interesting little studio client problem.... (long post

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jshryock, Jan 18, 2004.

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  1. jshryock

    jshryock Guest

    so dig this. i've got my small studio in my house. i'm starting to record people and having a great time. my first band that i record is this high school rock band.

    the other day, we were wrapping up the final mixes, and i invited all of the band members to come in. this one member of the band comes in drunk as high hell, but i don't quite realize how drunk he actually is. so he sits down on my couch in the studio and falls asleep. i smelt a little alcohol on him but didn't think it would get as bad as it got.

    long story short, i turn around and see him grasping at his mouth to prevent vomit from spewing everywhere. he managed to make it pretty far, but left a little trail behind him.

    MAN did that suck. we stopped all mixing and i was absolutely furious. he didn't get any vomit on any expensive gear, but he did get it on the carpet and in the hall, and in the bathroom. we used probably $20 of cleaning supplies (oxi-clean, clorox wipes, soapy water, etc), but lost roughly two hours of time. plus, i had to have additional help come in and clean with me.

    as of that point, i had stopped billing the band (i set the bill at 200 and left it there; we would finish the project with no additional charges).

    i had the kid taken home (and yes, he was underage), and we ended up finishing the session. i got a call from one of the band members' parents telling me that i should bill the band as much as it cost me to deal with this, because they need to learn financial responsibility.

    i am ready to send them a bill for at least the supplies cost. but - how much should i go beyond that? 0? 50? Additional hours at my hourly rate? i don't know how much to charge them.

    Also, since they are my first band, i want to keep a good rapport with them. one of the members is a neighbour, and another one of them wants to "get big" in our area (and nationally, but whatever). So, i don't want to ruin the good relationship i have with them. i want more business from them.

    what would you guys do, if you were in my situation? Keep in mind that i am just starting out, these are only high school kids, but word of mouth is killer, and one of them wants to really get into local music in this area. i'm not so much concerned about the money, because i think in the long run they could get me more money than the cost of the cleaning supplies. there are a lot of factors - what would you advise me to do???
  2. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Hi John, that's too bad, I must admit I myself have been guilty of such things as a teen. I say let the parents deal with it. You are a good person to want to forget about it, and absorb the inconvenience.

    This will not be the last time, or perhaps, even the worse. As you expand, you will find many who are very serious about the sessions, some who come to party, some who come and leave you with bum checks.

    For the most part you will have good clients. But, unfortunately some things happen that are beyond your control. I have seen fights between band members, people with chips on their shoulders, missing items from the studio, and many other rare but memorable situations.

    It is important to establish a connection with the most responsible of the individual groups. If things get out of hand, he can shut it down, and perhaps reschedule.

    :( Tough break for your first sessions, but you will have many more, and good ones ;) .

    Best of luck,
  3. johnnyrock

    johnnyrock Guest

    Beyond any actual damage I'd keep the original agreement I made.If I'd agreed that the final price was 200 dollars regardless of time then that's what I'd charge them for recording time,I would charge them extra for cleaning expenses or any other damage.I would not let the kids parents influence my judgement.

    Lots of studios have no drinking and no smoking allowed in the control room,I expect they also have their equipment insured.Next time an underage kid shows up plastered at your home it might not be a bad idea to tell him to come back when he's sober.
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    I think you should bill them an additional "cleanup charge" and not put it as part of the recording bill. It was not your fault that they came "preloaded" and it should be their money that covers the cleanup charges not yours. I would charge them for any cleanup products used as well as a modest amount to cover your cost, say something like the two hours at your normal studio time charges for lost work. This is a band that is not taking their "appointment" seriously if they are coming in drunk. I would not be upset at losing them as future clients.

    I too have had clients come in to a session stoned or drunk or a combination of both and it is not a pleasant experience to say the least.

    I had one client here with a friend that got sick and went into seizure and we had to call 911. When the paramedics showed up they wanted to remove the doors from my studio so they could get their gurney in to the room and then they wanted to start removing parts of walls with a fire axe when they found that they still could not get the gurney into the studio. Needless to say I was somewhat upset but convinced them that we would help the victim from the studio to the door and they could take it from there. In the meantime the victim woke up,got up, refused medical treatment and walked out to his car without aid.

    It is not fun sometimes dealing with the public.
  5. jshryock

    jshryock Guest

    Thanks for the advice. I am definitely going to have a no smoking/drinking/drugging policy for the studio. This experience was a real eye opener. From what I've been hearing here and elsewhere, this isn't an entirely uncommon problem.

    I am going to be extremely cautious and skeptical of whoever walks through the door now. I am kicking myself for not taking action sooner, when I suspected something was up.

    The band is most assuredly breaking up soon. I'm not going to go nuts on them and be really mean, but I will give them a bill for the cleaning supplies and about one hour of missed time. I'm not going to do two hours because it wasn't a full two hours, and i'm going to cut them a small break.

    thanks again for responding, everyone :tu:
  6. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    and look into some kind of liability insurance for your studio if you don't have it- a drunk underage kid getting hurt at your studio could have been a real nightmare!
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    It maybe a good idea to include the no drinking etc. policy into your pre session talks so that someone does not show up already drunk or stoned. It is probably a good idea to put up a sign saying something like "This is a smoke free drug free area and your cooperation in this matter is appreciated" so there are no questions later on.

    I think you may have a bigger liability problem than someone getting hurt at your studio while they are intoxicated and that is the police may view you as an accomplice even though you had nothing to do with the person's intoxication since they could say you were providing the place and the circumstances for the intoxication of an underage minor and that could land you in really big trouble with the law.

    We had a band made up of mostly teenyboppers come in to do a mastering session. Something in the bands demeanor did not seem quite right and it seemed to me as though this was an opportunity for some mischief on the part of the band so I asked them to have one of their parents accompany them which they agreed to do after some hesitation. The session went well and the parent was very nice. I got paid and the band was happy with the session and what we could do for them. If I had not had the parent along I think this would have turned into a lets get stoned and trash the place party but it did not.

    If you are working with underage students a parent coming along would not be such a bad idea and may also guarantee that you will get paid. Underage students are not liable for debts and you would have a hard time, in court, obtaining money owed from them if they decided to stiff you.

    Just some ideas.....
  8. Paladyne

    Paladyne Guest


    I have a list of rules on my wall, if one gets broken, the session stops and I correct it, like "The Terminator" if need be. One of the first sessions I ever assisted on had two guys getting wasted off crack for a few days then their last day they came all smacked out on heroin. Because i was the lowly assistant, my word and opinions meant nothing. I swore I would never put up with that kind of wannabe rockstar bs again when I had my own studio. I can't belive those losers were signed to a label paying crazy bills for them, makes me sick... and I am by FAR very open minded about what people do in thier own free time, but not when we are supposed to be rolling tape, and definatly not on my property!!!!
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Recently I did a hip hop mastering project for two really good musicians and everything was going well UNTIL late into the session one of the musicians went out to his car to look for a lost CD and did two lines of coke while he was out there (he told us that he had done the coke "thing" upon his return). When he came back into the session it was like his mind was somewhere else and a stranger had taken possession of his body.

    Up until the trip to the car he had been very helpful suggesting what he wanted from the mastering but now he seemed almost dazed then he became belligerent and started talking with slurred speech. It went downhill from there.

    He was non attentive and started making comments about the mastering and the music that were inappropriate or misinformed. He kept falling off and not finishing his sentences. He was in BAD shape and getting worse all the time.

    The whole session that had been going so well now suddenly went into SLOW gear.

    The other musician, who was with me all the time, was sitting there trying to get the session back on track but it finally ground to a halt. At that point I really did not know what to do. Should I try and keep going or should I cancel the session and reschedule it at a latter date.

    We finally got though the rest of the session with some minor problems that were exacerbated by the one musician being drugged but it came out fairly well. I just wonder how much better it could have been if one half of the musician's "team" had not gotten "stoned"

  10. -Ever-

    -Ever- Active Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    My first post ;) Might as well make it an ethical one.

    I'd say that you are on the right track. I would thank the parent first for being generous and reasonable. I'd then contact the 'head' of the band and explain your situation. In the end you can both learn something from it. Let him know that you need to look at your time as valuable, and that you really shouldn't be required to deal with situations like that. I'd settle on them paying for cleaning costs, plus 1/4 or 1/2 of the hourly cost and let him know you're cutting him a deal ;)
    Keep it real. I'm glad to say you didn't immediately start asking for $$!
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Here in NY and NJ, there is a law now that goes something like, If people do drugs and drink under age in your establishment, your closed down and you go to jail. There not joking around. I would keep it friendly and just say, "look guys, I wanna record and do great work. I'm not making a lot of money and this really sucks that i had to spend my own money on this. could you guys chip in and help me cover the cost of cleaning up?". and on future sessions explain that it doesn't help them or you make a good record if they come in waisted. Plus I would look into your city and states laws about your criminal liability if they do.
  12. rob_nos

    rob_nos Guest

    Hey, sucks about the underage situation, $*^t happens. it IS important to manage a good standing relationship with clients however. Being cool about somethings is important (I find) especially depending on the size of the project.

    Understandable in a project studio these things dont go over well. One of my clients chipped a wall in my house (my parents house as well) with an Amp. I didnt charge them, but told them if it happened again I would. It ended up me apologizing to my mom and spacling the wall that weekend.

    Sometimes you have to take the brunt of things, but whippin those youngin's into shape early also helps.
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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