Bigger Isn’t Always Better

How to use small budgets creatively

On what was to be their last album together, The Doors released LA Woman in the spring of ’71. The heavily Blues influenced record went on to be regarded as one of the band’s finest, with critics citing Morrison’s vocals as some of the strongest he’d ever recorded. An accomplishment that’s even more impressive when you discover where the recording took place.

Forgoing the expensive studios of LA, the band used their own rehearsal space. The singer’s mesmerising vocals were not sung in the main recording booth but in a room next door – the toilet. So enamoured by the acoustics the tiled room gave his voice, Morrison recorded most of the album’s vocals from this unconventional space.

Sometimes greatness doesn’t take money, it just takes ingenuity. We often think a big budget will sort out all of our problems on a brief but sometimes it can have the opposite effect. If you’re not careful, you can become a tad lazy, delegating some of the responsibility to others, that you yourself should be taking care of. Hoping for instance, that a good director can turn an ok idea into a great one. Surely, it’s far better to have a great idea to start with?

When you have a small budget, you have to be more creative. There’s no luxury of cash to help gloss over the cracks – if your idea is weak, your execution will be weak. By having less budget, you have to think a little differently. And it’s this handicap that can sometimes be a huge help, leading to ideas you wouldn’t have thought of if money was no object.

One of my favourite thoughts from the last few years is the Nazis against Nazis idea from Grabarz & Partner/GGH Lowe. Where far-right extremists inadvertently took part in a walkathon that raised money for an anti-fascist charity. The campaign cost peanuts but received millions in earned media across the world. Would this idea have been dreamt up by the team if they had a big budget with a multi-channelled media plan?

There’s no doubt having a small budget can be an obstacle. But if there’s one thing creativity is good at, it’s solving problems.

LA Woman promo

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