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So you wanna be in a rock band?: Smile for the camera

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | April 13th, 2009

Video is undoubtedly a powerful medium, and in the view of many entertainment critics, “the ultimate medium of the future.” From a cultural perspective, it has the ability to evoke emotion, and illustrate complex meaning through imagery and representation.

The business point of view also points out, that perhaps one of video's most beneficial attributes, is that it allows audiences to link an artist's work with his/her image and name. The popularity of even poor quality “home-mades” on sites, such as Youtube, once again reaffirms video's social significance. As society becomes ever more encompassed in the “Digital Age”, the growing importance of video promotion, among musicians, cannot be understated.

Digital methods have made video taping and production accessible and understandable to virtually anyone in the general population. Accordingly, with this newfound ease of video manipulation came the novel expectation that all musicians should have promo videos as part of their professional portfolio. Lucky for all of you, turning this prospect into a reality has never been easier, or for that matter, cheaper.

But just so we're clear from the get-go, cellphone clips do NOT count, and should not be used, under any circumstances, for marketing your band. Their image quality sucks, their audio is even worse, and if you are looking to make a professional impression, well you lost me at “cellphone video.”

In terms of a starting point when it comes to making promo vids, the following things should be considered:

Video Type

Should you go live or traditional music video? Both versions, obviously, have their advantages, and if possible, I say do both. However, if you are restricted, for budgetary reasons, to invest in only one form, your decision should ultimately be based on your band's career direction.

Whereas live videos have the ability to showcase your band in action, and demonstrate to potential talent buyers why your act should be booked over comparable others, music videos work to expand a band's fan-base because of their ability to be aired on a variety of programs (both online and via mainstream media). In addition, the release of a music video often accompanies that of an album/single, making it an easy means to generate publicity for your band.

A final version of the promo video that your act may choose to undertake is that of the “on location” (ie: in the studio or on the road) or “behind the scenes” footage reel. Not only can these videos be shot for an extremely inexpensive cost (ie: usually filmed completely with handhelds), but as well, hardcore fans absolutely revel in this kind of up close and personal encounter with their favourite bands, while such videos also allow industry execs to get a taste for your personality and band dynamic.


Although making a flashy million dollar production would surely be quite the experience, I understand that it is not realistic for the vast majority of indie bands. You've got to use the resources that you have at your fingertips, and that's why again, I recommend taking advantage of Fanshawe's multi-talented student body.

One of my very first music videos, for an acoustic track off of one of my demos, was shot and edited by a friend of mine who was studying MultiMedia and Design Technology. Not only did I get great promotional material out of this venture, but she was also able to submit the work as a project for one of our classes; hence, it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to find a student who is able and/or willing to assist you in making a video, never fear as there are a variety of freelance music video makers in and around town that are indie-friendly. Checking postings on boards such as Craigslist, or Kijiji, and/or resources like and is definitely a good place to start.


Last, but not least, what should your video (if a traditional music video) be about? Video has the capacity to tell a story, and to relate your musical expression to who you are/what you're all about as an individual act. I've seen far too many generic videos, from indies, strictly constituted of jam sessions in dimly lit warehouses complimented by sporadic zoom-ins and excessive head-banging. For the sake of my own personal sanity, please, do not use this plot (or lack thereof) as your video's storyline — it's overdone, out-dated, and does nothing to set your act apart from others. The best (and most memorable) music videos, in my view, relate directly to their song's lyrical message; they're emotional, and reflective, and balanced out by the perfect amount of rocking out.
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