A cornerstone of anyone’s music career is the music video. Anyone who has ever been somebody in the industry has a video to one of their songs. Usually, artists will put out music videos to complement an album or a release. Not only do music videos allow you to show your creative chops, but they also are a fantastic form of marketing. If you’re big enough, you can even get a return on your investment through monetization on YouTube! Music videos are a staple for artists, but unfortunately, they cost a lot of money to get made. For the independent artist, especially one that is early in the game, you have to hustle to get that first video made. With enough know-how & resiliency, you can make a high-quality, impactful music video for cheap. Today, I will be giving you a few tips and tricks on how to make a music video on a budget.
Start with a Gameplan
In the film industry, we call this pre-production. This is often the piece that requires the most legwork. Pre-production is where you lay the groundwork BEFORE you grab the camera and get to shooting. You’ll want to focus on a few of the following points:
- Choosing the song
- Finding your crew
- Planning the shoot
- Creating any planning documents that you need
All of this requires ZERO money to start. You can do it alone in your bedroom & it doesn’t require a dime being spent (except for maybe the internet bill).
Choosing Your Song
This is the most important part of the pre-production process. You will want to choose a song that embodies you and the work you put forward. If you’re releasing an album, make sure that the song you make a music video for is the best one on that album. You’ll also want to make sure that the song has a concept that you can explore in the video itself. Does the song have a hidden meaning? Are you being political? What is the overall narrative that you want to tell? These are all questions to ask yourself when deciding which song that you want to choose.
Finding Your Crew
The next step is to find your crew. This can be one lone videographer or an entire list of people to help make your production possible. If you’re leaning on the frugal side, I suggest finding a videographer with a varied skill set. Many of these guys have their equipment and with a little bit of rapport, they can easily hook you up with a cheap price. Many artists tend to find their “go-to” videographer who shoots all of their content. In a lot of cases, these videographers believe in the vision that you set forth & will work with you for nothing in the early stages. Having this kind of relationship is beneficial for both parties. You get a free or cheap videographer & they get to come along for the ride. You both eat as your career grows.
The other route is finding a crew. This will be MUCH more expensive but it allows each person to focus on their specialty & you tend to end up with a much higher quality result in the end. But this article isn’t about spending a bunch of money on a film crew. This is about saving, so we’ll leave it at that.
Planning the Shoot
Next up we have planned. Now that you have your song locked down & your videographer hired, it’s time to sit down and plan. I highly suggest making sure that your videographer is looped in on all things planning. They’ll be able to tell you what is possible & what isn’t. They’ll also be a sounding board for your ideas and often will have ideas of their own. This where you get down to business to figure out what the video’s vision will become. Are you going to have an abstract video or one that is more based on reality? There are a ton of questions to ask during this process but what matters is that you come down to a very solidified idea of what you want.
Draw pictures, create mockups, do anything and everything that you can to outline your vision. Having these reference images is only going to help push your video to the next level. Part of planning the shoot also includes creating planning documents. Now, a real film professional would tell you that you need a storyboard, a shot list & a whole variety of other documents that make it happen. But I would only advise that kind of stuff if YOU feel like you need it. If you do hire a film crew, let them do all of that. Oh, and did I mention that YOU are the director of this whole thing? It’s YOUR vision and you should keep it that way.
Once you have all of your planning done, it’s time to move on to the most exciting part of making the music video: production.
Film, Film, Film!
The day has finally come! All of your hard work in pre-production is about to pay off as you shoot your music video. There’s not a whole lot for me to say here but it’s important to note: this is where you’re most likely going to be spending your money. You’ll pay your videographer for their work here as well as any extras, props & locations that you need to shoot. If you are trying to keep it cheap, you can usually utilize the area around you and your friends. On one hand, your friends can double as extras & they can also help you source props. The world is your oyster & as long as you don’t live in a place that requires film permits (I’m talking to you, Los Angeles) you should be able to shoot for free.
If you’re going for higher production quality, many places around the world have photo/video studios where you can shoot. Those do come at a premium, though. No matter how you go about filming, just remember that it’s important to always listen to the people around you. If people feel unsafe, make sure you acknowledge their fear. If your videographer says something can’t be done, it probably can’t be done. As long as you can film your story & walk into the editing room with all that you need, you’ve done your job.
Editing & Uploading
If you’ve hired a good videographer, they’ll likely edit your music video too! You’ll likely spend countless hours editing and reediting with your team to make sure that the final product is exactly what you’re looking for. If you missed a shot, you can go out and reshoot it! But at the end of the day, once you finalize your video it’s time to put it out to the world.
YouTube is your best avenue for getting the video out there. But there are others, like Vimeo, that will increase the places that you can get views. YouTube is free to use & once it’s up you can share it out across a variety of social media channels. All of this is free to use for ORGANIC growth. But, if you have a little money left over it might be smart to look into social advertising as a way to market your video. Facebook & Twitter both have fantastic advertising platforms that can cost you as low as $5 a day to market. Doing this will increase the number of eyes on your video, but more importantly, on you and your music. It’s worth taking a look into!
Ready to Make a Music Video?
There is a lot that goes into making a music video. Much more than what I’ve outlined here. But I hope that this is a nice introduction to the world of making a music video. If you didn’t know how to make a music video, now you have a great idea of where to get started.
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