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Forming Ideas for Music Videos

Finding an idea for a music video can be one of the most rewarding parts of making a music video. To help you, we'll look at sources for ideas such as the artist's identity, musical lyrics, shock value, media, and how to use recycled ideas properly so that your music video can get started on the right foot.

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Video Transcript

Creative ideas are powerful. They've taken us from chariots to an automobile and from cave paintings to the Mona Lisa. The bad news is, it can be easier to recite Pi to the 1000th decimal place than to think of a creative idea for a music video. So in order to help you, we'll be looking at some tricks that will help you think of ideas that will leave viewers wanting.

Coming up with the concept for a music video can be a nerve wracking experience but it doesn't have to be. In fact, it can be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of making a music video. The trick is knowing where to look in your search for ideas. As such, we'll be looking at sources for ideas such as the artist's identity, musical lyrics, shock value, media, and we'll even be taking a look at how to use recycled ideas properly so that your music video can get started on the right foot.

Besides getting a larger fan base, the most important reason for making a music video is to shape the way people see an artist. That's why this should be your first consideration when developing your concept. For example, if you were to make a video for the alternative rock group OK GO, you would have to first study the previous videos they made to find their typical style. You'd probably find that almost all of their videos involve elaborate setups, a high degree of choreography, and singing. Keeping this preference in mind, you may want to think of something difficult to achieve and film it in a one-take, choreographed event. On the other hand, Linkin' Park's music video style has generally been special effects driven with singing band members, and little to no storyline. This being the case, your idea should include a modern and digital visual style.

If your band wants to change its identity or is in need of one, you'll have to look to other sources for your concept. One source of inspiration might be the actual lyrics of the music. REM did a great job of this with their song Everybody Hurts In it, they show the artist walking around a busy city realizing that everyone from the cab driver to the businessman have been hurt in the past. Since the song's lyrics are so powerful, this makes for a very powerful music video. However, even if your lyrics aren't particularly moving, you can still use them to create a visual them for your video. This is what Gnarls Barkley did for his song Crazy He used ink blots that revealed the singer in order to make the viewer feel like they're being treated by a psychologist.

One source for ideas that has become increasingly popular in recent years are videos with shock value. These are music videos where something that was either very difficult to do or that confuses your perception is achieved. The song Ankle Injuries uses dice to form stop-motion animations of the singer and of objects that move to the song's beat. This video must have taken a very long time to do, but it definitely achieves its purpose of drawing curious viewers in. Another early example of using shock value can be found in Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity production. Much like the name implies, the video was shot in a clinical room, resembling a mental institution in which the furniture seems to have a life of it's own. A successful concept of this type of video will not only drive fans to watch the video several times, it will encourage them to send it to their friends who may not yet know of the band.

If you're still having a tough time thinking of a creative idea, you may want to try watching a movie or reading a book or a magazine for inspiration. In fact, some artists have successfully based their music videos off of periods in history. Groups like Muse, Weezer, and Outkast have used historical events as tongue-in-cheek themes for their videos. In aHa's Take on Me video, the artists actually use a comic book as a way to introduce drama and using something familiar. One interesting way to kickstart your creativity is to make a list of objects, another of locations, another of periods in time, and another of different types of people and randomly select one item from each list. This way, you'll be forced into thinking how those items could be related which may become the seed of a great music video idea.

You've probably all heard someone say, there's nothing new under the sun. Though this saying seems rather pessimistic, there is some behind it especially when it comes to music videos. However, that doesn't mean you can't still turn an old idea into something original. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took a standard performance-based music video and added the element of having the group play to a huge crowd from a rooftop, making the piece unique to the band. There are also times when using a proven style is exactly what a band or music label needs. When bands are first starting out, it's best to make sure they appear multiple times throughout the video so that new fans know who they are which is why they're almost always performance-based music videos. Also, there are times when a proven style of video fits a song so well you almost have to use it. This is the case for Usher's DJ Got Us Fallin in Love. The video won't be winning awards for originality anytime soon, but it hits the right tone for Usher's style of music.

Though there's no magical way to help you come up with a creative idea, there are many great starting points. By using one or more of the resources we've looked at , you'll can be assured that your music video will not only fit the artist's song but will satisfy their fans as well.