industry Getting Started in Music Videos

Sorry for long post, but it would help to get some perspective on the music video industry, and how I’m partly trying to establish myself within it regarding this project of mine.

I’m currently developing a short film and music video hybrid, which some might just call a narrative music video. There’s no performance aspect to it (i.e, no lip-syncing or instrumental presentation); it’s a purely narrative production that pivots around a piece of music. As much as I hate to say it though, it’s still technically unofficial since the song is 20 years old and I wasn’t commissioned by the artist, but BEAR WITH ME on why I’d still like to do it before saying it’s a waste of time.

For one, as much as I hate the usual “unofficial” category of videos online since most of them are just edits of other media or an amateurish original production, there are some well-made exceptions. One of my favorite videos of all time is an unofficial production that uses Radiohead’s True Love Waits. It’s beautifully made, but after speaking with the director (Adi Halfin), I found out she bought the necessary licenses so she could premier it at a handful of festivals such as the LA and NY Film Awards. There’s another video that’s purely narrative-driven like the one I'm hoping to make called Ransom, which was unofficially produced but still went to the LA and Austin Music Video Fests (to be fair, the director was friends with band's drummer and he liked it enough to make it official afterward, which is pretty rare I imagine).

The point I'm trying to make is that the "unofficial-ness" of it doesn't make it too incredibly different from producing a short film and securing the rights for the music, just like anyone else would have to when using copyrighted material. The quality of the video itself isn't inherently lackluster because it's unofficial; everything from the art direction to the cinematography is as good as the people putting in the time, planning, and budget (a clear distinction of the effort put in can't be ignored).

I was able to get in touch with the label and publisher behind the song I want, and it turns out the sync and master-use licenses are within an affordable range. After emailing a few festivals that accept music videos, I was able to confirm that as long as I have these permitted licenses, I'm eligible to submit it despite the age of the song and what not. Some of the festivals that I got clearance from so far were Tribeca, the UKMVAs, London Short Film Fest, Berlin MVAs, and the Aesthetica Film Fest. Sure, I'm not guaranteed to get into any of these, but as I put in more research it's likely that I'll find more festivals that I'm still eligible for given my circumstance.

Yes, I know it's still better to make something original with the artist on board. But at the risk of sounding pretentious, as someone interested in creating more narrative-centric music videos with an experimental edge than your typical performance piece, the song I want to use is absolutely perfect for driving the sort of vision that I want to establish.

I'm sure there are young artists out there who make the sort of music I'd prefer (I'm not that picky), but it's harder to find because firstly, I don't have a portfolio/reel yet showcasing my abilities to likely convince them in making a more ambitious narrative project. Secondly, even though I don't care about getting paid right now, most indie artists (primarily those very young in their careers) don't have the budget for it anyways (even a small one of at least $3,000).

In either case of working on an official or unofficial production at this stage, I’ll still probably be investing most of the money myself to really establish my voice the way I want to (not to say I wouldn't make any compromises). Overall, I don't think it's worth trying to find the type of artist that's willing to strike the right sort of balance with me at the moment. If I can make what I want to now with a song that fits me, it gives me a better shot at drawing in the right people that are interested in my general ambitions (aesthetically speaking), and who are more aware of the financing and logistics that generally go into music videos. Besides, Daniels' first video was unofficial, yet it gave a good taste of their style and made it into festivals.

Thanks for sticking with me this far. Is there anything I should consider or reconsider? Am I too crazy for wanting to do this?