How much does a music video cost?
A music video cost depends on so many factors that, sometimes I really don’t know how to answer this question without scratching my head and looking a little baffled. Some clients look at me with a poker face thinking that I am either resisting to give them a price or, that we are too expensive.
The truth is that every song, every artist, and genre needs a different approach. I know how much a music video cost in 2018! Music Videos go from $10,000 to $200,000 as an average (with very few being made for 2,000,000 or more) Yes, $10,000 is really cheap and $200,000 is not much if you compare it to Music Videos that were made many years ago. The Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson music video for the song “Scream” had a budget of $7,000,000. Madonna’s music video for “Express Yourself ” was $5,000,000.
Think those are big numbers? Well, yes, but watch the results! The artist and director had the freedom to paint on the film canvas all the visuals, themes and stories they envisioned for these Music Videos. For them, it wasn’t about cost, but creating the ultimate piece for these artists and their great songs.
Director: Cesar Perez
Continue reading the world is your oyster …
Director: Cesar Perez
There is not answer about the cost of a Music Video if you do not respond to the following questions.
- What resources do I need to come up with a good concept?
- What will be the size of my crew?
- Do I have to shoot in Studio?
- Do I need Cranes, Drones, Stabilizers?
- What camera are we going to use?
- Do I need a Choreographer?
- Do we need to travel?
There are many more things to be asked, those are only a few you should ask before pricing your Music Video.
In the next paragraph, I will tell you what is our approach before we give the artist a price.
First, we need some basic information from the artist in order to figure what the visuals for the music video will be. We always listen to the song, not one, but many times in order to understand the meaning, the artist statement, etc. We have to create a pitch for the client (artist) just to know if we are on the right track (basically if they like our idea). Let’s say they love our idea! Only then, we will put together a budget that includes every little item that we need for the music video ( Crew, Props, Locations, Permits, Post Production, etc) The artist and his manager will sign the budget, give us a deposit and give us the green light.
What do you do next?
Storyboards and shot-lists are created in order to inform everyone (crew and client) about the angles, scenes, shots and the visual approach to the music video. In your budget, you should have accounted for the video production crew. You can have as many crew positions as your budget will allow.
The bigger the crew, the more you can accomplish. Some of this players are Director, Director of Photography, Assistant Director, Art Director, Gaffer, Grip, Makeup and Hair.
How much does every crew member gets paid?
It really depends, if they are SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), or they are Independent and don’t belong to any Union. Prices vary a lot, it depends on your Country, State, Education, etc. This is a very competitive industry, there are people barely making a living while others flight in private jets.
The bigger the video crew, the more it will cost. If you plan to shoot the artist with a group of dancers in several locations, we have to go with a relative big crew. The artist and the dancers would probably need hair and make-up, wardrobe, etc. You better get a choreographer if you are going to have dance scenes in your Music Video.
You said the Artist need dancers in the Music Video?
The Director of Photography will more likely suggest a crane in order to get nice swaying shots from above, or steady cam to follow the artist and the dancers. When you are filming only one performer in a small single location, sometimes you can get by with a small crew and basic equipment package.
There might be times when you can cut some corners.
Planning is always crucial, even more, when the budget is small. Sometimes music managers want to cut too way too many corners and the production triangle gets thrown out of the window! We talk about the triangle in the following paragraphs. Music Videos can be very conceptual, sometimes that gives the director some freedom to create with a limited budget. Sometimes minimum resources are sufficient to create an outstanding music video. The most important thing is to have a talented artist, great performances, a very creative director and a professional crew to help him accomplish his vision. It is good to know that In today’s music industry, the marketability of an artist relies on the success of his music videos. Either if you have tons of cash or none, create a concept that advances the artist career. Mediocre Music Videos can ruin an artists career!
Director : T. Demos
Below I would like to list some of the people you certainly want to have in your video production crew. Just as I mentioned before, the size of your crew will impact your budget, creative choices and more likely the quality of the Music Video. Who are the most important players (besides the director)?
The role of a Music Video Director.
The music video director’s main responsibility is to create a Music Video that advances the artist’s career. Good Directors will work with style that already makes the artist unique and what his fans love him (her) for. The goal is to make a memorable and entertaining music video for this artist. The director must create compelling visuals, the right mood, and themes for the artist’s music video. His better allies are his experience. creativity, crew and people’s skills.
What skills does a Music Video Director have?
The music video director must have a comprehensive knowledge of pop culture, art, and cinematography. Every song, every artist, and every music genre needs a different approach. Some Directors specialize in a specific genre, some music video directors will work with any type of genre. The music video director is the “creative leader” of the crew. He will choose the shoots, the sets, the cast and will supervise the editing process. He will advance or destroy your career. Get an experienced director or you will regret it!
The Producer (or Line Producer) will make sure that locations, permits, insurance, and equipment are secured and ready for the shoot day.
Another key position is the Producer (or a Line Producer). He/She will make sure that locations, permits, insurance, and equipment are secured and ready on the shoot day. This is another person that beginners rarely have in their crew. A good producer will save you money and time. He will make sure that everything is ready (locations, transportation, permits, insurance, etc). Your day will go smoother and stress-free when a good producer is holding your back.
One crew member that will certainly make or break your music video is the Director of Photography (D.P)
He/she is in charge of the camera and lighting department. The main duty of the D.P is to compose every shot with the right camera angle, camera movement, and lighting. The right camera angle and lighting is correct when helps the audience get immersed in the story, not when you have a “cool shot” as some may think.
Director and D.P work together as one unit composing every shot and advancing the story through the visuals they create. In music videos, there is more freedom, and you can do some crazy things. There might not be a story and the song might call for all sort of stylish gimmicks. As long as the director’s creative decisions help sell the artist everything is fine.
The Assistant Director.
Some productions don’t know about the importance of having a good A.D. (Assistant Director) on set. They simply forget to hire one. He/she is the crew member that helps the Director and runs the set. When you don’t have a good A.D, the Director has to run the set by himself. That is a terrible scenario, my friend!
The director should be responsible for the creative decisions, not managing the set and keeping track of time. He is responsible for the performances, deciding camera blocking, lighting, and every single creative decision, and that is a lot on his shoulders. Anything else is A.D and Producer’s territory. When a director has to manage a crew, that will affect his creative decisions and will show in the final piece.
The Art Director.
In music videos, you can go without this guy if you want to create a great music video. The Art Director is responsible of colors, style, look of sets, props and even wardrobe. He works directly with the Director and Director of Photography. The Director has a vision for the sets, the colors, the look and feel of the video. The Art Director translate this vision into functional sets. This is another key crew member that you rarely see in a beginners crew. The Art Director is as important as your Director of Photography, he creates (or dresses) the sets where the music video will take place. Big budget Music Videos also have a Production Designer (Head of the Art Department). In this case, the Art Director is taking orders from the Production Designer.
The infamous production triangle. Good – Fast – Cheap.
Keep in mind that with a small crew, everything will take more time. You need a really well-developed plan and schedule in order to make it happen. I like to compare a film set to a very sophisticated factory or machine. Every single crew position is an important part of the filmmaking machine. When you don’t have all the necessary parts (crew, equipment, art direction, A.D, Producers, Gaffer, Grips, etc) you are missing parts of the machine.
Not having all the parts will result in going over schedule, expending more money, not getting all the shots, etc. The best way to explain the cost-quality balance is with the infamous film production triangle. It is one of those things you learn in film-school and never forget. Many artists, production companies and directors will disregard this triangle. More likely the results are not what they intended. In some cases, you have to do with what you have, but always try to keep a balance. Know your budget and make the music video that will adapt to that budget. You will not make Madonna’s “Express Yourself” with $10,000.
The triangle works like this; when you have (2) corners of the triangle the third is compromised. If you want your music video to be good and need to shoot it fast, it will not be cheap. If you want it to be cheap and good, it will take more time.
Some Music Videos are filmed with a very small crew of no more than 5 crew members.
The variables that affect a music video cost are many, so let’s get to it! You can film a Music Video in a park with an iPhone, or you can film it in a luxury yacht with two top of the line ARRI Alexa Cinema Cameras, a helicopter and a crew of one hundred people.
Reiterating what you have already read in this post, there are many things to take into account when budgeting for a Music Video (Concept, crew size, locations, art direction, wardrobe, makeup, lighting package, camera package, etc, etc). We have shot many music videos with a skeleton crew of 5 and with a very limited budget. Some clients have sizable budgets and can afford a large crew with expensive Cinema Cameras ( Alexa, RED EPIC ), Anamorphic Lenses, top of the line accessories and many days of pre-production, production, and post-production. If this is not your case, we can still produce a very professional music video. Our formula is to create a concept that adapts to your budget while maintaining quality and marketability. What we don’t suggest you do is go with a concept that goes beyond the artistic and technical possibilities. That is one of the main reasons why some music videos fail totally. It takes a lot of experience to budget for a limited budget music video. It takes experience and a very specific set of cinematic skills.
I will stop rambling and get to the point in question. How much does a music video cost?
Our music Video Production Packages start at $ 4,000 and that includes 1 day of shooting / 1 filming location / Alexa or Red Camera / Lights / Grip and a skeleton (small) crew. Once again, the more resources you put into a Music Video Production the better. The music videos presented in this post were shot with a small crew and didn’t cost a fortune. In this cases we did not go beyond our expectations are the final result is good. Keep an eye on that triangle!
How much does a music video cost?
Need pricing on your next Music Video in South Florida? Contact us. 855-642-3456
Some details that are really important to know.
Do you need more than 1 day to film? Do you want to film in more than one location? Do we need to hire actors? Do you need extras? Do you need a make-up artist? Do you want us to shoot with a specific camera? Are there any animals involved or animal handlers? Do you need dancers? Do you need a rain machine? Do we need to film in a Sound Stage? Do you need complex VFX? Don’t get discouraged by everything I said above. Frankly, we can work with you if the budget allows for a digital cinema camera, lights and a small crew on a location of your choice. If you need in South Florida or near Miami, please contact us for a free consultation. We can guide you in the right direction.
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Contact our Production Team.