Making Low-Budget Viral Music Videos

TThe digital media revolution has changed the music industry. The emergence of YouTube, now the second largest search engine on the web, has given small-time artists the opportunity to become international superstars overnight. But exactly how can musicians successfully leverage video sharing technology? What is the secret to achieving viral success?

Independent artists have two options when it comes to making a music video:

Organise Your Own Videos

If you think you have what it takes to make a killer video – then go for it. You will need:

  • A song
  • A video camera
  • Video editing software
  • A YouTube account
  • A ‘remarkable’ idea


Let someone else make the video

One of simplest yet most effective ways to achieve viral success is to let someone else use your song as the soundtrack to their own ‘remarkable’ video. This way you don’t have to spend a cent on production – all you need to do is send over your track. You simply need to find someone that is willing to add your track to their video. A simple way to find someone is to make your track available via the Creative Commons. However, it’s best to use every networking tool available to you in your search. If you look hard enough you’re guaranteed to find a match.

“Remarkable” Content

Whether you’re making your own video or collaborating with a content producer, it is absolutely crucial that the content in the video is ‘remarkable’. What do I mean by remarkable? Remarkable means something that people will talk about or make a ‘remark’ about. Remarkable content is content that creates a buzz and is rapidly shared among people.

So What Makes Content Remarkable?

Below are some key characteristics that I have observed from watching hundreds of viral videos:

  • Humour (content that makes you laugh)
  • Remixability (how flexible content is – how easily it can be remoulded and reproduced)
  • Originality (an idea that hasn’t already been done a million times before)
  • Insightfulness (content that enables the audience to learn something)
  • Emotiveness (content that triggers a strong emotional reaction)
  • Interactivity (the level to which the audience can interact and engage with the content)


Sick Puppies – All the Same

Australian rock band Sick Puppies collaborated with Juan Mann, pioneer of the Free Hugs Campaign. Sick Puppies offered their song ‘All the Same’ to be used as the soundtrack in the video. The resulting video won YouTube video of the year in 2006 and has over 63 million views at time of writing. It’s not difficult to work out why.

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass

Editor’s note: The original James’ article covers classical OK Go‘s “Here It Goes Again”, which we wrote about quite a lot, so featured this one instead. But Dotted Music loves OK Go!

As you can see it’s obvious that the most important factor in the success of a video is the quality of its content. It doesn’t matter how good you think your marketing strategy is – if your video is boring it simply will not go viral. But this doesn’t mean you need to have a professional, polished looking final product (although this would be ideal). Remarkable content filmed on a crappy video camera will make a far bigger impact than mundane content featured in a polished final product.

Find more viral video examples at the original James Chatman’s article at this location. And for information on viral video content ideas you can read James’ post What makes a viral video go viral?