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$ How should I charge for recording sessions?

Discussion in 'Composing / Producing / Arranging' started by Aaron, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    My primary business is photography and there are a plethora of ways to charge clients for certain projects. Time, per job, creative fees, etc, etc. It's a skill in and of itself to be able to properly charge for the value of ones work.

    With that being said, and as a related note to think of charging fees for creative work, I will be recording a couple of musicians playing a duets of some music that I believe are their own compositions. I just learned that one of the musicians will use the recordings as part of a competition, and that got me thinking that perhaps this is something I should charge for, but I'm just not sure. I'm not a professional and this particular recording session will be the first time recording this type of setup, so it'll be a learning experience for me from the start.

    Should I charge for this considering its' usage, or should I do this pro bono since I've never done anything like this before? If I should charge for it, can you recommend any ways to find a price to quote? What other information should I find out about the usage? Digital mp3 files, cd's made, etc. Maybe do the work for free but request to be credited on any materials created or websites the work would potentially be posted on?

    In the photography industry, and I'm sure with all other professional creative work, it's generally not recommended to work for free, as that tends to drive the value of the industry down, but there are a variety of viewpoints about this. And for as many people are against working for free there are also some who do think it's a good idea for different reasons.

    Thanks for any help with this.

  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    What ever you do, make it very clear with all involved.
    In my opinion, be credited is a bit over-rated. It doesn't pay any meal ;)
    Of course if you start your first contract, a smaller fee may be a good plan. It relieve you from having too much pressure and let you feel you don't do it for nothing.
    I started at 10$/hour for a year and went to 15$ and so on.
    Your final price (when you get the confidence about the quality of your work) should be compared to the competition and the difference in what they offer.
    If a studio near me does tape recording and have better gear than I have, I'll surely charge a bit less. On the other hand, if a studio in my town only have a vocal booth and charge 20$, if I have a big live room, I woudn't be affraid to ask 30$
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Your rate depends on many things; your experience, your equipment, your knowledge with the gear you have, your reputation, your level of professionalism in your field, etc. Most studios start with a base hourly rate; some will offer discounts for blocks of ten hours or more, booked and paid for in advance.

    You can't charge based on "usage"; as a recording studio, you provide a flat rate for the service of recording, mixing, and delivering the final product in whatever medium the client wants.

    It doesn't matter if it's their own composition or not. Unless you are producing the act, and a deal has been agreed upon that would give you further revenue on that project from sales or other mechanicals, you have no right to expect further revenue from that music once it leaves your studio. You've fulfilled your obligation to provide them with a high fidelity recording of whatever music it is they want to record. Whatever they want to use it for after that is up to them, and does not include you in anyway, and in that way, it is different from photography, where you own the negatives and then sell them copies ( pictures).

    Once you have fulfilled your obligation - and once they have zero'd out any balances due that they owe you, they are entitled to do whatever they want with that recording.. They don't need your permission, nor are they required to credit you, verbally or in writing. This type of credit is a professional courtesy that artists will convey from time to time when they feel the credit is deserved.

    Now... if the music they have recorded isn't theirs, then they are also completely responsible for getting clearance and licensing to use songs that they haven't written, and the good news is, that doesn't involve you, either.

    For what you have described, without knowing what gear you are using, without knowing what final quality the fidelity will be, it's difficult to suggest a rate. Perhaps you should make some calls to some actual studios in your region, find out what their hourly rate is, and then deduct accordingly based on your limited experience and gear... maybe charge 20% of what a pro facility would.

    Know this... the more you charge for the service, the more will be expected of you... and if you're not able to do certain things that are expected of a real recording studio that is charging a competitive rate for the market, then you need to either discount the price accordingly, or you'll need to be honest with your clients about what it is that you can - and can't do - up front...but, IMO, doing both would probably be best. Being honest is not something that will come back to bite you in the arse. ;)

    Once you open the door to providing a professional audio recording service, certain things will begin to be expected of you.
    You need to be honest, both with your client and with yourself, as to what you are truly capable of delivering.

  4. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    Thanks for the recommendations guys and I'll put this all into consideration. Charging for audio services seems to be quite different than photography where usage tends to be the large percentage of the total fees. With photography clients aren't buying photos, unless it's a physical piece of framed art. What they're buying is licensing rights to that agreed upon usage, editorial vs commercial, to give it a very broad categorization. So with these audio services I'll figure an hourly rate for total time of recording, mixing, editing based on the variables mentioned, experience, equipment, quality,etc.

    And yes of course, honesty is the best policy!
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    an hourly rate is the best way to go. It becomes very clear after your first Customer who is never statisfied with his improvised guitar solo ..

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