looking for any tips about Recording Fees or percentages



though I have years of experience recording stuff, I never really had an opportunity like I am facing right now.

A Nashville Musician who has previously released CDs and has been on TV, Media, and the charts liked a demo of my recent project I did at home. He called me and wants me to record his next ablum at his home, and I could use my gear to do it.

I don't have much really. I record on Cubase and Nuendo, and have a nice little setup. But I guess I must have done something right for him to like my work. He wants to know if I charge a set fee for that or if I go on percentage based on sales. He has started his own label and this will be his first project with it.

My question is that since I've never come accross an opportunity like this. What would be the best and wise approach? Should I charge a set fee? How much? or a percentage, and how much on that is the standart?

This keeping in mind that a CD he released on 2001 has just surpassed Gold.

thanks for any help and tips

Jose Luis Arbelaez
Nashville, TN


Well-Known Member
Apr 9, 2003
Fairfield County, CT
I would say charge a minimal fee for, let's call it gear maintainance, storage (backup CDs, DVD's, etc.), coffee, gas, etc. and get some points and credits. Remember that most artists, even if they sell lots of records, still don't make much on them, so don't expect to make that much from the sales.

You should probably speak to a good entertainment lawyer. And sign a contract when the time comes. I never trust anyone who won't sign one. To avoid the "you don't trust me?" hard feelings I just say thay it's to protect us from the outsiders when things start breaking well.

I spent some money for consultations many years ago just to get an understanding of the legal side of the business and it was money well spent. I learned a lot. She even took me out to lunch and continued the conversation free of charge. She said going back to basics like that helped her regain her focus. By the way, she is still my attorney.

Good Luck!


Thomas W. Bethel

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2001
Oberlin, OH
Get the money up front. Don't get into a situation where the artist is going to pay you when he starts making money as it may not happen or it may take a very long time to happen.

If this is your first gig doing this type of thing and you feel comfortable about not charging him for a normal days work then charge your client a minimal amount but tell him you are doing this because you want the credit(s) on the album and you would normally charge him $XXX.00 per day/hour but you are doing this for him as a favor.

When an artist wants to wait to pay you it is called "working on spec" and means that you are in effect his silent partner who will be sharing in the "riches" or will get paid nothing. It is tough to run a business on a "wing and a prayer" and wait for someone to sell enough CDs to pay you. If you want to be in this situation (and I don't recommend it) then have a lawyer draw up a contract that is signed by both parties and spells out to the penny how much you will be paid and how soon it will happen to the best of the client's knowledge and what will happen if he does not make what he thinks it will. Does he pay it from his own pocket after a certain time period has elapsed or are you willing to wait until he makes some money even though it could take 4 or 5 years?

You cannot pay the grocery store and your electric bill with a promise. They want real cash and you should get real cash as well.

My father always told me that if you don't charge for your time then other people think you are not worth anything and will tend to take advantage of you. His words have rung true for me on many occasions.

Hope this helps.