I Have an Issue with Pricing, and a Few Questions About the Business.

Discussion in 'Music Business' started by jordan_nalley, Nov 8, 2010.

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  1. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    For this first part, I wasn't sure whether this should go in the Home Studio forum or this forum, but I figured this forum would have the kind of people who could give the best answers.

    I'm not sure what would be a fair price rate to charge.

    I record, mix, and master pretty decently, and I have an alright set up. It is in my basement, with possibly $15,000 worth of equipment. My house is nearly soundproof and my neighbors (who are all musical people) can't hear it. Also, in my basement, there's a room that's like a lounge room, with a 60" or 70" lcd led tv and sound system, outdated video games, board games, comfortable sofas, etc.

    It takes about two or three ten hour days to record a song with a band, or three songs with an acoustic artist. Mixing and mastering takes a few weeks.

    My stuff sounds like:
    http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652/NewMix.mp3 (This is is my best. It is a song I wrote)
    http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652/TWHF Vanity Vanity.mp3 (Metal)
    http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652/You.mp3 (Acoustic Pop)
    http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652/Who Am I Cover.mp3 (Contemporary)
    http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652/02 Recollections.mp3 (Metal)

    And I have an attractive myspace layout.

    The problem is: I'm only 16. (Turning 17 in January)
    I don't really look 16. I look older than I am, and I have mature urban style. I'm sure I could pass as 20, haha. Plus, I'm ahead in school and only have three classes (9 to 12) two days a week. That's six hours at school per week, and all in the morning.

    I'm just afraid I won't be taken as seriously because I'm young. For a while I've been pricing it at $100 per song, with no additional fee for mixing/mastering (I want everything with my name on it to sound good), but now that I have a good reputation, that's kind of a rip off price. I'm making like $3 to $5 per hour, and doing countless hours of extra work for free. Plus, I don't have work every day, it's more like once a month or less. That's absolutely terrible.

    I was thinking about doing $75 to $100 per ten hour day with no fee for mixing/mastering, so I'm at least making close to minimum wage, but I want to know what my work is really worth. What is a fair price for what I do? And what is a way of really proving that I'm worth that price?

    I was also thinking about maybe saying that I won't record just one song with a band, like they have to do at least two. Maybe that would kind of smooth out the whole "once a month or less" issue, but I'm not sure yet. Is that a good plan? Or do you think it'll just backfire on me and make me lose business?

    Now for business questions:
    Am I running a risk of legal issues? Especially if I get good? I don't have a business license, pay income tax, or live in a neighborhood where it's normal to run a business in my basement, and I'm only 16. I want to get somewhere with recording, but I don't really know very much about the legal aspects of the business.

    And how do you get connections with management and labels? Like, when would a label or manager send bands to specific studios for recording? How does that system work? I'm very confused about that.

    Also, I've been dying to know, is it legal to use logic's default drum samples in my work? What I do is over-process them like crazy and then layer synth drums on them to fill out the sound (I didn't use the synth layers on Recollections and I felt like the drums sounded too thinned out and mechanical). It really doesn't even sound remotely like the samples sounded like to begin with.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Good work!

    Don't worry about the samples in libraries. They are your's to do exactly what you want with them. If you pay for samples, you can use samples, plain and simple.
    Personally at your age, go with the flow, make sure you are insured and push the limit until you get asked to change, then beg for forgiveness.

    From the sounds of your first recording, I think you have a promising future. Always remember, its your clients who will be spreading the word about you. If you are gaining business, its because you are doing something right. Don't fix what's not broken, just keep ahead and prepared for the next step which it sounds like that's what you are doing right now.

    When you have a line up, your price will go up. Always tell people that you will have to increase your prices for advancement reasons. It could also be that you are busy because you are affordable and good. Slow and steady my friend.

    More good advice coming from others I'm sure.
  3. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    Thanks :)

    Yeah, I really like how the first one sounds. I've been practicing my technique lately, and I think my stuff has gotten a lot a better than most of the other recordings I listed. Like the other day, I recorded Miss Murder by AFI just for practice and I really like the sound I got out of it. http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/12/2825652//Miss Murder.mp3 (It sounds absolutely nothing like AFI's mix. It isn't supposed to.)

    And thanks for clearing that up about the drum samples.

    Good advice. I'll remember all of that.
    I don't exactly have much of a line up.. Or well, I guess I kind of do, actually. But it's really just friends who want to record small projects for cheap, and I obviously want to do the full-price paying clients first, among other reasons.

    I'm thinking about slowly raising the price as I record more bands. In December, once all the planning gets worked out, I should be recording two bands. One is doing a song for $75 per day, and I think we're looking at three days, so that's like $225. And the other is doing four songs and an "interlude" for $700 in probably around nine days, and they said they "might throw in a tip if it sounds extra magical," haha. So that's about $1000 in a month. That's at least more than the other kids are making at Zaxby's and such, so I think I'm in the right direction. Maybe I could try $100 per day for the next band that asks and just work my way up? Or should I just jump to $200 per day and cross my fingers?

    Do you know how much my income has to be before I have to report it? And is it based on profit or how much I'm being paid? Technically, I could say I'm still like $2,000 under profit right now because of the cost of my Marshall dsl100 and some mics stands and such.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    A fair price for your work is the compromise between what others are willing to pay, and you are willing to accept... this is what is called the free enterprise marketplace.

    There are several things to consider when you start making this into something other than a hobby...

    1) Are you a legit business entity with all the rights, privileges, and RESPONSIBILITIES to operate as a business entity?
    2) Are you making a profit?
    2a) Is your profit margin such that you are taking income out of your sales income?
    2b) Are you returning income/profits back into the business to create growth, and/or update and expand your infrastructure?
    3) Are you aware of the national/international IP/copyright laws?
    3a)Do you have business insurance to cover such liabilities?

    These are just the basics, AFTER you have a clear understanding of usual and customary business practices; bookkeeping, accounting, marketing, advertising, etc...
    (Yes, this is more than a pain in the butt... but, hey... this is what the real world of accepting money for performing a service is all about.)

    As far as connections... ask yourself this... How do you get a date? Or get up a game of basketball? How about getting a bunch of friend to go to a movie?
    You TALK to them and get to know them... and ask them questions!

    This business is all about the interaction between people... FACE to FACE... not twitter to twitter so much... but real human interaction.

    It sounds as though you've got a bit of a decent personality, or you wouldn't be getting more people coming to you... (keep that always in the forefront of your mind!) If they stop coming to you... it probably isn't over your price.
  5. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    Makes sense.

    1.) I would love to know more about that. Do you know of something I could read that would be really concise but tell me what I need to know? Or if you have time to briefly explain it, that would help too.
    2.) Sort of. Most of my equipment was stuff that my family had already bought, or things I had bought for playing in bands or playing music and studying theory. Out of the money I spent SPECIFICALLY on recording, yes, I am making a profit.
    2.a) I don't entirely know what that means, honestly.
    2.b) Yes, I'm always trying to upgrade, but I can imagine there is more I could be doing from a business standpoint.
    3.) Vaguely, but not in detail.
    3.a) Liabilities? Like an LLC? I've been looking into it for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it just yet. I'm not exactly sure what I specifically need for what I'm doing. What would you recommend I do about that?

    Sorry if I sound completely uneducated, but I'm not totally sure what bookkeeping or accounting is. I know what it's for, but I don't know what all it includes in detail.

    But girls and friends are easy to come across, haha. I just mean, I've grown up around the music scene and I use to go to shows like every week. I live in a pretty musical area. My friends (even some pretty close friends) run a bunch of venues around here and I know a ton of band people, but I never meet any managers or people working with labels. I've only met a band manager once, and it was just a few weeks ago at a little battle of the bands. He shook my hand and said hey because a band he was interested in had told him good things about me, but this guy looked really sketchy... Turns out he WAS really sketchy. I don't think they followed through with that deal... But now that I think about it, I can just ask bands about their managers. Maybe I'll try and meet with someone at Starbucks or something.

    And I meant that I literally don't know how the system works. Who chooses the studio? That's like the A&R, right? One time, I talked with a guy from a band and he said they couldn't record with me because they had a contract. What does a record label do about recording? Like I'm not even sure how to ask the question I'm thinking because I don't know enough about what I'm asking.. I feel like there's a big hole in my knowledge.

    It's important to me to have the best personality I can have. I'm sort of idealistic about that. I'm always reading articles on psychology, and I spend HOURS every day just pacing and doing nothing but thinking. I've never had any enemies or anything. Everyone's always loved me. I would describe myself as being easy to get along with despite the fact that I'm really opinionated and probably won't agree with you on some things.

    By the way, I clicked the link to your website. That's a really attractive studio, bro. It's pretty classy.
    But your html coding for your website is a little messed up. I'm using firefox on a macbook pro. When I click "Equipment," the left side of the background cuts out, and so does the bottom part with the copyright stuff and the phone number. And on most of the tabs, the left and right sides of the background don't line up and there is a blackish horizontal line across the page toward lower area where it looks like div's may not be lined up. Just thought you'd like to know, in case you want to fix that.
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    I've been hackin' HTML since your mom was probably a gleam in your grandad's eye, son... and yes I know there's all kinds of nasty code in there. You really think I'm happy with that, or didn't already know it? (Trashy code interpretation of HTML3 on a Frontpage server suks.) Glad to know that you spent two minutes looking at a site, and not looking into finding out a little bit of info about who I really am, and what I do... gives me good insight into you.

    I'm actually piecing a drupal CMS together with 4 other apps, including 3 different databases that will link calendars, IP content, eCommerce and several other things that I am NOT at liberty to convey the details of.

    It takes a little bit of time to do that. Especially when you're going broke building a studio, pulling down a part time gig, putting a roof over you and your wife's head, doing the paperwork to keep the state and the IRS happy, spending time with my grandson, burying my mother, dealing with my only brother's 27 day stay in the ICU, pushin' faders, tracking, mixing, marketing & advertising the studio, looking for angel funding, giving back to my community through charitable organizations, taking in interns, and occasionally trying to find time for a coupla' hours of sleep... oh... plus dealing with the aftermath of being struck by lightning.... and you're busting my nads over a stoopid frame on one page of my site?

    Might wanna think about that for just a minute.

    OK, Ain't no one gonna hand you anything in this life. You gotta dig for it yourself.

    You do sound uneducated in the realm of business... because you ARE uneducated in the way business operates. To educate yourself, I would suggest the best course of inquiry about local business education resources would be with your high school counselor, or librarian. (It's a damn shame what we get from our education system dollars. This should be part of EVERY HS program before you can graduate.)

    There have been MANY young folks who have dug in and made exceptional businesses... but the first thing you have to do is learn that your business is YOUR business. Your local laws apply to you, and not to me. Start with your school and go from there. Google or any of the other search engine's are probably another thing I might try.

    The person who picks the studio is the guy with the money, or at least the authority to spend the money.

    The main reason you have a whole in your knowledge is because you don't have the knowledge. If you want to have the knowledge, you at least have to experience some of it by living it. At 16, you have no idea how much you don't know yet. You will in a few years.
  7. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    Ironically, my mother actually worked in computers like 30 years ago or something. Back when you had to walk inside of them to fix things.

    But I honestly just wanted to let you know the site didn't look right on Firefox on a Macbook Pro, just in case you didn't already know. Whenever I code things, I always run it by a few people on different browsers and computers. If I had a website and it didn't look right on someone's computer, I would want them to tell me exactly what didn't look right and what browser and computer they're using, because I might have no other way of knowing. But I just didn't know if it was that big of a deal to you that you would care to go fix it. It's not that earth-shattering. I was really just expecting more of a "Oh, dang. Thanks for letting me know. I'll try and fix it when I have time." or something.

    And I actually clicked your page because you sounded like you knew what you were doing and I was hoping to hear some good music, but you didn't have any media on the site. I looked up a few of your clients, but the ones I tried had pretty long discographies so it was hard for me to tell what was yours. And I did read the "About" section. You're the owner, right? Max Dearing? It sounded like you put a lot of work into it, so I wanted compliment you on it and tell you it looks classy, so you could feel admired for your hard work.

    Don't assume I'm shallow just because I'm young. It's offensive. You're not the only person with a real life.

    My school doesn't have either of those, and I couldn't find what I was looking for on Google.


    Huh? Not that kind of knowledge. We aren't talking about adolescent life experience, and I take offense to you belittling me like that. I just don't completely understand the relationship between a recording studio (that's mainly run by one producer) and a record label.
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    First things first young man, I have not belittled you... not even in the least little bit. You have so few years under your belt that you quite literally have no idea how little you do actually know. Being old enough to be your grandfather, I am amazed at how little that EVERY human being actually knows, even though we ALL think we know more than we actually do. You're shy on years enough to have failed to read the last sentence, which was more encouragement that I would have expected you to comprehend... "You will in a few years."

    If I had meant that as insulting, I would have said something along the lines of indicating that it was a hopeless situation you were incapable of rectifying... or elaborated on, in a fairly detailed tirade of insults, that you most assuredly would have no problem mistaking for an insult.

    If I was curt, or slightly terse in my response to your pointing out an annoying aspect of the reason I completely disrespect the code hacks from Redmond... get over it. You'll need a much tougher skin than that to survive in this business. There is little in the way of ANY website that does NOT have failings with display presentation. Primarily because the morons at the helm of HTML development at Micrsloth have utter disregard and acceptance of the international standards as set forth by the rest of the computing industry, and set out to create their own broken set of standards that only comply with roughly 80% of the HTML standards adopted since the beginning of hammering out HTML 1.0. It is a common failing that falls squarely on Microsloth's shoulders.

    I find it appalling and unbelievable that your school doesn't have a library, head librarian or guidance counselor. If this is the case, your parents/legal guardians have a case to take before your local and/or state legislature to receive back funding for failure to be in compliance with the US Department of Education. Even if it is true, surely there is some sort of public library you can access for reference materials. I really find it hard to believe that Marietta Georgia is so remotely detached from the rest of the civilized world that you don't have public libraries. Even the BLM provides federally mandated "Library on Wheels" for all of the Indian Reservations located in the continental United States... But even if you don't have that access, you are operating a computer to post here on this site. e.g. Google even returned 5,300,000 hits on business basics, including the top federal agencies that make publications available to the public in how to run a business, including all the IRS publications.

    Just to save you some time, here are your Cobb County Public Library locations:
    Central Library
    266 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA 30060
    (770) 528-2320
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat, 1-5 Sun

    Acworth Library
    4569 Dallas Street, Acworth 30101
    (770) 917-5165
    10-7 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri

    East Cobb Library
    Suite 510
    4880 Lower Roswell Rd, Marietta 30068
    (770) 509-2730
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    East Marietta Library
    2051 Lower Roswell Rd., Marietta 30068
    (770) 509-2711
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Gritters Library

    880 Shaw Park Road, Marietta 30066
    (770) 528-2524
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Hattie G. Wilson Library
    350 Lemon Street, Marietta 30060
    (770) 528-2526
    10-6 Mon-Fri

    Kemp Memorial Library
    4029 Due West Rd., NW, Marietta 30064
    (770) 528-2527
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Kennesaw Library
    2250 Lewis Street, Kennesaw 30144
    (770) 528-2529
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Lewis A. Ray Library
    4500 Oakdale Road, Smyrna 30080
    (770) 801-5335
    10-7 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri

    Mountain View Regional Library
    3320 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta 30066
    (770) 509-2725
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Powder Springs Library
    4181 Atlanta Street, Bldg. 1,
    Powder Springs 30127
    (770) 439-3600
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Sibley Library
    1539 S. Cobb Drive, Marietta 30060
    (770) 528-2520
    10-7 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri

    South Cobb Regional Library
    805 Clay Road, Mableton 30126
    (678) 398-5828
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Stratton Library
    1100 Powder Springs Rd., Marietta30064
    (770) 528-2522
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Sweetwater Valley Library
    In the Threadmill Mall Complex
    5000 Austell-Powder Springs Rd.
    Suite 123, Austell 30106
    (770) 819-3290
    10-7 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri

    Vinings Library
    4290 Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta 30339
    (770) 801-5330
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    West Cobb Regional Library
    1750 Dennis Kemp Ln., Kennesaw 30152
    (770) 528-4699
    10-8 Mon-Thur, 10-6 Fri-Sat

    Surely, you are within some reasonable driving distance of one of these facilities.

    Additionally, here's the url of the Cobb County Library system: Home | Cobb County Public Library System and a link to the e-library: E-Library | Cobb County Public Library System where you will find a subheading in the left frame (which also fails to display correctly, btw) with links to the ABI resources and Reference USA. Both of which I think you will find have more than enough information to make yourself acquainted with Georgia based small business related topics.
  9. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    Okay, I'm sorry. I understand now. Thanks for clearing that up.

    But I genuinely have no idea what you just said about html. I really only meant the html thing as a passing comment.

    Haha, Yeah.. My low-budget school really doesn't have a library. The other day, a teacher asked in class, "This school has a library, right?" and everyone started cracking up. It's a private school, and I honestly love my school, but it just doesn't have a library. But I do live about a mile from Mountain View Regional Library. I'm just not sure where I would start looking. I figured asking about music business in a music business forum could give me a little head start, right?

    Jeez, what did you search for? Maybe I'm just bad at using Google.
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    HTML is something that is a fairly sore spot for some of us old geezers... I was on the standards committee who certified and endorsed the HTML 1.0 standard. (Then too, so were approximately 3500 other individual folks) I would have stayed on the committee, as well as my fellow code warriors, had Microsloth not stepped up their game of intimidation and shut down individuals from being domain registrars.

    Let me put it this way. In it's infancy, the web allowed HTML core code to be freely exchanged for all platforms. One of the things that became painfully obvious was that there were display issues all across the entire x86 platform. Several hundred folks were trying to establish what the core issue was, and pretty much found that it was the way that MS dealt with the inadequacies of their OS bringing the video information across the whole data bus. (A problem that has only been marginalized with the advent of the AGP bus.)... and still exists to this day. It doesn't rear it's ugly lil' head so much on individual workstations now, but it still is present on EVERY MS server... and predominantly Frontpage enabled servers. The main culprits that were identified were that the core MS code did not comply with frames, offset, and pixel values within jpeg images. To get things into perspective, at that point in time, MS had very few servers delivering web content. The vast majority of servers were SunOS, HPUX, BSD, and a few Mac OS 5 ports to bigger UNIX hardware boxes.

    Since the HTML board was mainly comprised of individuals who were handing MS their ass on a plate for their inadequacies, MS made a case to DOD to cut off our inclusion in the standards definition process. Presumably to attempt to adopt a looser standard that MS could actually comply with... and from the documents I had seen, there was a bit more than conjecture to this statement. Which is exactly what the charter we operated under from ICANN was supposed to prevent. The case was made that "individuals" should not be allowed to register any domains directly through ICANN, and placed everyone that was a registered domain registrar in the US, as a client of Network Solutions, and took away our rights to move any domains we registered for a period of 36 months... including our own personal domains. This effectively crippled our fledgling businesses, and since we were no longer domain registrars, we were no longer on the standards committee.

    When the Redmond Retards finally thought they were going to get their way, the academic community still held that MS was not complying with the majority of the standards that they fought to loosen. (Thankfully, the academic inclusion could NOT be clipped from the ICANN charter.) So, they finally decided to just ignore the standards and created Frontpage standards... which are still out there serving up junk code as web content.

    Just realize that there is a LOT more to HTML than a passing comment... it's HUGE business, with LOTS of money behind it. With that money comes power... and all too often, it's corrupt in its intoxication... He who has the money will seek to control the destiny of others to their advantage.

    Since you attend a private school, they may not need to comply with DOE standards. (I have no idea about your state's chartering of private schools.) So, it's off to the library with you! When you get to the library, seek out the reference stacks and/or the head librarian. Ask them to point you to materials that pertain to starting and running a small business in Georgia. That's going to be pretty straight forward, but there will be a lot of material to cover.

    Once you get past being overwhelmed with that task, I'd go back another time and start looking into Intellectual Property Rights as it pertains to entertainment and copyright law. The reference materials they have will likely be somewhat dated, but they should at least get you up to speed on the basics.

    What you are attempting to chew off is like eating an elephant... take it one bite at a time.

    Your real problem isn't coming to a forum such as RO and asking questions about the music biz. It's asking too broad of a question. Also realize that quite often, the answers you get on forums are worth exactly what you pay for them... but the more specific a question you can formulate, the more likely you are to get answers with substance and/or relevance.

    As I said, and I'm sure others will follow up with... I cannot tell you about how to run your business in GA. I'm only familiar with my state... and not adequately enough at that, I might add. Which is why I was forced to hire an attorney and an accountant.

    As far as search engines... I went to google.com and typed in; business basics
  11. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    Can we make this a super-sticky for all forums?
    I'm guilty of being too unspecific myself, at times...
  12. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    My original questions really weren't that unspecific.
    - I asked about drum samples. Pretty straightforward question with a straightforward answer.
    - I explained my concern about pricing, basically asking how people felt about the relation between age and price. Maybe more of an opinion thing, but I felt like that got answered pretty well.
    - I gave details as to why I thought I was running a risk of legal problems. I was unaware that different states had different laws on that, and this wasn't just a standard step of the process. So in the end, that got cleared up and I know where to look.

    My question about the record label and management thing was a little broad. Maybe a stupid question. I'll accept that. But it was really such an irrelevant part of the topic as a whole. I just didn't realize it would be that complicated, to be honest.

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