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9 Practical Ways to Build Your Career as a Music Video Director (summary version)

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5 years 4 months ago | Guides

9 Practical Ways to Build Your Career as a Music Video Director

Many directors would like to make a living as a music video director, but most have little idea about how to go about it. Directors who don't know how to build their career risk wasting time, money and energy creating low-impact videos and building ineffective networks. As part of the commitment to professional development that Radar offers to new directors, we’ve created this guide with options to suit directors of different character, ambition and location.

Nowadays it isn’t usually possible to have a career based entirely on being a music video director - music video budgets are low and jobs can be few and far between - rather, music videos represent either an apprenticeship, or a way to have creative enjoyment within a broader career.

1/ Find a job that pays your way but allows enough time to make music videos.

2/ Make music videos for friends first, because you need the practice and your friends will be so much more…forgiving. 

3/ Pitch to make music videos for up-and-coming bands and well-regarded labels. The industry is a lot about fashion, so it really helps if your peers think you’re hot - and what better way to be hot than to work with the hottest artists and labels? Much easier to achieve this if you live in a production hub city eg New York, LA, London.

4/ Enter on-spec, brand video competitions to build your commercial reel, keep doing this until you are shortlisted or win. This is to build an impressive reel and an impressive bio. This is a good route for directors are challenged by their current location.

5/ Identify a corporate sector you can target with your reel and bio, wherever you can get an ‘in’ and succeed, e.g. local business, tv channel idents, etc. This route can also be followed regardless of location.

6/ Encourage the band or the label you work with to promote your videos via editorial coverage in leading music consumer press.

7/ Promote your videos to the creative industry press. Enter every festival and competition you can find, seek out nominations, and apply for awards. Your goal here is to get trusted sources to publicly support you, or better, to champion you as a great director they’ve spotted early.

8/ Approach production companies and reps with your reel.

tip: Radar personally connects music video directors to world-leading production companies and reps as part of Radar’s professional development network. To access the personal connection service, Directors first need to achieve ‘Headhunted’ status. Radar then makes introductions and helps directors maintain these important relationships. More about  Radar’s professional development here.

9/ Get signed, do great work, start making commercials. This is when you can give up the day job and also when you get access to pitch on the bigger and better budget videos in music video land.

PS: Bonus hints! 

Essential skills to develop along the way…
- Pitching skills
- Production skills
- Directing and editing skills
- Inter-personal skills (aka ‘don’t be a dick’)

Read the full version of this article with 17 additional practical tips here.

More about the Emerging Directors' Framework here.

photo credit Drew Scott Davis