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Window Seat's guide to getting music video airplay

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Selling & Distributing Your Music

Making a professional music video on a tight budget is no mean feat as an unsigned band. Neither is getting that video aired on the likes of Kerrang! TV and MTV Rocks. But, against the odds, that is just what Belfast 3 piece Window Seats have managed to achieve with their latest self-produced video ‘Local Superhero’. 

So we thought it was only right to catch up with them to find out just how they managed such a feat on a minimal budget. You may not have much cash to spend, but read on to find out just what can be accomplished with plenty of creativity, organisation and sheer determination…
 
 
So first, give us the basics. When and how did Window Seats come about?
The three of us have been kicking around since college, but we didn't really get together as a band until a few years after finishing. The band has been going in its current incarnation since the start of 2009.
 
Have you entered the realm of music videos before?
Since 2009 we've been hammering the DIY ethic, doing everything ourselves: gig bookings, promotion, poster design, web design, social media, management, recording engineering... and making music videos. Local Superhero is our fifth music video - you can see them all on YouTube. In the last couple of years we've also created a few extra snippets like behind-the-scenes podcasts, music video teaser trailers and even an attempt to get our own back on some scumbags that stole our gear.

What was the idea/inspiration for the video? You say you self-produced the video...how did you start going about this? 
When thinking of a video idea we always envisaged the superhero connection - we boiled up a proper concept around the end of 2010. We'd worked with a friend of ours, Ciaran at I Make Anything, on a previous video. He spends all of his time making cool things like Spiderman suits and Ghostbuster proton packs, and we wanted to find a way to incorporate them all into one video - that's where the idea of a comic book shop appeared from. 
 
Unfortunately, there aren't many shop owners that will close down the store for 2-3 days and leave you the keys! So we hired an empty room, scrounged all the furniture, comics, books, toys and posters that we could from our friends and built a shop from scratch, right down to the comic book shelving made out of our own bed frames and a load of reclaimed wooden pallets.

As project managers, there was a hell of a lot of organisation involved. As well as driving planning period (which went on for months!) and finding/building a suitable film set, this also involved recruiting all of the crew and cast, acquiring (and sometimes building) all the required props and costumes, providing food, transport and accommodation for crew and cast, signing off the final edit and even learning how to do CGI and creating some of the VFX ourselves. Music video self-production is not for the faint-hearted!

How much outside assistance have you had with filming the video?
From the start of the project we wanted to get as many good people involved as possible, but we knew that we had absolute minimal funds available to give in return. So we approached a number of professional crew with the concept and pitched it as a collaborative effort that, with their involvement, would be of a high enough standard to showcase each contributor's work.

Once we had some great people on board, they in turn were able to bring other local talents to the project. The majority of contributors worked for little or no money, and without their hard work the video would not have reached as high as it has done so far. The full credits for the video are listed on YouTube, but in particular the work of Marty Stalker (Scattered Images, director/editor), Rick Trainor (Red Sky, director of photography), Alan Stewart (Fat Elvis Media, visual effects), Cathal Hegarty (Benburb Productions, steadicam) and Ciaran Larkin (I Make Anything, props/costume) was key to the project's success.


The plot of the video centres on a teenage character, played by Denis Halligan (recent star of Game of Thrones, Hunger and Killing Bono). How did you go about getting him involved?
Early in 2011 we put out a casting call on recruitment site Mandy.com. Denis is one of the actors that got in touch with us - he was impressed with the concept and keen to be involved. He was a great guy to have on the team, not only for his acting talents and between-takes banter, but also because he was able to pull in some more extras to play other characters in the shop.

So the next question on everyone’s lips is…how have you managed to get such high profile rotation for the video on the likes of MTV Rocks, Kerrang TV and BBC Big Screens?
As unsigned artists we're used to spending a lot of time finding contacts and hounding industry people to get ourselves noticed. Pitching the video to MTV, Kerrang! TV and BBC Big Screens was no exception. We found out who was in charge of playlisting new videos, got hold of contact details and went from there. These channels only accept videos that they deem to be good enough, and content also has to pass a bunch of technical standards - happily Local Superhero sailed through the tests!
 
And finally, any words of advice you’d like to share with other independent bands & artists…
A term we've come to hate and respect in equal measure is time management. It's not something that any band wants to think about, but it's necessary to the success of any project. In the end, it took us 10 months to complete this video, from the idea's inception to public release.

Meanwhile we had to carry on being a band, writing, practicing, recording, gigging - we couldn't have done it without constantly setting priorities, writing lists and keeping an eye on the Big Picture. Meeting every few days, to reassess priorities and check what's been done, isn't much fun - but self-producing a music video is so involved, good time and priority management make the difference between achieving success and making a flop.
 
 
You can find out more about Window Seats and check out their video here:

Tags

music promotion, music video, kerrang tv, window seats, unsigned bands, unsigned musicians

 

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