If you are a musician looking for exposure, you should be on YouTube. It really is as simple as that. YouTube doesn’t cost you money to join or post videos, and the potential audience is huge. Making videos of you playing your songs gives you content to distribute to fans, as well as to venues and record labels. The best part is that, with smartphone camera quality as high as it now is, it is easy to get started. So let’s take a quick look at how to make videos as a musician.
You probably already own everything you need to start making videos for your music. If you have a laptop, you can use the webcam, but your smartphone might give you better quality. You will also want to be able to do some basic video editing. Many phones have apps for that, but iMovie comes for free with Macs and is much better. If you are on a PC, Windows Movie Maker works essentially the same way. One thing that you might not have, but should invest in if you are shooting on your phone, is a tripod. There are many options available, most of them very inexpensive, like this one on Amazon from Favolcano (shortlink is affiliate).
These are the basics for… the basics. So, if you are playing the guitar and singing, these basics should cover you, and maybe you want to add a microphone stand (considering your hands will be busy with the guitar). The same thing goes for those who play keys and sing. They will want a microphone stand, but if that is your gig, you’ll want a boom mic that will branch out over the keys and not get in your way. Similarly, if you are doing any other specialty type music, you will need to cover the basics for that style of music. An example is a beat producer. You will want to read up on exactly what you need, related to your style of music. Here is a place to start for beat producers.
Shooting the Video
Once you have a song you are ready to record, there are just a few things to check to make sure you are ready. First, make sure there is not anything around you making noise, like an AC fan, a microwave, a dishwasher or washing machine, or anything else that will make it hard to hear your song. Make sure you play and sing loudly enough to get good audio, but not so loud that it distorts. We are not talking “screeching” here, unless that is the style of the music that you record. We are talking about nice high-quality sound (YOUR sound) and no noise in the background (not even the friendly purring cat).
Second, ensure that you have a good microphone for your recording. Even the lowest level microphone is better than most microphones that are built into the camera. Think of it this way, the mic in the camera is only there for the “just in case” and to save the day when your kid accidentally flips the bowl of cereal on his head, and you want to capture it for the equivalent of a show like “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” That is it. The low quality mic is forgivable for that situation, but not for your debut album. Make sense? Then get a high quality mic. You will use it for more than just a youtube.
Being a professional sound engineer (as well as married to one), there is a wealth of information that I would love to share on that topic, but it goes a bit beyond the scope of this article. However, there is a quick reference to a couple of microphones that may get you going, at this related article on Examiner (also by yours truly).
Third, make sure your lighting is decent. Generally speaking, your light should be fairly bright and coming from behind your camera. Natural sunlight works great, but it depends on how easy it is to capture the natural light. Take a few pictures or test videos to dial it in and see what works best for you.
Fourth is framing. You should be centered in the frame, and your head should have some space above it (not right at the top of the uppermost hair follicle). A good, basic way to frame a shot while you play an acoustic guitar is for you to be in a chair and for the bottom of the frame to be a little above the bottom edge of the guitar when you’re sitting. Just like with your lighting, take a few test videos to make sure it looks right and ensure you can move around a little without leaving the frame.
Post it on YouTube
Once you have your video shot and editing down, it’s time to export it and put it on YouTube! If you already have a YouTube channel, you can use that one, but it might be a good idea to create another channel just for your music. Fortunately, that’s free! Once your video is up, be sure to write a good, short but detailed description. You can add links to your Facebook, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, or other similar pages. You can also tag the video to make it easier to search for. The most important thing is persistence. Keep playing music and making, posting, and sharing videos. Never let that music die! We’re ready for it!