How Much Music Video Directors Make? Music videos became popular in the late 1980s thanks to the launch of MTV. The entertainment channel gave emerging artists and directors a platform to showcase their talents in a unique way, turning them into household names. Flash forward to the present, and music videos have also taken over the ad world.
Music videos are a great way to go if you’re interested in video direction. The shoot and production take less time than a television show or film. Additionally, you can integrate your musical talent into the mix by recording and producing these videos independently.
This article discusses how much music video directors make and what it takes to become one.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a music video director makes $76,400 on average. The base salary for most aspiring professionals will be approximately $30,000 to $50,000 if they land a good job. Several variables can increase or decrease the salary package in the entertainment industry.
These factors include:
- Expertise: You can ask for more if you have adequate professional experience and credentials for the project.
- Project scope: Shoot time and the platform that broadcasts the video can significantly impact the final amount of your salary. For example, shooting a music video for an advertisement won’t pay as much as a film-based project.
- Location: Videos shot in the same city (or country) cost less than those shot abroad. Your salary package will shift according to the budget.
Besides this, you can charge by the hour or day (i.e., $350-1500 per hour). Your preference and production budget dictate the final asking price. Your business and social network are underrated factors that influence how much music video directors make. For instance, independent directors have more authority over the contract than ones affiliated with a production house.
After building your portfolio and gaining popularity, you can become one of the top 10% successful music video directors who earn more than $106,000/year. If you belong to a lower tier of directors, you might ask for an amount between $30 000 and $50,000. You might use job sites like Comparably to access a financial outlook for your career graph in this profession for further information and comparison.
Is knowing how to add music to videos enough?
Many professional music video directors attend film schools and complete associated courses from art schools. Yet, an equal amount of directors learned the skill onsite.
You can choose either career path as long as you have the skills to direct a video and network to shoot one.
Music video directors have a clear artistic vision to bring their musical narratives to life. They are often recruited to transform scripts to screen adaptation by production houses and artists. These scenarios need to adapt their unique vision to align with client requirements. Therefore, effective communication and flexibility are two prerequisite skills every director needs.
Other than that, you need to learn how to:
- Lead a video crew
- Manage your time wisely by eliminating mundane tasks
- Edit films and embed music in recorded videos
- Stick to the budget
- Market and promote your videos
In short, you need to understand all aspects of video directing, shooting, and production. This knowledge allows you to work independently when you don’t have a big crew in the beginning. In addition to this, you must know how to incorporate innovative cinematic techniques to frame your videos differently than competitors. Your artistic edge allows you to stand apart and become a popular name in production houses.
If you decide to get a relevant degree, you can begin independent video production during school. Participate in extracurricular activities, inter-school competitions, and national-level film festivals to gain traction. Collaborating with aspiring artists and working on low-budget projects can allow you to expand your profile.
Leverage this as you grow with your crew and the artist.
If you want to skip school, you can build your business network by taking an entry-level position on a music video set. Many production houses hire interns and production assistants with minimum requirements. Alternatively, you can volunteer on these sets to befriend the right professionals (i.e., managers, artists, record labels, and directors).
Besides this, you can become a freelancer to get gigs before joining the big league.
In most cases, the route to success depends partly on luck and hard work. A premium-grade camera, video editing software, and gear elevate your video quality. We recommend considering these factors to make an attractive professional portfolio.
Musical Note: Read the Cosmopolitan article Get That Life: How I Became a Music Video Director for inspiration.
In the end, how much music video directors make can vary from project to project. The entertainment industry uses your expertise and public exposure to determine the final pay cut. That’s why aspiring directors should start filming and collaborating on cinematic projects as soon as possible. Building your portfolio will have a significant impact on your salary rates. Consequently, it gives you the power to ask for a sizable fee when you get roped in for a music video project.
Are you ready to kick-start your career as a music video director? Let’s go.