Music Video Production: How to Do it Inexpensively

Music may break the barrier of language, touch our souls and speak to us…..but music videos bring the message home. They complete the story, add a visual element and above all, they showcase artists and bands. Living locally in Orlando I have seen some amazig bands with original material fighting the good fight to “make-it.” Bands looking to impress a label, or looking to market themselves today, need the full package. But many bands are living on shoestring budgets with little or no resources for producing a music video. So how do you “get it done?”

Your first call should be to your local university or college Film or Video School Department. You may even have a Tech school in your city with such a program. Often students need “projects” to produce film or video projects for. They may be students, but most of these “near graduates,” have some amazing talent and ” know how.” They provide the knowledge, the university provides the equipment, and you provide the talent (music) the project is based upon.

Let us move on to another way to “get it done.” Your next option might be creating “sponsorship” opportunities to raise the funding for your project. But how do you know how much you will need? Your next call should be to your local Film & Video government office. They will be able to provide you with the nearest city’s “Film and Video” Guide. Get your hands on one of these babies and you now have a plethora of resources at your fingertips. Call several production companies (I suggest smaller companies), and get some ballpark bids. You will need to provide the production companies with some basic information. Do you have a storyline for the video? Or are you just filming ” concert” style. Do you know how many locations?
The more detailed information you can give them, the closer the quote will be. If you have no “visual” concept for the project, no fear, most production companies are more then willing to work with you on “concept.” You will also want to price out the cost of duplications from a Duplicating house, so you know exactly what you are looking at spending.

Once you know how much the production will cost you can move ahead to “finding sponsors.” Sponsors want to know “what’s in it for them,” so brainstorm to find ways you can “promote” their companies. What can you give back? Here are a few ideas; give the sponsor a small ad or logo placement on the back of your finished music video dvd, allow them to place a banner up at your performances, include their logos on all your flyers and promotional materials. You can charge anywhere from $500-$1000 per sponsor. Let’s say your total budget for production and duplication of 500 DVD’s is $5000, secure 5, $1000 sponsors and you will be ready to go into pre-production. $5000. Get the idea? The key is finding sponors that “fit” with your music and share the same target audience that you do. If you are Country band, odds are you won’t go after a Goth clothing store to sponsor. You might approach Beer companies, country bars, Westernware store, etc…. Finding good matches is key. Sit down and brainstorm, you will be surprised what you can come up with.

Here yet is another option, partner your song with a non profit organization. Dedicate a percent of sales of the song and video to benefit the particular organization. The song does NOT have to have a message or even be related to the cause. The important thing is the sale of the song or video will help benefit a non profit organization. You will find you will have a much easier time getting production companies to donate their services and equipment if they know they are helping a good cause. You will need a cover letter from your chosen non profit saying they are involved with your project. You will be sending this out with every proposal you send. Try and have a goal of “where” the video might air once produced. Research local TV shows and such that might consider airing it to help the non profit organization. This is truly a win-win situation. Your band is a hero by donating a percentage of sales to the non profit and you inturn are getting your music video shot for free. You might even be able to get your local news to come out and do a story on the venture. One FYI here: Better to approach different companies and ask for smaller donations of equipment and services. Do not go to one production company to cover whole enchalada. Your Lights might come from a Lighting Rental house, Cameras and operators from one production company, etc….
Keep in mind with the advances of technology you do not “have to” shoot on “film”. You can get the film look by shooting with DV cameras made for just the thing. Or shoot high definition and then add the film look in post production. Your budget will be slashed by going this route. One more word of advice for novices, please make sure you have a stellar copy of your song recorded before you start your music video plan. Having the song well produced is a crucial element to the making of a good music video. And in the event you are going “live” with a concert setting for the song be sure you have the best sound recording capabilities known to man kind. The music (and the band or artist),is the star, the video helps showcase it. I have seen some great music videos with wonderful video and point blank terrible sound. Keep thinking “total package,” and you will be ok.

One word I would like to say about the idea of renting your own equipment and having friends crew the production. Think long and hard about this one. The cost of insurance on the equipment can be over the top, and friends who don’t know what they are doing may not be able to give you the product you are going after. Not a route I recommend unless your friend owns their own production equipment and knows the ins and outs.

In closing, these are just a few ways you can “get it done.” Remember where there is a will there is a way. Find people and companies that believe in your dream and find ways to give back to those that do!

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