How Does This British Photographer Make a Profit Shooting £100 Music Videos?

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this week brought up something interesting. Dan Fable, a Manchester musician turned photographer/videographer, was offering an insane deal for bands. What’s more insane is that people weren’t taking him up on the cheap offer.

“We are offering to shoot two live music videos and a photoshoot for £100, and people are actually not sure,” complained Fable. First, I’m wondering how he’s making profit from this deal. Secondly, I’m wondering why musicians aren’t taking him up on the offer. Now, I know that Fable is looking to push his Keep Me Young media brand, and it can’t hurt to shoot for as many bands as he can, but there comes a point in which you’re losing money. Luckily, he let us in on how it all works.

Some of the photography Dan provides to young musicians.

The Money

For the amount of work Fable is providing, you’d imagine that there would be at least a four-figure bill to accompany it. £100 for all that work seems impossible until Fable explained that he’s splitting up a single day in the studio between six different bands. “We will be sticking to a very strict schedule in order to make this work,” he explained. “We have two hours with each act. One hour to film, and around thirty minutes for the photoshoot. The rest of the time is used for setting up and packing down.”

Even if he’s offering a budget airline-style package, that’s a lot of work. Even though he’s shooting for the same amount of time, that’s a lot of postproduction to churn through. Here’s how it all breaks down:

We are shooting on two consecutive days, six bands per day. So over the two days we will turn over £1,200. I estimate we will retain £800 profit from that. It will take me around one week to complete everything including the two days shooting. I am able to keep the costs down as I am well connected with a lot of people in this industry and have great relationships with people involved.

First, he’s not shooting custom music videos. He’s shooting (sometimes acoustic) live sets in the same studio. Not all that difficult a set up and he can run it like a conveyor belt, doing the photoshoot with the constant lights that he set up for the video shoot. Next, Fable takes care of the shooting, lighting, and editing, and then hires somebody to take care of the audio. So the crew is tiny compared to most. Finally, he’s using his connections to get a great deal on the studio. As he put it, “The owner also runs a recording studio close by so it benefits him greatly to have 12 fresh new bands on his door step each month who might want to use his studio.”

This is the studio Dan's shooting in. Hopefully he can bring enough variety to the table.

The Quality

Let’s break out the triangle of creative cost. Price, quality, and time are the factors here. If Fable is able to get price and time down, then surely the quality will suffer. It does, but he’s asking the band to accept something basic instead of intricate. The glaring issue here is that these bands will be shooting in the same studio and releasing their fresh content at the same time as each other. I suppose if you’re only paying £100 then it could be totally worth it.

Fable is using sound-detecting lights along with a couple of red heads; Arguably a decent mix between a live stage and a set. He’s only shooting on a Canon 60D, but in the name of keeping costs down, 4K is too much. Then the audio is covered for the entire band, from the drum kit to the brass. He’s using a Shure BETA 87A radio mic for the lead vocals and a SM58s for any other backing vocals. Audio technology isn’t my forte so I’ll have to take his word for it. If it sounds great, then that's half the battle.

The Industry Problems

A lot of readers might scoff at this scenario, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Fable is a stunning example of how far creatives need to go in order to get money in the door and jobs flowing. However, part of me likes his new system and how he’s willing to work with his fellow musicians. To him, it’s about creating content with them even if they can’t pay up. It’s not as if he’s competing with higher-end photographers.

What’s even more problematic is that Fable found it difficult to get bands to sign up. I mean who doesn’t have £100 for a two-hour shoot? Surely they'll spend thousands on equipment? I can only imagine that musicians with money want a custom package and a “proper” shoot, but there shouldn’t be any excuse for those on the lower end of the scale. Perhaps it’s a sign of his advertising efforts, the music industry, or both.

The cost will rise to £200 soon, and he’ll be able to make around £2,000 profit in a week doing this if all goes to plan. That’s about $2,500 which isn’t bad at all. What do you think of Fable’s system? Is it viable?

Edit: This article was updated to include a real example of Dan's work on this particular endeavor, rather than an older video of his.

Stephen Kampff's picture

Working in broadcasting and digital media, Stephen Kampff brings key advice to shoots and works hard to stay on top of what's going to be important to the industry.

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>> What’s more insane is that people weren’t taking him up on the cheap offer.

What's insane? The sample video you used is probably his best - the random sample I tried on his website was worse - and its something that any band could get for themselves with a phone and the audio gear they will already have. If they have any imagination then they can do better, although that will mean making an effort finding locations, etc.

This article is just another example of over-entitlement: "I've bought a piece of gear and call myself a professional so people have to pay me." Well, no. ***People aren't going to you to do what they can do better for themselves.*** (And a high-end phone probably shoot better video than an 80D - if you're going to tout yourself as a video maker then at least get a GX80 or LX100 and learn to edit properly. If you don't know how to continuity edit then at least cross-dissolve...)

>> there shouldn’t be any excuse for those on the lower end of the scale

This really takes entitlement to a new level - clients who don't want to spend money on a video worse than they could shoot for themselves, one that is so bad it would probably only hurt them, need an "excuse" not to hand over money to a guy who calls himself a photographer...

>> that’s a lot of postproduction to churn through

Having looked at his work, no. He's cutting at quite random points and that's it. It shouldn't take him more than a few minutes per video - his work is almost as sloppy and thoughtless as this article.

I had a strong impression that I'm reading next Alex Cooke onion-type article... :)

I understand, that everyone of us had their own "Groupon"-type promo, where we give our services much lower than the market, and any backlinks from reputable sites are OK, but I don't see here anything to brag about...


Geez. Such mean spirited comments. If the video above is an example of one of the £100 video/photo combos then I think it's amazing value for money. True, it's not the most compelling music video I've ever seen, but it has a concept, the shots are steady and well composed. It's no-frills for sure, but more than I would expect quality-wise for £100. And so what if the guy does live in his mom's basement? £800 a week in Manchester is actually not bad going. I used to live nearby in Liverpool and lived on a lot less than that happily enough.

the videos might not be great. and i dont think thats the idea here.
As being part of a rock band on my teenage years, i guarantee the beggining artists would be very happy if they have a result like the above video, to show on facebook,you tube, personal website etc. Wont be MTV or VH1 material, but that absolutly not what the people that will pay are aiming for. Cutting 100$ per 4 band members,this is just wnough to make everyone happy at the end

Most bands have at least one friend trying to make it as a music video director. Hire them and their dslr and write a fun or interesting concept and go out and shoot it for the cost of lunch. At this point in the game, why spend even 100 dollars if the end result is a poorly constructed duplicate of a dozen other videos releasing at the same time? I can't imagine how that offers a band an opportunity to stand out online. Also, it's much easier to turn out better products in less quantity and make more money doing so. This model makes no sense whatsoever.