How Independent Artists Can Shoot Their Own Music Video
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How Independent Artists Can Shoot their Own Music Video

As independent hip-hop artists grinding with no label money backing you and limited resources; you need to be super efficient when it comes to promoting your music and brand independently. 

Just like when it comes to choosing a graphic designer, hiring a new publicist or picking a manager, independent artists need to make sure that everything they do in terms of branding, building a fanbase and promoting their music is done for maximum value and impact. 

One of the main elements of getting spotted today in the music world comes from visuals. However, shooting a video might be easy, but shooting a high quality video on a budget that manages to expand your brand is whole another thing. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t go down the banal and generic route. Instead, take some time to consider something a bit more impressive. Let’s take a look at how independent hip-hop artists can get started with shooting high quality music videos.

Keep track of budgeting

The first and more important thing is budgeting. Having the money there to handle the project is tough, and usually means you have to get smart about keeping a budget in check. This is all part of creating a marketing plan for your recording career. 

For those who try and build a smart music video, this can be the killer. Spending too much on flash add-ons and “killer graphics” will kill one thing; the video.

If you have a low budget, you can still make it good. Expensive videos tend to be quite banal in terms of their soul – lacking in character, generic. With a low budget video you can use that appeal to make something interesting.

A low budget approach does not have to be a bad thing – using just a rented green screen and white screen you can usually make something pretty cool.

Just be sure to try and give it some flavor and life – low budget can be good, but needs imagination. You have a limited level of supplies to work with and probably a small crew; what kind of theme can you go with? Be smart about it and you can make the video cheap, charming and compelling.

So long as you source good equipment – more on that below –and work with a crew that’s small enough, you can shoot a good video cheaply and without breaking your budget into pieces. Look around on social media and freelancing online sites for ideas and potential help, too.

Scout locations

The best thing you can do when it comes to location management for your videos is to shoot somewhere that you know, and know well. Locations are usually very expensive so by working with that producer who has contacts and also staying to a semi-local area, you’ll reduce costs.

You can cut deals with people you know and probably get a nice saving, thus helping keep that budget in control.

When you shoot, try and work out how well it fits with the music video. The message you would like to put through the video has to be in the setting, so build on that.

Also, remember, you have a budget so keep shots and set pieces relevant and simplistic. With your storyboard you shouldn’t be seeing some kind of epic scene you simply cannot reproduce.

Depending on what you rap about this can be tough, but location scouting should also come from locality. It works in tandem with keeping a close team and your budget down. More importantly, it will help you get the best natural shots as you actually know the area.

Sourcing video production equipment

Another major element of shooting a good music video should be to look into sourcing good equipment. Again, it all comes down to money, but knowledge plays a big part here. If you go to build a small crew to help you shoot the music video, you should be looking for a few specific attributes each time. 

One attribute that you obviously need, which goes with the above, is someone with financial sense. You also need someone who knows their technology – and how to manipulate it.

How can you shoot a good video without someone who can form a strong budget plan? How can you do so without someone who can pick (and use) the best tools within that budget? 

Take this into account when sourcing equipment. If you trust the word and talent of your guy then let him help you make the choice. Go for something that you can afford to buy outright if you intend on using this as your long-term crew. However, if you’re only working with people for a short-term period you should consider renting or borrowing.

You might know a friend, you might find a good offer on Craigslist or – depending on where you live – you might have a store that you can rent from. Whatever the choices are, consider how you’ll source that equipment. 

So long as you can have someone working with you who can do the shooting and can help you pick good tech in budget or on rental, you should be OK in this regard.

Storyboard your visuals

When it comes to building a storyboard, it helps to have someone on crew with imagination. This is why having a good producer who knows their tech and their techniques is so important. 

They’ll likely have contacts who can not only help you put together a good set-piece and get equipment, but it will help you get access to locations, permits and even discounts. It might also, most crucially, help you find someone who can build a fitting storyboard. 

Remember, it’s a music video, so it has to be fitting to the tune but also fun to watch – this takes skill, especially on a low budget.

Having someone with imagination and organization can make it easier for the crew to work. A good storyboard spells it out clearly of all, acting as the major reference point and thus greatly speeding up performance. 

By having someone who is a talented artist and who can imagine the theme and idea of what you want to try and come across (you need to know that, obviously) you can make the video, low budget or not, shine. 

This helps make sure that your music, and the video, hit the same kind of themes so work together as one. Look around on Vimeo if you want to find students and people who can work with little and produce a lot.

As you continue to build your plan up for a music video, remember the importance of each of these steps. When you keep these in mind and stay on track with these ideas, it can help you keep that all-important element of any good first music video – logic. 

It needs to be exciting and carry some important traction, and also needs to tick the right boxes in terms of what it’s saying from its message. It definitely take a lot of hard work, planning and research; but at the end of the day, creating a high quality video to complement your music is one of the most effective ways to get yourself noticed. 

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