Multitasking is an essential skill for independent DIY bands; you're juggling all the band-related work while, more than likely, also maintaining a second job ('cause being in a band is a job all its own), a social life, family, and so forth.
Thankfully, every now and then, you can make an effort doubly worthwhile: a band photo session can also serve as a meeting, a recorded rehearsal could become a demo recording. Maybe the most potentially versatile of your endeavors, though, is touring. There's ample room there for squeezing out extra purpose – especially if you're filming the fun (and not-so fun, even) all the while.
Clips of the trip can be compiled together for a slew of uses that start during your trip and stretch all the way through your next one and then some. If you own a smartphone, you've already got all the equipment you'll need; you don't need to be a pro to edit, either. Read on for our guide to getting great content, how to best use it, and of course, the most effective apps for delivering it just how you'd imagined.
What you should film
In short: Everything. Okay, you won't always be able to document each and every second of your tour – you could be driving, low on charge (tip: always bring back-up batteries or a portable battery on tour), or catching up on sleep during an early start after a late night. Capturing every moment isn't really feasible – or necessary, even.
Simplifiy your filming by focusing on three areas:
- candid moments
Keep in mind that to make the most use of your filming, diversifying your footage is paramount, and you should aim to keep low-quality (shaky, poorly lit, out-of-focus) shooting to a minimum.
Film from the stage at shows where you're welcomed with a healthy turnout. Anchor your smartphone strategically onstage so it encompasses the whole scene: the band in view and with stagefront folks as a focal point. If you've got time, try getting a first-person experience by filming as you enter the venue and make your way through the masses.
Note: Of course you'll want show footage, too. Look to friends and acquaintances to gather that, be it a bud who's tagged along for the tour or someone you know in that specific city. If you're altogether new in town, keep an eye out during your set for anyone recording – ask them post-show if they plan to share anywhere or if they wouldn't mind sending directly to you.
Loading in often becomes a tiresome routine a few days in, but it actually makes for useful content. A sped-up replay of emptying the van and lugging in gear, city after city, conveys the hard work of touring while keeping it interesting for the viewer. Grab a shot of every venue frontage while you're at it. Soundchecks make ideal content here, too.
Anytime you're noticeably filming people, the footage can't be totally natural. We aren't suggesting you film anyone secretly either – that can be obnoxious and an excellent ice breaker for an argument with an already-exhausted bandmate.
Rather than candid, consider the content in this category to be improvised instead. That leaves room for slightly staged filming, like the whole band lined up in front of a cool landmark, an impromptu roadside rehearsal, or quickie clips of members talking directly to the camera about whatever.
Do think about whipping out the camera during especially funny moments, picturesque stretches of road, even trying situations – anything that feels like a memory in the making could be an impactful addition to your video archive. Use your best judgment for the latter, of course. Butting in with a camera regularly – rather than helping out – is another recipe for an inter-band beef.
Tour vids as marketing: ideas for uses
The breadth of marketing content you can pull out of all that footage is immense. Below are just a few suggestions to get you brainstorming.
- Tour recap: This one is promo for the sake of it – you don't need to be promoting anything specific here. Fans who attended shows will love it, but those who weren't able to make a date will, too, and it will remind both camps why they shouldn't miss the next opportunity to catch your band live.
- Teaser for upcoming tour: Use footage of past road jaunts to to announce the next.
- Album advance: Incorporate tour footage into marketing leading up to the release of an album. It's an especially appropriate tie-in if you're planning a show to celebrate that release (note: you should definitely do that).
- Merch ad: Did you get some footage of folks buying buttons and records? Maybe you filmed someone wearing your band's shirt, even. Use any clips related to merch for a video that promotes your online shop or announces the upcoming debut of new items; if it makes sense in the ad, throw in some live footage or funny candid moments, too.
Editing footage to meet your marketing goal
The most popular of all editing apps available is easily iMovie, a free, user-friendly program that's simple but powerful. You can add music and text, use filters, or incorporate cool effects like split screen, green screen, and speed changes – all on your phone.
There are a slew of other solid options available: GoPro's Splice movie-maker app, PowerDirector or KineMaster for Android, more advanced paid apps like Pinnacle Studio Pro (or the full-access upgrades of free apps), and desktop software like Filmora which, while it requires an annual subscription beyond the trial period, is a stellar iMovie substitute for Windows users. You'll find most of these have the same basic features; choose the one you like best, but be sure to remember the following:
- Some free apps watermark videos. Make sure the app you choose doesn't.
- Resolution of up to 4K is widely available – go with that.
- Avoid cheesiness – unless it's intentional and funny, of course. Don't resort to the emotional slow-zoom on still images, don't use stock music, and make sure the fonts you use make sense for the vibe you're hoping to convey.
- Consider using other apps in conjunction: Glitchy effects, retro VHS-style filters, artsy overlays, goofy face-swaps, color boosters and more are all at your disposal. Don't overdo it, of course, but adding in a few special effects here and there can make your final video more interesting.
Do a little digging into other bands' tour footage videos to help you figure out what style could best work for yours. A few examples:
- Sofi Tukker Live Tour Teaser Spring 2017
- Deluxe Stachetour Teaser
- Audacity Tour Video 2014
- Emil 2016 Fall Tour Teaser
Your end result might look completely different than the above. It could be crafted with an altogether new inspiration, something based solely on the experience you had touring or styled after a feature film you love. You might find a purpose for the footage that's not mentioned here, even. As long as you gather enough quality clips, the possibilities are far-reaching If you gather enough.
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.