How to Make a FREE Music Video with Public Domain Clips

Hey guys, Stephen here aka MrSteJ with another video for the DIY Musician Guide. In this one I’m going to show you how to make a music video for free using public domain videos.

I always say that the hardest thing about being an online musician is getting someone to click on your music to, you know, to actually listen to it. So, it can be a good idea for it to be available on different platforms, such as YouTube, to cover more bases.

A while back I actually made a video all about how you can make art track music videos, which I’ll link to below if you’re interested in that, but I wanted to go a step further and think about something a little more visual, and still free.

So, with that in mind, in this video I’m going to show you where you can find free clips to use for your music videos and I’ll also go over the process of how I’ve actually just made one for my band, Wired to Follow.

The Internet Archive

There are many places where you can get Public Domain videos for your projects but for this example, I’ll be using the Internet Archive located at As it states, the “Internet Archive is a non-profit library of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more”.

Now this doesn’t mean everything on here is free to use as many items come with usage rights so it’s always worth checking the information provided.

Prelinger Archives

The section I like to use is called the ‘Prelinger Archives’ as it’s all public domain usage so quite safe to use. If we have a quick look at the ‘Rights’ section on the About page, it states:

“You are warmly encouraged to download, use and reproduce these films in
whole or in part, in any medium or market throughout the world. You are
also warmly encouraged to share, exchange, redistribute, transfer and copy
these films, and especially encouraged to do so for free.

Any derivative works that you produce using these films are yours to
perform, publish, reproduce, sell, or distribute in any way you wish
without any limitations.”

The films contained in this collection are old advertising, educational and amateur content. If you’re creative, you can use them to make some interesting projects. Let’s have a look.

If you click back onto the Collection tab, you’ll see there’s a lot of content here, you could be scrolling down all day looking for suitable clips. So it might be worth using the filters on the left to narrow down what you’re looking for.


1. Brief

And talking about what you’re looking for, I really think it’s important to have some sort of brief otherwise you’ll just be scrolling endlessly, looking at random clips. I mean, there’s totally an element of that anyway, believe me, but just have something in mind.

So, for my project, I’m after something a little abstract. The track I’m going to use is pretty dark so I’m after something a little spooky, maybe David lynch Eraserhead inspired.

2. Gather Clips

With that in mind, I’ll look out for anything that looks a bit quirky and try and keep the look similar too to avoid a lot of editing later on.

As this can be a very time-consuming process I’ll scroll through and open a bunch in new tabs.

Then I’ll quickly scrub through each one and if I see anything interesting, I’ll download it. I think it’s probably better to have more than you need, just in case you realise later on you don’t have enough.

3. Editing

Ok, so when I’ve downloaded the clips, I’ll throw them in to a new project in my video editor. I’m using Final Cut, but you can use iMovie or whatever.

I’ll just scrub through the clip up here and when I find something of interest, I’ll throw it onto the timeline. We’re obviously going to edit these clips to our music track which you see on the timeline.

So, for example, I really like this footage of the kids with the black background, it’s kind of creepy and when you play it with the music, it really works for what I set out to create.

A Finished Project

Now, we’ll just skip ahead to my finished project so you can see some of things I’ve done and understand my thought processes.

I found some Titles in one of the clips which worked well to split up the track and build momentum.

I’ve also got those clips of kids playing about which continuously cuts to this up-close kid shaking their head to the beat of the track. It looks really ominous.

Then I cut to scopes and electrical equipment and then introduce this woman putting makeup on. I’ve zoomed in really close and it kind of looks like warpaint.

As the track ramps back up, the kids return, but I’ve added this background of a Vinyl record animation just to make it a bit more intense.

Then as the track closes, I’ve got these lines of men all standing around like they’re from 1984 or something (that video actually has them looking at car) but I keep cutting it with the woman again and end the video with her finishing her warpaint.


And that’s pretty much it. I’m really happy with it and you can see the potential of what you can do with your own projects.

With more time spent you could create an actual narrative to your video, you could even create something you could use to project at your shows. Just have fun with it.

My mentality is this. Unless you’re really lucky, nobody is going to come along and make a music video for you, unless you can pay them! So, in the spirit of this channel, Do it Yourself.

Whether it’s this kind of thing, an art track or getting out there with a camera, go make something that extends your art.

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