Making Social Videos On a Budget

Today we’re talking to our friends at Rotor Videos about the growth of video and how to have a stronger video presence on social as a musician.


How important is video in artist promotion?

Video’s importance on social has been growing rapidly since Instagram and Snapchat launched in 2010. But over the past few years we’ve seen the relationship between music and video deepening online. Fans now consume 47% of music through on-demand video—outperforming paid and free audio streaming—and music videos account for 93% of YouTube’s most-watched videos.


And of course, now Facebook is getting in on things with its recent move to become a hub for official music videos, which is no surprise when you consider that already 77% of video views on Facebook include music. Then we have Spotify Canvas opening to wider audiences, with its full-video integration expected in the future. There are so many destinations for video now, and that number just continues to grow. So, as we say, if you’re not being seen, you’re not being heard.


That’s the consumer behaivour side of it. There’s no denying there’s a demand there that artists need to meet. But video is also an incredibly important tool for moving beyond mere exposure to allegiance. A great track can create awareness and generate an emotional response, but a song by itself doesn’t build long-term loyalty. Converting casual listeners into fans and a loyal following whose support you can rely on to buy your music, attend your gigs, and buy your merchandise takes relationship-building. And to do that, an artist or band needs to let people see who they are. Sometimes that means literally, in videos featuring your face and speaking voice, and sometimes it’s figuratively, like how you choose to tell a track’s story through your music video.


What role should social videos play in an artist’s promotional mix?

‘Mix’ is the key word there. Artists need a mixture of short-form videos and long-form videos to connect with people, because both are important to gaining exposure, building relationships and maintaining them. Each type does a different job and pays off in different ways.


Long-form videos—like official music videos, lyric videos, interviews, video AMAs, tutorials—give you depth of coverage. Traditionally they take longer to make, but they expose viewers to more of who you are as an artist and person in a single session because they engage with them for longer—for example replaying your music videos, immersing in the lyrics, and experiencing the music in full. Traditionally they take longer to make but the audience engages with them for longer. However, if you rely exclusively on long-form, you’ll end up with big dry spells between each post—withering the connection you fostered.


Short-form videos on social—like updates, reaction videos, teasers, promos—give you breadth of coverage. You can make them quickly and post them frequently, giving viewers micro exposures to who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re up to. But because they’re so quick to consume, quantity matters. You need more of them over time to generate that fan loyalty.


How can independent artists make lots of social videos on a budget?

Most artists know how to make basic social media videos for free—for example reaction videos and quick fan updates. You just point your camera at yourself, record, and upload it to your chosen platform. No time. No cost. Authentic and immediate.


Where it gets more tricky is when you when you want a bit more production value, polish, and branding, and when you want your video to look its best on every platform (square for Instagram and Twitter; vertical for mobile, Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories and Reels; horizontal for YouTube and Facebook). So here’s what we suggest to give yourself a healthy stream of video content for social.


Plan Ahead

The enemy of frequency is lack of planning. There’s no rule that says you’re only allowed to make one video at a time, but typically that’s what happens. An artist gets a spontaneous idea, waits for a break in their schedule to make the video, creates and posts it, and repeats when the next idea occurs to them. But planning and creating in bulk is more efficient and gives you a stockpile of social videos that you can schedule in advance using tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Later to drip out over weeks and months. So start by creating a bulk video content plan (like this planning template that we made to help artists get organised):

  • Document all of your topic ideas and the key point(s) you want to get across for each.
  • Then look at how many are on your list to decide your posting frequency: Two a week? Four per week? Over the next two months?
  • Organise them. In what order do you want to post your topics? Do any need to come before others to make sense or be relevant?
  • Finally, document the dates you intend to schedule each to post for.


Voila, you have a social video plan!


Film Everything

Because social videos are so short, having your detailed plan to follow should allow you to record a lot of your videos—maybe all of them—in a day or a single weekend. The camera quality on mobile phones today means you don’t need special film equipment. There are loads of tutorial videos out there on how to shoot quality footage, but they mostly boil down a few core guidelines:

  • Clean your lens.
  • Set your camera to the highest resolution setting it has.
  • For still shots (where your camera doesn’t need to move to follow the action), stabilise your camera with a tripod or prop it against something sturdy.
  • Lock the camera’s focus.
  • Light yourself well and face your light source.
  • Use quality stock footage for anything you can’t (or don’t want to) shoot yourself. There are decent free sources out there, like Mixkit, Pexels and Pixabay, and when you make your videos using Rotor Videos, you can help yourself to our library of over 3,000 video clips—all filmed and animated specifically for use by musicians.
  • Shoot your footage with your camera set horizontally (see why below)


            Automate the Editing

Editing is usually the hardest part of the video creation process for artists. Adding cuts and transitions between clips, special effects, animations, synchronised text on screen, and changing the video’s shape to look native to every social media platform normally requires specialist video editing skills, more complicated software, and gets really time-consuming and frustrating. But these are also the details that help transform an ok video into something that looks slick and memorable.


If you’re making simple presenter-style videos where you’re speaking on camera, (for example Q&As, artist updates, reaction videos, musical how-tos) and you just want to create versions in all the video shapes, Tappable is a great free online tool. Upload your video, pick all the sizes you need, and Tappable emails you links to the resized versions. (Tappable and tools like it only convert from horizontal/16:9 to the other shapes, not the other way around, which is why we suggest you always shoot in 16:9 if care about quickly turning one video into four videos).


If you’re making promotional videos for social and want to turn clips into a pro-quality video with high-end effects, then try Rotor Videos. It’s a video creation app for musicians that gives you control over the look and feel and then automatically handles the complicated editing bits for you. After you’ve uploaded your music and picked your clips and editing effects, its built-in brain listens to your track and cuts everything together for you, adjusting the timings of clips and effects based on the rhythm, tempo and intensity of your track.


You can create music video, lyric video, and vodcast teasers; new single, new album, and upcoming event promo videos; and video ads (as well as full-length music and lyric videos) in minutes. Then to get your video ready for social, just select the video shape you need and add and style your screen text. It’s free to sign up, you can experiment as much as you want, and you only pay when you’re ready to download (just $18 for SD and $25 for HD).


By planning and taking advantage of the tech that’s out there to simplify the editing process, any artist can produce a steady flow of social videos quickly and affordably in order to build connections and grow their fanbase.


Save 20% on video creation with Rotor Videos

Spinnup has partnered with Rotor Videos to bring you music video and social video creation for less. Just visit our partner page to start your free Rotor account, and 20% will be taken off every video you purchase or subscription you sign up to at checkout.