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Old October 19th, 2008, 09:59 PM   #1
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What should I charge to do music vidoes like mine?

Recently, I've done some music videos with my bro and a lot of people really like the quality. So we want to try and do it as a business, but we are not quite sure what we should be charging. Could you give me a ballpark figure on what I should charge someone for something like these:

Miss My Dawgs
Personal Legends - Miss My Dawgs on Vimeo

Getting Blowed
"Getting Blowed," featuring Personal Legends on Vimeo

Krazy
"Krazy" featuring Personal Legends on Vimeo

Spit Dat Fire
Spit Dat Fire (Remix) featuring the Personal Legends on Vimeo
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Old October 20th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Douglas Wright View Post
Recently, I've done some music videos with my bro and a lot of people really like the quality. So we want to try and do it as a business, but we are not quite sure what we should be charging. Could you give me a ballpark figure on what I should charge someone for something like these:

Miss My Dawgs
Personal Legends - Miss My Dawgs on Vimeo

Getting Blowed
"Getting Blowed," featuring Personal Legends on Vimeo

Krazy
"Krazy" featuring Personal Legends on Vimeo

Spit Dat Fire
Spit Dat Fire (Remix) featuring the Personal Legends on Vimeo

You're doing very nice work, but I'm worried that you're missing the central reality of how pricing works in the music video industry. (or for that matter, most other industries)

The "price" for creative work isn't a thing that sits out there like the price of a taco or a shirt, or a car. Instead, price is calculated using a large number of variables. Some of those variables have to do with the type, scope, creativity and nature of the production itself. But others come not from the nature of the work, but from the nature of the RESULTS the work is designed to achieve.

Put simply, there's no reason anyone spends a PENNY on a piece of business communication (which is what a music video ultimately is) unless they have the reasonable expectation that they'll make that penny back - plus as much profit as possible above and beyond their original investment.

So start by understanding what music videos do. Generally speaking they do two things. They promote the sale of music. And they attract viewers to commercial enterprises such as MTV or radio stations drawing an audience that - in turn - is sold to advertisers.

What this means is that any Music Video's BUDGET will be set at what someone is convinced is the minimum they can spend to generate their expected return on that investment.

For an established artist, that budget might be MASSIVE - since the expectation of return that can be generated from their already proven fan base should be demonstrably large. For most unproven acts, there's TREMENDOUS pressure to do things on the cheap to limit financial risk.

So I'd argue that your task - what will cause you to succeed or fail - isn't actually how well you can make music videos (I know it sounds weird, but it's true nonetheless) But rather how well you can do two things.

First, separate the clients who's artistic work is qualified to break out from the pack and concentrate on them and limit your time working with those who are not as talented or committed. And Second, to build relationships with those actual business oriented artists - and the people around them - so that they see you as a qualified creative partner.

Essentially, Douglas, you aren't actually making music videos. You're building relationships with people who can turn music videos into FINANCIAL RETURNS.

It may sound subtle. But the difference in thinking is the difference between waking up 10 years from today and having a lot of great looking self-created music videos on your computer but little bank in the bank - or waking up in 10 years and being financially well off.

In a nutshell, don't ever forget that music video is a BUSINESS. And in business, the purchaser tries to pay as little as possible, while the seller tries to charge as much as the market will bear.

You've got the production chops you need already. Time to go looking for customers who are as good at the music business as you are at making videos. Then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Line by line. Cost by cost. If they want a limo in the video, you've got to know how much that costs. Plus the driver, plus someone to shine it up before the scene, plus the cost of gas, plus the cost of the talent inside, plus what it takes to light it up, plus the cost of the time for the crew, plus the cost of the time getting everyone too and from the location, and maybe the cost of feeding everyone if it's shot over lunch.

After time, you'll know ALL this and a thousand more things that will add up to your actual COSTS - then you'll add on the PROFIT you expect to receive - after the taxes and permits and licenses and depreciation on the stuff you use to make the video are paid - and looking at all of those figures will tell you what you ACTUALLY need to charge to make THAT SPECIFIC music video work financially.

Having me or anyone else give you a number just doesn't work.

Because our numbers are built on our lives, and what equipment WE own verses what we need to rent, plus the cost of talent where WE shoot, and the costs of locations, and lights, and cables in OUR areas - with the relationships WE have in place for discounts and economies of scale.

I might have a brother who owns an italian restaurant, so I don't have to budget the same for craft services as you. Or not.

So you can see, my numbers won't and CAN'T be the same as yours.

Sorry.

But keep up the good work, nevertheless.

Peace.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #3
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I understand what you're saying about not being able to give concrete figures... but I'm having a real hard time developing a pricing methodology and I don't want to either 1) Price myself out of good work or 2) Under price and rob myself.

I sort of understand the process of itemizing expenses and then putting in the costs, but I'm having a hard time coming up with ballpark numbers. What's the methodology I should use before actually getting into the itemized list of costs. How should I respond to an inquiry. I've received two inquiries today, and I'm struggling to find the way to getting to how much I would charge.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 07:41 PM   #4
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Sometimes a good place to start is by asking "What's your budget?" Then you need to put pencil to paper and see if it's possible to do what the client wants for their budget. If their budget is $10k you can do a lot more than if their budget is $2k. That doesn't mean $2k is a bad video - it just might be more "spartan" than $10k.

Once you have a budget you can see how much you can spend on locations, people, props, etc. Don't forget the value of your time!
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Old October 21st, 2008, 12:22 AM   #5
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Sometimes a good place to start is by asking "What's your budget?" Then you need to put pencil to paper and see if it's possible to do what the client wants for their budget. If their budget is $10k you can do a lot more than if their budget is $2k. That doesn't mean $2k is a bad video - it just might be more "spartan" than $10k.

Once you have a budget you can see how much you can spend on locations, people, props, etc. Don't forget the value of your time!
should I let the client know the inner workings of my pricing model (make a pricing sheet), or should I just figure out what they want and give them a fee?
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Old October 21st, 2008, 06:34 AM   #6
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Ask what they want the video to do (see previous posts).

Ask what they expect to pay, then work out what you can do for that. For example, $1000 (arbitrary figure) might be a recording of a gig using two cameras, then editing down to a "ten minute concert". Another $1000 might buy them an afternoon outdoors doing crazy things to insert into that concert video. If they want a stretch limo included, that might be another $500 to hire.

Alternatively, if they say they want a video like so-and-so, look at that video, work out what the components cost (what you'd need to hire in, as well as your time for shooting and editing) and give them that.

You'll gradually build up a list of what individual components cost, and so in future pricing is much easier and less time-consuming.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 09:57 PM   #7
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Charge as much as you can, but if you have to give them a quote without knowing how much that is I would suggest for just starting out ...
Miss My Dawgs - 2k to 4k plus extra expenses
Getting Blowed - 2k to 4k plus extra expenses
Krazy - 1k plus extra expenses
Spit Dat Fire - 1k to 2k plus extra expenses

I thought the videos were great, and should be able to charge more shortly down the road. I'm guessing the first two are newer than the last two. You just need to start to get the business side going. You probably need to be building your sales pitch and contacts, you have a nice start on the samples. Not much of a variety on the style of music, but the video stylization could match well with a lot of music. Music variety would help though. I wouldn't break down all the cost to them unless they ask. An email with some high level estimate of hours spent on different phases of the project with costs and what they will be receiving I feel works better. I'd say start higher than the prices above if you feel it won't be a conversation ender. You can always give a discount for a first time customer if you feel it may turn out more work.
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