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How to make a viral music video with no money

The video displays the lyrics of the song as highlighted portions of random tweets

The video displays the lyrics of the song as highlighted portions of random tweets

How do you make a music video and promote your band if you don't have any money? For their new single Preflight Nerves, Melbourne-based electro folk band Brightly (opens in new tab) came up with a cheeky little solution based on the Twitter API.

Basically the online music video (opens in new tab) serves up the lyrics of the song as highlighted portions of the latest tweets, against a background of archive stock footage. This unique approach has got the band a ton of publicity via social sites like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.

And while the result may not artistically be the greatest music video of all time, it's got people listening to the song and interested in the band - which is, after all the point of the exercise.

How they made it

"We couldn't really afford to pay a production company to put together a film clip to the standard that we'd like to, so we went back to the drawing board," explains group member Charlie Gleason. "I noticed one of the lyrics from the song, very innocuously, in the middle of a tweet, and I realised that we could do something using the Twitter API."

The stock footage was mainly taken from Archive.org

The stock footage was mainly taken from Archive.org

From there Gleason put together a quick mockup in Photoshop (opens in new tab), and started building. "I knew early on that I wanted it to be done using HTML5 (opens in new tab), because I'm a really big fan of the video and animation specs. The other two co-founders at my company Goodfilms (opens in new tab), John Barton and Glen Maddern, helped out with a bunch of the initial planning and server set up."

The stock footage was primarily taken from Archive.org (opens in new tab) - "I've used that for a bunch of our videos previously, as the footage is out of copyright and generally wild."

Viral marketing

"For marketing I relied primarily on word of mouth, with a couple of Reddit posts and emails to blogs," adds Gleason. "A friend did a press release, and I generally continued banging on about it.

The video has been shared widely on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook

The video has been shared widely on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook

"A couple of days later Gotye (opens in new tab) shared it from his Twitter and Facebook, and it exploded a little bit. Which was very, very exciting. Not so much for the potential hosting bill though..."

Techie details

Built using Yeoman (opens in new tab) on the client side, backed by Angular.js (opens in new tab), it's animated primarily using HTML5 animation, with some JavaScript (opens in new tab) helpers where required.

On the server side it's a Sinatra (opens in new tab) app built in Ruby (opens in new tab), using Memcache to stop us going over the Twitter API rate limits.

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