Music video directors are responsible for a variety of tasks. They help musical artists create visual representations of their songs that generate album sales. Skilled music video directors are paid substantially for their experience and ability to produce videos that make a musical artist stand out. Music video directors realize the most consistent salary potential once they gain union representation.
Non-union music videos can provide a substantial salary opportunity for directors, but record labels or artists generally have control over the amount of compensation the director receives. The reason artists engage in non-union video shoots is to save large amounts of money on production costs. Well known non-union directors may have a stronger negotiating position, but most unrecognized directors accept the budget requirements of the label to ensure consistent work.
If a director is represented by a union, he or she has minimum salary requirements. The primary union for directors in the US is the Directors Guild of America (DGA). As of 2010, the minimum salary rate for a union director is $1,229 per day, which applies to commercial-length work produced for networks. Music videos fall within this category when produced by major labels. Many established union directors work for well above this rate.
Sometimes an independent artist will cover the expenses of a music video shoot. In most cases, the budget for the entire video is less than $5,000. A director may choose to produce the video, or secure all the equipment and organize the shoot, in an effort to write himself into the budget multiple times so that his salary rises closer to a comparable day rate. Independent music video directors-for-hire commonly earn $0 to $500 per video shoot.
In rare cases, music video directors are employed by established production firms. A director might be on salary to create a predetermined amount of content each year for the firm. Salaries, usually based on an average of the day rates, range from $50,000 to $100,000 each year. The actual amount is based on the experience and talent of the director.