How to Make a Music Video on a Budget

You’re a musician, and you want to make it up there with the pros.

You know that famous artists always produce music videos at some point in their careers.

That’s because it sells.

So as a savvy artist, you know what you need to do.

Make some music videos to get yourself noticed.

But you don’t have a video studio, a crew, or a lot of equipment.

Can you still do it?


Read on for some great tips about producing a music video on a budget.

1.   Write a Script

While it may seem like overkill for a simple music video, having a plan will help you stay on track.

A script gives you a road map for exactly what will happen, and when.

Are you moving while performing, or standing/sitting in one place?

Will you have one camera angle or two?

How will you introduce and close the video?

Ask yourself these important questions before you begin, and write them down.

Make a timeline of how you want the video to progress.

Write down every detail, such as props you want or need, special lighting, camera stands for a better angle, and anything else you can think of.

As you write your script, list the items you want to use on a separate sheet and set it aside.

Clean up your script and streamline the instructions.

Now, take a look at your supply list.

How much of it is cheap, available, and doable?

If something isn’t truly necessary or will cost too much of your budget, cross it off the list.

Maybe a way to improvise an alternative will present itself later.

If not, there are other videos, and other chances to try it again.

2.   Create Your Setting

You want a backdrop that fits your style and doesn’t distract from the video.

What can you scavenge, reuse, or find on clearance at your local craft store?

Silk flowers, an interesting piece of furniture or painting, perhaps even a strange-looking sculpture your aunt gave you years ago.

What can you use to add mood to your video?

Now think about your backdrop.

A blank wall will work, but if you want to add a bit of color, try using bolts of cloth or maybe even a bedspread.

Just make sure the colors aren’t too busy or gaudy.

If you have a large backyard or access to an open field, using nature as a backdrop would work, as long as the weather cooperates.

The wooden side of a barn makes an interesting background without taking away from your video.

A barn probably won’t work with rock or metal music, though, and would go best with country, bluegrass, or folk music.

So take your genre into consideration when you plan the setting for your video.

Look up your favorite artists.

What are their genres? What kind of theme do they use?

3.   Don’t Make It Too Complicated

This isn’t a million-dollar production, so don’t stress about it.

You’ve got time to learn as you go and make each video better.

If something is taking too much time or effort, don’t be afraid to scrap it.

Start with basic equipment and effects, and upgrade as your experience and budget allows it.

The newest smartphones have excellent cameras.

With a few good lights and a camera tripod, you can do a lot with just your phone.

If you don’t have a newer phone or want the option of using different lenses, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality camcorder.

4.   Automate What You Can

Most cameras have a timer, and even lights have remote switches or app controls these days.

If you want a light or a camera to come on at a certain moment, you can set a timer to make it happen.

Having someone trustworthy who can assist you behind the scenes won’t hurt, either.

But if you don’t want to be limited to when a friend can make it over to help, use timers and remotes wherever you can.

There are Bluetooth selfie buttons for your smartphones and plenty of ways to automate your recording sessions.

5.   Edit It

If you’ve got an awkward moment between setup and starting to play, or if you have to reset your opening more than once, don’t sweat it!

That’s what editing is for.

You can cut any mistakes that won’t ruin the flow of the song.

Add a watermark with your username, website, or artist name so that everyone can find you, even if the video is shared without the original details included.

You can adjust the brightness and contrast if your lighting didn’t quite do the trick.

Blending sound elements or adding another instrument track might be the perfect way to polish your video.

Good Camera Specs

Decide whether you want to record in 4k HD, standard definition, or something in between.

That will determine thing kind of camera you buy and whether you’ll need an SD card for additional memory.

Most pros recommend a DSLR camera because it has more options such as frame speed and image stabilization built right in.

If you are planning to use your smartphone, download a video app that gives you more settings than the native camera app.

If you happen to have a newer iPhone, especially that one with the 3 lenses, you can get some pretty great footage with that alone.

Video Editing Software

There are a multitude of video editing software options out there, ranging from free and simple to expensive and complex.

Depending on your source file type and the computer you’re using to edit, you may need different editing software.

There are different programs to run on Mac or windows, so keep that in mind when browsing this list that ranks the top free video editors.

You’ll want to transfer your footage to a computer in order to manipulate it, even if you took the original video on a smartphone.

You’re going to want something a bit better than using iMovie on your iPad.

Sound Adjustment Software

If you want more audio control than a mere video editing app will offer, take a look at the audio-centric editing apps listed here.

If you need to layer your instrument tracks, add clarity, and even fix the timing of a single beat, that list of editing tools can give you a place to start.

You don’t have to go crazy with your costs.

If you don’t have previous video and audio editing experience, start with something basic.

You don’t need to run out and buy a Mac computer unless that’s an investment you already made or were planning to.

There are plenty of options out there, and it’s better to make do with what you have than to blow all your money on fancy equipment until you’re sure that you’ll need it.

Tripods and Stabilizers

A tripod is essential for shooting stable, professional-looking footage.

There are ones that work with your smartphone, as well as mounts for a traditional camcorder.

The single greatest factor in making your video look professional is not having shaky camera motions.

Camera tripods not only hold the camera steady, they allow you to make smooth sweeping shots that don’t shudder.

The shakier your footage, the more it will look like it was taken by a young child.

Nobody wants to watch that!

Get Found on YouTube

Title your song and use the tagging feature so that people can search for you and have your video pop up.

Fill out the description with any credits, the year you produced the video, links to your website and social media accounts, and any lyrics in your song.

If your video is explicit, mark it as such, or YouTube may remove it.

Once you publish your video, share it anywhere that you interact with fans and followers.

Ask for likes and remind your fans to subscribe to your channel.

Encourage viewers to share your video on their own social media accounts.

Try to get it into a Playlist so that it can be discovered by someone searching your genre for something new.

Better yet, create your own playlist!

Compile a list of artists that you admire and put ONE of your songs into the mix.

If people like what they hear, they’ll come find you.

Thanks for reading!

Here at GigFaster, we help you advance your music career by allowing you to manage your demo tracks, organize your pitches to record labels, and contact venues to book your own show.

We have a database of labels looking for new artists and venues that want to hear you play!

We’re here to take the stress out of the little things, so that you can manage the big picture.

Sign up today for your one-week free trial!

Craig Kelley

About Craig Kelley

Craig helps indie artists book more gigs, promote their music and submit to record labels @ GigFaster and GigFaster University . His latest release is his 7th album, Not So Blue. His band has supported Grammy artists including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Rick Derringer, Gary Hoey, Joan Jett, Fuel and many more. He is also the host of The 5 Minute Podcast For Musicians.

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