Music videos

6 of the most expensive music videos and how much it costs to make them

Rusty Kennedy / AP / REX /

If you asked a random bunch of aliens to name the most expensive music video of all time, at least a few would definitely say “Thriller” – and that was when it was made in 1983. According to Rolling Stone, the 14-minute masterpiece was produced with a budget of $ 500,000. While half a million dollars for a music video was unprecedented at the time, that pales in comparison to the big budget productions that followed.

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Part of the reason music videos became so expensive was “Thriller” itself. Videos had been a marketing tool used to promote artists and sell records. After “Thriller” video was the product, and each of the following had to be bigger, better, and more expensive than the last.

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Here’s a look at the most expensive clips ever made.

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6. “Black or white”

  • Year: 1991
  • Artists: Michael jackson
  • Cost: $ 4 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 7.98 million

In 1991, The Associated Press reported that Michael Jackson marked the end of a two-year artistic hiatus with the arrival of “Black or White”. The clip debuted as an 11-minute special to 500 million people in 27 countries after Fox’s biggest hit “The Simpsons,” in prime time. It was the # 1 Fox special in history at that time. The budget, estimated at $ 4 million, paid for George Wendt’s starring power of “Cheers” and none other than Macaulay Culkin, but the bulk of it went to the video’s impressive digital morphing effects that made ” Black or White “so memorable.

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5. “Bedtime story”

  • Year: 1995
  • Artist: Madonna
  • Cost: $ 5 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 8.91 million

When the Los Angeles Times reported on Madonna’s “Bedtime Story” in 1995, they called it “over $ 2 million business.” It turned out that even this high price estimate was more than half insufficient. Forbes reported years later that the video cost $ 5 million, a fact confirmed by Statista. Like many of Madonna’s greatest videos, a large chunk of the budget was spent on impressive visuals and digital effects that took weeks to perfect in post-production, according to Business Insider. Madonna didn’t skimp on public relations, either. She spent a lot of money to bring the video to the big screen in New York and LA before releasing it to the general public on cable.

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4. “Express yourself”

  • Year: 1989
  • Artist: Madonna
  • Cost: $ 5 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 10.96 million

In reference to Madonna, Rolling Stone called “Express Yourself” “her most ambitious use of video form.” It showed in the price tag of the video. The mini-movie cost $ 5 million to make, thanks to a sprawling and expensive cast, an equally expensive director, and intricate, highly artistic setting. It was the most expensive clip ever made at the time, according to Rolling Stone, and once adjusted for inflation, it would be second after another clip as the most expensive in history.

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3. “Die another day”

  • Year: 2002
  • Artist: Madonna
  • Cost: $ 6.1 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 9.21 million

Business Insider, Forbes and Statista all agree that the video for Madonna’s James Bond movie song cost $ 6.1 million. There’s also a deal that most of the budget was spent on the impressive Madonna vs. Madonna CGI fight sequences, which mirrored the action scenes from the movie “Die Another Day.” This remains Madonna’s most expensive video.

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2. ‘Work Bi ** h’

  • Year: 2013
  • Artist: Britney spears
  • Cost: $ 6.5 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 7.58 million

When Britney Spears released the music video for the first single from her eighth album, outlets like Business Insider and VH1 announced a budget of $ 6.5 million, making it the second most expensive music video of all time. This fact raised eyebrows, considering that the single had underperformed. VH1 estimated some expenses for the video, albeit brazenly, including $ 100,000 for the wardrobe and over $ 300,000 for hammerhead sharks and shark-related transport. Video director Ben Mor has categorically denied that it costs so much in published reports. But he never offered an alternative amount and without an official rebuttal, $ 6.5 million remained.

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1. “Scream”

  • Year: 1995
  • Artists: Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
  • Cost: $ 7 million
  • Adjusted for inflation: $ 12.48 million

More than a quarter of a century later, “Scream” still holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive music video ever made. According to Business Insider, “Scream” tipped the financial balance with a 13-piece set, a $ 65,000 CGI spacecraft, and $ 175,000 spent on lighting alone. In the end, it was worth it. Sixty-four million people have logged in to watch, according to Forbes, and the production has won a Grammy and an MTV Video Music Award.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. Award winning writer Andrew was once one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper union, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business editor for amNewYork, the most circulated newspaper in Manhattan, and as the editor for, a financial publication at the heart of the Wall Street investor community in New York.