Music videos were initially born as a means of marketing a potentially popular song, but they quickly became a staple in the entertainment industry and a requirement for any important record release. The enormous success of music videos has opened a new and highly creative field to producers and people looking to set up a music video production company. Production companies are now in demand by record labels and recording artists who want visual interpretations of the songs they are promoting. A production company is responsible for seeing that the visual elements complement the musical piece and effectively highlight its performer or performers, who generally "star" in the video.
Music video production companies are in charge of the financial and administrative aspects of the entire production. They are responsible for making a successful video while staying within a budget. They often work with the director to hire the production team, the choreographer, film editor, lighting director, and director of photography and must keep order among the creative personalities involved in making a music video.
As a rule, production companies are hired and paid by the record companies or artists who are financing the project. Sometimes producers are asked to submit ideas for a video to promote a specific song these re called treatments'. They must then compete with other production companies or video producers for the job.
In some cases, producers come up with an idea for a video and then try to sell the concept to a production company, record company, or artist. While some producers start their own music video production company, many independent producers need to find their own investors or use their own money to finance a project. Often music video recording sessions can run around-the-clock for several days. Producers must be able to resolve crises, including budget problems and flare-ups of artistic tempers. However, there is great satisfaction in being part of a successful project.
Some music video production companies have very little involvement with the day-to-day operations in making the video. Others are hands-on producers who take part in both the creative and administrative work, sometimes even doubling as director or film editor of the video.
Since the video format is a cross between a short-subject movie and a television commercial, production companies and their staff come from a variety of backgrounds; television, the theater, the movie industry, and even advertising. No specific educational background is required; however, producers must have a keen business sense and a thorough knowledge of finances. Beginners may seek training in filmmaking or video engineering while working as an assistant, essentially an errand gofer or "runner" on a production team. Continuing education courses in videotape production techniques, electronic tape editing, and the use of cameras and synthesizers can prove helpful. Personally, even thought I run a video production company I still like to work as a runner on someone else's production to get an insight into techniques and contacts I otherwise wouldn't be exposed to.
Music video producers whose work is not well known may have to knock on the doors of record companies to present their ideas for music videos. Once a production company is established or has won video awards, companies and artists usually approach them for their artist's projects.
Those who have enough money of their own can produce a video and then try to sell it to a recording company. This approach is very expensive, however, because making a video can cost anywhere from 20,000 to as much as 1,000,000 if it features a major artist.
It really helps to have contacts in the music or film business. To learn the business, interested individuals should apply directly to production or record companies for work as a production assistant. If your just starting out, network with local artists and ask them if you can shoot a music video for them, this allows you to work up your portfolio (or reel as they call it in the business). The more videos you do, the more practice you will have and the more successful you can be!