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Spotlight: Music Video Production on a Budget

Making video is costly and time consuming. Here are a few tips to making it when you don't have tons of money.
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The idea of making a music video appeals to most up-and-coming musicians and the independent labels backing them. However, for the majority, the cost and labor-intensive nature of music video production is a bit outside their budget. Furthermore, the pressure to create something exceptionally noteworthy is intense, given the nature of the music video medium, which is ultimately a marketing device as much as it is a form of artistic expression. In other words, to get a worthy return-on-investment for a music video, the music has to be great (a given) and the video has to be interesting and unique.

Fortunately for musicians and producers, it’s possible to put together a decent music video on a budget. Here’s how:

Proper Preparation:

Tapping Resources: 

Everyone you know whether they are involved with music and video has a network all their own you don’t know about. Point is, ask for help, deals, lessons, etc. You need to expand your network so you might be able to find aid in some of the production needs or editing or equipment all by asking for help and putting out feelers. Sites like LinkedIn can show you mutual connections so try and find friends of friends who work professionally in any part of the process you cannot handle. Maybe that person would love a side gig and could become a lasting partnership.

Cinematic Technique:

Whether hiring someone to make the video or doing the camerawork yourself, it’s imperative for whoever is behind the camera to know what he or she is doing. The rule of thirds, the 180-degree rule, and visual storytelling are just some of the essential concepts the person making the video needs to understand before getting started.

Cost-Effective Suggestions:


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When we think of music videos, we tend to think of live-action performances. However, what about making it an animation video? Better yet, why not opt for a whiteboard animation video? It’s a style typically reserved for marketing, but as previously mentioned, music videos are really just a stylized form of marketing, so why not? It’s cheaper than hiring half a dozen actors and twice as many production staff and has the potential to stand out as something different. Furthermore, there’s far more freedom in terms of imagination when it comes to animation video versus live-action.

Guerilla Filmmaking:

Let's say you have your heart set on a live-action music video to go with your awesome track. Fair enough. Now it’s time to think of ways to pull it off on a low budget. The key to cost-effective live-action music video production is to do so guerilla-style: shooting without worrying about permits, closing down streets, etc. Just get out there with a camera and the aforementioned cinematic techniques and start recording. Choose places with interesting or otherwise appropriate backdrops for the desired tone.

Online Hiring and Collaboration:

This is an obvious one, use free tools and software that are available to you. When you are collaborating with people or looking for freelancers to help, find them online and work with them in free ways like google drive. Be it a free platform or one covered by a cybersecurity provider, your private and massive online files can be shared internally and kept safe during and after development. You can end up saving a lot of money be leveraging sites like Fiverr or UpWork to pay people less and get specialized help. Leverage all the tools and programs you can, whether it is using google’s products or another platform there are ways to have a teamwork approach from across the world.


MacBook Pro and Final Cut Pro:

If you’re an EDM artist or producer, we’re going to go ahead and assume that you own a MacBook Pro computer. If you do, you’re halfway there in terms of what you need for the post-production process of shooting a music video. The second half comes down to getting a copy of Final Cut Pro. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be the latest and greatest version to date and therefore can probably be bought at a discount

Youtube Channel:

Once the video is edited together, it’s time to let it loose for people to watch. 30 years ago this involved getting onto MTV, but these days it’s all about YouTube (and to a lesser extent, Vimeo). Fortunately for musicians on a budget, putting a video onto these platforms is free, and they represent the top-tier of online video platforms in terms of viewing. Simply create a YouTube Channel, which you should already have, and publish the music video. Launch a modest but respectable social media marketing campaign to get the word out, and let the magic unfold.

To be honest, there’s a lot more to making a great music video than what we could fit into this article. However, the information provided is plenty for getting started. The rest is nothing you can’t learn, so what are you waiting for?

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