An Interview with Jensen Reed on the Viral Music Video Back to the 90s
It’s the big question on most musicians minds… How do you create that perfect viral music video? One that can launch your career forward and raise awareness for you and your music.
New Artist Model member Jensen Reed found the right formula with the recent viral music video, Back to the 90s. To date, the video has received 30+ million views on Facebook and YouTube.
But Jensen says that this seemingly overnight success was years in the making. He’s been hard on the scene for years releasing music and music videos, learning about the industry, and most importantly, making the connections that made such a large-scale production possible.
“The New Artist Model really helped to get me organized for a plan of action this year. By filling out the Career Map, I was able to set up time tables for goals and feel more confident about the direction of my career.
I’ve recently had success (25 Million Views on Facebook in 3 days) with a comedy music video called ‘Back to the 90s’ which I think is my 17th music video. It can take a long time to break through.
My strategy has always been to consistently work hard to improve my craft, partner with great collaborators and release quality content. I feel most fulfilled personally when I’m creating new music and videos independent of whether or not they reach a large audience.
Ultimately you have to love what you do and be grateful for the opportunity to share your vision. Thanks for your guidance Dave!” – Jensen Reed
If you were wondering just what went into the planning and production of Back to the 90s, CD Baby’s Chris Robley caught up with Jensen to find out exactly what went into the viral video…
This interview is from CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog. Check out the full interview here.
Can you tell me about the timeline for the production? How long did each phase take?
It took almost a year and a half from concept to finished video. Ben Giroux came to me with the idea of doing a music video that’s a celebration of all things 90s. We both were 90s kids and sensed a movement for 90s nostalgia, so we knew we were on to a solid idea.
A big part of the challenge was incorporating multiple genres into one song effectively. My production partner Christian Hand had the genius idea and I knew we had to figure out a way to execute it. I enlisted my buddy Jared Lee who is an amazing songwriter and artist to help us with the chorus and my man Dirty Hollywood who is pure rock n roll to work out the grunge bridge with us.
Our Cinematographer Zach Salsman absolutely crushed this shoot. Zach and I have worked together on a bunch of my music videos and his eye and talent behind the camera is unmatched.
We shot the video in two long production days. (check out the making-of video below)
The key to knocking it out so efficiently was the pre-production process that lasted for months…locations, crew, cast, times, logistics etc. It was truly a massive production with over 100 people on set.
One thing that allowed for the shoot to go smoothly was the lyrics. Because we had so many specific 90s references, we knew exactly what shots we needed. Unlike most of my other music videos where we roll the entire song and do a bunch of performance takes, we only shot the snippets of the song in each setup we needed. This also made the original skeleton for the edit come together quickly because we knew which shot went where in the timeline.
Did you call in a lot of favors to get this video done?
There was an immense amount of talent involved in the project that donated their time and expertise or worked for us at a major discount. This was a team effort in every way imaginable.
If you want more ideas on how to promote your music and easy ways to turn the music and content you create every day into social posts and videos, download this FREE social media guide and checklist: How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists
I found the attention to detail super impressive. Can you talk about scouting locations, gathering props and costumes, finding lookalikes, and so forth?
Locking down an airplane hangar to re-create the vibe of the iconic Backstreet Boys video “I Want It That Way” was the biggest challenge. We found Whiteman airport outside of Los Angeles and the owner was open to cutting us a deal because he was a former film school student and understood the idea of a passion project. All of the locations and minutia involved in a shoot this big were handled masterfully by our Producers Jon Rosenbloom, Scott Thomas Reynolds, and Marc Barnes. They are masters of getting sh*t done!
We secured Bullock and Snow Casting to cast all of the roles and they knocked it out of the park! Every person they cast was incredible. They also got us the amazingly talent Alexander Arzu (who plays the kid we educated about how great the 90s were).
Our Art Department Melissa Lyon and Marissa Bergman took the production to another level with the ridiculous attention to detail in creating spaces covered with 90s paraphernalia. There are so many ‘Easter Eggs’ littered throughout the video for viewers to discover, which has led to many people watching the video over and over. And our Wardrobe Designer Chelsea Kutun found all of the iconic and memorable looks for everyone involved in the shoot.
What happened between the final edit and the launch? How did you prepare to promote the video?
Ben and I edited the video and got it to an almost final point before we enlisted Animators Doug Bresler, Ilana Schwartz, Tony Celano, and Zoran Gvojic to add their magic touch including NBA Jam, Ren & Stimpy, Doug, Celebrity Deathmatch etc. VFX by Jake Akuna was the final piece of post production that added more detail and interesting effects, upping the ante yet again.
We had a live release party in Los Angeles the day before we released the video. It turned out to be one of the most fun parties that any of our 300 guests had been to in a while. We encouraged everyone to dress in their best 90s gear. Jared and I performed a couple of our original songs and we then screened the video and performed “Back to the 90s” live.
We encouraged everyone in attendance to share the video at 10am on Monday, May 1st when it was released to get the ball rolling. It helped tremendously that many people in attendance have a lot of social influence because of their own creative pursuits. We didn’t hire a publicist. We just put it out to the world with the hopes of it being so good that people would instantly want to share and that’s what happened.