The going rate...

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by backinthelab, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    I was wondering, as an engineer of about 5 years with a pretty nice home studio (live room, iso booth, and control room built to pro standards and a good amount of high-end gear), what is a good hourly rate for tracking. I'm obviously not running a gi-normous, fully-equipped, pro studio, but I do think I do good work.

    The reason I ask is because I see many studios around here (Detroit) that chagre anywhere from $25-90/hr, some with 10-hour block deals, some with full album deals. As a home studio owner trying to make this less of a hobby and more of a profitable business, what do you think I should charge?
  2. Kswiss

    Kswiss Guest

    Hey, i'm in a similar position as you are. No one in my area is particularly good at rock recordings in the budget studios, so I am able to charge $25 an hour. This is pretty discounted though because i charge 25 for tracking but i include mixing in that price. I do 10 hour blocks for 250 and for longer projects i'll discount.

  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    My opinion is that your rate will be guided by 2 forces.

    1. What the market is currently bearing.
    2. What your talent can demand.

    One caution: do NOT under -price yourself in order to get quantity of business. This will hurt the percieved value of your talent/studio and will make it much harder to get your prices up where they belong.

    It's usually better to aim for the better-paying bands because they will be more apt to appreciate your talent and they will know that they should pay for it accordingly.

    This, of course, is assuming that you are in fact a very good engineer and more importantly, an honest businessman.

    Good Luck,

  4. DaveRunyan

    DaveRunyan Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    I am in Michigan also. Up here studios charge about the same rate as downstate. I get 40 bucks an hour pretty easily. I will charge more as I upgrade my gear and get a reputation. I have owned my own businesses most of my life and Little Dog said it all. Test the market, be damn good at your job and don't rip anyone off. AND under pricing your product is a fatal mistake a lot of start up business people make trying to get started. I checked the competition and went for the middle ground and I also have a very low overhead.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    OT - That's a damn fine Ruby, you've got there, Dave. :cool:

    Finding a rate is a dangerous dance... Definitely don't under-sell yourself, but you CAN have "limited time specials" that might bring in a client or two looking for a deal...
  6. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    I agree- you shuld not go under $40/hr but you can have specials from time to time or special rates for an album, for a 8 hr block, etc-
  7. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    I think it boils down to Talent and Market. In Austin theres a numb nut on every corner with a "studio" and guys are charging as little as 10 bucks an hour. You wouldn't belive how many good studios have gone out of business only to make way for $10 an hour "studios" to take their place. I'm not shure how it is elsewere but in Austin there is a very DIY attitude and recordings are done in bedrooms and living rooms. This of course translates to lots of crappy sounding CD's, that do nothing to help bands "take off". I've always belived that if bands would spend their time and money being better musicians then we would have a lot more great bands with great "pro" cd's instead of the dead, lifeless scene that's going on now. Bottom line, don't give in to low pricing. Good musicians will go out, have horrible experiances at low budget studios then come to you after they realize that these other guys arnt worth messing with and have truly learned the meaning of YOU GET WHAT YA PAY FOR.

    J-Ball out
  8. heyman

    heyman Guest

    "You wouldn't belive how many good studios have gone out of business only to make way for $10 an hour "studios" to take their place."

    "Bottom line, don't give in to low pricing"

    Sry bro but I dont entirely agree... A good song is still going to be a good song whether it is recorded on a 4 track or in a pro studio. You cant polish a turd. If you showed up at WB records with a set of killer songs done on a cassette.. It does not matter!!

    Also, have you ever seen a wealthy musician who is just starting out? How about After they are put through the ringer of paying to play, shady bar owners, scumbag lawyers. Shall I keep going?

    Yes, there maybe some studios out there charging 10/hour that are crap, but there are also studios out there charging 50 hour that arent much better... Oh yeah, but they have a playstation in the backroom .... Lets book some time there !!

    I say if they are willing to charge 10 bucks/hr, the jokes on them.
    Not you.
    Could it also be that alot of bands are sick of getting bent over by record companies who put them into big studios and 3 months later they walk out with an album that cost them over 100,000 to make -most never seeing a return on their money. Guess who got paid... The record company and the studio... Certainly not the band.
  9. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    I've been charging clients by the song instead of by the hour. This has worked out very good for me latley, and I'm getting lot's of business at $75 per song.

    I think charging by the song is more "artist friendly" than charging by the hour. It takes pressure off the artist since they don't have to worry about running up time in an expensive studio.

    I always get repeat customers btw.
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Do not ignore this advice!!!!!!!!!!

    This is probably the most important thing mentioned so far in this thread.

    While you may be bummed that you're not getting the volume of work you'd like... remember, you can't record everything and the image and integrity of your studio is far more important in the long run than a few missed opportunities.

    Another thing to remember is that the price shopping clients will not be the loyal clients... they will follow the lowest price from studio to studio. If you do great work, charge a reasonable fee for your services, and are able to assist the client to achieve their goals they will come back to your facility again and again and again... if you get known as the "guy with the cheapest price" you'll find that you're going to have to work longer and harder to stay afloat... and your chances of advancement will be slim to none.

    In pricing, I would suggest you look at your competition... see what they have for hardware, what they have for facilities then price yourself $10-15 an hour more than them... throw the client some free hours in that while you work to make the product better... put better product on the street than your competitors and you will be able to add to your facilities and raise your rates accordingly... put out product that isn't as good as your competitors and your facility will indeed perish.

    Best of luck... hope you're better than your competitors... one last thing... it's funny, but the harder you work the luckier you get.
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I'm with Littledogaudio and Fletcher on this one.

    Don't even BOTHER to get into an emotional side-tracked discussion about "who's getting rich" with the big labels, etc.etc. Most of that is a myth and a lot of diversion away from the topic at hand: What should you charge?

    You're running a long-term investment here that you put your career on the line for, your blood sweat and tears into the thing. (Many of you have probably also lost actual RELATIONSHIPS in the effort as well.)

    If you're doing it right, then your name (or your studio's name) will be on every project, in the liner notes or labels or whatever. Sure, it's tough to compete with the little pesky studios that are running around undercutting you, (for now) but there's a much bigger picture to view here. People WILL remember the good ones, and they will reward you with repeat biz. (The worthwhile ones, that is.)

    Remember you're in a cutthroat business that still has roots in artistic quality, technical excellence and customer satisfaction, not just the bottom line. ANYONE can go cheap, and deep down people know that, even the tire-kickers. You DO get what you pay for. Charge a fair rate that you can live with, for the market you're in. Otherwise, you'll NEVER get out from under.

    $10 per hr is going BACKWARDS, actually, and ludicrous. People will think you're insane, independendly wealthy, desperate or just stupid for working that cheap. Those rates are usually "Loss-leaders", designed to get people in the door, give 'em a cheapo-cut-rate recording, and THEN hook 'em for the bigger package later. No one (not even the face in the mirror) will respect you for going that low, I can guarantee it.

    There's an old Don McClean song that says: "The More you Pay, the more it's worth." The inverse is also true: The LESS you pay, the less its worth.

    Hang tough; get a good rate, and don't look back, even during the lean times. If you stick at it long enough, you'll get there..both in your rates and customer loyalty & respect.
  12. heyman

    heyman Guest

    Fletch and Joe.......

    Well put.
  13. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    Great advice and very much appreciated! It's hard not to try and undercut your competition when you first start out. This is the route i was thinking of, but you guys have put it into different terms and for that I thank you. It's insane, I see studios around here with Accel HD5 systems going for $20/hr. I may run Logic with a few less bells and whistles amd some nice pres, but I've heard what has come out of some of those studios and I honestly think I can do better. Not to mention the length of time they'll be in debt to Sweetwater!!!

    Thanks again!

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