VIDEO ON A TINY BUDGET TIPS

No music-maker can afford to neglect the value and power of music video in today’s music world. Artists are making new fans and are even being discovered by major-label A&R scouts thanks to videos posted online. No one understands this field better than artist Ari Herstand, and he shares his hands-on, real-world knowledge with you in the following excerpt from his best selling new book, How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician.

“Most of the time if you do a video, unless it’s a Kanye West video or something, it doesn’t have a real shoot. You scrape together a little bit of money and go out and do something.” – BEN FOLDS

It’s hard to look good on camera. And it has nothing to do with your looks. The act of lip syncing (and acting on cue) is incredibly unnatural. But then again, so is performing onstage in front of a bunch of people. It takes practice to get good at it. Whether you’re creating a $200,000 music video with a cast and crew of 150 union members or a $100 music video shot by your roommate with a cast and crew of your girlfriend, brother and mom, there are some key components that every video needs in order to meet today’s professional standards. You don’t need a ton of money these days to make a great-looking video. All you need is a great concept, people who know what they’re doing, a little bit of gear and lots of time.

The Concept
An inexpensive creative concept will perform better than a high-priced paint-by-numbers music video every time. So get creative. Obviously, if you’re making a video for an intimate piano ballad, you aren’t going to go skydiving for it. The concept, as creative as it may be, should match the song’s vibe, energy and feel. The purpose of a music video is to enhance the song. Not detract from it. A super creative video (that perfectly complements the song) is how you go viral. And it doesn’t need to be expensive. OK Go were the first to prove this with their “Here It Goes Again” music video back in 2006. The video, which got over 50 million views, helped propel the single to the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The video cost very little. It was shot with a single, stationary camera and had no cuts. No edits. The band did a choreographed dance on six treadmills. It matched the tone of the song (and band) perfectly.

Gotye exploded because of his creative, body-paint, stop-motion video for “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Sia’s near one-take video for “Chandelier” featured an uber-creepy, wildly talented and super captivating dancing 11-year-old girl. Kina Grannis spent over a year making her jelly-bean–themed stop motion video for “In Your Arms.” Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” video is a single-take shot of a boisterous dancing businessman. Oren Lavie’s “Her Morning Elegance” video is a single-angle shot of a bed while the sleeping protagonist gracefully explores pillow adventures through fantastical wonderlands, all by the magic of stop motion photography.

These videos were all created on a relatively low budget. But this takes convincing very talented people to work hours upon hours for free or very little. So, getting the right crew is crucial. To help generate inspiration and focus your creative direction, make a list of music videos you love that don’t look too expensive.

The Crew
Hollywood has special titles for every single person who works on a film set, from Best Boy and Grip to 2nd AD and PA. Two minutes of network television could take six hours and 100 people to create. Your music video doesn’t need fancy titles or craft services to be great. You need a dedicated crew of passionate people who all believe in the success of the video. For most of your early videos, you will wear most of the hats, but you will need at least a few people to help out. Learn as much as you can, though, so you can be as independent as possible.