The evolution of independent music videos

In today’s article, our friends at Rotor Videos discuss how the music video evolved overtime, and explore how technology is helping independent artists take their video content to the next level.

Fifteen years ago, promoting your songs with music videos was reserved for established artists with enormous budgets and the top directors on speed dial. Once released, fans couldn’t just watch a music video on repeat. MTV, VH1, and the Top 40 ruled, which meant sitting through every music video before getting to your favorite musician – and that was it until the next time they popped up in the rotation!

The importance of music videos in today’s landscape

Fast forward to today, and video has irreversibly revolutionized the music industry. No longer just for the ears, music has transformed into a total audiovisual experience. The arrival of YouTube in 2005, and the explosion of social media platforms since, means today’s listeners can enjoy music videos whenever they want, and on any device of their choosing. With five billion videos viewed each day on YouTube alone (and music videos comprising 93% of YouTube’s most-watched videos), video has become a major component of building a fan base, promoting music, earning revenue, and growing a career as an artist. As Chuck D said at this year’s All That Matters Conference, “If you’re not releasing video, you’re not releasing.”

New and emerging technologies

Fortunately, these days music video production doesn’t have to break the bank, take ages, or require an extensive crew on set. Widespread access to technology (specifically mobile devices and laptops), HD cameras on every phone, and cutting-edge, user-friendly software have leveled the playing field and brought affordable, pro-quality video production within reach of every artist. Basic editing controls come built-in on devices, allowing artists to record and publish lo-fi video updates, Q&As, backstage tours, and more on the fly. For hi-fi content like official music and lyric videos, album promos, event teasers, and ads, artists can produce great results using free and low-price editing software like iMovie – provided they commit to hours of online tutorials to develop the technical skills needed to bring what’s in their mind’s eye to the screen.

And then there are new tools that are automating the most complex aspects of video production like the editing process, special effects, and cropping, freeing artists to control the less technical aspects of video production – like imagery, color tones, and typography – while still producing professional-quality videos. So how good are we talking? Below are a few videos made by independent musicians using Rotor’s intelligent editing automation and point-and-click controls.

“Sober Me Up” by MARS & Perrin Xthona

Sticking with monochromatic animations from the Rotor library keeps MARS’ lyric video visually captivating, while letting the lyrics remain the star of the show. Setting the type on a solid turquoise background was a highly effective design choice as well.

“Dance (feat. Helena May)” by Redtenbacher’s Funkestra (Beat Fatigue remix)

This video by Redtenbacher’s Funkestra is a clever riff off of an artwork video. But, instead of using a static image of album cover art, they’ve brought a series of vintage French postcard stills to life by picking an editing style that includes crossfades between clips, bold color filters, and glitch effects. We love that the vibrant visuals are just as lively as the track itself.

“Qoor Ingkaat (Pick It Up)” by A2VT

Extensive use of original footage in this music video really shows off A2VT’s personality. A few clips from the Rotor library serve as transitions to round out the story, and like all great editing, automated geometric and split-screen editing effects unify the footage and pump up the visual interest.

Inspired to make your own videos? Save 10% on music / promo video creation with Rotor Videos’ exclusive 10% discount for the Splice audience – use it to make an individual SD or HD video, or apply the savings to one of Rotor’s new video subscription plans. Just create your free Rotor account via the special Splice x Rotor page, and 10% will be deducted when you check out.

November 23, 2020

Graham Robinson Graham Robinson is the Head of Content at Rotor Videos and a passionate film and interactive media director. He leads the filming and curation of Rotor's footage library as well as design of the tool's editing and effects styles.