If you’ve ever fumbled your way through a Nicki Minaj rap-along in the car or tried to decipher the absolute car crash of syllables in a Blues Traveler song, you may have turned to a lyric video for clarity. Not only are lyric videos a great place for fans to get to know songs on a deeper level, but they also give musicians an inexpensive way of reaching new listeners and building excitement among an already-engaged fanbase.
What is a lyric video?
A lyric video is a type of music video that displays the song lyrics as they happen. While artists of the ’80s and ’90s dabbled in ways to feature song lyrics in their music videos, it wasn’t until YouTube came along that the lyric video really took hold. Early lyric videos were often created by fans so that other fans might have an easier time singing along. Other times they were just made for fandom’s sake. Despite their sometimes bad fonts and whimsical aesthetic, it wasn’t unusual for a fan-made lyric video to rack up as many views as the official video released by the artist.
Once recording artists took notice of just how popular lyric videos had become among their fans, they began to release their own spin on the lyric video. With time, the lyric video evolved from its early lo-fi karaoke looks to a design that’s as professionally produced as the music video itself.
Nowadays, lyric videos have become an accepted part of the promotion process. Many musicians release a lyric video as a teaser in advance of the album drop and official video. That gives fans plenty of time to learn the words and perfect their sing-along skills before the album's release.
What are the benefits of making a lyric video?
There’s a reason why record labels make lyric videos for their artists — they’re a great way to promote their music. Here are 3 benefits of making a lyric video.
- They create buzz. A lyric video is a savvy way to build up interest in your upcoming album release without giving away too much. You don’t even have to release a lyric video for the entire song. If the idea is to give your audience just a taste of what’s to come, half a verse and a little bit of chorus will do the trick.
- They’re simple and cheap to make. Compared to shooting a proper music video or sinking a lot of cash into paid promotions, making lyric videos is relatively simple and costs little to nothing.
- They’re great for social media promotion. Lyric videos give you a chance to get your listeners more engaged by commenting, liking, and — most importantly — sharing your video with friends across their social media channels.
Essentials for creating an incredible lyric video
Don’t let the ultra-produced lyric videos made by major record labels intimidate you. These were originally fan-made creations featuring simple lyrics atop basic images the creator found online. Here’s how you can jump-start the creative process for your own (more refined) lyric video.
- Hatch a plan. What will your lyric video look like? If you need a little inspiration to jump-start the process, think of a visual concept that best aligns with your lyrics, supports your personal brand, or somehow relates to the themes you explore with your album. Since you’re making a lyric video, you’ll want to make sure it’s readable above all else. For that reason, you’ll want to pay special attention to the colors in your background and how well they work with the style and color of your font.
- Choose your imagery. Once you’ve settled on a visual direction for your lyric video, it’s time to select your images. Avoid future copyright headaches by only choosing royalty-free images and video clips. There are plenty of sites out there that specialize in royalty-free imagery such as Pexels, Pixabay, and Videvo. Again, because the focus here is on the lyrics, you may want to opt for more muted imagery that isn’t too distracting.
- Consider special effects. One or two well-placed special effects can help to hold your viewer’s attention for the duration of the video. That doesn’t mean you need to work in a Matrix-style bullet-dodging sequence, but a few simple transitions, layering, or even a snazzy filter can have a big impact.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat. With lyric videos, less really is more. For chorus repetitions, you can save yourself a lot of time by using the same clip rather than putting the same lyrics over a new image. Similarly, looping a simple background video clip can often be enough to carry your video from start to finish. Remember, your audience probably isn’t expecting much beyond lyrics and music.
- Choose your tools. Possibly the most crucial decision in making a lyric video is figuring out how you're going to actually make it. There are lots of video editing tools out there to match a range of skill sets and budgets. We like Descript, of course. It’s got a straightforward, word-document-like interface that simplifies the video editing process so you can focus on being creative.
- Quality check your work. The last thing you want to do is confuse your audience by releasing a video with incorrect lyrics or a misspelled word. Triple check that every word matches. Make sure the pacing of your text correctly syncs on screen with the song lyrics. You should also listen to your final edit and ensure the music quality is up to par.
Add lyrics to your video using Descript in 6 easy steps
Descript’s video editing tool makes it easy to make lyric videos to promote your own music. Here’s how to do it.
- Step 1. Once you’ve selected the song you’d like to create a lyric video for click the Plus (+) button at the top left of the composition, select File into New Track, then choose your song — or just drag the file into the timeline editor at the bottom.
- Step 2. Drag and drop any video assets you’d like to use from your desktop (or wherever they’re saved) to your new composition in Descript. These assets will now be visible in your composition’s project files.
- Step 3. You can edit the length of each video clip and let it play through chronologically or you can toggle between background clips to create a multicam effect by lining up your videos, right-clicking on the sequence, and selecting Edit sequence. Double click on the file clip and adjust to your preferences. Once you’ve lined up your clips correctly, you can click the X button to exit the sequence editor.
- Step 4. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll find the Inspector. Click on it for a look at your current clip properties, which is where you’ll also find the multicam settings. On your timeline, choose the clip you’d like to edit and click the Multicam dropdown in Clip Properties. Next, select the video clip you’d like to switch to. You should now be able to see that video displayed in the preview pane. Repeat the process throughout your video timeline for every moment you’d like to toggle to another clip.
- Step 5. While Descript can easily transcribe speech files, vocal singing from music tracks needs to be added manually by you via a Text Clip. To do this, click on the video’s timeline where you’d like your text to appear, click the Plus (+) button at the top left of the Insert Toolbar, select Text, and add lyrics. Repeat until you’ve added all your song lyrics.
- Step 6. Now you’re ready to share your video with the world. Click Share and Export. From here, you can upload your high-quality lyric video directly to your YouTube channel or another hosting site, download the file to your computer, or invite project collaborators to have a look before you decide to publish it.
Be aware of copyright laws when creating a lyric video
From imagery to music, there are a lot of components that go into creating a lyric video. Whatever you decide to add to the mix, it’s important to make sure you aren’t violating any copyright laws. If you’re creating a lyric video to promote your own music, presumably you own the rights to that music. Any videos and photography you use should be downloaded from a royalty-free stock service if you don’t already have the rights to use them.
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