Updated: Mar 24, 2020
In a perfect world, the cost of a music video would be as straightforward as the price of a gallon of milk. Unfourtunelty not the case. Many factors drive the cost of production. Consider your need for on-screen talent, props, locations, and stunts as these are all things that spike the price.
"It is a HUGE plus to work with a video producer that vibes with your music; creativity simply flows better."
Having a music video director that's vested in the project and ambitious enough to bring the track to life through personal taste and interpretation is, in many cases, the difference between a good music video and a bad one.
When looking to save a buck, consider an up and coming director looking to make a name for himself over the pricier counter parts. When we say up and coming, we mean someone with a decent body of work that has good taste, ideas, and production experience but lacks mainstream notoriety.
"As a new artist, you can't afford to big-name directors, so instead of paying for the name, pay for the talent."
Whatever you do, never choose your music video director based on price alone. No matter how cheap, what's the use of throwing your money away.
So to overview the following post, we will break down the significant factors that go into the cost of music videos.
Factors that affect music video pricing
1. Is this a narrative piece with dramatizations or mainly a performance video?
Music videos that require dramatizations will take longer to shoot as they need extensive pre-production. Consider a movie. Actors and crew don't just show up and shoot, right? No, they generally don't all serious productions extensively plan the film sessions to near perfection. Quite frankly, pre-production is where the narrative magic happens; it is easily the pulse and heartbeat of production, requiring hours of desk work.
Narrative filled music videos rely on scenes that require an experienced video crew, acting, lighting, props, locations, and usually, a couple takes to get right. All this translates to long chaotic shoot days. Therefore the more hours and production days, the higher the cost of the video.
"Simply put, complex videos require longer shoots, and longer shoots increase the cost."
The preparation of a music video that includes characters and follows a storyline is very similar to the development and production process of making a film. In this case, it's just shorter, roughly 4 minutes.
Saving cost by making a performance video
Truth be told, performance videos require 25% of the desk work a narrative video would. Performance videos rely on two essential things. Getting solid performances from the artist and excellent b-roll (visuals) to complement the performances.
In film and television production, B-roll, B roll, B-reel, or B reel is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot.
A dancer performing a choreography, aerial landscape shots, or a car driving down ocean blvd in Miami are all examples of B-roll in a music video. A performance video has less moving parts where a narrative piece has many. In a performance video, little casting, scouting, and screenwriting need to be done; therefore, the price is a reflection of the work that is required.
2. Do you have a script or concept for your music video?
Do you have an idea in mind? Any notion or references for the video you would like to have produced? If you do, that provides the producers a good starting point to build around. If you have no clue as to what you want, then you start from zero, which is fine, but that will require a brainstorming session and time commitment from both the artist and producers.
Again if you're making a performance video, little screenwriting is needed; with that said, it would still be good practice to have an idea for the look you want for your video. Do you want it indoors or outdoors? Would you like it filmed on a beach or skating rink? These are all critical things to consider as they advance the production process.
"Music video directors like it when an artist has a notion for what they want. Ultimately directors wish to please artists, and knowing what they like makes satisfying them easier."
3. How many locations, how many days of production?
We hate to state the obvious, but more locations mean more time spent breaking down and setting-up gear, which leads to more hours and, in some instances, days of production. Production time will inevitably affect the cost of a music video.
If on a budget, consider what locations are necessary and which you can eliminate? Remember, not all locations affect your budget the same way; for example, the cost of filming in a sound stage studio will vary significantly from an hourly peerspace apartment. Heck, you can even choose to shoot at a free location such as a city park or the Wynwood walls.
4. Does your project require casting actors?
If your music video has scenes, dramatization, narrative story arcs, then chances are you need on-screen talent. Actors add to your production cost, and there's also the legwork of casting and booking the talent, meaning a casting director conforms part of the video's budget.
How can you avoid this cost? Well, get talented friends to act in your video. Remember, the keyword is "talented" you need friends that are comfortable on camera and deliver the passion the lens requires. Bad performances can ruin a video, or sometimes it takes so long to get a good performance that what you saved on actors you pay on extra production hours.
Ultimately many things go into generating a music video quote, but these listed above should aid artists in figuring out their music video budget.
ReyFilm is a Miami based music video production company. Our mission is to work with passionate artists and make award-winning music videos.