We asked some music industry friends for their tips for making a music video on a budget.
Written by Leni - 18 October, 2019
Thinking about making a music video for your new release but don’t have the cash? Even with social media offering so many (free) ways to connect with your fans, there’s still great power in the flagship official video. They’re one of the most important tools artists have for establishing their brand aesthetic. But they don’t have to send you broke.
In the spectrum of music videos, you could put the quick clips of TikTok or Vine (RIP) at one end, and Billboard premieres at the other. In the middle, there’s an increasingly prevalent kind of music video created with the “internet” audience in mind. Some of the most popular videos in this space are ones with a complete lack of production quality, but a sharp sense of culture or concept. And you can follow this model with little (or no) budget, too.
From location scouting to brand sponsorship, we asked some of our music industry friends for their tips for making a music video on a DIY budget.
If you want to create a music video that will send your track viral, start by developing an interesting concept. Create a vision board of the vibes you want to achieve. What outfits cement your brand aesthetic? What props will help you tell your story? Explore ideas and themes around your song lyrics or motivation behind writing the track — this should help prompt some visual inspiration. Look at your other visual assets (like social media, cover art, merch) and try to keep a cohesive and identifiable theme running.
"It’s easier for fans to connect with an artist if they feel like they know them," says Felicia Flack, Amuse Artist Project Manager. "Having something visual to relate to shows more personality and can definitely help create that connection. A good video is supposed to add value and strengthen the song’s message and feeling."
Once you’ve landed your visual aesthetic, the next part of the creative process is developing the narrative. Look back at memorable experiences in your career or personal life (relationships, travel etc) that could help you plot a great narrative, or look for inspiration from other artists you admire.
“Own the low budget production and make it artsy. Less is more. Focus on the script and storytelling and create something unique,” says Johanna Hoof, Founder and Creative Director of media production house With Hoof. “That will speak for itself.”
Photography studios or event spaces advertised to be used for filming are often super expensive and reserved for big-budget shoots like film and TV. So if you don’t have a heap of cash to play with, you’re going to have to make do with what you’ve got.
Most importantly, try and find a location that’s private — like your home, studio or a mate’s place — so you don’t have to worry about things like random “guest appearances” or permits. If you want to film in a public space (like on a famous street in your city), you will need a permit, but it’s often easy to organise. Just call up your local government and they’ll be able to talk you through the process.
If you’re part of a band, consider filming in your rehearsal space. Or, if you’re a producer, think about ways you can use your studio. Find a location where you can do multiple setups — get creative and make them count!
You’d be surprised how many companies — like alcohol brands, clothing designers, or bars and hotels — are looking for creative people to partner with. In exchange for some product placement or social media promotion, you can hook up free drinks for your video shoot, free clothes to dress you and your crew, or a cool space to film the video (like a hotel room or private bar access).
The best way to hook up a sponsor is to send an email to the PR manager of the brand, with an outline of your video concept, social media statistics and anything else to help sell yourself in (like links to previous music videos, press coverage etc).
“Instead of going broad and pitching to several brands, do your research and see who would benefit from your personal brand,” advises Johanna. “Approach them personally, take time to have lunch or a meeting and let them know that they have been chosen, and that you can help each other grow.”
These days, there are a heap of cool mobile apps that can help you create a music video on your phone just as good as if you were to use a DSLR. VSCO, Splice and VideoBoost are some of our faves. Don’t forget to shoot your video with a “vertical edit” in mind. Horizontal videos can’t just be cropped into vertical videos — or at least not with good results — and you’ll need these for Instagram and Spotify.
If you'd prefer to edit your video on desktop, we always recommend investing in Adobe Premiere. The tool simplifies video editing functions so you don't need to be a pro to create a high-end video. The editor has three editing modes; Quick, Guided and Expert, and each mode is true to its name.
“Search for filmmakers, makeup artists and content creators that are early in their careers to help you create your video,” says Johanna. “You will be surprised about how good of a result you can achieve since they are eager to create and will put in the extra hours to deliver on a low budget.”
Got your music video set and ready to unleash your track into the world? Release music for free with Amuse.
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