Making a music video is something every indie artist should attempt at some point in their career.
Whether you want to make the video in a DIY fashion or on a low budget, or spend some coin hiring professionals, making a music video is a fun project that complements your music and marketing.
Music videos are a powerful way to get your music out to a wide audience. They have the power to engage on social media and can generate a lot of other content in the form of teasers, behind the scenes pictures, social media ads, and more.
So, how hard is making a music video? How long does each step take? In this guide, we’ll tell you! For more information, check out our guide on making music videos for beginners.
Brainstorming & Storyboarding
The first step when creating a music video is coming up with a great idea. Making music videos is time consuming and expensive, so you should make sure that you have a winning idea before you start making further plans.
Brainstorming – Several Days Or Weeks
First, sit down with a pen and paper (or a computer) and put on your song. Play it loud and close your eyes – what kind of visuals would suit the song? What would suit your brand? Do the lyrics suggest imagery you could play off of?
Write down all of your ideas and don’t worry about judging them yet. This is brainstorming, so let all the ideas fly!
Get specific about how you see the video. What colors do you want featured? What sort of feeling should the music video evoke in the viewer? Music videos can make you feel something, or they can just be engaging visually.
If you don’t watch music videos often, you should start watching them! Watching music videos is a great way to get an idea of how different styles look.
Watch videos from artists that you like or are compared to, as well as artists who are making videos locally, so that you can see what people in your scene who are at the same level are doing.
Don’t be afraid to watch videos from different genres and artists that your music doesn’t fit with. Videos can be adapted to almost any genre, so if there is a style of video you are interested in making, don’t let genre hold you back.
Finding A Team – About A Week
Finding the right team is critical. Even if you are making a low-budget, DIY video, you will still need some help. It’s wise to consult people who have made music videos before – whether it’s other artists, videographers, directors, actors, whatever – listen and take their advice!
If you’re making an average low-budget music video, you need to find a few key players for your production. Consider whether you will need to hire:
- A videographer (or several) to get various camera angles and footage
- Actors or extras to play additional characters in the video
- A director to oversee the entire production – on a low budget, one of the videographers is often also directing the video
- Editors to cut the music video together once all the footage is filmed – on a low budget, one of the videographers or the director is probably also going to do the editing
- Friends and family to help out with props and organizing
The team required for your video will depend on how complicated the video is.
If you’re making a one-shot video without any other camera angles, you only need one videographer and editing will be simple. If your video has multiple scenes, location changes, and characters, it will require more forethought.
Getting all this together will take about a week of corresponding with videographers, directors, actors, and more. Consult the director/videographer when hiring the team, as they will have a good idea of what is required to make your video a reality.
Finding Locations – 1 To 7 Days
Finding locations to shoot your video should happen after you’ve hired your team, because you need to consult the people filming the video when picking locations. It’s important that the chosen location be realistic and easy to film in, with the required power supplies and other considerations.
Again, finding locations will depend on how complicated your idea is. The more locations required, the more time you will have to spend scouting. If the whole videos takes place in your apartment, this won’t take much time at all.
The most important piece of advice I can give for locations is this: get the proper clearance to record video onsite.
I have been through the irritation of finding the perfect location, dragging all of the gear and team out to the location, only to get kicked out when we started filming. It was frustrating, and frankly, it was my own fault for not clearing the location first.
Make A Solid Plan With The Director – 1 To 2 Days
Have one or two meetings with the director or videographer who is in charge of the video production. It’s at these meetings where you will hash out the nitty-gritty details of the production.
What is the color palette of the video? Are there costumes required? What if the weather doesn’t cooperate on outdoor shoots? Are all the actors on board? Do you have enough camera people? Do you need insurance?
These are all questions that an experienced videographer/director can answer, and it’s important that you get them out of the way first.
During these meetings, lay out your ideal timeline for the production. Everything from shoot days, to editing days, to final product in hand, to the release should be roughly mapped out. Set a deadline to hit – if you go over, that’s okay, but don’t let it drag on too long!
Shooting The Video – 1 To 2 Days
The actual shooting of the video will probably happen quickly. An efficient director/videographer should be able to get all the shots required in just one or two days of shooting.
Of course, having an experienced team, a good plan, good locations, and good extras are what makes the shooting go by quickly. Nonetheless, people are often surprised at how quickly the shooting day goes by.
Here’s a video I made:
Once I had the idea, I put together the team in a couple days, purchased the supplies, and had my director reach out to a location. Once all of that was put together, the shoot took about four hours, and the making of the video was around two minutes.
That’s fast! Of course, the video is a one shot in a simple location with limited props, but it still came together nicely.
Even with the following video, which features multiple locations, props, and a couple actors, the shooting took place in just one day. The planning took about a month, but the shooting all happened in a day.
Editing The Video – 2 Weeks
Editing is the most labor-intensive part of making music videos. If you are trying to make a low-budget version of a higher budget music video, the video will likely have lots of cuts, a couple locations, and a fair bit of action.
Cutting this all together tends to be the bulk of the editor’s work, and can take quite a bit of time. Not only does the video have to feel right as a whole, but each shot has to be framed correctly, edited, and potentially colorized.
Getting the first draft of the video together can take a week or two, and after that you must allow time for edits and revisions. This part of making a music video will largely depend on the experience and skill of the director/videographers/editor and how picky the artist is with their vision.
Getting B-Roll (Extra Content) – 2 To 5 Days
You should leave some time in your schedule for B-roll. Making a music video is a lot of work (and often a lot of money), get as much content as you can out of it.
Get a teaser video from the editor. This is a short video that may or may not have sound. It will be used in ads and social media posts to promote the launch of the video itself. Get it in multiple formats too (for Instagram Stories, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, etc.).
Consider making a behind the scenes video with all of the extra footage. This footage is called B-roll footage and can be used to make a bit of extra content. Your fans will like to see what went into making the video!
You should also get some pictures in the same outfit and setting as the video. This is best done on the day of the shoot, but can also be done afterwards. This helps you brand the video and gives you non-video content to help promote the video.
Releasing The Video – As Long As You Want
You’ve been working at making a music video for about a month now, and you’re probably dying to release it. Hold up! Do you have a plan? Releasing the video is just as important as making it.
It kills me to see artists releasing music videos without at least taking the time to tease the video a few times and make a few ads. Once it’s released, try to get a bunch of views on it. Make the most of all of your hard work!
There is no timeline on releasing the video. Sit on it as long as it makes sense. Generally, artists will release the song or album first and then release the videos to get more mileage out of their releases (but it works the other way too). Talk to your artistic team about creating a plan that makes sense for you.
The point is not to get your video out as fast as possible, it’s to get your video out as effectively as possible – reaching as many people across as many platforms as possible.
So, How Long Does It Take To Make A Music Video?
From the moment you sit down to brainstorm some ideas to the moment the video is finished, making a music video will probably take about one or two months. If you have a great idea and the idea is relatively simple, one month is a pretty realistic time frame to go from idea to final product.
If the idea is more complicated and requires more team members, locations, actors, and editing, I would plan for two months.
As I said in the shooting stage, it’s not necessarily that shooting the video takes a long time, it’s more that planning the video and making sure the filming process goes smoothly can take quite a while.
In the production phase, it’s the editing that takes the longest, so the more editing required, the more time you’ll need to finish the video.
Once you have the video finished, don’t rush the release of the video. A well-organized release strategy makes all the difference. Your video should fit into the overall release strategy for your single, EP, or album.
Good luck, and have fun making art!