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There are probably a few different things that come to mind when brainstorming must-haves for a professional musical career — high-quality recordings, top gear, equipment for your home studio… but have you ever considered a camera?
That’s right — even an entry-level camera can completely change the way your audience engages with your music. Everything from boosting your social following and coloring your communications with your fanbase, to booking more gigs and simplifying your music video production process; it’s all on the table with the right camera.
If you’re thinking that you don’t have the time or energy to devote to learning another skill, don’t worry — you don’t have to be a photographer to make this work. Most cameras will require a learning curve but with a little attention to detail in the beginning, you’ll be acquiring skills that serve you throughout your career. However, if you’re looking to learn how to produce better video content, head over to our new platform for digital creative skills coaching, Upcurrent, and get in touch!
Here are just a few ways that investing in a quality camera can help take your career to new places.
Higher Social Media Engagement
Which would you rather look at — a beautifully polished photo that tells a compelling story, or a poorly lit, sort of blurry, nonsensical photo that makes you wonder if the person has ever taken a photo in their life? I’m guessing like most of us, you prefer the polished photo that makes sense.
So why are so many of us still sharing such awful, amateur photos on our social media? Give your fans something to gravitate towards by making sure you stick to this: From now on, your feed should mainly consist of high-quality photos and video — no excuses.
Your Stories are the place for the unpolished, on the fly stuff. This doesn’t mean you can’t have candid, fun, behind the scenes photos and videos on your page, and it doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with lo-fi filters; it just means they need to be held to a higher standard of quality overall.
Quality Show Recordings
If you’re investing in a camera that does both photo and video, as most do (and as we’ll outline in our equipment suggestions below), you’re opening yourself up to an incredible advantage in being able to record your shows. This is important for many reasons — perhaps the first being that when you’re booking shows at new venues, or a full tour, talent buyers will want to see your live performance as part of their decision process.
Having a high-quality recording of that to pass along can only help your booking chances. Plus, show footage is great for sharing the night after a big show (FOMO anyone?) or to tease a forthcoming tour.
Better B-Roll Footage
Having a great camera isn’t just about capturing perfectly orchestrated moments. It’s about being able to document the silly moments on tour, or the backstage banter that has you all laughing, or the quiet moments in between recording where you’re all just lounging around in that cabin you rented or on the floor of your singer’s studio apartment. These candid moments can bring a new kind of appreciation for your fans, and introduce a side of you they may not have even known existed.
While there’s no shortage of options for getting starting, it can get a little overwhelming when you’re trying to decide the best option in your price range. Here are three options, all at different price points, but all pretty affordable comparatively.
This is one of my top recommendations because it does it all and at a really reasonable starter price. Photo? Check. Video? Check? Recording in 1080p? Check. It’s pretty much the best starter camera for the price.
There are a few different options in the under $700 range, with a few falling under $400, so take your time and find one that works for you — they’re all great quality, it’s more just a matter of budget and preference. The DSLR 3500 is a great starter if you’re not sure what you really need specifically, and it comes in at just $400. Once you get used to your camera, you can also upgrade from the lens kit that comes with it to a 35mm lens, which will make your photos even better.
Pro tip: Check Amazon or the Nikon website directly for refurbished cameras, lenses, and other accessories to get them at a fraction of the retail cost.
If you’re looking for an affordable video camera that you can get a little creative with, the GoPro is your best bet. We’ve all seen the crazy commercials of people taking their cameras on wild adventures and getting insane footage, and that’s honestly one of the highlights of this particular camera.
You can get a starter GoPro for under $400, like the GoPro Hero 6 Black for example, and do everything from take it swimming with you in your next music video to bring it to your gig and get close ups on the drummer. It’s compact, incredibly impact resistant (so you can clamp it on your instrument during a gig or bring it on tour without worrying) and it even allows for live streaming, which is great for special shows or one-off acoustic performances.
If you’re looking to spend a little more money, the MeVo is another great option. It boasts “pro-level production at your fingertips” and having used one personally, this really is the case. You can cut, zoom, pan, all with the swipe of a finger, or put it on autopilot and let it do the work for you. Like the Go Pro you can livestream directly from it or save to your SD card for later. It’s also incredibly portable, has a built in mic, and gets 1080p.
If you’re ready to take your quality to a new level, this is for you. The camera itself starts at $500 and the full package with camera case, stand, and other accessories comes in at $800.
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