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Studios That Charge by the Song ?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by TomF, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. TomF

    TomF Guest


    I'd like to know, are more of you charging for studio time by the hour or by the song?

    There are a lot of studios in my area that have been starting to charge bands by the song to record. The pricing is ranging from $200.00 up to $750.00 per song. But here’s the thing, the studios are saying that they give you/band unlimited time to complete the song .How can they do this, the clients would never leave the studio.

    I’m starting to lose business to these studios, because of this unlimited time gimmick, but yet I can’t see giving away unlimited time. I think, you would have to put some kind of cap or limit on the time allowed for a client to finish there song. Then I can see charging this way.

    Is there anybody here that’s charging this way(per song), that can shed some light on this ?Any input on this would be greatly appreciated

  2. per song

    Lock them into a sound they want (somebody on the radio)use your experience to make it happen fast by sitting in. OKAY

    Since I operate way the *#@% far away from you I'll admit to the said strategy. Try $100 for a song. I will however admit that it only gets them in the door. The full one hundred dollar bucket deal is supposed to be chinese food, fills you up fast but leaves you wanting more.

    Everyone is upselling these days, I'll take that $100 dollar trial recording fill it out as best as I can, if and when I get the reaction, you know the one I'm talking about, I'll pitch the real deal. If they can afford it they'll already be in the pocket!!! If not, get the ^#$% out I don't care what the add says!!! It's not very nice but it sure brings the right talent out to play and keeps the pups pissing on the porch until they are ready to bark like a big dog.

    My deals usually fall into $2500 unmastered limit 10 songs. For newer bands. Financing is availible. 12 months no/no

    You've probably been doing this alot longer than I have but business and marketing suck no matter the who the where the why!!

  3. 43hertz

    43hertz Guest

    I've done this occasionally for beginner bands but I always specify straight to two track, ten takes at a song counts the same as a song.
    Anybody offering unlimited time is just "gimmicking", as you say.
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    As the man says. "you don't get something for nothing" and "the devil is in the details"

    Studio owners are willing to try anything to get new business. There are too many recording studios and not enought users.

    I am sure if you read the fine print there is a limit to the recording time. No sane person is going to give away studio time for extended periods of time for a fixed cost. It is just not a good business model.

    Figure it out. You do one band for XX hours on one song which means you cannot be doing anything else which means you are basically losing money and the more you try to "please" the band the more money you are losing. How does that work? It dose not. That cannot go on for long UNLESS you are just in it for the fun and that your day job provides more than enough money for you to live on and you just like being around other musicians.

    If you are having problems attacting clients think about what you are doing or not doing to attact them. Do you have assets that other studios don't have and if so make those your selling points. If you studio is more comfortable, or more private, bigger than theirs, or if you provide more "creature comforts" or you have the best coffee in the world let people know about it. Also if you have more experience or provide more "value added services" (such as a Fender twin reverb classic amp for the guitarist or a Hammond B3 in mint condition or a Yamaha Recording Drum set) let potential clients know about it. Also do some calling around and pretend you are a potential client at the other studios. Ask about their offer and what it entails, get to know the competition better than you know what you are doing. You can't compete unless you know who and what you are competing against.

    Best of luck and let us know how things are going.
  5. Reggie

    Reggie Distinguished Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I do the per song thing, but I am a fairly new (home) studio and I am a bit selective with the bands I take on. I don't advertise at all because I don't have time to sort through a bunch of punks that don't really have their act together or don't really have the dough, because I would like to keep my regular day job for now. I work pretty much strictly by referral recording bands.

    Another reason for the set fee per song, is that I don't want to put anything out with my name on it that doesn't sound the best that I can do. If it takes me a few extra hours to get a mix right, I don't want to limit myself to only the amount of time that the band can afford. However, I am thinking about doing a split charge kind of thing soon- $XX per hour for tracking, $XX per song for the mixing. That will take care of bands changing song arrangements, rererecording parts, replayed parts by new band members, etc.

    Talk about stupid gimmicks I have done, how about "No charge until you are happy with the final product!" Oh boy, that was OK for the bands that I was friends with, but..... :?
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I would consider charging by the song, with an imposed time limit!

    I was once recording a heavy metal band (certainly not my favorite kind of music, or lack thereof). The song was a brutal seven minutes long! The band said," we'll have to record that again for the guitar solo". I suggested that we just overdub the guitar. They said they couldn't do that, that they would have to do the song from the top!?!?

    31 takes later, they said " if we can do it one more time.....". I responded with, " No! You're done!" Of course they took great offense to that but I couldn't take it anymore. They almost did not pay for the 10 hours they used, trying to get the 30 second guitar solo right. The boss put another engineer on the session.

    Since then, I have generally refused to do heavy-metal, ever since.
  7. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    I've been doing the pay-by-the-song method for a little while now. I'm *not* running a pro studio, i have a day-job and i do the recording/engineering thing as a paying hobby so i'm not out to make a living doing this. As a business model, it's definitely targeting younger/poorer bands who don't have a chance in hell at being able to pay "pro" rates. Depending on the project, i'll charge anywhere from $75-$150 per-song.

    I make it work by asking for 50% of the project up-front - before the first mic is placed on the drum-kit - and make it *very* clear to the bands that if the sessions are spiraling out-of-control in terms of time due to unpreparedness/unprofessionalism on the part of the band, i'll give them all the material thus-far, keep the 50% and send them on thier way. (It has never actually come to this...)

    In addition to this, i also impose a $50 penalty for any late/missed sessions, to be payed before recording resumes.

    Finally, i also offer "drummers specials" - a flat-rate/by-the-song fee to just record drum-tracks ($20-$30/song). The band can then take thier drum recordings back to thier home-studio and have *good* sounding drums to work with.

    All this seems to work fairly well at keeping a steady flow of clients and with a good screening process in place (long meeting/interview /w the band before we start) it's pretty easy to weed out the people who would abuse the system.
  8. TomF

    TomF Guest

    Thanks for the feed back !

    Well, I had the opportunity to see a contract that this band signed for 10 songs @$750.00. NO LIMIT ON THE TIME!! The contract doesn't state a time limit ,it doesn't show anything about time. They have to be crazy to have a contract like this,its not good business. If the band wants to stay there indefinitely , they can do so.The studio, because of there contract couldn't legally throw them out until the band is ready to go . Now, this is not some little home studio we're talking about here either.

    I called around ,this is not just one studio doing this. Bands are signing up and why not its like they bought there own studio for the price of a song. There's bands that wanted to record with me because of my reputation, but I can't match this no time limit deal.
    They sign with the other studio because they can be there forever. Now ,I charge by the hour, but I'm also very fair. I throw in alot of free time. A band might have 12 hours and I'll charge for 10. I do this for the same reason as Reggie.
    This is why I have the rep I have. Nothing leaves my studio until I'm satisfied and if I eat some time because of this, so be it. To me this is as close to unlimited as I can get.

    I like the idea of charging by the song as an option, especially for attracting the younger bands, as some of you said you're doing. The reason for this is ,I've heard demos that studio's have charged these bands thousands for, that sound like total sh#t. I have a band now thats recording, there all 16 yrs. old but really talented. The last studio these kids recorded in, they were even charged $85.00ea. for a copy of there material for each band member. They did one song!

    Anyway,I guess what I'm after ,are some of the terms/ideas that people here are using for these charge by song recording rates,
    I would like to start offering this as an option to the my hourly rates. I don't want to lose them all!

    Thanks again
  9. OJG

    OJG Guest

    You can rest assure that someone who is offering such a deal has a capital leverage. They don't "put all the eggs in one basket". Part of their income has to come from other places and that gives them leverage.

    As for the contract you saw - the less is says, the more the owner can state orally. Let me assure you that the minute a artist with money walks in and says "I need to work. How much do you charge for an hour ?", the studio owner will show the "per song" band to the door, telling them to come back in a more convenient time (please don't call us, we'll call you).

    The only way I can see to survive in this business (unless everyone from Joe S. to the Queen of England knows you), is split your time, do live sound, do other things.

  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Whether or not the contract says it there will be a time limit. No one is going to allow a band to have unlimited amounts of studio time for a fixed charge. It is not in the studio owner's best interest. There are a couple of scenarios I can see. One is that this is limited to off times like at night and on weekends and that the recording is being done by an assistant engineer who wants to sharpen his chops or as someone else pointed out the studio is doing other things to make money and has a back studio that they want to keep busy so there are offering this service again with someone who only wants to sharpen his track record.

    I also can see a studio that is set up to loose money (yes there are such things) and this is how they have set things up to do so. I once was asked to design a studio for a group of doctors who wanted the best studio setup they could afford but wanted it as a tax write off so they did not want the studio to make money. The studio was beautiful, they had a full time engineer with instruction to not make money and the studio went belly up about 4 years after it opened. The IRS got wind of what they were doing and pulled the plug. It reopened as a money making operation and was doing well until the home studio revolution happened. As far as I know the studio was shut down and all the equipment sold off. Too bad.

    I cannot see someone in this day and age selling per song studio time with unlimited time potential and not have something fishly going on.

    Do you have a web address for this studio? I would like to see what they are offering.

  11. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    Hi guys, let me tell you how do I charge in my studio.

    I have 2 options.

    1. by hour, $35 per hour, this only includes recording. After recording is done, mixing has an additional price according to the difficulty of it, I dont charge mixing by hours, a price is discussed from the beginning for the mix. By the hour price must be payed at the end of each session. the mix has to be payed once finished.

    2. by the song. $400. My terms are: you give two complete days to these guys to record each song. Each day counts from 11:00am - 6pm. This means they have 14 hours to record each song. If you use the same time by the hour it would be $490 plus the mix. By the song price includes mix.

    its a good deal because you offer a good deal if you compare both paying options, most people would want to use option 2, and this will give you more money, in less time. If you pay by hour, recording sessions wouldnt be so long and you would get $30, $60, or $90 per session, maybe that would $180 per day as a maximum. the time you take to record by hours plus the mix will take longer than option 2, you record everything in 2 days, and spend some hours mixing.

    You must advice that everything must be rehearsed, because any additional time from these 2 days must be payed by the hour.

    Of course, the thing is you must be careful about is not to spend TOO MUCH time mixing (if option 2 is chosen), and of course again, this doesnt mean you must mix in a rush either, it must be reasonable.

    Ive been thinking about charging by sessions as well, but havent planned it well yet,

    what do you guys think?? you think its a good deal?

    It has worked for me.

    PD: You must make a document for the band/artist to sign before they start recording.....

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