Thinking of music video ideas can be a daunting task; you want it to stand up to the quality of your musical masterpiece, and with so many concepts (and cliches!) out there, it can be a struggle to decide which one will be best suited to your song and your vision.
When done right however, a good music video can boost traffic and engagement for your music, and bring in new fans and supporters who might otherwise have never come across your work, so it's an endeavour that's well worth investing in! We can all think of a music video that lifted a great song to iconic status. So, if you're struggling with where to start, it's worth considering that one of the best ways to get those creative cogs turning is to take inspiration from some of the best music video ideas out there, and that's exactly what we're here to help you do!
- Try single-takes and tracking shots
- Use a house as a backdrop
- Recycle your concert footage
- Choreograph a dance routine
- Use a found footage effect
- Find an iconic location
- Give stop motion a shot
- Play around with animation or AI
- Shoot against a green screen
- Play with lenses and perspectives
- Reference an iconic movie
- Film in an infinity cove studio
Try single-takes and tracking shots
One-shot or continuous-take videos and films are a novel and interesting way to engage and impress your audience. One uninterrupted shot creates a seamless take from start to finish that reflects the flow of real-time human vision, free of jump cuts and switching perspectives. It might sound a bit easier to achieve in a 3-minute music video than a feature-length film, but don't be fooled: the precision and coordination that is required in this type of filming can be extremely difficult to master, and often requires meticulous preparation and lengthy rehearsals.
However, if this is a style that you're interested in using, then don't be put off. The results that can be achieved by investing some time and dedication into a single-take music video are well worth the effort. Just look at the sheer virality that the videos to Childish Gambino's This is America or Sia's Chandelier achieved when they came out.
These single-take music videos usually involve the use of tracking shots (also known as follow or dolly shots), which is where the camera follows the subject's movements, either from in front, behind, or alongside, for an extended amount of time. This is often achieved using a camera mounted on a dolly to create a smooth shot, but you can also use a gimbal and Steadicam. So if one uninterrupted take is proving a bit too challenging, you can still incorporate tracking shots into your music video to get a similar effect.
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Use a house as a backdrop
Using a house for filming your music video allows you to quickly build contexts that can make the implication of certain characteristics and conditions, without having to spell them out through a scripted narrative. For example, a humble apartment or house can create a sense of relatability and is a good foundation for telling a story about an 'ordinary' character. On the other side, large houses and mansions can be used to imply wealth and luxury, and are often used when a music video seeks to tell a story about the "high life". Equally, playing around with interiors can suggest different eras or cultural contexts.
And if you think that your song is the perfect contribution to a house party playlist, get the excitement building by showing your audience how it's done! Think Katy Perry's Last Friday Night, or Lil Chris getting pulled through a house party by his microphone cord in Checkin' It Out. Iconic.
Recycle your concert footage
Seeing your favourite artists in their element whilst performing live on stage has to be the ultimate way to consume music, but for the rainy days in between all those sell-out shows, it's nice to have the opportunity to experience a slice of that energy from the comfort of our own homes. Many artists opt for simply recycling old concert footage for their music videos, and this is a great way to immortalise the authentic excitement and electricity of a live show, as well as building anticipation for future tours. You can't tell me that Jay Z & Kanye West's N***as in Paris music video didn't have you considering mortgaging your house for a concert ticket!
However, if you want to have a bit more control over the footage for your music video, then you can set up a concert specifically for the occasion. From a rowdy underground gig to a fancy rooftop ensemble, this is your chance to get creative and orchestrate your perfect fantasy concert.
If you're looking for a similar vibe on a bit of a lower budget, you could instead use footage of the band or artist in a recording studio, which is another great way to show music artists in their element.
Choreograph a dance routine
Dance and music go together like bread and butter, and in a world where your ability to succeed is increasingly defined by your ability to go viral on TikTok, choreographing an iconic dance to go with your music video puts you one step ahead of the game.
Even in the days before TikTok, music videos like Beyoncé's Single Ladies and Psy's Gangnam Style showed the ability of iconic yet easily replicable dance moves to spread like wildfire (for better or for worse...). The fact is, music makes us want to dance, and if you can offer your fans a way to blame their bad dancing on your choreography, then you've won hearts and minds.
On the other side, you can go all out and employ professional dancers and choreographers to put on a show-stopping performance that your viewers could only hope to replicate. At the end of the day, whether you're the next Billy Elliot or you have two left feet, we all love to watch people dance and live vicariously through their movement and rhythm.
Check out our list of dance studios in London and get those feet moving!
Use a found-footage effect
A relatively easy and low-budget way to spruce up your music video is to employ a found-footage effect, which is essentially when a film or video recording is presented as if it is a real 'home video' or a raw, unearthed film recording. Popular examples include Ed Sheeran's Photograph and Joji's Glimpse of Us.
Sometimes, the film that is used genuinely is a home recording or 'found footage', but many times this is just an effect that is created by using a camcorder or ageing the footage in post-production. With both, the idea is to give a sense of realism and expose the 'raw' emotion that can sometimes feel lost in more refined footage.
This is a great way to evoke a sense of sentimentality and nostalgia in your music videos, and using actual home videos from the artist's past or childhood can offer fans a glimpse into their personal history.
Find an iconic location
Location, location, location... It's likely one of the first things you'll think about when coming up with music video concepts, and you'd be right to do so. Location scouting for any film project is a crucial part of pre-production, and finding the right place gives you a backdrop that sets the tone for your project and allows you to build a narrative around it.
We've already gone over the use of houses in music videos, but that doesn't even scratch the surface when considering all of the options available to you. Whether you're leveraging one of London's amazing free filming locations or splashing out on something more niche, the location of your music video should complement the narrative you want to tell and the general tone of the song. If it's a love song, for example, think romantic locations like meadows or date-night spots. Or, if you're going for something a bit more dark and grungy, try an industrial, edgy location such as a derelict basement, like in Griff's Black Hole (you can book the iconic Empire Film Studio where she filmed this on Tutti!).
If you're looking to be inspired by some more iconic and famous music video locations, we've got you covered!
Give stop motion a shot
Stop motion is a filmmaking technique where short static frames are played in sequence to create the illusion of motion. Although most commonly executed using animated images and 'claymation' (clay stop-motion animation), employing stop motion with camera footage of real people can add a really interesting and novel effect to your videos, like in Coldplay's Strawberry Swing.
This effect can also be used in coordination with live-action video footage, as is seen in Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know, where stop motion is used intermittently to create the effect of body paint slowly covering his body, as if it has a mind of its own.
As these two music videos show, the great thing about stop motion is that you're not confined by the laws of physics or the constraints of reality. From making people fly to making inanimate objects move autonomously, you can create fantastical stories and concepts that would be impossible with live-action filming. Obviously, executing this effect can require meticulous planning and choreography, but the unique results are well worth the effort.
Play around with animation and AI
You need only look to the success of the Gorillaz to understand how influential it can be to incorporate animation into your band's identity and music video concepts.
As with stop motion, animated music videos allow you to bend the realms of reality and get really creative with your plot lines. When else could you pitch the idea of flying around on a floating island with a windmill (like in Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc.)? And whilst animation itself can still be a costly and timely process, if you're looking to create really dramatic, cinematic shots, then it works out much cheaper than the live-action equivalent (ideal for those of us who don't have the budget to blow up a building or fly to space, for example).
And with the AI revolution in full force, you now have the privilege of utilising a wide range of high-tech AI video generators to assist your music video production process. For many, it's as easy as inputting your lyrics into a system and having a whole video generated for you at lightning speed. For others, it simply helps you cut down on editing time. So whether you're looking for trippy, futuristic effects or simply the aid of a robot production assistant, it's well worth checking out how AI can elevate your music video ideas (to infinity and beyond...).
Shoot against a green screen
Not entirely independent from the above suggestion is considering the use of a green screen for your music video ideas. You can either seek out a green screen studio or set up your own if you're on a tight budget.
The possibilities are endless when you have a green screen (I challenge you not to get carried away). Whether you want to replicate natural backdrops or insert yourself into a surrealist animated world, green screens are your chance to let your imagination run wild and turn your creative visions into reality. They can also be a smart choice if you're looking to keep your filming costs low, as you don't have to worry so much about location scouting and set design.
Just make sure that your film lighting is set up accordingly, as it will need to be even and free of shadows and reflections if you want the best results and the easiest post-production process. And you may want to consider leaving your favourite green jumper at home unless you want some... interesting results!
It is possible to create footage that appears 'real', but this doesn't always have to be the goal: Kanye West's Bound 2 music video shows how an obvious green screen effect can be a stylistic choice that gives a retro appearance to your music video.
Play with lenses and perspectives
Nowadays, you have an abundance of innovative and novel film equipment at your disposal - from cinematic lenses and drones for filming, to 360 cameras and fisheye lenses. Leveraging these types of equipment allows you to create unusual and visually engaging effects that will set your music video apart.
Even without splashing out on any new equipment, you can play around different perspectives to manipulate the viewer's perception and evoke particular moods and feelings. From lonely wide shots to zany high angles and immersive POV, thinking about how to impose certain emotions via the composition of your shots can go a long way when thinking of music video ideas.
For example, the hip-hop scenes of the 80s and 90s adopted the fisheye lens as a staple of their music video formula. This visually distorted, 'in-your-face' effect paired well with the energy of hip-hop and has remained a popular style choice for a range of similar genres. Music videos like Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and Busta Rhymes' Gimme Some More showcase how using fisheye lenses alongside high- and low-angle shots can be used to exaggerate the eccentric, chaotic, and farcical effects of this certain style of music video.
Reference an iconic movie
One surefire way to get your music video shared is to reference an already iconic movie or pop culture moment. There is something undeniably satisfying about seeing your favourite movies and characters reimagined on-screen through a musical performance.
Perhaps it's the satisfaction of feeling like the 'in-crowd' when you recognise a specific reference, or maybe we just love recycling our dopamine from things that have brought us joy in the past. Either way, it's clear that we're programmed to eat that stuff up.
The key is to use cult classics that are instantly recognisable and revered as totems of pop culture. Two music videos that nailed this strategy are Iggy Azalea's tribute to Clueless in Fancy and Ariana Grande's homage to a series of Chick Flick classics such as Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, and Bring It On in thank u next (& it certainly doesn't hurt to have several celebrity cameos if you can spare the budget!).
Film in an infinity cove studio
Filming in an infinity cove studio allows you to cut through the noise and home in on a particular subject or point of focus, displayed against a seamless and seemingly infinite background. This undisturbed canvas removes any distractions and offers a clean, modern backdrop for your film. When used in music videos and combined with creative concepts and effects, this can create the appearance of a poetic and intriguing performance art piece, like seen in Billie Eilish's When The Party's Over.
Alternatively, infinity cove studios can be the perfect place for showcasing a choreographed dance routine or making colours pop in a music video. At the end of the day, this versatile backdrop is your blank canvas to do with what you wish; rather than using the environment around you to support your narrative, you strip it back to home in on the art at the centre of it.
So there you have it - 12 inspiring music video ideas to get those creative juices flowing! Producing interesting and high-quality music videos can really set you apart as a music artist and will help to improve your overall brand image and creative credibility.
And whilst nailing down a concept for your music video is just the beginning of your video production workflow, every great project starts with an idea, and every idea with a little inspiration! So now it's your job to make your music video your own and transform these ideas into something unique and personal to you.
At Tutti, we have a huge range of studios and locations to help you do just that!
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