Left to right: Rupak Rahman, IMD Fastrax; Eric Mackay, Vevo; Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos; Joe Taylor (moderator), Record of the Day; Ben Thornley, Sitcom Soldiers; Chris Goss, Hospital Records

Entitled “Music videos: making, promoting and monetising,” this panel was one of the main draws of UK indie association conference Indie Con. Notably because it got straight to the point of what music videos can cost, and what revenues they can generate.

For video producer Sitcom Soldiers’ Ben Thornley, the minimum budget for a music video is £2,000 (€2,500), with the biggest budgets his company has worked on going up to £20,000. But he manages to keep an average production at £5-10,000, notably by using “a select bunch of people and having a clear creative vision.”

Caroline Bottomley‘s company, Radar Music Videos, is a collaborative platform for directors and labels. “We had to put a minimum budget of £500 pounds on projects, as without that we had a drift downwards (in quality terms),” she said. Radar works by giving labels free access to, and directors paid access to, a number of fixed-price briefs for music videos. “That way labels with just £500 budget know what level of finished product to expect. Our biggest budget so far has been 12,000, but that’s rare.”

Even mid-price briefs can generate great interest, said Bottomley: a recent £4000 brief for Alt-J’s next video recently attracted 44 treatments (pitches) from directors, “an amazing number. People just loved that track!”

Equally innovative is IMD Fastrax, a service which distributes music videos from labels to broadcasters, and which has pretty much cornered this niche market. Distributing a video costs “the same as it would to get a DVD made”, said the company’s Rupak Rahman. And there is definitely demand for the service, which can also distribute to bars and shopping centres: the UK-based IMD Fastrax just launched in France, and is looking at other territories.

Then on to Vevo’s Eric Mackay, who set out to clarify the difference between his company and YouTube. “If you just want to upload and broadcast your video, use YouTube. Vevo is about making money out of video, recouping the costs you’ve put into your music. After all, YouTube CPMs in some markets are around a tenth of what we charge. For YouTube, all content’s the same,” said Mackay. “But for us it’s all editorial, so for example we take over YouTube’s recommendation pane, and make sure you only get relevant video suggestions, based on what you’ve watched.”

That said, 90% of Vevo’s traffic comes from YouTube, but that is set to change: present in six countries to date, Vevo is rolling out its own urls elsewhere as we speak.

So can Vevo make a difference for all artists, and not just majors? Absolutely, says Mackay. “We recently put Grimes on our homepage carousel; she got half a million views in a week”.

What about artists not getting paid by Vevo? “We’ve paid out $150m dollars so far,” said Mackay, “so you can’t say we’re not paying. If money doesn’t flow through the system, the issue isn’t at our end.”

Goss added that a great way to get more views is to get videos posted on specialist YouTube partner channels. “Bass music” specialised channel “UKF, for example, can get us half a million views in two days,” said Goss; “but you have to be aware that these channels have their own A&R process. So it can take us eight weeks to find an upload slot.”

The panel ended with one of its most useful take-aways: a list, supplied by Bottomley from a recent US trip, simply entitled “How to make money out of video?” The ways are:

– revenue share from streaming (YouTube, etc)
– streaming on ad networks (vidzone, rightster)
– retail/club network
– sales downloads (links to iTunes from videos)
– DVDs
– product bundling
– sponsorship & product placement
– rental (Netflix)
– pay per view & appointment to view
– copyright enforcement (find who’s posting your content and ask them to post download links, for eg.)
– using video in fundraising eg. kickstarter


More from Indie Con soon!


About Author

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.


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