What Is a Lyric Video?

Spray painted words on a brick wall

Johnny Chew / Pixabay

A lyric video is basically a music video that focuses on showing the lyrics to the song on-screen as the song is played. A simple idea, but it's taking off and becoming a popular genre for labels to get more content out there for their bands, and thusly becoming a new area for animators to capitalize on for work.

Why Make a Lyric Video?

Lyric videos have been an evolutionary process that started early on YouTube. People quickly wanted to make it so if one wanted to listen to music on YouTube that would be possible because labels at first were either reluctant or just not interested in uploading official videos for the music.

Windows Movie Maker

So at first, you'd get a lot of videos going up that were just pictures of the album cover and the song playing. That was pretty popular for a while but people are more inventive than that. With programs like Windows Movie Maker where you could edit text easily using pre-made transitions, people began creating videos with the lyrics written out on screen. You gotta love that Windows Movie Maker blue background it's a classic.

This went on for a while, with people doing slightly fancier versions that include pictures, or more animated transitions. It wasn't until later that animators would get involved to take these simple lyric videos into what they are now.

The first lyric video we can remember being spread around the internet and not just something that someone made in 10 minutes was Cee Lo Green's "F*&% You." It was put up originally as a placeholder until the official video could be released. This, from what we witnessed of the evolution, is where the lyric video really took off and became its own genre.

Now lyric videos are used by bands and labels for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, like with "F*&% You," they'll be posted ahead of when the official video is supposed to be out to capitalize on the popularity of a song on the radio or maybe to try to get more people's attention ahead of the official release. It's also become a popular channel for B-sides to be released. When a new album comes out with a big hit, lyric videos can be made as additional content for those albums to go with the other songs that aren't released as singles.

Creative Direction for Lyric Videos Is Open

The creative direction for lyric videos is usually very open, and when it's not it's usually just trying to go off of whatever album art the song may already be associated with. The budgets usually aren't huge, and the turn around is usually pretty quick but for something that usually has no expenses in making it (depending on how you design it of course) it's not a bad gig. It's also a field that is booming right now, more and more bands and labels releasing lyric videos. Katy Perry releases a ton of them. Also if you work smart they can be pretty fun little projects, go in with an animation style that lends itself to copying and pasting to all the lyrics and you'll have a much easier time making the project.

While not as respected as official videos and looked at sometimes as kind of additional filler content, lyric videos are a new niche for animators that is growing rapidly and can be capitalized on if you're interested in making a music video that animates and focuses on the lyrics of the song being represented on screen. So if you can handle a crazy turn around, why not give lyric videos a try!