10/06/2024

How to Make a Music Video—From Pre-Production to Promotion

What to learn how to make a music video? We'll walk you through each step, from initial conceptualisation to final promotion. Whether you're an emerging artist making your first music video or looking to improve your video production skills, this guide's got you covered.

“Music videos are like tools that young artists use to earn respect from their peers, to represent.'”—JME

Music videos have become an essential part of the music industry and have been since the rise of MTV in the 1980s. Why? A visual representation of a song significantly enhances its impact and reach.

You only have to look at the millions of views YouTube music videos generate (sometimes billions in the case of phenomena like Gangnam Style). Ultimately, if you’re a serious artist, creating your own music video is essential. It can be a complex but rewarding process that brings your musical vision to life.

Let’s dive into how to make a music video!

Table of contents

  1. Define your vision and create a storyboard
  2. Budgeting for your music video
  3. Planning and pre-production
  4. Lights, camera, action! The filming process
  5. The post-production phase
  6. Releasing and promoting your music videos
  7. Additional tips for creating a standout music video

Define your vision and create a storyboard

Hand drawn movie script close-up

First, you need to define your vision. Decide on the theme, style, and message you want to convey. This could range from a narrative-driven story to a more abstract, visually-focused concept. A mood board is a great tool to gather visual references that reflect your ideas, helping you and your team stay on the same page.

mood board showing images of nature

Example of mood board

Once you have a clear vision, it’s time to create a storyboard. This is a sequence of drawings or images representing the shots you plan to film. A storyboard helps you visualise the video and ensures all the performance shots and scenes align with your concept.

It’s an essential part of the pre-production phase that can save time and effort during filming and post-production. By carefully planning your music video creation during the conceptualisation stage, you’ll lay a solid foundation for the entire production process.

This preparation ensures that your final video effectively communicates your artistic vision and resonates with your audience.

Budgeting for your music video

piggy bank and camera on bookshelf

Once you have a rough idea of your music video, scope and concept, it’s time to lay out a flexible budget plan. Budgeting is crucial for creating a music video, whether you have a modest or substantial amount to spend. Here’s a rough guide to much

1. Define your budget

Set a clear budget – Decide how much you’re willing to spend. This guides your decisions and helps prioritise spending.

Funding options – Consider personal savings, crowdfunding, grants, or sponsorships.

Check out the British Council website to explore UK Music Funding opportunities.

2. Breakdown of costs

Pre-production – Minimal costs for concept development and storyboard creation (£100-£300 if hiring help).

Production

Location Fees – Free (public spaces) to several hundred pounds for rented venues.

Equipment Rental – £200-£1000 per day.

Crew – £150-£500 per day per professional.

Talent: £50-£300 per day per person.

Costumes and Props: £100-£500.

Post-production

Editing – £200-£500 per day.

Colour grading and visual effects – £200-£600 per day.

Sound mixing – £100-£400.

Miscellaneous – Transportation and catering (£100-£500).

3. Tips for budget management

Prioritise – Focus on high-impact areas like equipment and skilled crew.

Negotiate rates – always try to negotiate prices.

Use free resources – Utilise free locations, volunteer help, and no-cost software.

DIY – Do some tasks yourself if you have the skills.

Contingency fund – Reserve 10-15% of your budget for unexpected costs.

Example budget for a small project

  • Total Budget – £2000
    • Pre-Production – £200
    • Production – £1200
    • Post-Production – £500
    • Miscellaneous – £100

Remember: Don’t underestimate careful planning and management! There are many handy tricks for producing high-quality music videos for minimal cost.

For example, Hi Ren by the hugely successful artist Ren, was made for very little money in a commercial garage. It now has 29 million views on YouTube and has birthed a plethora of reaction videos. This just goes to that artistic vision often trumps a high price tag.

Planning and pre-production

With your storyboard and budget set, it’s time to dive into planning and pre-production. This stage is about ensuring everything is in place before you start filming. While setbacks are often impossible to avoid, good planning can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches down the road.

Create a script and shot list

Using your storyboard, create a detailed script and shot list. The script outlines every scene and dialogue (if you’re using any), while the shot list breaks down each scene into individual shots, specifying angles, movements, and other technical details. This level of detail ensures everyone knows what to expect during the shoot.

Scout locations

man crouching taking photos river bank

Scouting locations that work for your video is another crucial part of pre-production.  Whether it’s a studio, an outdoor setting, or multiple locations, ensure that they are accessible and suitable for filming. Also, consider the logistics, such as permits, travel, and availability.

Casting and crew hiring

Casting is another important element. If your video requires actors or dancers, hold auditions to find the right talent. Ensure that all cast members understand their roles and are comfortable with the shooting schedule. Hiring crew members is equally vital.

Man filming with a professional camera

Your team should include a director, cinematographer, lighting technician, and other essential roles. Experienced crew members can significantly enhance the quality of your production. Sites like Upwork can help you find freelance professionals if you’re working with a tight budget.

Create a shooting schedule

Finally, create a detailed shooting schedule. This document outlines when and where each scene will be shot, who needs to be present, and what equipment is required. A well-organised schedule keeps the production on track and helps avoid unnecessary delays.

By meticulously planning each aspect of the pre-production phase, you set the stage for a smooth and efficient shooting process, ensuring that all the elements come together to create a compelling music video.

Lights, camera, action! The filming process

man filiming plus size influencer in hawaian shirt

Now that all the planning is done, it’s time for the fun part—filming your music video! This is where your vision starts to come to life. Making music videos

Set up your equipment

black and white mid shot of man with camera on tripod

Begin by setting up your equipment. You’ll need cameras, tripods, lighting, and audio gear. Make sure everything is working properly and positioned correctly.

Master lighting techniques

Good lighting is crucial for high-quality footage, and key for conveying the mood of the scene you’re shooting. Lighting can make or break your video. Use soft lighting for a natural look or experiment with coloured lights for a more dramatic effect.

Experiment with camera angles

low angle of plus size man walking down city street

Don’t be afraid to try different camera angles and compositions. Wide shots can capture the whole scene, while close-ups can highlight emotions and details. Multiple takes from various angles give you more options during editing.

Shoot multiple takes

Even if you get the perfect shot on the first try, film a few more takes. This gives you plenty of footage to choose from and ensures you have backup options if something goes wrong with a shot.

The post-production phase

person editing video using software

Once you’ve finished filming, it’s time to move on to post-production. This is where all your hard work comes together, and your music video starts to take its final shape.

Video editing software and techniques

Start by choosing the right video editing software. Popular options include Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. These tools offer a range of features to help you cut, splice, and arrange your footage into a cohesive video.

Organise your footage

First things first, you’ll need to get your footage properly organised. Label each clip clearly and arrange them in the order of your shot list. This will make the editing process smoother and more efficient.

Editing the footage

man using editing software on laptop

Begin editing by assembling your video clips according to your storyboard. Focus on creating a seamless flow that matches the rhythm and mood of your music track.

Pay attention to pacing, transitions, and the overall narrative. Check online for a suitable video editor and/or use stock videos if necessary, one big performance video.

Colour correction and visual effects

visual effects of different colour circles out offocus

Once the basic edit is done, move on to colour correction.

Use tools like curves, colour wheels, and saturation adjustments to fine-tune the look. Aim for a palette that supports the  emotional tone of your video.

Consider using effects like transitions, overlays, and motion graphics. These can add polish and professionalism to your project. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Colour grading – Apply a colour grade to achieve a specific look or mood. This can include warm tones for a nostalgic feel or cool tones for a more dramatic effect.
  • Special effects – Incorporate elements such as lens flares, light leaks, or particle effects to add visual interest.
  • Motion graphics – Use animated text and graphics to highlight important information or create engaging title sequences.
  • Compositing – Blend multiple visual elements together, such as layering videos or integrating CGI elements, to create complex scenes.

Regularly review your work on different screens to ensure colour accuracy and visual consistency across devices. Proper colour correction and visual effects will significantly enhance the visual appeal and professional quality of your video​

Below is a great example of a music video by the band Cold Mailman that uses transitions and SFX to great effect.

Sound effects and mixing

Don’t forget the sound! Adding sound effects enhances the realism and impact of your scenes. Choose high-quality sound effects that align with the action and mood. Ensure these effects are well-timed and natural within your scenes.

Balance audio levels carefully. Use audio editing tools to adjust the volume of sound effects, dialogue, and background music so each element is distinct and clear. The goal is a harmonious blend where no single element overpowers the others.

Select a music track that complements the visuals without overshadowing them. This enhances the emotional tone and pace of your video. To achieve this, consider the following strategies:

  • Layering sound – Use multiple audio tracks to create depth and complexity.
  • Equalization and compression – Balance frequency levels and maintain consistent audio levels.
  • Panning and spatial effects – Position sounds to create a sense of space and directionality.
  • Fading and crossfading – Smoothly transition between audio clips to avoid abrupt changes.

Regularly test your audio on different playback devices to ensure consistent quality across platforms. Proper sound effects and mixing will significantly enhance your video’s overall impact​

Final touches and review

person using editing software

Finally, review your video multiple times. Show it to a few people whose opinions you trust and make adjustments based on their feedback. Ensure that all the elements, from visual to audio, are perfectly aligned.

Releasing and promoting your music videos

Now it’s time to share your masterpiece it with the world! Effective release and promotion are crucial for reaching a wide audience and making a memorable impact.

Let’s explore a few core areas:

Create teasers and trailers

Coming soon text on grunge background

Build anticipation by creating short teasers and trailers for your music video. Start by selecting the most engaging clips that give a taste of what’s to come without revealing too much.

Aim for a duration between 15 to 60 seconds to maintain viewer interest and excitement.

Once you have your clips, add captivating elements such as upbeat music, dramatic shots, and key visuals. Incorporate high-quality footage and consider using animation or special effects to enhance the visual appeal.

Remember to include your branding to ensure your audience knows who’s presenting the teaser.

Share your teasers on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to generate buzz. Use platform-specific features such as Instagram Stories or Twitter Fleets to maximize visibility.

Additionally, consider repurposing content from the main video or using B-roll footage to create varied and engaging teasers​

Choose the right platforms

Decide where to release your music video. YouTube is a must, as it’s one of the most popular platforms for music videos. Additionally, consider using Vimeo for a more professional presentation.

Don’t forget to share your video on social media and music streaming platforms that support video content.

Collaborate with influencers and music blogs

Coming soon text on grunge background

Partnering with influencers and music blogs can significantly boost your video’s reach. Find influencers who align with your music style and have a substantial following.

Personalise your outreach messages to show genuine interest in their platform and explain why your video would resonate with their audience.

Consider offering exclusive content or early access to your video to create excitement.

Moreover, try and build a rapport before making your pitch (cold outreach is much less effective). Remember to follow up politely if you don’t receive an immediate response.

Engage with your audience

Regular engagement is central to building a loyal fanbase: respond to comments, share behind-the-scenes content, and encourage sharing.

You could also host a live Q&A session about the video’s creation can also generate interest and interaction.

Utilise targeted ads

Addressable TV advertising abstract concept illustration

Consider using targeted ads on social media and YouTube to reach a broader audience.

Tailor your ads to specific demographics that match your target audience by focusing on relevant interests, behaviours, and locations.

Regularly analyse ad performance, adjusting your strategy based on engagement metrics like click-through rates and conversions.

Use A/B testing to find the most effective ad creatives and messages, ensuring you maximise the value of your advertising budget.

Additional tips for creating a standout music video

People shooting music video in studio with fire green screens

Creating a music video is a complex process, and things don’t always go as planned. Knowing this, here’s a a few bonus tips to help increase your chance of success.

Work within your budget

It’s possible to make a fantastic music video without breaking the bank. Plan carefully and prioritise spending on the most critical aspects of your production, like hiring skilled crew members or renting good lighting equipment.

Look for cost-effective solutions such as borrowing gear, using free locations, and employing stock footage where appropriate.

Ensure legal permissions

Make sure you have all the necessary legal permissions for the locations, music, and people featured in your video. This includes obtaining releases from actors and securing rights for any music or sound effects you use.

Stay wildly creative

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try new things. Unique and creative ideas often make the most memorable music videos. Use your imagination and experiment with different styles, angles, and effects to make your video stand out.

Understand your target audience

Keep your target audience in mind throughout the production process. Tailor your content to what they enjoy and find engaging. This will help your video resonate more deeply and increase its chances of success.

Adapt to feedback

Be open to feedback from your team and early viewers. Constructive criticism can help you refine your video and ensure it appeals to a broader audience. Make adjustments where necessary to improve the final product.

That’s a wrap!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article about how to make a music video. While we tried to make it as comprehensive as possible, this is just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to your creative vision, the possibilities are truly endless.

However, if there’s one takeaway to remember it’s this: The key to a successful music video is preparation and flexibility. Embrace the process, stay open to new ideas, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Whether it’s your first music video or another addition to your portfolio, each project is an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep pushing your creative boundaries, and most importantly, have fun with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make a music video with my phone?

Yes, you can. Modern smartphones have high-quality cameras and various apps that offer editing tools, allowing you to shoot, edit, and produce a music video directly on your device.

Do music videos make money?

Music videos can generate revenue through various channels, such as YouTube ad revenue, sponsorship deals, and increased song sales or streaming. Successful music videos can significantly boost an artist’s visibility and earnings.

What is the role of a producer in a music video?

The producer oversees the music video’s production, managing the budget, coordinating schedules, and ensuring the project stays on track. They work closely with the director and crew to bring the creative vision to life while handling logistical and administrative tasks.

How much does it cost to have a music video made?

The cost of making a music video varies widely, from a few hundred pounds for a basic, self-produced video to tens of thousands for a professional production. Factors such as location, equipment, crew, and post-production work influence the final cost.

OUR MOST ASKED QEUSTIONS
Yes, you can. Modern smartphones have high-quality cameras and various apps that offer editing tools, allowing you to shoot, edit, and produce a music video directly on your device.
Music videos can generate revenue through various channels, such as YouTube ad revenue, sponsorship deals, and increased song sales or streaming. Successful music videos can significantly boost an artist's visibility and earnings.
The producer oversees the music video's production, managing the budget, coordinating schedules, and ensuring the project stays on track. They work closely with the director and crew to bring the creative vision to life while handling logistical and administrative tasks.
The cost of making a music video varies widely, from a few hundred pounds for a basic, self-produced video to tens of thousands for a professional production. Factors such as location, equipment, crew, and post-production work influence the final cost.
In London, a variety of music studios provide comprehensive rental packages that encompass equipment and various additional services. This allows musicians to have easy access to all their needs under one roof at these establishments.

Book top studio spaces for mixing and mastering your music video