Making money from music videos isn’t a straight forward path in the video production industry, but it’s a very popular one that a lot of people want to get into. So what is this music video money and how do you get it?
Some of the world’s most famous and recognizable filmmakers have made music videos either at the start, or during, their careers. In a previous guest post on this blog, Helen Clark, recommended music videos as a good project to take on to better your skills as a filmmaker.
Clark notes that, working your way through small projects is the only real way to improve your skills in filmmaking. Taking on small paid projects is also a way to get the money that you will need to invest in better gear to improve the quality of your music video production.
Can You Make Money Filming Music Videos?
A good small project to take on would be to shoot a music video for a local band. By making a music video, you are going to get a chance to practice your skills – both in filming and editing – and also express yourself artistically.
Clark’s suggestion is not a bad one and, as we noted in a previous post, many big Hollywood directors started small and there are actually a lot of big names who got their start or gained fame as music video directors first before getting the chance to show off their skills on the big screen.
Michael Bay is known for big-budget action films featuring a lot of explosions. The Rock, Bad Boys, Armageddon and the Transformers film series are just a few of the films under his belt. All in all, the films he has directed and produced have earned over $7.8 billion in the international box office.
However, before he became a block-buster film director, he worked on music videos. Some of his earliest works were the videos for “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I won’t Do That)” and “Falling in Love (Is Hard On the Knees)” by Aerosmith.
McG burst into the film scene with the big screen adaption of Charlie’s Angels but he began his career in the music industry. He’s directed more than 50 music videos during his career, including the ones for “Fly” by Sugar Ray, “All Star” by Smash Mouth, and The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly”.
It is said that he got the Charlie’s Angels job because Drew Barrymore had seen and been impressed with his music video work and recommended him for the job. He was only paid $350,000 for the first Charlie’s Angels, but the movie earned $250 million in the international box office and he has since moved on to bigger things.
Making money shooting music videos
Spike Jonze may not be as known for blockbusters as Bay and McG are but he is well-respected for his work on quirky dramas such as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are, and Her.
Before getting into films he was one of the most prolific music video directors of the 90s. He directed “Buddy Holly”, “Undone-The Sweater Song”, and “Island in the Sun” for Weezer. He has worked with the Beastie Boys on “Sabotage”, “Time for Livin’”, “Root Down”, “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”.
He also worked with Fatboy Slim on the video “Weapon of Choice”, which won him a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. Most recently, he has produced music videos with Arcade Fire, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga.
Examples of Famous Filmmakers Who Make Music Videos
David Fincher is known for thrillers and mysteries such as Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl, but he also has several music videos under his belt.
He collaborated with Madonna on her videos for “Express Yourself”,” Vogue” and “Bad Girl”. He was also the co-founder of a video-production company called Propaganda Films, which specialized in commercials and music videos.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that Propaganda Films actually also hired and gave Bay and Jonze their successful starts as music video directors.
Bay, McG, Jonze, and Fincher are just four examples of filmmakers who honed their skills and jump started their careers by with music videos. There are a lot more.
Music videos, especially those from artists with the backing of a major label are considered a great way for a videographer to make money while still exercising their creativity.
So, taking the chance on a project for a local band is a great way for a independent video production studio to show off their skills.
Why would a band want to have a music video made?
So why would a band want to have a music video made? Mostly for the chance of exposure, but also because it can be a source of profit for them.
Making music videos is part of the brand building process for music acts. A music video is a great promotional tool for an artist. A music video can help listeners put faces to the songs they hear and love on the radio.
A good music video can help cultivate an artist’s image and make a real impression on the mind of a music consumer.
Back in the days of MTV, it was major record labels that really went out of their way to make sure artists and their songs were represented in music videos. They would spend a lot of money on getting videos made and ensuring that they were played on MTV.
Aside from that, even from a small grassroots perspective of a fledging band: a good music video will be something they can show local venue owners to get shows. In this way, the music video is an entry tool for bands and recording artists of all different levels.
Technology Moves On
Nowadays, MTV isn’t the primary place where music videos are viewed. That honor goes to YouTube. While there are still labels and major artists that post music videos on YouTube, the YouTube format is also a boon for independent artists to get exposure.
YouTube allows the artists themselves to post their videos on the web for the world to see. One of the most famous examples of a musician skyrocketing to fame after videos of their performances went up on YouTube is Justin Bieber.
YouTube is quite effective as a music-discovery tool, but it’s also possible to monetize the music videos that an artist places on YouTube. By allowing ads to be displayed on their videos on YouTube, an artist can earn every time that their video is viewed on YouTube.
YouTube recognizes the important role they play in a musician’s career. They have a tool for musicians that they call YouTube for Artists. Through the use of this tool, a musician can gain insight into who views their videos.
There is also a Content ID feature which makes sure musicians are paid when their music is used for a fan-made video.
Growing a Reputation
Many artists are aware of the possibility of music videos to make their reputation as well as make them a profit.
Your job, as a video producer, is to help them realize their vision – and realize that it is in their best interest that they hire you to make that vision into a high quality video.
Concept, Treatment & Hook
The first thing you need to do is to help them develop a concept or treatment. This is where you get a chance to showcase your creativity.
Anyone can shoot video of a live performance, but to make a truly memorable music video, you need to come up with some sort of storyline or visual hook that people will remember. You want them to talk about the video and maybe tell a friend that they absolutely have to watch it.
Audio is even more important than usual
Audio is always super important. Always. But it’s even more so when you’re making a music video. This should really go without saying.
Another advantage that you, as a video production company have over just some fan with a video camera, is the ability to ensure that the audio of the video is properly synced.
A good music video doesn’t really use “live sound”. Though you might shoot a lot of footage of the band performing, the music that will make its way into the finished music video should be added during post-production. This ensures that the music playing during the video comes out loud and clear.
Finding Music Video Clients
So how do you get that music video money?
In order to gain clients from the music scene, you will need to keep your eyes and ears open. Aside from going to local music venues, you should also hang out or advertise on local instrument shops and other venues frequented by musicians and music lovers.
Who knows, you could make the first music video on a limited budget for a local band that eventually hits big and…decide to take you with them.
The next video you direct for them could be a star making feature for you both.
Some places to find music video clients:
- Local music venues.
- Advertise in music instrument stores.
- Schools and colleges (upcoming bands that might make it big).
- Bars & clubs.
- Local get-togethers and clubs that involve musicians.
There are also sites like RADAR Music Creatives that “help connect the music industry with filmmakers, designers and photographers worldwide.”
Music Video Money – In Conclusion
All in all, shooting and producing music videos is a way to improve your skills and promote your video business. If you make a good video that a lot of people see, it’s not just exposure for the band but exposure for your studio.
As with any business, to be successful in video production requires hard work and constant improvement of skills. Check out previous posts we’ve made here, here and here for some tips and tricks to earn more with your video production skills.
We hope you’ve found this article on getting music video money of use. We have plenty of articles around Filmmaking Lifestyle that show you how to get clients. We hope this article has inspired you to look into music video production as another feather in the bow of your video company.