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Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00

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Trey GregoryWhy music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:05:49 pm

Hello Everyone-

Just wanted to share an article my partner wrote about the costs associated with creating music videos.

I always love hearing the opinions from this forum and would love to hear all your thoughts on this article.

Is this too much? Is this a bad business move? Will this insult people with low budgets and big ideas? or will it bring in more large-budget clients?

Very curious what you all think.

Trey Gregory
ECG Productions - Atlanta
HD Production and Post

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:23:53 pm

I don't know about whether it will bring in the high budget clients, but it certainly puts the cards on the table. A dose of reality is often good for clients who have no idea what goes into a project. A good music video is a work of art, and takes time, ideas, crew, get it if you read the article.

I do the same thing on my website, which is geared toward animation and video production, by providing a PDF file which explains the process, and what is entailed in the costs:

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Steve MartinRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:09:58 pm

Hi Trey,

It's hard to know what the outcome will be from a business perspective, but I can tell you this: I love it. I get those same calls and I struggle with how to deal with them. I don't want to blow them off because, like you said, it could be a great gig. But separating the wheat from the chaff is both time consuming and infuriating!

With very few tweaks, I think your article can be adapted for just about any production project - commercials, promo/corp videos, short indies and more.

Two thumbs up from me for the concept. But be careful. Your competitors my try to use it against you and label you as "arrogant" or attach some other derisive motive to your thoughtful and honest writing.

An alternative maybe try a private link. You get the call, invest 5 minutes and when you realize that the person you're talking to needs an education, you offer them a FREE EXECUTIVE BRIEFING on the production basics. You'd normally charge $??? for the advise in this briefing... but because we really like the opportunity to work with new music talent.... yada yada..... Then send them a link to a page that is otherwise unavailable to the public.

Just an idea...

Good luck,

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Mark SuszkoRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:14:34 pm

No, I think it is dead-on correct, without any exaggeration. And I like how you put actual costs in, though they are just ball-park numbers. This is not going to be misconstrued as a rate card, but it WILL give the first-timer who wants to do a project, a "financial vocabulary" or a reference framework.

If there was anything to add, and I don't know for sure there is - it would be to add a tad more emphasis that for projects on the brink of a workable budget, you will talk over all the creative decisions to show what it costs to do something like a jib move, versus a cheaper but less visually satisfying zoom. Or location versus green screen. Or... you get the idea. Tell us what you want, and how much you got, we'll tell you if and how we can make that happen.

Or if the money's not there, we can suggest ways to work around that issue, up to a point.

But things DO cost what they cost. I regularly have to explain: "Yes, that window shot could be lovely, but I need a $6,000 HMI light to make the shot work for the cameras, because cameras don't work the same as the human eye does." If you then tell me that's not in the budget, I'm going to suggest some curtains. :-)

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Sareesh SudhakaranRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:46:55 am

Excellent article, Trey.

It's a great idea to let clients know the ballpark figures. I like Joseph's idea of the PDF file that you can send prospects. Very elegant.

Thanks for sharing.

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 18, 2013 at 1:46:19 pm

Sareesh -

To carry it even further, one could, if you have Acrobat, even embed sample videos showing what a specific project might cost, and why, explaining the various details of the production workflow. Maybe a bit much for most clients, but some of my clients really want to know the details.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Sareesh SudhakaranRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 18, 2013 at 2:02:45 pm

Yes, the possibilities are endless. A download also stays with the client for longer periods.

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.

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Patrick OrtmanRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 19, 2013 at 12:11:08 am

I love the straight talk of it.
And God, I'd like to reduce the number of calls like that which come to me.

I shoot people.

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Ned MillerRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 19, 2013 at 7:56:21 pm

Hi Trey,

I receive a free subscription of Website, B2B, Digital Marketing and E Content magazines among others, and I have read studies that show when a young viewer is confronted with so much text they will scan to get the gyst and leave in a few seconds. The same reason videos now have to be so short: The New American ADD Attention Span so I am not sure much of your message will be absorbed. My websites are presently outdated and I am working on new ones where all content will be practically bullet points.

That said, I added up the rates of the crew you listed using a middle figure and the cost for all is $11,350. It also created the impression you need a 22 person crew which I know you don't intend. So, it seems to create the impression your company is very expensive, high end deep pocket clients only. It may be more effective to have a simple statement such as: "Prices start around $____ for a one day, ten hour shoot on location (no studio rental), ___ amount of cameras, a ___ person crew, editing includes ___ rounds of reasonable revisions, based on a realistic script and rough storyboard provided by the client, client provides catering from a place equal to or above a Paneras, 50% deposit ___ days before filming, etc." The figure you put in should be as low as you're willing to go but it will get a minimally qualified prospect to call in and that's when you can upsell and he can look for "investors" in the family. Helps if you're in an affluent area though.

Here's my philosophy developed because I get a lot of poor prospects coming in from search engines, although I avoid music videos. I have the same problem with small retailers feeling that a website video should be around $600. My Theory: Everyone has a rich uncle! Many hedge fund managers and heart surgeons have kids in bands, imagine this conversation: "Dad, I know we're going to make it! The reviews are great. I just need you to front my band $15,000 so we can get Trey Gregory. Let me set up a meeting. This is my big chance!" Then he gets Mom involved. My point is that you never know until you get a conversation started. Five guys in a band may only have $500 but if you interview, drill down and sell yourself maybe the orthodontist uncle may be tapped. It has worked for me.

Lastly, what I do with poor prospects is I pass them onto my young associates who show their appreciation with a good bottle of wine, etc. but more importantly it creates good will I may need to tap into sometime.


Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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Grant WilberRe: Why music videos DON'T cost $500.00
by on Apr 21, 2013 at 10:17:50 am

Alot of good info in there. I do think it's a little harsh sometimes and border line 'videographer ranting about low offers'.

I think if you wrote it more of a educational piece from the start it would come off a bit better. For example you pretty much say anyone wanting a $500 video isn't legitimate and your almost attacking them for it. Most bands probably just have no clue, and this article should help them understand. Just because they aren't educated on what goes into making a video doesn't mean they aren't legitimate.

And with this as one of the last bullets:
And this is why MUSIC VIDEOS DO NOT COST $500.00!

It's almost like you are angry and yelling at people who suggest $500. Therefore offending anyone who might pay alot in the future.

I think starting off with these lines you wrote would be way better:
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.

It shows your passion first and that you genuinely want to help inform people.

Even at the end saying 'go find a college kid off craigslist', comes off as a mad videographer. I'd just take all that out and leave just the good content about the production in. Even take out all the lines where you keep saying 'this is why its not $500" or "the costs are MUCH greater than $500.00". I think you say it like 8 times which seems too much. Mention it once at the beginning then never again.

Maybe adding a few 'final' budgets with examples, even if its a range, would be good too.
So shooting 'live' in a room or studio vs shooting at 10 different locations with crazy lights and sets.

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