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June 16, 2016

How to make a video with no budget

Having a video for your song is a great marketing tool to help you build your brand and drive revenue through music sales and brand partnerships. However like most independent artists who are working a full time job, have a family and not enough money, it can be tough to do all the things you want to do to market your music. We have some tips you can use to create a great video with little or no budget.

Get friends involved.

Friends are free help when you have no money.  The more people shooting with their iPhones, the more camera angles you have. Your friends can also serve as extras, props people, props handlers, they can bring and handle costumes, etc.

Tips for making it easier on your friends:

  • Plan to work quickly. Be respectful of your friends’ time. It’s fun when it’s done quickly. If it lasts too long, it’s a job and not a party. You want to keep a party atmosphere while you’re working. Otherwise it will get tedious and feel like another job.
  • Keep the time to 4-6 hours
  • Make it seem like a party. (Get drinks and pizza.)
  • Get them while they’re engaged and having fun. Otherwise you have to manage a lot of bored people.

Shoot in one location and make it count.

Doing all your shooting in one place is easier for logistics. It’s a good idea to scope out the place ahead of time to plan out your shots to save time and keep things moving on shoot day. Remember, you need to keep your helpers engaged and minimize large gaps of time when nothing is happening.

  • Choose an interesting place even if it’s your own backyard.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for access to places out of your reach (museums, YMCA, etc.) A motivation for them to help you is the promotion they will get for their facility.
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to get famous or iconic places because the final video will probably not show much of the location at all (i.e. a movie shot in your hometown).
  • Be aware you may need a permit for some public spaces.

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Come up with a visual hook

A visual hook is a tool you can use in your video to keep people interested in watching. For example… coming up out a pool backwards or showing 5 people playing the same guitar will give your video a “cool” factor and should increase shares. The hook can be repeated multiple times.

  • Hooks are helpful when you don’t have a large special effects budget.
  • Plan and know ahead of time what you want to do to achieve this effect. Do some research ahead of time. Check Google and Youtube to see if your idea has already been done. Even it has, you can ut a different spin on it or do it if a lot of other people haven’t done it before.
  • Imagery in your song lyrics is a great place to start for ideas for visual hooks

Keep the pressure on yourself.

Don’t bet everything on your volunteers.  Be prepared to do the hardest stuff yourself. (stunts, acting, etc.) No one cares more about your music and video than you.



Practice, practice, practice. Do all your preparations in advance.


Bonus Tips:

    • Discuss everyone’s involvement in advance. Let people know what you expect of them so they know what’s happening. Give your volunteers the opportunity to mentally prepare.
    • Have snacks for your volunteers.
    • Storyboard your video as part of your preparation. This will help with editing after the video is shot. It will also help you save time during shooting.
    • Shoot a lot more than you think you’ll need.  Professionals call this B-roll. Having a lot of B-roll give you more shots to choose from. It also gives you some other perspectives and can be used as interesting nuggets to email to your fan base.
    • Be ready to edit the video yourself. Get iMovie or Final Cut Pro in case you don’t have a friend who is good at editing video.
    • Promote it. Share it on social, your newsletter, share behind the scenes shots on social media, get press.
      1. Behind the scenes: shoot some shots of you talking to the camera telling your fans what’s going on.
      2. Do a live premiere event.
    • Find help. A college art school or film department may be a good place to go for help as they are always looking for good projects.

Are there some money-saving things you’ve done to record a video in the past? Share it with us in the comments!

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