July 26, 2018

What Does It Take to Be a Better Music Video Editor?

Need some advice on editing music videos? We gotchu.

Music videos are often a newbie's first dalliance with the craft of filmmaking, and it might be due to the assumption that music videos are somehow easier to make than films. I mean, they can be, but just because they might be easier to make (sometimes) doesn't make them easy to make. If you're gearing up to edit your first music video, or just want to hone your skills, this video from director Jakob Owens of The Buff Nerds offers up a bunch of great advice for those who want to get into editing music videos professionally. Check it out below:

Extensive experience and a captivatingly unique visual style make Owens one filmmaker whose advice you'd be wise to take (and us to share). He has gone over several important topics about breaking into the music video scene and building a career in both directing and editing, but this video is a perfect companion video for those who have already created their reel, networked, and practiced putting together a bomb ass music video treatment. Now's the time to figure out what it takes to actually edit a great music video.

  • Get organized: Getting all of your files and metadata in order will not only save you tons of time editing but it'll also make tweaking your edit for your client or boss a hell of a lot easier.
  • Edit the "performance" first: Owens suggests editing the "performance" part of your music video first and adding b-roll in after. This is because once you have all of your essential shots down, you can start garnishing with sweet b-roll and effects to give your project more style, flavor, and context.
  • Edit to the music: This doesn't mean just cutting to the beat or tempo, it means listening to the tone and energy of the song to allow it to influence the way you edit.
  • Know your keyboard shortcuts: Shortcuts can make editing faster. Find out which operations you use most often and learn their keyboard shortcuts like the back of your hand.
  • Develop your own style: One of the most beautiful things about music videos is that they allow filmmakers to really explore their creativity. It's the perfect opportunity to take risks and experiment with your craft to develop your own unique visual and editorial style.
  • Keep things interesting: If your clients' fans aren't willing to stick around to watch your boring music video, don't expect them to stick around to hire you for their next one. Make sure that your project stays interesting by introducing new, unintroduced elements and effects further along the timeline, and avoiding reusing the same effects over and over.
  • Friggin' save: Often. 

What are some other tips for new music video editors? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment


Love doing music videos. It's a great space to try new ideas. Recently discovered a really cool feature with my new DJI Ronin S that allowed for some interesting VFX tricks and I immediately got to work on this music video for a song called "Black Coffee".

July 26, 2018 at 9:58PM, Edited July 26, 9:58PM


As someone who is about to direct their first music video, this is kind of serendipitous and awesome.

July 27, 2018 at 7:11AM


I absolutely love the fact the featured image is of #BizzyBone lol that really made my day!


July 27, 2018 at 9:18AM

Luis Garcia

I’d add that you need to carefully manage the expectations of the band/client. They’ve seen a thousand expensive music videos and often propose a complex narrative, involving multiple locations and characters cast from amongst their friends, who will be volunteers with varying degrees of commitment/skill.

You might be early on in your career and keen for the opportunity, quite possibly even working for free.

The expectation of pace and fast cuts can require much more useable footage than a typical 3 minute ‘interviews + cut-away shots’ video. Maybe a few days of shooting. And the singer might expect to sit on your shoulder for the edit.

You’ll be working very hard for your beer!

Sometimes, insisting on a well-shot performance video of the musician in one location is the only way to stay sane. Or, be very clear with the band that you’re experimenting and they will get whatever they get and must trust you.

By all means use it as a chance to explore, but have some very clear discussions with everyone beforehand.

July 30, 2018 at 12:40AM


Great post, thank you so much.

February 23, 2020 at 12:02AM


I love music

February 23, 2020 at 12:04AM


Me too, the music is amazing

February 23, 2020 at 12:05AM


Thank you

February 23, 2020 at 12:07AM


Do you know of an address that offers good mp3 music?

February 23, 2020 at 12:10AM