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Could it be that the video is the key to the general impression about a song? Are there any stats/research on how much the video influences the song perception? I found a relevant paper:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a462/1d26b8285f1460158f11a2b74feaeb3f9e9d.pdf

It says there was an influence in tests, and rather strong, but I am not sure how that translates to real life.

For a hobbyist musician with a very limited budget, is there any well-known rule of thumb on how much to invest in video vs. sound production? Or a threshold, like "unless you have $10,000 to spare, just film your live performances"?

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    If you $10,000 to spare, the best thing to do with it is pay for food and rent as long as it lasts and work 16 hours a day on writing the best songs you can. With the right song, you can gig to earn the money to record which you can sell to earn the money for the video which will help promote the song for bigger gigs and more recording sales/streams. It's all about the song. Don't invest anything on production. Write songs so good that others want to invest in you and your music. – Todd Wilcox Jul 31 '17 at 21:40
  • Well, there is certain minimum production quality where people start listening to your demos, and I am struggling to hit that. I was considering if making a good video for youtube could help with some more "social proof", as well as actually getting the song out there. But it looks like for a beginner, live videos are the safest bet; at least they have that "genuine" factor. A video that would add value just costs too much. – vdanylchuk Jul 31 '17 at 22:36
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    None of it means a thing at all without a song. With the right song, it also doesn't matter, because people don't care about the video or production quality if it's a good song. Californication sounds terrible but people don't care cause they love the songs. – Todd Wilcox Jul 31 '17 at 22:45
  • There is no "minimum production quality where people start listening to your demos". There is just finding people willing to listen to new demos. Demos are so far from the final cut production isn't even a factor. – Dom Jul 31 '17 at 23:26
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Video and audio play different roles in people's lives. For example, on Facebook, people are more likely to share a video than audio. When driving to work, people are much more likely to listen to audio than watch a video (hopefully). So it depends on how you are trying to reach people.

If you are trying to get more attention to your songs, you could potentially release a video on YouTube that contains only lyrics and perhaps still images. That would be pretty cheap to put together, and you could do it all yourself.

On the other hand, if the video is totally amazing, that in and of itself could get you a lot of likes and shares. That is what these guys did-- their music is sort of poor but I have seen their videos shared all over my friend network. In fact, they are doing a tour right now where they display their videos on a big screen while they play the music. Then again, these guys seem to have a very large trust fund and a lot of free time for putting these together (they rented an airplane for chrissake!)

Unless you have friends that like to shoot and edit video for free, and you have some friends who are models, and you have access to free set pieces, the additional cost of video production is not likely to get you much more bang for the buck. Even the pros only produce videos for a handful of their best songs. Stick to writing amazing music, and maybe release some very simple videos to spread the word.

  • This does not really answer the part about the stats, but it represents the general consensus fairly well, so I am accepting it to release a few points to you. Basically everyone agrees that a great video helps, but is a big investment or a rare chance, and generally it is better to focus on writing more quality songs / music. – vdanylchuk Aug 10 '17 at 14:20
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Might depend on the expected age of your audience.

As a definite 'oldie' I think I can safely say the video has absolutely no influence on my perception of the music.
I simply don't watch them at all, zero interest.
I have no idea what half the bands I like look like, nor the names of the members.
The last time I cared, I was under 30.

Someone under 30 is likely to have a totally different expectation.

On the other hand, when I was actually making records for a living, the video was very important - you couldn't get on MTV without one, of course. [There was no internet back then.]

So, broad strokes, for a new band with no budget & no financier [record company etc] I'd concentrate on the music & get someone who can cleverly edit live footage to look like it was the same performance.
Or have a look at how bands like Walk Off the Earth built up a huge youtube following by making their videos cheap but clever.

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