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Old 28th May 2022
  #1
Gear Head
 
Let's talk business...

I'm new into the mobile recording services business..

How do you guys make your math / budget for a job?

Do you for example do like the sound mixers (film) do? A budget for your services + a budget for the equipment rental?

How do you calculate your fees / rate?
Old 29th May 2022
  #2
Lives for gear
 
pencilextremist's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
decide an hourly rate, work out your overheads, add them together, including things like meals and all expenses and any extra equipment you might need, if they can't pay, say no, you are not oblidged to work for cheap, charge what you're worth and don't back down on your price ever.
Old 29th May 2022 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i always specify labor and gear costs separately; same for transportation, accomodation and food. i work but on daily or weekly rates.

i don't undercut collegues or competitors (unless they are state funded) - and i don't work for free! (except it's for charity, fund raising for cilvil society purposes or occasionally for dear friends)
Old 29th May 2022 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i always specify labor and gear costs separately; same for transportation, accomodation and food. i work but on daily or weekly rates.

i don't undercut collegues or competitors (unless they are state funded) - and i don't work for free! (except it's for charity, fund raising for cilvil society purposes or occasionally for dear friends)
Interesting. How do you calculate your gear costs?
Do you use a fix percentage? example: gear was bought for 2000 USD - it should be included in the job for a -- % of that cost.. Or?

About your daily rates, what if its only a 2.5 hour concert?

How do you guys include the time you used to communicate with a client? Based on an hour rate?
Old 29th May 2022 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xxcenturyboy ➡️
Interesting. How do you calculate your gear costs?
Do you use a fix percentage? example: gear was bought for 2000 USD - it should be included in the job for a -- % of that cost.. Or?

About your daily rates, what if its only a 2.5 hour concert?

How do you guys include the time you used to communicate with a client? Based on an hour rate?
i hardly ever get asked to do small jobs/i specialize on large scale projects (and then often compete with state funded broadcasters) or get hired by companies with which i've been working together for years and which know about my expectations, demands and needs in technical, logistcal and financial terms.

simple information/communication is free, profound advice/lenghty explorations are either part of the deal or get charged separately (if they are disproportionate to the total costs).

regarding gear/rental costs, there's more or less an 'universal' standard (stemming from pro live sound/touring) which was established decdes ago and which applies pretty much anywhere (in the western world), for any category of audio gear (except say vintage tube mics and some other exotic stuff) - now of course the rate is different when renting gear for a day, week or month and whether my work is part of the deal or if it's just dry hire.
Old 29th May 2022 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i hardly ever get asked to do small jobs/i specialize on large scale projects (and then often compete with state funded broadcasters) or get hired by companies with which i've been working together for years and which know about my expectations, demands and needs in technical, logistcal and financial terms.

simple information/communication is free, profound advice/lenghty explorations are either part of the deal or get charged eparately (if they are disproportionate to the total costs).

regarding gear/rental costs, there's more or less an 'universal' standard (stemming from pro live sound/touring) which was established decdes ago and which applies pretty much anywhere (in the western world), for any category of audio gear (ecxcept say vintage tube mics and some other exotic stuff) - now of course the rate is different when renting gear for a day, week or month and whether my work is part of the deal or if it's just dry hire.
Interesting

When you say "universal" standard. Do you mean universal standard prices? Or to what standard do you refer?
Maybe a standard "formula" to come up with a price?
Old 29th May 2022 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xxcenturyboy ➡️
Interesting

When you say "universal" standard. Do you mean universal standard prices? Or to what standard do you refer?
Maybe a standard "formula" to come up with a price?
dry hire: 3% of the retail price per day, factor 1.5 for 2 says, factor 2 for 3 days, factor 3 for 5 days etc.

the thing is though that when renting gear on a long term basis and or repeatedly, you can get a MUCH better price, meaning for what you'd 'normally' pay per week, you can keep the gear for a month ;-)

of course it may also depend on your status/reputation/visibility etc.- nevertheless, above prices can get you an idea of what you should pay/can charge as an absolute maximum!
Old 30th May 2022
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
What you charge pretty much depends on in what city / district you are working. Music centers with an active scene allow higher rates. Working in smaller towns where your competition is students / hobbyists caps your ability to charge a profitable rate.

When you work, have at least a 3 hour minimum.

Explore what your competition is charging. See if you are comfortable with that rate.

Don’t shoot the moon by using fancy equipment.
Purchase good sonics gear but nothing esoteric.

The real determinant of how much you can charge is governed by your reputation and track record. Ally with a video person so that you can provide music recording and picture. Don’t try to do both recording and picture yourself.
Old 30th May 2022
  #9
Gear Guru
 
joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
On the other hand... once you become familiar enough with your gear and with the halls/wherevers you'll be working in, you could find that the audio recording part of the task is: setting levels during the rehearsal (which most often happens in the hours preceding the show) and then hitting "record" before it all starts. I think this is called the "capture." Later in the studio you'll slave over the mixing process to massage the tracks into the final, beauteous, finished product. Placing the mikes where they oughta be (obviously before the soundcheck) is not a cookie-cutter procedure, to be sure, but again, once you've established a reliable protocol or two, it becomes kinda automatic.

So, I found myself, during concerts, just sitting at the rack of gear, listening and noting the times when pieces started and stopped. I didn't dare change any levels or anything, unless it was some kind of emergency, because chasing those changes, in the mixing, is nightmarish.

Which means that actually you can start the audio recording, and then move to your camera, and then you really need one person on each camera (aside from the overall static stage shot that can happen unattended) in order to follow the action and catch those touching/emotional moments that touch people so emotionally and make for an entrancing, compelling viewing experience. Crucially, the clarity and immediacy and overall soothing/exciting quality of the audio really does cement the whole viewing "adventure."

Charging a flat rate for the audio, and another flat rate for the video, which includes the time for all the editing, makes it easy for the customers to budget your involvement.

It cannot be overstated at all: the trust that your customers feel having you as a part of their artistic endeavors? That is the only thing that matters. Which means you need some kind of track record and word-of-mouth going on... and building that from the ground up takes time.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i hardly ever get asked to do small jobs/i specialize on large scale projects (and then often compete with state funded broadcasters)
Or in my case the local college which took over the recording of all the local musical groups I used to record and cut us out the picture entirely.

Small town and the college is the biggest employer in town... Not typical.

To the OP: Today most every church and school has some type of audio and or video recording setup be it primitive or "network quality" and you will be competing with in house FREE setups so plan accordingly. Just a sage word of advice.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
telecode's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I ran my own consulting business for a long time. There are 2 things I learnt.

1) You are an independent contractor. You charge for a service. Time is money. Your time is money. You charge for every single minute you work on the project. Your rate has to cover your costs, your time, you materials, your pensions e.t.c. Do the best job you can and go above and beyond, but charge for the time.

2) People believe they get the quality they pay for. If you undercharge, they think they are getting shitty cheap quality. Its how it is. Don't waste your time with penny pinchers. They will just waste your time and no matter how low you negotiate, they will still give you a headache when paying. Let someone else waste their time on the penny pinchers.

That being said, you need to do your research and find out what the the going rate for the work is in your area. You need to know where you stand compared to competition.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
...or work for an employer where recording and AV are the core business...eg: currently advertised for The Juilliard School....>>

https://www.juilliard.edu/jobs?gnk=j...ns=Indeed+Free
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
JayTee4303's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
By the time I test gear, pack gear, drive, set up, record, tear down, tend to alla my groupies, pack up, drive home, and ingest data to PCs, I'll have 8 to 10 hours in a 2.5 hour concert, and I don't actually have any groupies.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 
joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Time to put some groupies on the payroll?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
Gear Head
 
Old Foof's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
...or work for an employer where recording and AV are the core business...eg: currently advertised for The Juilliard School....>>

https://www.juilliard.edu/jobs?gnk=j...ns=Indeed+Free
"have sound judgement..."
Well I should hope!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
celticrogues's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xxcenturyboy ➡️
Interesting. How do you calculate your gear costs?
Do you use a fix percentage? example: gear was bought for 2000 USD - it should be included in the job for a -- % of that cost.. Or?

About your daily rates, what if its only a 2.5 hour concert?

How do you guys include the time you used to communicate with a client? Based on an hour rate?
I base gear rental costs on what other companies in my area charge. I try to charge the same so that it stays pretty standard.

And even if it’s “just a 2.5 hour concert” it’s not really just a 2.5 hour concert right? It’s load in and set up a couple of hours early, dress rehearsal and soundcheck before the show, and then packing up and loading out afterwards. I have a “day rate” that I charge as a minimum no matter how long the actual event is.

I do not charge for time to communicate with a client before the session or concert.

-Mike
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
I charge time and materials. If it's more than 50 miles away, I charge transportation costs too.

Sometimes I'll give customers a discount on setup time if it's in a hall I know well, where I don't need to be doing a lot of outside thinking about the room.

The jobs that you lose because you're charging too much are probably jobs you didn't want anyway.
--scott
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Our bid proposals and budgets are usually presented as a 'line item' format, this way the client can see and reference exactly what we are providing and what each line item costs.

So, when it's applicable, we can add or subtract certain line items as requested.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
Our bid proposals and budgets are usually presented as a 'line item' format, this way the client can see and reference exactly what we are providing and what each line item costs.

So, when it's applicable, we can add or subtract certain line items as requested.
I will do that but in many cases there are so many possible options. If a typical job seems appropriate for an 8-track recording, I can bring a recorder in a backpack, I can bring a recorder in a shipping case with better converters, preamps, and monitoring, I can bring that same shipping case in a truck, or I can bring an Ampex 440-8. I'll charge the same cost per hour for all of these, but it's going to take a lot more hours for me to get some of those options out there. If they want a live 2-track feed for streaming, I can't do that with the backpack. I can do that with the shipping case. If I do that with the Ampex I need a second operator who also costs time. Bringing the truck sometimes takes less time than the portable, but sometimes not.

So the option of adding or deleting a live streaming mix may affect a whole lot of other decisions. Or maybe it won't, depending. I'll try and price out two or three options for the customer and let them know that there are more options available at higher and lower price points but that these are what I would recommend.
--scott
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
good point - i do also offer options but it's not that the customer can freely select between all positions as s/he cannot know what it takes to get a job done in a specific way - short: the customer can say what s/he is willing to pay, but not how i have to do my job for the fixed price.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
One thing to figure on (and build in to your rates) is "shop time". For me, all my gigs are different enough from each other anymore that some considerable time is spent planning the work then prepping the gear, possibly including making up special cables or rack configs etc. After the gig there is time spent on file management and cleaning up the logs (even if I'm not going to be mixing the job) as well as "down-prepping" or pulling the rig apart and putting everything away in the shop (so I can find it next time).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
In my opinion ANY post-production time should never be included in the initial recording fee. Post work, no matter how little, should be charged to the client.

Why work for free? You do not have to do it.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
In my opinion ANY post-production time should never be included in the initial recording fee. Post work, no matter how little, should be charged to the client.
I am not sure I understand what you mean here. If the customer wants a finished product, I will include post-production time in the original estimate because it's part of what they will need to pay to get what they want. If the customer wants an unmixed master tape or an unedited live-to-2-track tape, then I won't include it in the estimate because it's not something they need to pay.

Post work (if performed) should always be charged to the client but sometimes you charge it by including it in the bundle.
--scott
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
PuebloAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
In my opinion ANY post-production time should never be included in the initial recording fee. Post work, no matter how little, should be charged to the client.

Why work for free? You do not have to do it.
That has been my practice. I quote for the initial recording (usually a fixed day fee). But post-production is a separate process and billed as such. Because post can be a never-ending process, it’s basically self-sabotage to offer a predetermined, fixed fee. I have had post jobs span years before completion! Enjoy a more harmonious life by avoiding such a trap.

I charge post work on a time and materials basis. Thanks to experience, I can provide fairly accurately estimates so the clients know what they are getting into. Should clients wish to explore every creative crevasse then I say “COOL!”. I’m happy to go along. But they will need to fund the expedition.

Make sure to charge an appropriate hourly for your labors. On top of that be sure to earn at least 30% NET profit for the biz. This will help keep your biz alive in lean times and growth in fat times.

Of course, the quality of the product you produce must warrant the charges you command (or, at least, request) to cultivate more clients and a good reputation.

Last edited by PuebloAudio; 3 weeks ago at 08:55 PM.. Reason: Grammar
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
RE: post #23

I’m simply unable to guess in advance what challenges might come up in working with the recording. So I cannot offer a budget item for the client re post-production.

Extensive and intricate editing, EQ corrections,
de-noising, revisions, revisions, revisions would eat my lunch if I dared to make an all in quotation just for the convenience of the client.

I do the post work and turn out a first class program.
The client pays for those hours.

ALL rights of the producer are reserved. Including the right to be compensated.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
RE: post #23

I’m simply unable to guess in advance what challenges might come up in working with the recording. So I cannot offer a budget item for the client re post-production.
This applies to other fields as well. I work as a writer and editor, and when I first started out freelancing I accepted a project to write a chapter for a White House report for a flat fee, which included responding to comments on the draft. I came in well under budget for the writing part of it, but they shopped out the draft to about 10 federal agencies and I spent at least four times more time revising the draft to respond to comments than I did writing the initial draft. My resulting hourly rate was lower than what I would have made flipping burgers at McDonald's.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i'm not getting the issues about calculating costs for editing, mixing, mastering etc.: based on experience, you make an educated guess to get the client a quote which includes gear, transportation, food, hotel and a maximum time of your work, assuming there will be no major hickups or last minute alteration to the project; anything beyond that you charge extra, at higher costs...
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