In an age where artists and their teams need a constant output of visual content for an increasing amount of releases on a growing number of platforms, Rotor has a clear value proposition. With the click of a button, and at a very small cost, you can output any visual asset needed: music videos, visualisers, lyric videos, karaoke videos, vertical videos, and Spotify Canvases.

While Rotor has been around since 2015 and was often perceived as being oriented at the DIY artist market, it has evolved a lot in recent years –  expanding its features and becoming a valuable tool for artists, indie and major labels alike. 

A few years ago, the Rotor team saw an opportunity in helping artists and rightsholders maximise the revenue they could generate from YouTube. Alex Branson of Rotor explains: “I first came across Rotor in 2016. At that time labels were starting to realise how much money they could be making on YouTube. But for this, you need to own video assets, instead of just fingerprinting the audio as this brings in an extra 10%. And with any priority release now setting out up to 25+  different assets, this becomes a costly and time-consuming process.”

YouTube video

Creating video assets

It’s pretty easy to get started with Rotor and to create different visuals with no upfront cost –  you’ll only get charged once you decide to download one of the assets. There are three steps on your way to creating a visual asset: the audio, the style, and the clips. The first step is to upload a piece of audio: Rotor will automatically analyse aspects that will have an impact on the visual elements in the finished product, like the BPM, if there are any drops in the track, and other sonic elements.

Next, you’ll be able to choose a style. Branson explains: “When you think of the audio as your music video director, the style is more like the editor. Styles make sure that the treatment of your video stays consistent, for example by adding a VHS style across the video. It ties it all together, so that it looks and feels like different clips were all meant to be together.”

Rotor says that one challenge for labels is that they usually only have the delivered audio, release artwork and metadata. Unless they’ve spent money on filming material for an official video, or have existing behind-the-scenes or live show video, often the only visual asset they can offer is artwork. To help labels create more engaging visual content with this kind of limited asset type, Rotor offers 50 different styles that can deliver visuals based on audio analysis, making them more dynamic.

Video variety 

After having chosen a style, you can upload any visual material you like, such as still images or video clips. To complement that, Rotor includes a clips library which includes an array of material – like time-lapse photography other interesting visuals –  to enrich your videos with additional material without having to buy these assets from a stock library. Various moods or text can be overlaid, and the video can easily be resized for various platforms and uses. 

The video rendering happens in the cloud so you can continue creating more videos instead of waiting for the rendering to finalise. 

Is there a risk that artists using Rotor will end up with assets that look the same? Branson says no: “because there are different variables such as different pieces of music and different artwork, we end up with very unique assets.”  

The company can also work with label clients to create bespoke styles: this could be something as simple as dropping a label logo into one of the top corners, but for clients with more budget available, Rotor has videographers and  editors on staff who can realise special projects.

Advanced features and the future

The barrier to entry for creating video content on Rotor is very low, which makes it a great choice for any type of artist. The company also works with different types of labels, including all the majors. For labels, Rotor is a solution that makes the creation of videos faster and cheaper, solving their volume problem – not only for the constant releases and visuals being churned out by frontline artists – but for labels buying up catalogues which quickly have to appear on YouTube.

In the future, Branson says, “Rotor is trying to get to a place where for certain types of assets the recorded music industry will always use Rotor as it won’t make sense to do this manually” and they are developing an API that companies can plug into to facilitate this. 

Distribution companies and labels could then simply choose the audio and artwork in the back-end and have assets automatically created based on preselected styles. The rationale, Branson says, is that: “If you’re growing your A&R team, you will need to grow your Product Management team, and as a result your content team has to grow too with the costs of this being passed on to the artist.  We want to solve some of this as a company.”

Other features the platform is currently building are also aimed at ease of creation: for lyric videos, an auto-lyric aligner means users just upload their audio and a lyrics file, and the right words appear at the right time. This isn’t just useful – it has an international impact, as lyric videos could then be auto-translated. This function is not yet fully live, but is currently available via Rotor’s studio team.

Rotor, he says, is not trying to be another iMovie or Final Cut Pro – rather it allows anyone to make a music video without any creative or editing skills. There are a handful of tools competing in a similar part of the market: Videobolt, which has a broader focus than just music, or Storyblocks, for instance.


Rotor offers both pay as you go pricing as well as subscriptions that will make their videos even more affordable. On the pay as you go front, you’ll pay $9 per short video (<30s) and $19 per long video (>30s) for the highest quality and a little less for standard quality. All rights to the video will be yours. On the subscription front, you can choose between four different tiers: Essentials, DIY, Pro and Indie. With annual billing (-50%) on the highest tier, you’ll pay $49.50 / month which enables you to create up to 600 videos a year ($.0.99 per video), with unlimited short videos and 250GB storage included. 

Try Rotor here:

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Marlen Hüllbrock

Marlen HüllbrockHead of Marketing & Audience

Music Ally's Head of Marketing & Audience

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