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Music Video pricing

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bruno silvaMusic Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:05:23 pm

I'm in the process of negotiating to shoot a low budget music video. I will be shooting on a Canon 7D and editing in Final Cut Pro. This will be my first music video and its for a local NYC band (i live in NY).

I'm not sure what price to give these guys, I should probably ask what sort of budget they have. But I don't want to scare them by over charging and also don't want to low ball..advice?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:26:08 pm

You need to establish your day rate first, can't navigate without a map. Lots of discussions on this in the forum archive, worth looking up.

If you know your day rate, and how many days of work a project will take, you will have a sound(er) basis from which to make your bids and estimates.

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Mike CohenRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:27:52 pm

You have already stated "low budget." In terms of a music video, low budget is probably under $50,000. But if the band is paying, rather than the label, then assume they have very little money to spend.

You can probably count on a nice t-shirt and a copy of their latest CD!

As in any business activity, decide what you need to earn to cover your expenses, your overhead and your salary. Assuming you are not doing this 100% for your reel, then this number will need to cover your time for the duration of the project, assuming you will not be working on anything else, a portion of the cost of your gear, any rental gear or extra crew you need and materials, travel, etc.

Figure that out and you have your minimum number. The band is either going to balk, agree or negotiate.

Mike Cohen

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Mark SuszkoRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:46:28 pm

If their budget is too darn low, and you still want to do something for them, consider making a "no shoot" video. That is, a video that's all just done in the editing room without using the camera much, if at all. Animation. Motion graphics. That sort of thing. Skip the costs of the shoot and ernting all that gear, and just spend it all on post production, to get something with a look that stands out from the typical band performance video, and generates a unique brand identity. A band with money that does this is Gorillaz, as an example. You never see the band, just the animation. But you can abstract it further, and not show anything of the band at all, just interpret the music visually. Anyhow, it's another direction in which you could go.

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bruno silvaRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 9:39:23 pm

Thanks for the advice so far, hopefully i dont have to settle for just a tshirt. But I'll probably shoot everything in one day and spend a few weeknights editing.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:27:48 pm

I would say one other thing about billing and the perception of your value. If you're not going to bill this job at what it really needs to be, then don't bill it at all, and do it for free instead. You give up a little money, but you gain back a LOT of control. And you don't leave folks with the impression you are only good for low-ball work. If you take a low-ball rate, you will lose their respecta nd they will treat you like the own you. Because they do. Nobody will really be happy. If you do it pro-bono, you can name your own time and terms and the worst they can do is be fired by YOU.

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Gav BottRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:09:15 am

There is a middle ground between doing it for free with total control and getting at least some expenses covered. But only if you actually want to do the job below you usual rates i.e. make a loss on the job.

Show them what it would normally costs and then discount it on a one time only basis - all nice and plain to see on the quote paperwork.

Saves you from being the eternal receiver of the lowball job, and you get to maintain a level of control as it's obvious that you are giving them a big break.

Who know which of the wise COWs lead me to doing this, but I'm pretty sure I picked it up off here at some point.


The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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grinner hesterRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 21, 2010 at 2:50:22 am

Sounds like a flat 3 grand would make everyone happy this time around.

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Ty TribbleRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 16, 2010 at 7:47:23 pm

It's a bit of a catch 22. If the band is hot, you can charge next to nothing and the exposure will be well worth it. The other side of the coin is that if the band is hot, they are more likely to be able to afford to pay you well.

Hot or not is probably the key.

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bruno silvaRe: Music Video pricing
by on Dec 21, 2010 at 3:36:09 pm

thanks so much for the advice, I really want to do the work which hopefully will lead to more down the road.

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Brent DunnRe: Music Video pricing
by on Jan 6, 2011 at 4:31:32 pm

I've run into the same issue. Local bands have NO MONEY unless Daddy is rich. I usually give them a range of productions to choose from explaining how much production will be covered for each.

I always ask them what they can afford to spend and start from there.

This did open the doors for a big artist project for me. Sometimes working for FREE can pay off big.

Make sure you have a contract in place. You can put a price on the back end also in case they get signed to a label or sell the DVDs. They must purchase the DVD's or BluRay from you and then they can sell them at their own price. You've been paid.

I used to shoot dance recitals. I never charged the dance studio, but had exclusive rights to film. They didn't allow parents to use cameras and they helped me sell the DVD's. I probably made more money not charging than I would have setting a price.

For a recent concert shoot, I covered the production cost, with a guaranteed pre-order of DVD's & BluRay Discs that I will be paid for at a set price, which in reality paid for my production and much, much, more.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
Video Marketing

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite

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