A brief history of the lyric video.
For decades, artists have made music videos to help promote their work and find new audiences. But music video production can be expensive and time-consuming, and the results aren’t always worth the cost. Lyric videos, however, are comparatively cheap to produce and more accessible for the DIY indie artist.
A lyric video is a music video that showcases the song’s lyrics as the song plays. Way ahead of his time, Prince made the first true lyric video in 1987 for the song “Sign o’ the Times.” The lyrics move up, down, and across the frame in different sizes while rectangles and triangles move and change colors to the beat.
With the rise of YouTube and Vimeo in the late 2000s, fans created and popularized the genre with unofficial lyric videos. These videos became so popular that artists like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift began to make and release their own lyric videos. With official video content, artists can ensure the lyrics are correct and put their own creative, thematic twist on the imagery.
How to make your own lyric video.
Lyric video makers don’t have to be masters of special effects, and a lyric video doesn’t have to be complicated. The key to a high-quality video is to use kinetic typography (words that move through the video frame) over a background image. “You can choose an image of your choice, perhaps an image of the artist, or just an image that you think represents the song,” says video editor Justin Odisho. “You don’t need super technical skills to write out the lyrics and add simple crossfades. If you want to get a little fancier, you can do a slideshow in the background.”
Choose fonts wisely.
Readability is crucial when the words might be on screen for only a second or two, so the letters should be large and easy to read. Beyond that, look for thematically appropriate fonts and colors. “If it’s a fun summer song, maybe you want to do a bubbly font,” Odisho says, “but you don’t want to use a font like Comic Sans for a sad song.”
Try motion graphics templates.
For cool animations that you don’t have to invent on your own, use motion graphics templates in Adobe Premiere Pro. You can select free title or caption templates in the Essential Graphics panel or find premium templates and background footage from Adobe Stock. These are easy to drag and drop into your timeline. Then all you have to do is insert lyrics and adjust the timing to fit the video.