ENTERTAINMENT

LIFETREE

 

Serving the Southwest Florida music community.

Every week I get at least three phone calls from artists looking to create music videos. While these are occasionally legitimate leads, most of the time the people calling have minuscule budgets of $500.00 or less.  The purpose of this article is to clearly explain why a great music video does not cost $500.00. My hope is that this post will serve as an education for people who are looking to make music videos but have very little knowledge of the business.

So the phone rings….

Having been in the music video production business for many years, I have a standard set of questions I always ask:

  1. Can I hear the track?

  2. Do you have a concept in mind or are you looking to us for guidance?

  3. What's your budget?

These questions allow me to fully understand what and who we are dealing with.

We like to listen to the song first to evaluate if it has commercial viability or strong viral potential (or both). Often if we like the song, we are more likely to make a sweat-equity investment in the form of gear, reduced crew rates or extra edit hours. If we don't really connect with the song or make the judgment that the final product won't really have legs from a viewership standpoint, we will typically pass.

We ask the artist if they have a concept in mind for two reasons. If the artist has a vision for the video, we want to evaluate how much it will cost to realize that vision successfully. If the artist does not have a concept, we will determine what concepts we can effectively execute with the funds available, which leads us to the final question: the budget.

Believe it or not, at this point, I am often asked, “what's a budget”? For our purposes, a budget is simply the total sum of money allocated for a particular purpose or period of time.  So, in this case, it's “How much money do you have available to pay for the music video?”.

As touched on above, the budget determines almost everything about the music video, including:

1. What the concept will or can be

Some concepts, like “performance piece” music videos (i.e. capturing a band playing live at a club) can be made very simply. However, more complicated music videos with high-end visual effects, motion graphics, complicated camera moves, and intricate costumes or props take time and resources. Basically, they cost much more money. In even the simplest, bare bones scenario, the costs are MUCH greater than $500.00. Knowing what funds are available helps us create or refine the concept so that it can be executed properly. Trying to produce a concept that is unrealistic for the budget simply sets you up for failure. When you engage our services, you're paying not just for the production, but for the execution. You can be sure you'll get the absolute best video possible for your available budget. That's what we do.  If you have your heart set on a $100,000.00 concept and you only have $5,000.00, we're not going to move forward. We want to hit home runs with every project we produce, not just collect checks. 

2. What locations will be available

Locations can often be an important component of a music video.  Good locations typically require one of two things: money or a relationship. Even if you can get a “free” location, there is still cost involved. In this business you've got to call in favors carefully, because they are like gold. Most people only allow a film crew to take over their property one time, because, let's be honest, even a highly skilled film crew can be rough on a house/venue.  Often the shoot and resulting video are not directly beneficial to the property owner. That means every time you get a location for free you are potentially losing it as useable location for future projects. Its also important to understand that planning, booking, and cleaning up the location cost time, and time is MONEY (READ: man-hours cost money). A good location will typically run you at least $1000.00 for 10-12 hours, and frequently much more. $500 won't take you very far in the locations department.

3. What kind of gear we will use

They say there's a million ways to skin a cat (who are these people who are skinning cats?). The same can be said for how a music video can be shot and edited. There are a plethora of high-quality professional camera options, countless lights with widely varied wattages and color temperatures, and a myriad of support equipment choices, all of which creates a multitude of options for directors and DPs. All these choices have different pros and cons and, most importantly, different pricing. Typically, the better the gear, the higher the price. The budget is important in this equation because $500.00 won't even get you the body* for most professional cameras for a single day. It's important to note here that most gear rents in 24-hour increments. Often you can get three-day weeks and eight-day months to incentivize longer rental agreements. This means that, for example, if you rent the gear for seven days (a full week), you pay three times the daily rate (rather than seven) and if you rent it for thirty days (a full month), you pay eight times the daily rate.  Once again, $500.00 won't take you very far, even with the price breaks for longer rentals.

*Body: A camera body (sometimes called the “brain”) is the primary portion of the digital camera, which contains the controls, the LCD, the internal image processor, and the associated circuitry. (Essentially the camera without the lens.)

4. What size & skill level of crew you will have.

Making video is a team sport and a great team usually consists of at least seven to ten people. On larger projects the crew can be thirty people or more. Film and video crews typically work based on day rates. A day rate is typically a set amount of money for a set amount of time filling a crew position. Typically our company runs crews on half day rates (4hrs) and full day rates (10hrs). Crew rates vary based on experience and ability. Yet another reason music videos do not cost $500.00 is that good crew members aren't cheap.   Highly skilled crew members ensure a high quality music video. And remember, you don't just have to pay them, you have to FEED them too (see below).

 

Below are some typical day rate ranges for video professionals in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The crew ECG Productions employs typically fall within these ranges (though rarely at the bottom of the range). 

Day rates based on 10 hour days:

  • Director: $800 – $3500

  • Producer: $600 – $800

  • Director of Photography: $600 – $2000

  • Camera Operator: $400 – $600

  • First Assistant Camera: $250 – $500

  • Assistant Director: $400 – $600

  • Second Assistant Director: $250 – $500

  • Gaffer: $300 – $600

  • DIT: $300 – $600

  • Rigging Grip: $200 – $400

  • Dolly Grip: $200 – $400

  • Electric: $200 – $400

  • Steadicam Operator (With Gear): $800 – $1600

  • Crane Operator (With Gear): $800 – $1600

  • Production Assistant: $75 – $200

  • Hair and Makeup: $400 – $800

  • Wardrobe: $400 – $800

  • Production Designer: $500 – $1500

  • Art Director: $400 – $800

  • Set Dresser: $200 – $400

  • Sound Engineer: $300 – $600

  • Boom Operator: $150 – $300

As you can see, $500.00 isn't even enough to get you one crew member in most cases, let alone a full crew plus post-production and delivery.

Let me stress it again: music videos DO NOT cost $500.00.

5. How long will you have to shoot the video?

Most music videos will take at least ten hours (one full day) to shoot, but some will take significantly longer, especially if there are a lot of company moves*. Because your gear and crew rates are all based around time, the longer you shoot the more it will cost.

*Company Move: The act of a film or video production team packing up all their gear from one location and moving to another location to continue shooting. 

Day rates based on 10 hour days:

  • Director: $800 – $3500

  • Producer: $600 – $800

  • Director of Photography: $600 – $2000

  • Camera Operator: $400 – $600

  • First Assistant Camera: $250 – $500

  • Assistant Director: $400 – $600

  • Second Assistant Director: $250 – $500

  • Gaffer: $300 – $600

  • DIT: $300 – $600

  • Rigging Grip: $200 – $400

  • Dolly Grip: $200 – $400

  • Electric: $200 – $400

  • Steadicam Operator (With Gear): $800 – $1600

  • Crane Operator (With Gear): $800 – $1600

  • Production Assistant: $75 – $200

  • Hair and Makeup: $400 – $800

  • Wardrobe: $400 – $800

  • Production Designer: $500 – $1500

  • Art Director: $400 – $800

  • Set Dresser: $200 – $400

  • Sound Engineer: $300 – $600

  • Boom Operator: $150 – $300

As you can see, $500.00 isn't even enough to get you one crew member in most cases, let alone a full crew plus post-production and delivery.

Let me stress it again: music videos DO NOT cost $500.00.

5. How long will you have to shoot the video?

Most music videos will take at least ten hours (one full day) to shoot, but some will take significantly longer, especially if there are a lot of company moves*. Because your gear and crew rates are all based around time, the longer you shoot the more it will cost.

*Company Move: The act of a film or video production team packing up all their gear from one location and moving to another location to continue shooting. 

7. Food, beverage, and snack costs: (AKA Craft Services)

Almost no one outside the production business thinks about this, but on set you need to buy food & drink not only for the crew but for the cast and in some cases the client/investor as well. A crew of ten on a hot day can burn through beverages and ice quickly.  Combine that with one (sometimes two) meals in a day, plus snacks, and costs can add up quickly. Even having your mom make food will still have some cost associated with it.  I won't even mention “that” number again.  I'm sure you get it by now.

All that said, we absolutely LOVE making music videos.  However, after doing a number of them, its frustrating to be constantly asked for such a huge, all-encompassing undertaking for such a tiny amount of money.  We aren't greedy, we just won't take on a project that we can't make successful. The reality is that the proper amount of money and resources is the key to making any video endeavor successful. The music business has changed drastically over the years and a good music video can be the cornerstone of creating your band's online image. Recently Billboard even started calculating their charts based on internet views, downloads, and listens. A great music video is an opportunity. It's a business expense and must be funded properly. Having a compelling video can mean the difference between making a living making music or waiting tables. I know it's cliche but you only have one chance to make a first impression.

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THE PERFECT SOLUTION FOR EVERY MUSICIAN

Dedicated Cinematographers

How are you promoting your band? In such a high tech world, your fans can't get to know you if you don't promote yourself through social media. At Lifetree Entertainment, you can have one of our cinematographers either jump in on the final shooting of your project, or work with you from the planning stages all the way up to final revisions after shooting. Our level of involvement is completely up to your needs.

Did you know?

-On average, 54% of people want to see more video content from you, their favorite band.

-If spreading to new fans is your goal, gigging regularly can be helpful. However, 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others which means more views for your music.

-Eighty percent of users recall a video they viewed in the past 30 days, which means your top hits are on the top of their mind.

-For those of you moving into the online world of merch, the conversion rate increases by 144% by using video over just text and photos.

Any way you spin it, video helps grow the size of your fan base, the retention of that fan base, and your ability to market both your act and your products to the loyal fans. What can we say? Your audience loves connecting with you as often as possible.

Professional Teamwork

Require more creativity?  With Lifetree Entertainment, you can hire dual operators for your production so you can be sure to have the most desirable shots in every situation. With our array of professional cinema cameras and support equipment, we can achieve the look that will have you standing above the crowd. 

Live Performance

Planning a new tour?  Make the most out of any tour or gig by having plenty of material to market your act in the aftermath. Whether the medium is photos or video, we can help make sure your fans see you as the pros that you are.

Let us make your shoot easy for you.

We have a large selection of options for producing great music videos. Let us help you pick the right video options.

  • Single or multiple camera operators

  • Hourly and daily rates

  • Free travel *

  • Receive all RAW footage **

  • Cinema camera available 

  • Drone media

  • Hourly and daily editing rates

  • Storyboards and consultations

  • 30 minute early arrival/setup time

  • Professional audio equipment

  • Free Quotes

  • Ask about our Hump Day discount

* Includes travel to single location within 30 miles of Sarasota, FL. Additional locations within 2 miles are complimentary. Additional locations over 2 miles, and less than 30 miles, are $59 each. Does not include parking / cover fees. **All RAW footage will be provided to clients for free in 720p resolution. Higher resolutions may be requested for an additional fee.

Help getting started?

Check out some of the examples above. Recording your first performance, whether at a festival, restaurant, or bar -- is a great first step towards getting videos to fans. Fill out the form below to speak to us directly.

Get a Quote

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Our Promise to you..

We will always do our best to return your call or email within an hour of receiving it. Please keep in mind, we may be unavailable during certain peak days/hours — but we will get back to you asap.

Ask about our Hump Day discount.

Lifetree Entertainment

©2019 Lifetree Entertainment LLC — Video Production.