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Music video on a budget

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How to Make a DIY Music Video on a Budget

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Jun 20th 2022

Having a killer track is great, but attaching that song to a creative music video is how you can really take your music promotion to the next level.

Having a professional looking video for your new song is a great way to cut through the noise and stand out.

These days, it's almost impossible to get people to listen to your music without having some kind of visual hook or video to go alongside it.

Attention is fleeting and that means that bands and musicians have to start getting creative with their music marketing strategies, especially when it comes to video marketing.

Low-budget music videos are almost a rite of passage for any independent or DIY musician. Learning how to create low-budget videos for your music at home is going to be extremely beneficial for your music career and growing your own music fanbase.

If you're planning your next music video and you're working on a shoestring budget, here are some tips on how to get the best music video possible!

1. Lean Into The DIY Style And Keep It Simple

When making a low-budget music video, it's really important to recognize what works and what doesn't.

One of the mistakes musicians and singers make is that they want the big-budget look and visual aesthetic for their song, but are trying to cut corners by achieving the same effect on a low-budget video shoot.

What often happens is that in an attempt to have this big blockbuster looking video without the ability to spend money where it matters is that it falls flat.

Instead, it makes sense to adopt the DIY and low budget music video style and let it inform parts of your creative process and visual inspiration.

This is where it pays to keep it simple.

When working on a tight budget, the more complicated you make your concept and ambitions, the less likely you are to have a music video that you are happy with.

You need to be creative with what you want to achieve. It's best to have one strong concept or visual idea that you will video on your music video shoot instead of trying to shoot something too ambitious.

A great example of this concept working well is the OkGo music video for 'Here It Goes Again'.

2. Shoot In A Single Location

You don't need to let your budget hinder your unique story and overall aesthetic.

Locations in particular are one of the biggest cost sinks when artists are trying to shoot their own music videos.

Trying to hire private locations or get permission to shoot in a tricky area can be costly and time-consuming.

You're better off deciding on one location for the entirety of your music video and making it count!

Look for locations that fit your band or artist aesthetic, or maybe even the place where you had your professional band photos taken so everything ties together nicely on film.

Using one location means that you only need to worry about lighting kit, crew members, band members, and camera operation once. No multiple setups or even multiple days to complicate things.

3. Use Friends & Family

In the same way that you would call upon favors to find new musicians for your band or help you promote your concert, you can keep your crew small and get assistance from other creatives that you may have connections with.

This could be friends, family or even people that you study with.

If you need unpaid actors for a section of your shoot, you can cut costs by getting family and friends to step in and take the role on shoot day! If they are willing to give up their free time for just a short while, they could appear in your music video.

If you need a crowd or are looking for other people to appear in your music video, why not ask some of your fans if they would like to appear?

As far as social media for musicians goes, putting a post up asking if fans want to be part of your upcoming music video release is a great way to promote your new video, as well as being an engaging music social media content idea.

Music video shoot

4. Consider Shooting Low-Budget Music Videos In One Take

When making music videos, there is time and money spent before the shoot and on the day of the shoot.

Bands can often forget about the editing side of things and all of the work that goes into post-production on music videos. This is often more time than the actual shoot itself and can make or break a video!

If you don't have much editing experience or are looking for ways to cut down on editing time and costs, execute a flawless one-shot video. This way, the only edit you need to do is sync up with the track and some color correction.

No need for multiple camera angles or loads of footage to work with in the editing booth!

After setting up, your video can be done in just a few hours, keeping the whole thing easy, seamless and most importantly, cheap.

One-shot music videos need to have a strong idea and visual concept to work properly. To keep someone engaged for that long is tricky but when it works, it really works.

You only need to look at the fantastic video for 'No Surprises' by Radiohead to see how effective a one-shot budget music video can really be.

5. Decide On Your Camera

A DSLR camera will always outperform a smartphone, but using a low-budget camera or your phone doesn't mean that your video is going to suck.

What's more important is the concept and what interesting visual element you will incorporate into your final video.

There have been many music videos shot using an iPhone or other type of smartphone. In fact, you only need to look at the majority of music TikTok content to see that shooting on a smartphone is totally optional but still viable.

If you have access to a high-quality DSLR camera or someone that has one, that's fantastic.

If you don't, don't sweat it. Smartphones are incredible these days and you can get some great results with the camera and natural light available to you.

Music video camera

6. Transform Your Living Space

Instead of hiring a location and spending money, transform the one you have access to.

Getting used to filming at home and transforming your living space is key if you want to create consistent video content for your music.

If you are able to film in your living space it means you have complete control over the area and no time constraints to work with when making content.

This freedom is so valuable, especially when you are trying to make a music video with zero dollars or a small budget!

Check out props that you have around you and use what you have first. You can always go to some local stores and pick up some interesting things to make your video pop!

Years & Years shot this video in a living room and made it work with the use of some props and great stage presence in their performances.

7. Edit Your Low Budget Music Video Yourself

As we've already mentioned, editing costs can add up quickly and the time spent in post-production can be extensive.

If you've kept your video simple enough, it's worth editing the final cut yourself instead of hiring a team or a professional editor to work on your music video.

Again, these kinds of skills are going to put you in good stead going forward in your music career. Learning how to edit videos, put together an EPK, graphic design, what music hashtags to use on your Instagram for musicians, music production and more are all useful things to know when trying to make it as an independent musician.

Get used to editing your own content and you'll be in complete control of your output.

If you have an Apple device, iMovie should come included and is free to use.

Lightworks, DaVinci Resolve or HitFilm Express are all free to use and you can get some great results with all of them.

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8. Consider Shooting Short-Form Videos Instead

If you're working with a low budget for your latest music video, it might be more fruitful for you as an artist to shoot short-form TikTok style content instead.

If you don't have an audience yet, it's easier to get someone to watch 15 seconds instead of 4 minutes of video footage.

You have to play the game and work with people's consumption habits. Maybe your fans aren't ready for a full music video yet?

It can sometimes be a better idea to put your energy into making multiple short videos to build an audience first before releasing a new single or new music video.

This is also why I recommend that artists release singles first instead of an album.

Releasing an album when you don't already have a fanbase is a recipe for disaster. If you are starting from complete scratch and no one has heard of you yet, you can't expect your music video to go viral and take over the world on your first try.

Build up some momentum on social media first with shorter videos and then work towards a bigger single release with a music video.