How I Ended Up Creating an Amazing Music Video – For Free! (ish)

Dancing Man

Ever thought it was impossible to create a music video because you didn’t have much cash…?

This may help…

You may know that in addition to publishing, I currently present a weekday breakfast radio show on Premier Gospel.  A couple of weekends ago I was looking for ways to create a short video to promote the show.

I’ve done lots of audio promos – that’s standard procedure for radio.  But I wanted to do more video, as the challenges around using video to promote radio are interesting on multiple levels.

Like many specialist radio stations around the country, Premier Gospel is a much-needed platform for presenting great Gospel music and teaching.

Nevertheless, it’s still specialist station – and that’s a situation that works well for me as it means I have a lot of creative freedom: among other things I’m producing my own show, developing my own social media strategy – and for this – creating my own video.


So I went off to iStockPhoto (between that and stock.xchange most of my stock photo requirements are covered – I get 99.99% of my stock photography from stockxchange – it’s free.  Links to all resources at the end of this).

For my idea to work I needed to come up with:

  • a short 30-45 second footage/video clip
  • an interesting tagline
  • strong audio that works in 40 seconds or less


As much as I use stock libraries for photography, I’d never thought of using them for video.  That also added an extra, interesting dimension to the challenge.

I finally found a great 30 second clip I thought would work perfectly with the ‘early morning routine’ concept I had in mind: someone switching off their alarm clock and trying to go back to sleep instead of getting out of bed.


I Couldn’t Stop

…Well, ‘done’, except for the fact that my journey to finding that clip had sparked even more thoughts and concepts as I auditioned the video clips.  All sorts of other ideas were now swimming around in my head – my brain synapses were firing and I couldn’t stop.


I’d also decided to use Nigerian artist Flo‘s track ‘Bragadaba’ (available for free download at time of writing), for my test audio because I really liked its energy and rhythm, and knew I could find a strong 30 second segment in it.

I wasn’t planning on it being my final choice of song (ideally I wanted something with a morning or ‘wake up’ reference in the lyric), but I knew whatever I eventually chose was going to have to be as strong as ‘Bragadaba’.

I started playing it on a loop in my headphones as I worked.

In Sync

During the course of my initial search I found two clips (stills below), featuring a medium frame head and shoulders shot (I think that’s the technical term), of a man dancing.

Even more bizarrely, as ‘Bragadaba’ played in my headphones, each guy always seemed to be dancing pretty much in sync with the song regardless of what point I started the clip.  Weird. And interesting. And exciting.

Massively Wild Tangent

The next question was: can I find more clips that did the same thing…?

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d approach this as if I were an artist looking to do a music video.

And with that sudden flash of inspiration I veered off on a massively wild tangent, a world away from the more straightforward idea I started off with.

Audition/The Brief

I dived back into iStockphoto, and for the next two hours (it felt like 2 minutes), auditioned quite a few clips, excited at the possibility of what I might create.

The brief was very specific:

  • this is about the Gospel, so the video had to be inclusive and feature both black and white people at the very least.  The more racial variety I could add beyond that, even better.
  • the models had to look and feel like ‘regular’ people. I wanted to stay away from the incredibly good-looking, aspirational look you sometimes see in models in videos.
  • the situations also had to be typical and ‘everyday’, so anything that wasn’t on a white background had to feel ‘real’
  • I was (and still am) a huge fan of the work of people like Fatboy Slim who – for all sorts of reasons – didn’t feel they had to appear in their own music videos.
  • I know Flo well, so getting permission from him probably wouldn’t have been a big deal – but I wanted this to be a surprise

Finished Product

Four hours (and a missed lunch and dinner) later I had the finished product.  It came out much better than I could have imagined.

Both my 8 and 13-year-old approved of the video, a very good thing as they ended up having to make their own dinner as I got totally consumed with making this video (don’t judge me – I was in the zone) 🙂

Most importantly, it gave me a lot of encouragement – kids are uncompromisingly honest and forthright with their feedback on things they like or dislike, and as we all know it’s only natural for you to be excited about something you create but it’s entirely something else when someone else who hasn’t got any stake at all in your creation likes it as well.

So, without further ado, here’s the video: Flo ‘Bragadaba’ (Yinka’s Video Bootleg Edit)

So, What Were The Challenges..?

You know that feeling you get halfway through a project where you feel like you might have bitten off more than you can chew?  I didn’t get that even once.

Most of the challenges I faced were technical:


  • The biggest thing was syncing the videos to the music.  That took most of the time.
  • The 4th clip in (girl with the head phones) was at a much higher BPM (Beats Per Minute) rate than Flo‘s music, so I could only use it once, and very briefly at that.
  • If you watch closely, you’ll see it go slightly out of sync (not just for that one, but for some of the other clips too)


  • Because I used Windows Movie Maker (free with Windows PCs) I couldn’t get some of the edit points exactly where I wanted them due to limitations in the software (it seems it doesn’t seem to allow you to cut the clips smaller than a preset size)


  • Editing video to support the narrative of the lyric and mood of a song is a great skill, and I’m certainly not claiming to be a great editor (shout out to all the video editors and story boarders) – I learned so much editing this video
  • I also have to say it is hugely satisfying to edit a video action that perfectly coincides with a lyric or musical moment in a song – I still get a kick out of seeing that happen

And finally – What I Learnt

  • You don’t need a huge budget to create a decent video
  • It most certainly helps (and ideally it’s what we would all prefer), but as a starting point the lack of a budget should make you more creative with the little you do have
  • You can learn most things for cheap or free these days – I have no formal video editing experience


  • As you’ve seen, the video still has the iStockvideo watermarks on them because I used their free comp clips (great if you need proof-of-concept without spending a penny)
  • If I did want to buy the clips (there are 11 in the video – 12 if you count the mobile phone footage of my friend and colleague Lady T dancing in the Premier Gospel studio) you’ll be looking at something in the region of £700-£900 for all of them in HD format or about £600-£700 for a standard version
  • Yes, that’s for all of them, not each video – not bad at all

Of course on top of that, you’ll need to come up with a concept and video editor but hopefully this experiment has shown it’s not as difficult to achieve as you may have first thought…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s