About a year ago I decided to start tackling more involved affordable music videos seriously on my own of what I call for me as an independent artist, the “large t-shirt size*” variety. We are just wrapping up the second video and I’ve learned that EVERYTHING that you can do yourself will save you money. I chose a hybrid approach of me doing a ton of work myself (DYI) and bringing in talented or professional folks where I felt value would be added and being cheap would do more harm than good.
This adventure as a music video executive producer led me to realize I needed the following:
1. A Song
2. A Concept or Vision for the video
3. A Budget
4. A Team (not required, heavily suggest)
5. A Network
6. A Plan for Promotion
I pick songs that I love and that I have a gut feel are strong representations of who I am as a singer-songwriter and the sound of my band. The song that embodies the vision of my musical journey. You can do this yourself.
2. Concept or Vision
I come up with an idea around that song working with collaborators (or by myself) that fit the song and my musical vision in a unique way which also was in step with my nautical branding. My songs tend to involve storytelling but there are no hard and fast rules. Write a script or find someone to help you. Keep iterating on it, you can do this yourself but its always good to have people you really trust with your art give feedback.
3. A Budget
Set a minimum budget (what you hope it will cost based on research of what you will need) and a maximum budget (what you can afford). Then double the maximum budget (“disaster scenario”) and ask yourself, if it ends up costing me this amount, will it be a total loss? Example: I want to make a video for $500 best case scenario (minimum). I could get $1000 if I had to (maximum) … BUT if disasters strikes and we lose all the footage because my friend dropped the camera off the boat! ($2k, disaster scenario) I always made sure everyone got paid whenever possible, if not in money through other means compensated.
Collaboration makes it more fun and a stronger final product and so it will be very helpful if you find people that have all the following or a mixture of the following:
– People I trust
– People that are excited about the music and concept
– People with talent
Don’t be afraid to exchange things for work or offer what you can afford. Show them your budget if it makes sense. Its amazing how people like to help make cool things happen with any amount of compensation. No one likes being taken advantage of, don’t burn bridges. Friends also will help but I find even my friends I compensate them because I want them to know I am serious about making something awesome and their hard work will be rewarded in more than one way.
Everyone one has friends, colleagues, family, acquaintances, etc.. Ask all of these people when you are looking for something you need. Its amazing how helpful people can be and all of my videos are the result of leveraging my networks and extended networks heavily. Some people might hear about what you are doing and want to work just for credit, or have a piece of gear they don’t need and really is more of a favor than something you’d pay for. Some people LOVE doing certain things that rhyme with what you are doing… you just have to find them!
Probably the most important other aspect is promotion, but I won’t be covering that here.
I’ve found I really love making more involved indie music videos even though its a lot of hard work. If you don’t mind hard work, and are patient, than you probably can make yourself one hell of a music video! Other than sharing my music and vision the best part I enjoy of being an artist is I’ve found rewarding people for having THEM DO WHAT THEY LOVE! It is a thrilling part of creation, results in magic and when it’s on a music video you are making, isn’t that what this is about?
As an independent artist I now think of music videos like t-shirt sizes.
– small: no budget, a video you might make yourself for free with your phone or camera you already have, performing a song, etc.
– medium: one you might make for $100-2000 with maybe a small self made set, props and better gear, paying some people where needed and getting friends to help
– large: a video that costs between $2k to 6k (where you still do a TON of hard work, but you have professionals helping your team often with guidance to help avoid pitfalls the DYI all make)The first thing I leaned was to come up with a minimum budget. Or really in a perfect world what it would cost after research. Often making more involved videos can have unknowns surprise