woman with black balloons wearing black dress on black background music video

How to Make a Music Video

Self-Education | Music Videos

How to Make a Music Video (When You've Never Done it Before!)

What Makes a Music Video Great?

A great music video is a reflection of something that matters to the artist.

Think about the last music video you saw that left an impression on you.  Or think about the videos you used to see on MTV and VH1 as a kid that made you want to be an artist.  I’d argue that the good ones, the ones that really mattered, are the ones that make us feel like we’re getting a glimpse into the truth behind the artist.  It’s almost like they are showing us a secret part of themselves.  Some music videos aren’t like that at all.  Some are fun, or weird, or cool.  And maybe those stick with you, too, if the aesthetic just really speaks to you.  But my favorite music videos are the ones that tell a story;  a story that exists alongside the song itself but is not exactly  same as the song.  Like a melody and a rhythm.  Like when it’s sunny outside but raining at the same time.  The music video and the song are two things that exist together to tell us something about the songwriter.  If you want to learn how to make a music video, first start with thinking about what it is you love about music videos.

Get to Know the Artist

Kyle Anne writes music that feels like a true story.

Earlier this year, Kyle Anne asked me to create a music video for a song from her debut album “Eulogy.”  I panicked.  I’d never create a music video before, not really.  I had tinkered in the videography world and created a lip sync video for The Electric Mud as a surprise for the boys finishing their first national tour.  But I’d never created something with a story.  The good news was:  Kyle Anne had never made a music video before either!  So we were determined to learn together.

Luckily, I’ve know Kyle Anne for years.  She and I met back in 2015 when we collaborated on a promotional photoshoot for Love Your Rebellion.  We’ve worked together on live performance photos before and I even got to capture her opening up for the Eli Young Band, which was such an unexpected honor.  I asked her once why she decided to keep working with me after that first shoot and she said:

“Even though we had just met that day, I felt so comfortable with you, and I was impressed with your creative energy…After seeing how awesome those photos turned out, I knew I wanted to work with you on future projects.  I’ve hired you several times since then, and I’ve been 100% satisfied with all the beautiful photos you’re provided.”

We even collaborated on the creation of the images  used on the cover of her “Eulogy” album!  So when it came time to figure out how to make a music video for “Love Bug Season” I felt like we’d built enough trust to try something new together.  She sent me the track and as I listened to “Love Bug Season” for the first time then I started to brainstorm ideas of imagery that would compliment that song.  I asked her “How would you like this song to look?”

Her first thought was to use her daughter, Elliot, in a simple, minimalistic way.  We kicked around some ideas and eventually I turned to my friend Spencer at Dandy House for some guidance.

music video clip gif of mom and daughter's eyes in black and white

Consult with Collaborators

Know your limits and know when you need to get help from someone with more experience!

I knew I COULD make a music video myself, but I wasn’t sure if I SHOULD.  Kyle Anne is one of those dream clients:  easy to please, not fussy, and down for anything.  I knew whatever I made would make her happy, but I wanted to do more than that.  I wanted to do her song justice! Dandy House is a new media company in South Florida, but the brains behind the brand belong to my best friend, Spencer Elles.  He’s combining his love of music, his graphic design talents, and his theatrical background into one powerhouse videography and content creation company.  To put it plainly, he knows more about video making than I do!  So I sought his help and together we built on Kyle Anne’s initial idea of featuring the music video around her daughter.

Our first step was to storyboard the video.  We decided to go in a “day in the life of Elliot” direction and we thought of things Kyle Anne and Elliot might do together on a typical day.  Keeping visual interest in a music video is important so Spencer suggested we aim to fit as many shooting locations as we could into the 3:15 song.  We estimated how long each scene would take to shoot, how many seconds of each scene we would want in the entire video, and how many cuts we would need.  Spencer played the song over and over and wrote down how long each “section” of the song ran to decide how many clips of video we would need.  

 

What does Spencer say about the video:

“There are some really powerful shots in that video.  I remember a few times while Jesi and I were editing, where we were screaming and freaking out about how incredible some of those shots ended up. Especially that part where they break the 4th wall near the end of the song. We just kept re-playing it and jumping around screaming “Oh my god, This is perfect!””

music video woman looking mournful wearing funeral clothes sitting on brown couch with candles

The Final Product

It all came together in the editing room.

We spent maybe 4 or 5 hours with Kyle Anne and Elliot creating the footage for the video.  I knew as I was recording the footage that the visuals were powerful but I really didn’t know how it would all fit together.  Spencer is a wizard when it comes to editing and we worked together to cut out unnecessary clips and strategically place the emotionally dynamic clips in a way that best accented the music.  

One bit of advice Spencer gave me that was so important and impactful was to purposefully not sync up the lyrics with what is happening on the screen.  For instance, if the song mentions walking down a road, don’t show people walking down a road while that lyrics is played.  It’s too obvious, too heavy handed.  Dig deeper.  Learning how to make a music video means learning how to tell multiple stories at once.  

 

Words of Wisdom from Kyle Anne

“It might seem like the SWFL music community is small, and that you need to be competing with everyone else for work, but that’s not the case at all. Everyone has something different to offer, and at the end of the day no one else has had your unique perspective in life, so they’re not going to be writing the songs you write. Always strive to better yourself and your own skills, keep creating original content, and you’ll do just fine.”

Connect

You can find Kyle Anne playing at various local venues around the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area.  You can stream her album “Eulogy” on Spotify and Apple Music, visit her website to purchase a psychical copy and other cool merch, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

girl laying on pink background with bright colored feathers

Musician Portraits Pop with Bold Colors

Musician Portrait Spotlight | Emma Arnold

How Bold Colors Amplify Your Music Brand

What Color is Your Music?

It all started with a pink guitar. Emma Sydney Arnold is exactly as young as she looks in her musician portraits, but she’s been playing guitar and writing songs since she was 10 years old.  Since then , she’s developed a love for indie pop, a tendency to write songs while driving, and reputation for being precisely the kind of girl you want to meet at a local open-mic night.

Raised in Naples, Florida, Emma can be found playing acoustic solo sets in local bars and venues around SWFL.  Her style is influenced by soft pop and alt rock.  When she first contacted me for her musician portraits, we built on that pink guitar theme to create photos that fit her musical style and stage presence.

Bold colors like pink, blue, and yellow signify strength, energy, creativity, and spontaneity.  Each type of music evokes emotions that can be represented in color.  Choosing the right colors for your band photos or musician portrait will help you get your music’s message across to your audience before they even hear you play!

girl with pink lollipop musician portrait

Choosing the Right Colors of Band Photos

If you hate music like Avenged Sevenfold, you might love Emma Arnold.

There is nothing pretentious, vague, angry, or obscure about Emma.  She’s an open book, typically found with her nose in a book.   Whether reading sci-fi novels or jotting down lyrics in her journal, Emma’s love for the written word is crystal clear.  

Sometimes, songs take years to come to fruition.  Emma is not one to rush a good thing and she’s learned to really take her time when putting together the lyrics and melodies that are born in the mind and live in her journals.  But once she has a solid idea, she runs with it and debuts it to an audience as soon as possible!

Similarly, her color palette is simple, cohesive, and confident.  Colors not only evoke emotions.  Like all visual media, the colors you choose to represent your music brand will cause people to make snap judgements about your music.  Color leaves an impression, whether positive or negative.

Pink is a color the represents sweetness, innocence, and child-like silliness.  Pairing it with bright blues, yellows, teals, and purples can add to the messaging that the artist is fun, uninhibited, and youthful.  

So how can you figure out what colors best fit your style of music when creating your band photos?  You can do research on color theory and think about what feelings, messages, and styles you want your music to evoke.  Or book a session with me and we’ll figure it out together!  

musician portrait of girl on pink background with lollipop

A Portrait of the Artist

When choosing a theme for Emma’s photos, we went with 3 words that describe her style:  sweet, soft, and sparkly.  

Emma arrived at my studio feeling awkward and self-concious, which is how most people feel right before having their portraits taken!  Some pink paper, a giant lollipop, and brightly-colored feathers were all it took to get Emma in the mood for being silly with me in the studio.  

None of the bands or musicians I work with are professional models.  Emma, while totally adorable, still needed just as much direction and posing assistance as any other client and that is what I love doing the most!   Helping my musician portrait clients get comfortable in front of the camera and gaining their trust is the most rewarding part of the job.  Emma nailed her studio session with me and we created some of my favorite musician photos to date!

What made Emma choose me for her portraits?

“I saw your work through one of our mutual friends Frankie Colt! Frankie was someone who gave me a very warm welcome into the music community and as soon as I followed her on Instagram and saw some of the pictures you took for her I wanted to work with you too! I think you have a really really special unique eye for capturing moments on camera that portray who someone is or what they’re like. Something about your photos feels more personal. Especially with musicians. We’re an odd bunch. There’s a lot of photographers in SWFL you could hire to take pictures, but I haven’t worked with any other photographer who really helps portray creativity and character like you do. You’re also a master of angle and color! It’s really what every musician wants for photo shoot.”

young girl on black background touching face musician portrait

Advice for Other Musicians

What advice or wisdom would you give to other musicians in the Southwest Florida music scene?

“I would say to just to keep putting yourself out there. It’s challenging to build a reputation as a gigging musician anyways but especially being so young. If you’re a young musician like me trying to play in local venues, then I think it’s important to have a little bit of something for everyone.

Play a lot of songs that fit the venue. and then soon your own original material will be noticed and appreciated just as much overtime once people start paying attention to your own personal style and sound. Also- if someone requests it, never play Brown Eyed Girl, Margaritaville, or Wagon Wheel without a $100 tip 😉 lol kidding, but not kidding.”  

girl laying on pink background with bright colored feathers

Connect 


Emma is venturing off on the next chapter of her life!  She’ll be moving to Georgia to attend the Savannah College of Art & Design.  I’m so excited to see where Emma’s love for music, painting, and graphic design takes her in life!

You can find out where Emma is playing next by visiting her website, following her on Instagram, and keeping up with her latest releases on YouTube (coming soon!).