionally dressed in different styles/colours. Remember to consider the colour of you lighting and backdrop against what you wear and make sure that you can be seen clearly (if that’s what you’re going for)!
CREATIVITY AND EFFECTS
Your promo video doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to look great. With some creativity and careful planning, you can film an engaging visual story that highlights your artist’s unique style and personality.
Consider using creative camera angles and shots to add interest to your footage. For example, you could film close-ups of the artist’s hands playing their instrument or wide shots that capture them performing against an impressive backdrop. Slow motion footage can also look effective in musical promo videos – just make sure it fits with the tone of your artist’s music.
With so many filters out there today on Tik Tok and Instagram, alongside video creation software like Final Cut – it’s easy to get carried away with effects. Whilst these might take a promo video from looking good to great, just consider the realism factor and whether what you’re adding in post-production detracts away from the performance you give during the video.
Finally, make sure your audio is as good as it can be! Are you recording your music before the video shoot and miming on the day, or will you record audio at the same time as you shoot – one consideration here is the extra setup time and the extra equipment required to capture suitable audio. Will this look messy in your video shoot or can you factor it in to the look of the video itself?
This is especially important if you are filming live music. Be sure to use high-quality microphones and get them as close to the source as possible. If you’re filming in noisy environments like bars or clubs , try using lav mics which can be hidden under clothes and reduce background noise.
Like with so many things with marketing, it comes down to how much you can afford. Of course, budget is always a consideration when planning any shoot. And it’s especially important when choosing a venue because some places can be very expensive to hire. If money is tight, then you might have to get creative with your choices. Maybe there’s a local park or community centre that would work well for your purposes and won’t cost an arm and a leg to use.
THINK ABOUT LOGISTICS
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a venue for your music video is logistics. Can the venue accommodate your shoot? Do they have enough power outlets? Are there restrictions on noise levels? Will you be able to bring in all the equipment you need? These are all important questions to ask before signing on the dotted line.
Making a great promo video doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – but there are definitely some things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want your video to look professional and polished. By following these tips on everything from choosing the right venue to getting great audio, you’ll be well on your way to making a promo video that sounds as good as it looks!