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  • Siren Creative

Top Tips on Creative Briefing

Updated: May 26, 2020

Last week we banged on about getting to grips with visual language, so this week we thought we'd give some dos and don'ts for putting together a creative brief. Whether it's for artwork, a photoshoot or a video, it can be a bit of a daunting process to get that conversation started....


DO give yourself plenty of a time to prepare.Things often move a little too fast and a little too late in the music industry when it comes to creative planning, but the more time you can get upfront the better.


DO be clear about what you're doing. Your first contact should explain the project and what exactly it will be used for, when you need it and and where it's going to end up.


DO your research. Ask for recommendations and do your best to find out about the artists you would like to work with. Instagram is a great place to find artists. Just remember that high profile creatives might not be against working with you, but your bank account might not be so supportive....


DO send references and ideas for the project. And make sure to explain exactly what you like about them - a written brief is really important but an image can tell us a lot of technical detail about what you're thinking. Talk through the references they send as well, make sure you're on the same page.


DO be open to suggestions. This person's whole job is to supply the creative and the end product: you know your image and your message, but they know how to interpret that into something visual. Use their brain and their expertise!


DO understand what IP is and how it works. The short version if that if you have commissioned and paid for creative work for a specific purpose, it is yours alone. If you want to use an image or an artwork that was not commissioned by you, then you need to but the rights to 'borrow' it and reproduce it for a specific project. And other people may do the same without any permission from you.


DON'T be afraid to give someone a chance. It doesn't matter if a creative doesn't usually work in the music space or if they're untried; if you like their work then get in touch.


DON'T feel obliged to use content you're not happy with*. Every artist will tell you that at some point they have canned a shoot or a piece of commissioned artwork. It happens. However if you strongly feel it's going that way, try to call time before the end - much easier to simply pay for prep days than for a full shoot.


* but you are still obliged to pay for it even if you don't like it. That is the equivalent for hiring you to play a live show then not paying you because they didn't like your songs. You need a strong reason to refuse payment - if the end result is so badly executed compared to what you were expecting based on their previous work etc, or they completely ignored your brief.



DON'T lie. I mean, don't do that ever anyway in your professional life (unless it's like hey Mr Morrissey, yes yes I'm a vegan and a member of PETA for sure... that lie might save your life). And don't be embarrassed to say that unfortunately you can't afford their rate, it's not an insult... they will decide if they can change their rate, and you will have to respect their decision.


DON'T assume you understand their job. Also important in many scenarios, but you need to remember the reason you brought them onto the project; you can't do what they do and you need them. They won't tell you how to sing, so respect their knowledge of their job. Also please remember that their rate of pay is exactly the same as yours; creative output + time. Even just retouching one photo can take hours....


DON'T be a dickhead. Sound, timeless advice for anyone at any given moment.


Finally... let's just breakdown the concept of the much hated offer of exposure. This is exactly why it's a no go: If you are asking for a service, then you must need it and therefore it's valuable to you. Exposure has no value because the concept only works based on a high level of success with assured return. But even if someone has that level success then they also have the resources to pay for your much needed services. The one cancels out the other, like a nice neat maths problem. Someone else's business is never your charity fund... and no one is making you shop there.




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