Phillip Paquette
October 19, 2021

Better Budgeting Tips: How to Master Your Music Video Budget

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Creating evocative and memorable music videos doesn’t stop in the creative. To produce incredible work on a consistent basis requires some financial know-how. More specifically, knowing how to budget effectively for a video and how to manage that budget over the production lifecycle is a huge part of the job. 

In this guide, I’ll share high-level budgeting tips from working music video producers that you can implement on your next project. 

1. Check if they have an existing policy

Some music labels have production insurance coverage that may extend to your specific project. 

But, it’s important to note that not all do. And with any independent artist, they likely won’t either. If this is the case, ensure you’re factoring in the price of a policy when crafting and managing your music video budget. 

2. Balance artistry with what’s realistic

As a producer, balancing reality with the director’s vision can sometimes feel like you’re walking a tightrope backwards and forwards...and maybe backwards again.

But keep your eye on the prize---the idea needs to match the budget.

However, this doesn’t mean stifling the director. It means having a good understanding of your budget so you can speak clearly and confidently about what is and isn’t possible. Another tip...get on the phone with them early!

We chatted with Head of Production Kevin Boston at Riveting Entertainment a bit about this.  

“​​When there is plenty of money, you can do what you want. But when it’s not feasible for a budget, it’s an artistic battle and you don’t want to restrict their vision.” 

Over the course of a decade, the budget has been driving creative.  And while, even in the commercial space, we all hope that reverses soon, there is something to be said about the possibilities of creative driving the budget again, and how it may have more to do with our own responsibilities to communication.  

Having open and honest communication with your director and respecting their vision, doing everything you can to help bring that to fruition, will go a long way. How you strike the balance between art and budget will affect the outcome of the project. How you work together on this project will enable a stronger connection for future work. 

3. Always ask about rate changes

When a budget is tight, don’t be afraid to check for more favorable rates. Note. This does not mean taking advantage of anyone! Asking about a range of rates possible, ahead of time, can help gain a client you wouldn’t otherwise think you could win. 

All this means is don’t be afraid to ask what’s possible from those you're working with. Take Kevin's example...

“A tech crane company may be willing to be a part of a production for less if it means they win you as a client and get more work from you.”

This will be irrelevant for anyone who is union or the artist themselves. 

4. Don’t expect more money, but appreciate it when it’s possible

Just because you’re negotiating a budget doesn’t necessarily mean a conversation will end on a sour note. Always stay humble and positive---you never know what might happen. 

Kevin from Riveting mentions...

“If a label puts in 50K for a video, the artist may be willing to pitch in 5K.”

Specific labels may have wiggle room if the video’s concept is amazing and truly not doable based on the original proposed budget. 

As you work with a label more and more, you can determine where they might be flexible.  

5. Discover creative opportunities to expand budget

All of the shots in your video will obviously come at a cost--the wardrobe, the lighting, the location, and I didn’t even get into payroll yet.

With so many costs to consider, it’s no wonder why veteran Scott Sheridan, VP of Business and Digital Development at Riveting Entertainment has greater insight into how to expand the budget to cover it all and more.

“If the video is already in the club, why not have a champagne brand that is premium or reflects the artist’s brand?”

Partnering with brands or integrating a product into the video can help stretch dollars and cents.  

6. Pre-visualize specifics to set expectations

Whether small or large budget productions ---create in-depth treatments with mood boards and color palettes and run them by the artist’s team during pre-production. If you’re pitching, add solid creative ideas to your deck, to ensure the artist gets the vision. 

When it comes to budgeting, this is super important. If you can lay out the details, you can set expectations early, and when you set expectations early (for instance, no crane, or yes, crane) you’ll have fewer budgeting surprises later. 

7. Confirm budget early and keep your paper trail

Say the artist requests extra security last minute or spends $3,000 at a restaurant the day of filming---what do you do?

When you sign on to produce, there is a hard number. If that changes, alert the label or if they have one, the video commissioner.

Always have the budget handy. This way, you can point back to it and re-affirm what was or wasn’t accounted for. 

“Sadly people in the industry may take advantage of you,” said Kevin.  

8. Use software that saves cash

In this digital age, there are a ton of production softwares available to spend money on. There are so many that it’s hard to know exactly what’s worth the money and what’s not. And there are different softwares for different phases of production, which only adds to the confusion. 

To help drown out the noise, start noticing the areas that you absolutely need help in. Usually, these are areas that you have to get done in order to start or wrap a project.

We obviously have to talk about payroll here because there’s no getting around it, if you’re employing other people, you need it. But more importantly, you need to factor in the cost of that payroll provider in your budget. 

You can cut costs here by finding a provider that is obviously cheaper than competitors’ but also, is intuitive enough to help you wrap faster so you don’t waste time potentially losing out on the next project because you’re too busy dealing with the headaches of the prior wrap. If you want to chat with a real person about this, reach out whenever is convenient because we get it. 

Breaking down a sample music video budget 

As you know, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to budgeting for music videos. Still, these examples may potentially help you as you work through your next budget.

Watch the video below, where a music video producer Olufemii, breaks down a $15,000 budget video.

Also, check out video producer Moses Israel walking through the potential numbers for videos by Tessa Violet, Wallows, and Shawn Mendes. 

Whether you're working on a low budget music video, no budget music video, or a Lady Gaga shoot---organization and solid communication will be key.

Wrapping Up

Each job has different dynamics at play, all coming with their own set of particular costs. Every music video will be different but each of these tips can be applied regardless of the size of your budget.

For more resources, feel free to download our budget template that can be customized to fit your music video making needs. Or, dig a little deeper into our Producer’s Guide to Making a Music Video.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we're all about providing the very best free resources to producers and their crews. However, this post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Answers do not create a company-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your decisions or rights.

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About the Author

Phillip Paquette

Phillip Paquette is an Austin, TX-based storyteller and content strategist that's worked both on behalf of agencies and directly with brands. Catch his business musings on Medium.

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