Treatments are documents to outline the overall idea for music video production. It describes through words and images the style, concept, and outline of the music video.

If you've ever needed to write a treatment for a music video, it might feel overwhelming or challenging. You don't always know where to start. Here's a handy guide to help you learn how to write a music video treatment like a professional.

What is a Music Video Treatment?

A music video treatment is a document you write that provides the overarching idea behind the video. Other information on the treatment may include the budget, cast of characters or singers, production team, and themes.

The purpose of the treatment conveys the point of the music video concisely and enticingly. There are no fundamental rules regarding the format or length of treatment. It can vary depending on what it's used for or who it is asking to have one.

While it is somewhat of an outline, it's still a bit different even from that. It's not meant to pitch the video, but at the same time, it can help create an impact to sell the project.

The basic format of the treatment should include:

  • Title
  • Logline - a one to two-sentence summary (kind of like the elevator pitch)
  • Summary of the story with characters and character breakdown
  • Visual references

The treatment doesn't show what the music video is about solely. It provides direction with key elements that are implemented. Usually, you'll get a brief from the director or label wanting the treatment to outline their needs.

When to Write a Music Video Treatment

Treatments are written and given to producers, directors, or executives before going into the production process for the project. Pre-production is necessary so that they know what visuals they are working with before the creation.

It's essential that you know which elements of the storyline need to be highlighted. Ask questions as you go, such as: “Which scenes are more important than others? How can you be specific when it comes to locations or camera angles?” These ideas can be conveyed in the script-writing.

Why Write a Music Video Treatment?

A music video treatment is a communication tool for creative vision. It can be utilized for many reasons, the first being that it's a great writer's tool. The concise points are an excellent way to narrow down the core of the video's vision.

Another compelling reason for writing a treatment is its value for collaborating with the crew and stakeholders and securing funding. It serves a purpose that a screenplay would in a film, providing a creative roadmap for production.

A music video treatment isn’t just for you or the production team. It can also work as a sales tool. The more compelling and interesting the music video treatment, the more likely it will be picked up and put into production.

The Importance of Storytelling in the Music Video Treatment

The heart of your music video treatment is the narrative. Your story synopsis tells readers the events of the story without going into great detail.

One key element that should be adhered to that aligns with and supports the video's overall concept is keeping things in paragraphs, not bullet points. It's a way to distinguish your treatment from an outline.

You also can be compelling in your narrative by keeping it written in the present tense, with an active voice. It's as if the events are happening right then. But describe the action without getting inside a character's head or commenting on what you think is happening. Avoid the backstory and stick to what is genuinely going on as your visual medium.

Another great aspect of good summary writing is keeping your content succinct. You want to engage readers but not use a lot of filler language, and leave out dialogue unless it's essential to enhance your summary.

Incorporating Sound Into a Music Video Treatment

Music video treatments have a distinct difference from a short film, and that is with the sound. Sound-related equipment, design, and special effects need to be included in your treatment. It helps readers understand how sound plays a role in creating a more compelling experience for the end viewer.

The story accompanies the song and helps drive the narrative behind the music. So, this is another important factor to keep in mind when writing out your summary. For instance, if there is a big swell or key change within the music, it may coincide with some particular action that occurs in the video.

How to Write a Music Video Treatment: Step-By-Step

Writing a music video treatment needs a good workflow. When working on projects, it is helpful to follow a format to develop your roadmap. Here's a general step-by-step guide to help you write a music video treatment:

1. Meet with the Clients

The first step is a collaborative meeting and discussion with those in need of the treatment so that you can get a clear picture of what's needed. You may just get a brief to work with, but if you can, try to have an in-person get-together so you can ask questions about the project.

It's crucial to understand the following:

  • Budget
  • Song for the video
  • Concept or general idea for the video
  • Timeframe for when the video will be made
  • The deadline that they need the video to be finished

2. Create Your Concept

Come up with the concept within the budget given. You may want to use a storyboard as a method to get your ideas down.

It is helpful if you listen to the song multiple times over to get a sense of the idea. It may also be helpful for you to write out a bunch of your thoughts that encompass the music, with some thoughts on visuals.

Be sure you don't pitch concepts that won't fit into the budget. You need to make sure that financially the music video will work with the money on hand. If you pitch a great idea in your treatment, it can be troublesome for the executive or director to find later on that it's not doable in the budget provided.

3. Write The Music Video Treatment

Now that you've evaluated the budget, listened to the music a lot, and have created a noteworthy concept, it's time to write. Your treatment format should include some of the following elements, but you can tweak the music video treatment template to suit your needs:

  • Cover/title page -something that will grab readers' attention
  • A summary page that clearly executes the vision and presents tense actions of the video in a short description.
  • Scene breakdowns (if necessary, usually if the music video will tell a story with a climb or is to be shot in more than one location).
  • Style of the video, which may include things like color palette, wardrobe, or specific cinematography.
  • Include references to the budget if you plan to incorporate things like music licensing to use other sounds or tracks within the video. (Track Club is a great option for licensing music.)
  • Ending scene or conclusion, along with any final thoughts on the project.

Some other pro tips to keep in mind when you write the treatment include the following:

  • Provide visuals that support the arc and creative direction (i.e., vibrant colors for tropical settings)
  • Don't go overboard; remember to keep things clear and to the point.
  • Research the independent artist or musician to see what they go for, and look for trends across social media and the market that you can utilize.
  • Don't wait to submit - artists who want treatments want them "yesterday," so the sooner you can get yours done and pitched, the better. You don't need to spend a lot of time on your treatments.

Set expectations of the visuals and how they apply to the treatment. The visuals should add inspiration but not be used as genuine reenactments within the music video.

The Advantages of Using a Music Video Treatment Template

Templates can be helpful to get you in the right format for your music video treatment. You can find a ton of treatments on the We Direct Music Videos database, where you can explore some best music video treatments that were written, which can also help you when writing your own.

The treatment template also helps save you some time. You can save it and reuse the template when writing multiple treatments. The templates help you determine what needs to be included and where you can incorporate visuals. There are plenty of options online where you can download a template for free to use when creating your treatment.

Land That Music Video Gig

Treatments are pathways to helping you land working with music video directors on future projects and securing your status as a pro. You must make your treatments stand out and create a lasting impression.

Ensure your storylines tie into the theme or topic of the music so it provides the video with more depth. Music is a wonderful emotional outlet, so tapping into the expression of the musician or artist can help drive your main characters within your summary and video concept.

Think of the treatment process as mini-films. Even with a limited budget, you can create a professional music video treatment.