How to Create a Viral Music Video

More people than ever today are consuming music through YouTube, meaning a good music video can really help your act gain popularity.

You probably don’t have a ton of money to spend on video production, though, so you’ll want to keep your costs down. You can often rent a camera for a short period for a fairly low cost or even shoot your video on a smartphone.

Beyond that, how can you create a music video that viewers will want to share?

1. Pick your best or most popular song.

You’re going to want to feature your best music when you choose to make a music video. This will give your video the highest possibility of being shared. Yes, sometimes bad music gets shared because it’s bad – think Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – but that’s not how you want to launch your career.

This video for “Let Her Go” by Passenger seems to feature mostly just footage of the band on tour, preparing for a show and then playing it, but the quality and popularity of the song has vaulted the video to over one billion views, lightyears beyond that of any other Passenger video. The video is well done, no doubt, but it would not have succeeded with a lesser song.

2. Come up with a unique concept.

This is the toughest and most important step to producing a viral video. There are tons of music videos on the Internet, so you’ll need to find a way to stand out. Sit around and brainstorm ideas, and don’t settle until you’ve found something you’ve never seen before.

Some videos, such as M.I.A.’s “Born Free” and its depiction of the genocide of redheads, feature extremely complex concepts, but your unique or innovative concept doesn’t have to be quite so theatrical. Check out this video Young the Giant did early in their career for “I Got.” All they did was play the song out in the middle of the desert, but it makes for a really cool video.

3. Practice, practice, practice before filming.

To keep your costs down if you’re renting a camera or paying a videographer, you should make sure you’re fully ready to go before starting to film. It’s similar to paying for studio time; don’t pay for time during which you’re just practicing.

Putting in a good amount of practice or rehearsal will also show. Aside from the lowered costs, the video will be much better.

Every OK Go video shows evidence of intense and extensive practice and refinement, but this one for “Here It Goes Again” is a great example. When you watch the video, you’ll see that it’s not actually all that high-quality. The performance, though, is of extremely high quality. Once again, this video looks cheap to make.

4. Make people feel something.

Ultimately, unless you have a high marketing budget, the success of your video will depend on whether people are compelled to share it.

They’ll be much more likely to do so if they are affected emotionally by the video. Some videos aim to make people laugh, others to make people cry, but you’ll want yours to pack some kind of punch if it has a hope of going viral.

This video, from the fairly early days of Arctic Monkeys’ career, easily connects the viewers to the protagonist of the video. It’s near impossible to come away from watching this video without feeling for her.

If you’re starting to feel comfortable with the music you’re putting out as a group, you should try to create at least one music video. This will give you a chance to not only show your personality but also pack your creative power into the production of one highly shareable piece of content.

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Matt Cummings grew up in the Bay Area and now attends UCLA. He enjoys sports, music and comedy.

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