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how much/how should i charge?

allright i got my 1st real musician who is gonna record with me. and he wants a simple complete demo at the end. he does all acoustic music, but wants to through in a lot of other instuments to. so this will take time. last night we layed down 6 acoustic vocal/guitar songs. which was great, and it sounds awesome. just for somewhere to work off of.
but how much do i charge? this is technically out of my bedroom. and i dont think ill charge by the hour..
do i just get his demo out there then take a % off what he makes off that? if so, how much of a %?
this is my 1st time makin money off my recording, so i wanna be generous, but not get ripped off. this will take a lot of work and the product will sound great.
thanks alot


UncleBob58 Tue, 09/30/2003 - 06:48
When I started out I usually charged a block rate that was comensurate with the quality I was able to return. I started out at $100.00 for 12 hours. My equipment wasn't great and I was still learning but had to charge something. I didn't charge for the extra 15 minutes here and there. You, of course, do not charge for "technical difficulties" which can be anything from a bad wire to having no idea what the hell you are doing. But like the commercial says, "never let them see you sweat." I did a lot of pre-session prep in the hopes that everything ran smoothly.

As I learned my craft and my product was as good as my mediocre equipment allowed I started upgrading my equipment and my prices. My original and repeat customers always got a price break for being faithful. I still work with some of those folks and they recommend me to others.

I know you are focused on this one project, but keep the big picture in mind. Make sure that you at the least get your media costs up front, the cost of back-up CDR's, DAT tapes, etc. The most important thing is to not release any of the session product until you get paid.

I'm sure that there will be a number of other responses. Most of all, remember that you are trying to establish a business and that you must wear those hats (studio manager, accountant, sales & marketing) as well as your technical and creative ones.

Good Luck!

Uncle Bob


mjones4th Tue, 09/30/2003 - 06:49
Try charging on a per-song basis. I charge $80/song and I haven't gotten any complaints. The local studios that I compete with, while offering better facilities than my basement, offer a lower quality of music (art-wise, not fidelity-wise, because I'm also the in-house producer) so I charge in the same ballpark and I get all their dissatisfied customers.

Or you could offer a package deal. My clients like the 5 songs for $300 package I offer.

But... Make sure you get your money up front. Or alternately, you can hold the music until paid in full. Because if the artist leaves your house with a CD, there is no incentive to pay. Even if it hasn't been properly mixed yet.

Scope out the facilities in your region that offer competing services, and adjust your prices in light of the fact that you don't have their facilities.


Kurt Foster Tue, 09/30/2003 - 11:27
It is difficult to say as I don't know what kind of gear you have or what kind of room / enviorment you are working in and last what your level of talent is.

All that being said, I personally would look at anything less than $15 per hour as "scabbing". After all, part of the issue regarding the demise of mid level demo studios, is the home recordist and their abilty to compete, with their ability to operate without significant overhead, thus being able to undercut "real" studios. $15 per hour is a good starting point, a fair wage. I myself, wouldn't want to work at any job for less that that. And if you charge enough, then pehaps you can start paying for some of those plug ins. :D

[ October 02, 2003, 01:30 PM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]

Davedog Tue, 09/30/2003 - 15:40
Oh I get to bitch a little. I'm not currently open for business though I do have a tax number and a business license. What I have been wanting to do is start recording a few songwriters or Original music groups for a little extra cash and if I find any talent or good songs, I would do what I can through networking to help them achieve a product.

Heres the BITCH.....My step-son is a vey decent drummer and has finally landed a semi-talented band to play in.They've rehearsed a bit in the studio and I've talked to them about recording.They had a couple of other projects that didnt quite finish due to either lack of funds or lack of interest by the studio they went to.Seems like a perfect scenario.I charge them by the song.$100.Not a lot when you consider the time it'll take to do a 5 piece band and vocals and overdubs.And ballpark price of $25 a song to mix it final.Should be easy seeing how I'm gonna engineer.

The Bitch is.....they decided to go back to one of the original studios, even though they got shafted a bit,dint get a very good mix,are paying $350 for 12 hours only, and the reason...."Oh its digital, and they can fix things real quick....." and this is after we had some nice talks about everyone really having their parts down tight and getting a performance that jumps off the tape.....

So the kids are thinking its got to be 'digital' so they can fix wonder all the music coming out sounds so overproduced under talented.................i'm ok now.

realdynamix Tue, 09/30/2003 - 16:40
:) Ves, I would say at this point, since it wasn't determined at the start what was going to be charged, to ask your client, "Pay me what you think is fair." Next time, you will be able to quote a price for your services on the outset.

For what you describe, I think Kurt's 25 per is a good figure. The block time approach is good too, if there is a bunch of tunes. Get a deposit also, just for booking the time. That shows commitment.
Hope this helps,

AudioGaff Tue, 09/30/2003 - 17:39
One thing I would offer you to consider is that whatever you charge, if it is in the same ballpark as another studio in your area and you either screw it up or don't meet expectations, you likely to black ball yourself out of future business by the current client and everyone he/she knows. And that will have a very long lasting effect that can be hard, if ever, to recover from.

pmolsonmus Wed, 10/01/2003 - 06:03
Some very good suggestions noted above. One thing to consider - if a client likes you and your product he MAY tell some of his friends (more than likely, they'll be talking about his music not the recording of it!) if he doesn't like you he will BITCH to everybody. Keep it in mind as your price and as you work.

Peace :p:

Member Thu, 10/02/2003 - 11:08
I generally charge in blocks. The only thing I charge by the hour for are little demo and one-off projects. Being home-based, these are my rates. Every project I've done is different, and so my pay scale is always being adjusted, but at least I have some ballparks to give people.

$15/hour base
1 song $200 (record & mix)
1 week $500 (for albums only)

POSTPRODUCTION (I just mix independant short films)
$50/minute of film (10 minute film = $500)

sdevino Thu, 10/02/2003 - 12:16
Just remember that the rates posted above are what people charge who do not depend on this kind of work to make a living.

I am running a small commercial facility, and started somewhere around $650/album. several years later I have to divide the work into different scopes that match the various budgets. If someone wants a simple recording to sell at gigs we will do lockins and get a dozen or so songs done in 3 or 4 days at about $500/day.

If someone wants full out editing, production and mix that is radio ready its going to take 150 to 200 hours for a full 10 to 12 song CD. You can't work this many hours in a short period and cover even modest overhead for much less than $40 to $60/hr. So $500 to $1000 per song is a pretty good deal (if you provide a quality product and put in the time it takes).

People will pay willingly for great results, and will notice whther or not you reinvest in the recording process. If your studio is a mess of cables and food containers where you spend half the time fixing stuff you will not get much repeat business at any price. If on the other hand your studio is well organized, well maintained and functions well as a working recording facility (and you are easy to work with and provide quality results) clients will gladly pay more.

Good Luck