Making a music video is an essential experience for artists. A great music video can help your audience immerse in your vision for your art, and draw in new listeners on its own. However, music video production costs might feel prohibitive, particularly for indie artists.
Below, we'll pull back the curtain on the music video production process so that you can get a sense of how much a music video could cost and understand the process as a whole. We'll also share a rundown of a professional music video cost in 2022 to give you a real-life example for reference. Let's dive in!
How Much Do Music Videos Cost In 2022?
The cost of a music video can be incredibly difficult to predict. This is because no music video and post-production costs are the same. There's a lot of variation within the wide array of music videos, and with commercial and DIY budgets lumped in the same space, predicting a budget can feel impossible.
The fact of the matter is that music video costs naturally vary. A small music video could range from $0 to $10K. A larger operation runs from multiple to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This wide, largely expensive range may seem shocking to those in the notoriously low-paying music industry. However, as soon as you think about what goes into a full video, it makes a lot of sense. Crew members of a video all come at their own rate, which can be a significant expense without even factoring in the venue, set design, or other video essentials. The more crew members and materials you need to execute your idea, the more expensive the video is going to be.
Thankfully, you can create a music video on any budget with enough creativity. We'll share a couple of strategies for how to save money on music video costs so that you can get the most bang for your buck.
Do You Really Need A Music Video?
As shown, music videos can get pretty pricey. So, it's worth asking whether you need one in the first place. Even major record labels only dole out high-budget music videos to their top-performing artists since these art pieces can be so costly.
Remember that you don't necessarily need to have a great music video, at least immediately, to break out as an artist. Amazing visuals can certainly help you stand out as a creator, but they aren't the end all be all.
For cheaper alternatives, consider crafting lyric videos or visualizers to help express the theme of your music. If you can afford a top-notch music video and feel like it will bring your fans value, by all means, go for it! With enough time and creative energy, indie artists can still make amazing music videos on a shoestring budget.
The Music Video Budget Components: What You Can Expect To Pay For
Once you've decided to take the plunge and make a music video, it's time to start assembling the troops. As shown below, there are a lot of positions within a music video cast and crew that you might not expect. In a professional production, all of these roles need to be accounted for.
Note that not all of these positions are needed should you decide to go the DIY route. We'll make sure we cover all of our bases so you understand the standard for bigger budgets, but not every set will have or need the roles listed below.
If you're well connected to filmmaking friends, you might be able to scrape together a crew independently. Otherwise, it might make sense to hire a video production company that has a team lined up to help you out. Keep in mind that with this route, you may have to hire a separate post-production crew to edit and compile the footage.
It's possible that you'll spend the most on the crew members. Typically, cast and crew are paid based on day rates since shoots often go well behind the standard 8-hour work day seen in spaces outside the film industry. Check out the various crew positions and the range you can expect to pay for them:
- Director: $500-$4000/day: The director is ultimately in charge of overseeing the production and craft of music videos. He or she helps take an idea and craft the shots needed to execute the vision.
- Assistant Director $300-$600/day: ADs handle the logistics of running the set.
- Producer $500-$800/day: Producers handle the production process from start to finish, handling finances, coordination, logistics, and helping to oversee visual elements as well.
- Director of Photography $500-$2000/day: As expected, the director of photography is in charge of all camera movements and serves as the head of the camera and lighting crews on set.
- Camera Operator $300-$800/day: The camera operator takes direction from the director of photography or DP on the project to curate desired camera movements.
- Gaffer $200-$600/day: The gaffer runs the group of lighting technicians to execute the director's vision.
- Grip $200-$400/day: Grips help to set up and support equipment on set.
- Hair and Makeup $400-$800/day: Hair and makeup help execute the talent's looks, giving them touch-ups throughout the shoot.
- Runner $200-$300/day: The runner or PA is the on-set personal assistant.
- Wardrobe $300-$800/day: Wardrobe helps execute the clothing looks for the talent throughout the shoot.
- Set Dresser $200-$400/day: Set dressers are responsible for the placement and sometimes curation of props on a set.
- Boom Operator $200-$300/day: Boom operators maintain audio equipment and operate boom microphones.
Most of the time, crafting a professional music video will require you to rent out some equipment. Equipment costs can add up, especially if you're filming on a revered Alexa or a Red Epic.
If you're filming in public or utilizing public space, you'll need to get permits ahead of time, which can rack up costs.
Production sets and venues are a significant portion of the budget and can either be rented in hourly blocks or rented by the day. Some venues will have weekend or multiple-day rates at a discount.
While this is a small portion of the budget, it's essential that you plan on supporting catering and snacks for the crew.
Not all work of the music video is done on set. You need to plan on budgeting for editing, color, and promotion costs of your video.
Typically, professional music videos will put aside a contingency or safeguard of 8 to 15% of the original budget to account for additional expenses. One thing you can expect from music videos is that the frequently go over budget.
Case Study: How Much Does A Music Video Cost In 2022?
Unfortunately, there's no concise way to determine how much a video will cost. I'll share a personal example below of one of the more professional music videos my team has created. This music video had a larger budget right around 10K, but note that I've also created music videos on little to no budget:
"PROJECTIONS" Budget Breakdown
Here's a picture of the "PROJECTIONS" budget at a glance:
While the grand total certainly feels like a lot of money, note that this was a very indie production. Wardrobe, for instance, only had a budget of $100. To make this shoot happen, we had to ask a lot of favors from those in the film industry. It's also important to note that this doesn't include the costs of editing or color correction, which I was extremely lucky to have comped (for full disclosure, the director/editor is my partner, so I'd likely have to pay a lot more for this video if I didn't have such a personal connection).
Music videos can be overwhelming experiences for artists just plunging into the scene, so I'd suggest that any musician hoping to make music videos starts out by creating DIY videos first. As you create more DIY videos, start to incorporate more crew members so that you can learn the business of film. Time is money, so you need to be trained as an artist to perform on cue while on set. Band members should follow the same sentiment.
How To Save Money On Music Videos
Music video shoots can be downright expensive. Here are a couple of strategies that can help you preserve your budget on music videos.
1. Ask for favors
If you can, it's always best to pay the proper rate for your crew members and gear rentals. This will ensure you have a quality set where everyone feels valued and respected. However, when you're just getting your feet wet, it's understandable that you would have to pull some favors throughout the pre-production, recording, and post-production process.
Make friends with those within the film industry, who at the very least, can provide excellent advice and recommendations to other professionals. Think of what services you can provide talent in return.
2. Opt for lower-price equipment
In many cases, equipment is the least important part of the final product. If you have a great concept and an awesome crew, your art will shine through. Don't get caught up in renting the most expensive piece of gear you can find. Chances are, you'll be the only one who notices.
A music video doesn't need to have a big budget to convey a message or create a stunning visual for your music. Before moving jumping into a costly shoot, consider whether you can manage a shoot on your own terms.
4. Time is Money
The longer you're on set, the more it's going to cost. See if you can squeeze your production into half days instead of full or multiple-day affairs. Make sure your talent is prepped accordingly so that no time is wasted on set.
Your fans are happy to support you, especially if they know that they're actively contributing to helping you build a quality art piece. Extend a hand and fundraise for your next music video if you don't have the traditional video production resources from record labels.
How To Prepare For Your First Shoot As An Artist
If you're an artist, prepping for your first professional music video production can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. Here are a couple of ways you can properly prepare for your shoot:
- Be involved in the video production and post-production process. Being directly involved in the planning and shooting conversations will help you perform properly on shoot day. Work with your director and producer to create a collaborative concept, but don't be completely hands-off.
- Get lots of rest. Film shoots aren't for the lighthearted. These long days can extend past 12 hours, so make sure you're well-rested the night before. There will be food on set but pack any necessities the night before so that you don't forget anything come shoot day.
- Practice makes perfect. Practice your performance, preferably with the director, well before shoot day. This is especially important if you're working with choreographers, dancers, or actors on set.
- Have fun and stay focused. Shoot day can be a lot of fun, but it's also hectic and doesn't always go to plan. Be ready to adapt on set and enjoy as much as you can! Document behind the scenes on social media to get your fans excited about what's to come.
Planning and funding a music video as an indie artist can be quite a feat. However, with enough creativity and some of the money-saving strategies mentioned, you can craft a music video at an affordable budget throughout any stage in your career. Have fun putting together amazing visuals for your music!