"Hey man, how much do you charge for a music video?"
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to music video production. If you’ve ever considered this question, or been asked this question, then this post is for you! So without further ado, the answer is … it depends. Now before you roll your eyes and click away, let me explain why.
When dealing with videographers who are just starting out, it’s common to come across individuals who have a set rate for their services. A set rate is a hallmark of an amateur videographer. I’m not trying to knock anyone here - we all start somewhere - I’m simply stating a fact; no professional production company is going to have a set rate for video production services. If they do, steer clear.
Music video costs vary. A lot.
The reason for this is that each production has specific needs when it comes to gear, crew, lights, location, art department, cast, props, editing … the list goes on. Imagine going to a contractor and asking, “Hey, how much to build a house?” The answer would most likely be, “Well … what kind of house do you want to build? What’s your budget?” A music video production can be compared to the building of a house in many ways. You can’t know the cost until the blueprint is drawn up and the materials/styles are chosen.
There are two methods to effectively assess the cost of a music video, and they mirror each other: start with the budget and let it inform the concept, or start with the concept and let it inform the budget. Let’s go over both.
The most common and effective method is to start with the budget, and then shape the creative for the video within that number.
This is how most record label music videos happen, and for good reason. It’s simple, direct, and efficient. First, the label video commissioner reaches out with a song, budget, and any creative direction for the video. An example may look like this;
Hey Director/Director Rep!
We’re soliciting treatments for a hot new track, let us know if you’re interested! Info below:
Artist: Lil Rapperboi
Shoot date: July 10th
Treatment due: Friday, June 21st, 2020
Concept: Artist wants something fun and different - be creative!
The director/production company then writes a treatment to be reviewed by the artist, management, and label. Since we know the budget is 100k, we can now write a concept that we know is accomplishable within that number. Once the treatment is approved, we go into the nuts and bolts of costs. This means creating a bid (or budget) that outlines how much each item is expected to cost, and then adding those individual line items to come up with the total. In this case, our total needs to come in at or under 100k. Once the bid is approved by the label, contracts are signed, dates are set, and we’re off to the races!
The second method is less common and less efficient, but does occur from time to time. In this version, we assess the client’s wants/needs, and then run the numbers to estimate how much it will cost to execute their vision effectively. If that number is greater than what they are prepared to spend, we try to reconcile by adjusting the creative or scaling back. Sometimes the number is far greater, at which point the client either has to adjust their vision/expectations, or come back when they’re ready. Proceeding in this way leaves a lot of room for the unknown, which is why we try to avoid doing things in this manner, and only do so with clients we know and trust.
So, I want a video and I now know that asking “How much for a video?” is wasting everyone’s valuable time … so how do I go about soliciting a music video project? There are four points of information you’ll want to share with your potential videographer so that the process of starting a music video project is simple and efficient.
If you’re not exactly sure of your budget, then provide an estimate. Is it between 15k and 20k? Somewhere around 30k? Any information you can give is helpful to determine the scope of your project, and will allow us to shape creative realistically. If you let us know your budget is around 15k, but your idea describes a car chase with an explosion at the end … we’ll know that expectations need to be managed.
Below are a few examples of videos with their corresponding budget range:
*Please note, all videos below are Resolve Media Group productions. There’s no guesswork here.
15 - 25k Childish Major "For You"
25 - 50k DRAM ft. Lil Yachty "Broccoli"
50 - 100k Dreamville "Down Bad"
>100k Earthgang "Up"
To summarize: the question “How much for a music video?” is more complicated than most people realize.
If you’re an emerging artist who is ready to step up your video game, this process can be intimidating and confusing. Always be sure to create a production agreement or contract prior to paying anyone for a video to protect yourself against bad business, and never sign a production agreement that you don’t fully understand. Our goal is always to make our clients feel comfortable and taken care of throughout the process, and of course to deliver a quality product on time and in budget.
We hope this information is of value to you as you move into bigger and better music video projects. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We’re always available and willing to help. We hope to see you on set!