How To Make a Good Music Video on a Budget

how to make a good music video
  • Save

how to make a good music video
  • Save
OK Go’s music video for their song “Here It Goes Again”

Many indie musicians don’t have a ton of money. But every indie musician who’s serious about building a career will do whatever it takes to promote their music. And one method that can still be very effective is making a music video. So let’s talk about how to make a good music video when you’re on a budget.

Determine the Purpose

Before you make a music video, you have to ask yourself why. What do you want your music video to accomplish?

If you want to scratch a creative itch – you want to make visual art connected to your song – then you may lean toward the storytelling aspect that videos allow.

And if you simply want people to become more aware of your song and stream it, then you can make a music video that can be easily chopped into short-form content.

Figure this out before you take the next steps.

Find References

In the same way you can use reference tracks when producing or songwriting, you can use reference music videos to give you inspiration. Creating art involves stealing from other artists, so pull ideas from other music videos and make them your own.

For example, you could look at the below video from the artist Ren and learn:

  • A passionate performance is the most important thing
  • The setting fits the vibe of the music
  • The choice of attire is important, it needs to fit the vibe
  • The lighting changes with the song

Write It, Plan It

The epitome of planning a music video is the band OK Go. Watch any of their music videos and you can guess how much planning was involved. Then watch or read about the behind the scenes and you’ll realize it was more involved than you guessed.

Obviously you don’t have to make an OK Go-level music video, but the point is to script and plan out the shoot. Even run through the process before you start shooting so you have it down. It will save you a lot of time when you do shoot.

The first of their videos to blow up was for their song “Here It Goes Again.” And although that only involved a few treadmills, the planning for the performance probably took ages.

Pick a Location

When picking a location for your music video, think about the vibe of the place compared to the vibe of your track.

For example, if your song is upbeat pop, you could shoot in the city at night. If you have an emotional tender track, you could shoot in a field at sunset. You get the idea.

Tap your network of friends and acquaintances for locations. People are often happy to let you use their property for free if they like you.

Decide On Your Equipment and Software

These days, you can use your smartphone as the camera. Entire movies have been shot on a smartphone, so you can shoot an indie music video on a phone. Consider getting a phone tripod and/or holder to make it easier for your cinematographer.

As for software, there are plenty of free video editing programs that will get the job done. If you have an Apple computer, iMovie comes preloaded. Otherwise, you can try Lightworks or OpenShot.

Get a Cinematographer

By cinematographer, I’m not saying you have to hire a professional camera person. Ask one of your reliable friends to do it. You’ll just need to direct them on how to frame you as you’re performing (whether lip syncing or performing live).

Shoot It

Set aside more time than you think you’ll need to shoot the music video. Things will probably not go as planned, especially because you’re not a professional videographer. Technology doesn’t always cooperate, weather doesn’t cooperate, people might be late.

It might be a good idea to block off an entire Saturday or Sunday to shoot the video. And if you end up having extra time, you can start on the editing.