So I approached a smallish music label about doing a music video for them (I do animation, btw). And they said they liked my work, but had very small budgets for these things and asked me how much it would cost. Well, I frankly have no clue what to do, I don’t even know what I’d charge on a “big” budget let alone a “small budget”.
That said, my animations are very simple and minimal, they take alot of work to setup and conceptualize – but if things get going the production aspect of it can get pretty fast in comparison to other animations. Plus, I’d really like to ‘break in’ to the industry and do something good for people I like.
Well, I’d appreciate some advice – but advice with numbers. 5000 bucks canadian for 3-4 mins? 10k? I have no clue!
*another thing to note is that they are from the UK so their pound should be more effective in Canada, correct?
Can’t speak to the exchange rate question, but what you really need to figure out is what you need to make. That number can be all over the place depending on the time it takes, how badly you want to get your foot in the door, what the customer can afford, etc.
What I would do:
1) figure out in as much detail as you can what it will take to make the finished product.
2) nail that to a OVERestimated hour total.
3) figure out what you would feel really good about making for that number of hours work (this needs to be a number you would be overjoyed to be doing this all day long for).
4) then take the number from #3 to the prospective customer and tell them this is what you would normally charge, but you will work with them in order to get started. (You need to have a bottom line in mind – a number at which you won’t do it for less).
The reason to do it this way is you don’t lock yourself into a number that won’t support you. The company you’re working with will feel like they’re getting a huge break, they won’t go around telling all their friends you will work for peanuts, and you’ll get busy.
I’d say Frank nailed it pretty well – it’d be my reply. I’d emphasise to your client that you both stand to benefit from them giving you a go… they stand to gain from giving the novice a shot. Makes them feel good on 2 fronts ($$ and giving you a chance). CYA when it comes to any referrals… you won’t be the “noob” anymore.
You can also appproach it from the other end. Get a range for their budget, then put together the coolest proposal you can that fits in that range. In truth you can do a music video for $500, but maybe not what you or they want to see. You can also do one for $500,000. So see where their thinking is, then wow them with the proposal, maybe even some “spec” samples. When you actually do the job, WOW them even more.
I would just add that these guys may be missing one small point…that it was YOU who wanted to do the video, not the record company. Music videos for small record companies are a tough proposal…they’re fun to have, but there is not really anywhere to display them but on the net (the chance of getting a music video on MTV, BET, etc, if you are not a big name artist is almost nil) and therefore they have little monetary value. Most of they time they don’t make them at all.
From the other side, anyone who has made a lot of music videos will tell you that is not usually a real profit maker, but instead a way to keep their people working for a few days and a chance to try out cool new things. If you want to do it, you are probably going to have to offer your labor very cheaply or else the company will not go along.
One area where you might be able to negotiate is retention of rights to the finished product: it may be worth taking a lower fee for this video if you retain the ownership and rights. Get that on paper, have a lawyer look it over for an hour’s worth of time, it’s worth 50-100 bucks to do. If the band becomes hot, you then can make back some of that initial loss re-selling and re-purposing the footage, see what I’m getting at?
I am fascinated by the work of Spike Jonze: he can make award-winning and breakthru videos with very small or very large budgets, it’s less about the money and more about the creativity and talent.