So you’ve just received the brief. Now is your shot to get the artist, label, (and maybe even the artist’s manager) on board with your concept for their music video. How you pitch that concept in your music video treatment will set proper expectations and better define your vision to help close the deal.
But how you approach putting together your music video treatment matters. Depending on how you position yourself can be the difference between getting the green light, or your pitch getting thrown into the “no” pile. In this guide, I’ll share pro tips from music producers you can use to hone this process whether you’re new to music video production or not.
You likely already know this but for those just coming onto the scene, a music video treatment is a document highlighting the direction for a music video. A treatment doesn't show just what the music video will be about, but it should also confirm the visual direction, including any key visual story elements the director plans to implement.
An artist, label, or music video commissioner will send out a brief. It will describe the general wants and needs of their team. Then, a slew of directors will have an opportunity to pitch their concept in the form of treatment.
The music video treatment is also a de-facto agreement between artists and producers confirming the creative direction for the video. So, be sure you have their approval in writing.
Producing a music video treatment means chasing the elusive goal of sharing a vision with other creatives. Ultimately, a combination of text and images need to convey that vision.
But in cases where the director has been around the block, or they simply want to save time and money (or both), they might just write out the treatment. While “show vs tell” is a true and valuable tip (you’ll see that below), it’s important to note that many vet directors do just write out treatments. And there’s actually a way to capture your vision with the written word if done well. Just like a screenwriter has to convey their story visually with words, a director can write out a music video treatment that does that too.
Let’s take a look at this video treatment example for “If I Ruled the Rule” by Nas ft. Lauryn Hill, treatment and direction by Hype Williams.
The very first line reads:
Now compare this concept to the execution of that same treatment in the final video.
Read the full treatment here line-by-line to compare how Hype Williams described it, and how it was executed.
Pro- tip for how to write a treatment for a music video? Take a look at We Direct Music Videos.
This association allows you to discover a ton of past treatments from their music video treatment database. You can explore some of the best music video treatments from some oldies but goodies.
Try learning from the past. Using this site to observe how music videos came to fruition could be helpful when writing your own treatment today.
And as you lay out your music video treatment outline, use a pre-existing template to save yourself some time. Whether you use ours or you pay for one elsewhere, be sure you have something you can reuse for every pitch.
While some directors may simply write out their treatments, most use images, colors, or just general visuals when pitching their concept.
Our treatment template does a few things—while it works as a usable template for your upcoming pitch, it also has some helpful hints per page on what to consider and how to approach certain elements.
Feel free to download our music video treatment template, replace the images with your own, and win that pitch!
Writing a music video treatment may not be as prescriptive as taking Advil for a headache, but creating your own workflow like the one below can save you a ton of unnecessary frustration.
Here’s a general how to write a music video treatment example you can apply to future project:
1. Everything starts with the initial conversation you have with the artist and their label. You’ll likely receive at least some of this information in the form of a brief when someone (such as a video commissioner for a label) reaches out.
First, you’ll want to understand the:
2. Carefully consider their budget and sit down and listen to the song a ton of times to come up with a concept. Balance the budget, your vision, and the client’s input to land the gig.
*Pivot early and don’t let the artist hear about an idea that logistically is impossible based on their budget.
3. Now that you have a concept in mind, it’s time to put on your storytelling shoes. Your music video treatment format can include these elements (tweak from any saved music video treatment template to help you save time):
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind with treatments:
“Rattle off the idea and then get a writer to create a premium deck as that’s so crucial to closing the deal,” said Scott Sheridan, VP of Business and Digital Development at Riveting Entertainment. "All you need to do is brief the treatment writer with a quick voice recording."
Scott also recommends setting expectations on the support visuals’ actual role inside a treatment. “These visuals are inspiration, we are not recreating photographers’ work or something existing.”
Since treatments are how you ultimately land music video gigs, your treatments need to stand out. First impression is a split second. Don’t fall into the trap of sending something out that reads like a novel.
To move fast, use a reusable template so you can adjust what you need to for each and every pitch. Be sure to download our music video treatment template here.
And once you nab the job, discover how to better manage your music video budget to ensure a smooth shoot.
At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice. You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.