All music videos follow a set of codes and conventions in order to make the form recognizable to the
audience. Different genres use different conventions in order to differentiate the types of music from
one another, they are different because each genre targets a different audience with possibly a different
demographic like age and social status and also a different psychographic like fashion sense and where
they shop and what they do in their spare time. Conventions of the form provide a structure so that the
audience understands and becomes familiar with music videos and what they expect to see in a music
Conventions will change due to the genre of the music however all music videos follow some general
conventions, these include; the video style which is generally performance, narrative or abstract. The
camera angles, shots and movement. Editing techniques like pace of shots or any effects. Sound, which
can be diegetic or non-diegetic depending on the style of the music video. And finally Mise en Scene like
props, lighting and costume.
Performance style is used predominantly to promote the artist. It is conventional
for audiences because the viewer can see the artist doing what they are paid to
do, performing. This style is mainly used in the rock/indie genres as instrument
playing is what their audience want to see and what they can relate to. This style also
works for solo artists, particularly females who can use the style to sing and
dance, perhaps in a provocative way which will attract male viewers that aren’t their
target audience. This coincides well with Laura Mulvey’s theory of the ‘male gaze’
The narrative style is used more to promote the song than the artist although it does
do both. The narrative can keep the audience entertained whilst making the song
memorable so the audience is more likely to buy it. The narrative usually reflects the song
lyrics and as most songs are about love, the characters within the narrative help the
audience to relate to what the song is about. This increases the amount of emotion felt by
the viewer and can encourage them to purchase the song and video. Other narratives may
include film like videos that are based on action or horror etc. this excites the audience
and makes them want to watch till the end to find out what happens which will mean
them listening to the full song and may change a person’s opinion of the song.
Abstract style is used more to evoke a feeling or mood in the
viewer or to give them an impression about what the song is about.
We are motivated most by our feelings so using the abstract style to
make the audience feel a certain way is more likely to make them buy
The camera is very important in making a music video different
shots, angles and movements are conventional of music videos in
order to set a viewing pace to the video.
Establishing shots and wide shots are used often show a particular
location which can instantly give the viewer an idea of the genre. Medium
close up shots, close up shots and extreme close up shots are very
conventional of music videos as they show the artist’s face. They do this
to promote the artist and so that it is easier to remember them. This is the
whole point of a music video. It is also used to show emotion in the
artist’s face, this is particularly used in narratives or abstract styles as it is
important to get across the correct mood and feelings to the audience.
The eye level angle is used most commonly in music videos. This is because that is how the audience
is used to seeing things. It makes the video seem more realistic and in the real world. It makes the
audience feel more relaxed and makes the video more relatable. High angle and low angle shots are
used, particularly in narrative videos to show the balance of power. High angle shots make the artist or
subject look less intimidating whereas low angle shots make them look bigger and more in control. It can
be used in narratives to differentiate between the protagonist and antagonist. Dutch angles are
commonly used in music videos to make the video more creative and unusual. Its use in a narrative style
could portray the character’s feelings of confusion or even a mixture of feelings. Bird’s eye angle is used
to show the subject in a different perspective to the audience. It usually a more flattering angle than a
normal horizontal angle, which is important to make the artist as attractive as possible to help promote
themselves. It can also be used to show the audience something the subject may not have seen.
Tracking and pans are the conventional camera movements of the
form as it gives the audience a sense of journey which most songs
entail. They can give the viewers a better view of the location or show
something the subject may not have seen. They also add pace to a
song which is important in reflection to the mood and tone the artist
wants to put out.
Most music videos include some sort of editing. The most common of which is
editing to the beat of the song. This makes the video more aesthetically pleasing to
watch and allows the viewer to understand the correct pace and mood put across.
Some videos include post-production effects like black and white or sepia to age the
video depending on what is fashionable in that era. It also adds to the mood and
makes the video more edgy. Flash backs are used in a non-linear narrative to show a
character’s progression or journey and can make the narrative stand out and appear
Sound is incredibly conventional in a music video. The sound can
be diegetic or non-diegetic depending on the style and can often
include both. The sound is usually sound parallel which means it
matches the editing, if it is a fast song then the video will be fast, the
same if it is slow and also the mood, if the song is happy then the
video will be happy.
MISE EN SCENE
Mise en scene is very conventional in music videos as they are what
creates stereotypes which are when we expect certain conventions to
occur in different people or things.
Lighting is always used in music videos. The amount of light or
the colour of the light will reflect the mood of the video, if it is light
then the video is more likely to be happy. Flashing lights used will
often coincide with the beat of the song to keep with the pace. The
angle of the light is used a lot in narratives as it can help indicate who
is a protagonist or antagonist.
Props are used often in music videos that relate to the lyrics or aid
a narrative. They make the video more fun to watch and can be a key
part of a narrative or display a point the artist is trying to show. They
can also be used for a comical value to help engage the audience or
make them laugh.
Costumes are very important as they can help explain a narrative or a particular
character. Musicians today are often seen as style icons and get a lot of their
audience from the way they look. It is also I crucial way to market themselves in
order to sell more music. Hair and make-up can also be used in the same way.
Costumes like props can be used for a comical value, the more outrageous, the
more it will be talked about through online media and that increases publicity for
the song and the artist. A good example of this is Lady Gaga. She has become best
known not for her music but for her weird dress sense however she is still a
respected musician and making lots of money.
The location of a music video can instantly give the audience an idea
of the genre. For example, forest locations would be best associated with
the folk or country genres whereas derelict urban areas are associated with
indie rock while clubs and sunny beaches are linked to pop music. A good
location can attract an audience and make them interested to know what
the song is going to be about. The location can also be crucial for the
audience to understand the narrative and give the video a sense of