When a catchy song is stuck in your head, lyric videos are an amazing way to spread the love and help others enjoy it too. YouTube is full of lyric videos like this one for Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, Next.”
In a lyric video, a song’s lyrics appear and disappear in time to the music, often with an ambient or colored background. These videos are useful for fans of the music who want to listen to and read the lyrics at the same time. Lyric videos can also be beautiful and entertaining in their own right.
Lyric videos are popular on other platforms also. You can watch snippets on Tumblr and Instagram with full-length videos on Vimeo and IGTV. 9:16 lyric videos are even beginning to show up on Spotify, which allows artists to upload original vertical music videos.
A lyric video has these essential ingredients:
- Visuals: The background of the lyric video should match the mood and tone of the video. Design what will happen visually in the background while the lyrics appear and disappear.
- Song: A high-quality soundtrack of a song with lyrics. You need an audio or video recording or the URL of a YouTube music video.
- Timed Lyric Text: Readable text that animates in when the singer sings that lyric. The text animates in and disappears at the right time in the video. Write down the lyrics of the song so that you have the full text.
Kapwing's free Lyric Video Maker can help creators bring a lyric video to life. I recommend using Kapwing since it has simple tools for adding music, designing the scenes of the video, and timing out lyric text. Kapwing's free editor has no watermark, so it's perfect for people looking to get into making lyric videos for YouTube.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to combine these ingredients into an amazing lyric video. Here’s how you can make a lyric video for free in 4 steps:
- Make or Upload Background Video
- Add Music
- Type Lyrics and Time Them to the Music
- Stylize the Lyric Video
- Publish and Share
Step 1: Make or Upload the Background Video
Lyric videos come with all types of aesthetic styling. Some artists put a solid color or a static image in the background of the video. Others record an original video themselves to match the song, like a DIY music video. Creators can also just import existing music videos from YouTube.
Get started by opening a blank canvas in Kapwing's Studio and setting the size of the output. If you're planning to post the lyric video on YouTube, make the canvas 16:9. You can also make vertical video for IGTV or a square video for social media.
Then, make or find an image for the background of your lyric video. Lyric videos often use album art, an original photo from the artist’s latest performance, or a frame from the music video as the background. You can upload an original artwork image or design the image from scratch.
You can also choose to make your lyric video one solid color – just start with a blank canvas in the Studio, use the “Background” tool to set the color, and make it a video by adding the music. Instead of using a solid or static background, creators can also type their lyrics on top of a video. To create a lyric video background video, make or find a scene that matches the mood and tempo of your music. It might have transitioning colors, beats, and shapes that move with the beat.
Here's an example lyric video that I made for "Knocking Boots" by Luke Bryan. I set the background to black and used the flickering neon sign from the official music video in the corner.
To make a more complex music video, you can add multiple scenes to montage clips together. Trim or use the "Timeline" button to ensure that such that each scene last for the right amount of time.
Of course, you can also make a lyric video out of your own video or recording. Check out this musical rendition made in 2020 at a school with red-and-white Christmas-style lyrics:
Step 2: Add Music
Once you've created your background video, click the "Audio" tool in the upper toolbar and upload the music you want to use. Creators can upload an MP3 or MP4 file if they have an original soundtrack. If the song you want is on YouTube, you can import the audio soundtrack directly from the YouTube URL.
For a cover video, you don't need to add audio; you can use the singer’s original audio from an uploaded video. However, it may improve the music quality to mute the original video and add the music overlay to the video to replace the video’s soundtrack.
In Kapwing, you can make adjustments to the audio track so that it sounds correct. For example, many music videos have long introductions before the song starts. You probably want to cut the introduction off so that the song starts right away. Use the "Trim Audio" button to shorten how long the audio will last.
Once you've finished adding the audio, click "Done" to return to the main Studio.
Note that your video must match the length of the song. For image background, Kapwing will make your output video the length of the audio track you uploaded. For video background, you can use the looper and trimmer to lengthen/shorten the video or add scenes to the beginning and end.
Step 3: Type and Time Lyrics
Once you've added the music, click the "Subtitles" tool to type out and time the lyrics. Listen the song and add the lyrics one by one.
Add a new subtitle for each lyric and type the words in the editor. Then, use the sliders and the “Set to current cursor” button to time the lyrics to the music. As you change the timeline, preview your subtitles to make sure they look correct.
In the left-hand panel, you can choose to change the size, color, and font of the lyric text. You can move the subtitles to the top or middle of the video. In a great lyric video, creators will consider some of the following as they create their video:
- Text positioning: Do you want the text to be centered or near the bottom? Should it be left or middle aligned?
- Lyric tempo: Do you want the lyrics to be short, one line at a time, or appear in "chunks" or stanzas?
- Font style: Think about how the font style will contrast with the style of the background. Do you want an outline around the text to add contrast? Is the font you're using readable?
Step 4: Stylize
After you finish adding the lyrics, you have all of the basic elements for a good lyric video. Watch your video preview through to see if you want to add any other style elements.
You can add images that appear only during certain sections of the video by using the "Timeline" tool. Adjust how long any layer lasts and when it is visible.
In my example, I made a lyric video out of Luke Bryant's Knocking Boots. I used his official "Knocking Boots" music video as the background with some small modifications. Then, I searched for "Luke Bryan PNG," added in pictures of him, and used Timeline to make the pictures appear and disappear during certain parts of the song.
Step 5: Publish and Share
After the view preview looks correct, click "Publish" to process the MP4. Kapwing will burn all of the lyrics, music, and visual elements together into a single video file. Usually, it takes about 1-3 minutes for Kapwing to finish processing the video.
After your video is processed, the text of the lyrics will be embedded directly in the video. You can share the Kapwing URL with your friends so that they can watch and experience the video with you. Or, you can download the video to publish it to social media or share the file with your friends.
Bloggers and web developers can also embed the Kapwing video directly on their webpage, just like the example below.
Kapwing doesn’t have any text transitions yet, but we’re working on adding text animations to the Subtitle editor! If you’re a lyric video creator and have ideas about how we can improve our tools to make your life easier, please reach out over email or Twitter.