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Portable Location Recording Rates?
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #61
Lives for gear
 
Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think you're undercutting yourself. $15 an hour?? Your travel expenses are likely to be more than your recording rate. I started at $50/hr with much less equipment than you have I believe.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #62
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Exclamation

I agree with Plush on this - *you* set the rate *not* the customers.

I record spare time - I started in the 1970's where people were recording with Tascam four tracks for about £5 an hour.

I started with a decent half-track stereo recorder and charged £15 an hour.

If you produce the results you will get the business.

I obviously charge a lot more than that now and, talking to a few friends in the business, what I charge now is reasonable for what I do.

Don't undersell yourself.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #63
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
What I charge for now is packaging plus shipping for those too impatient to wait till our paths cross again. If I were to charge it'd probably be based on an hourly rate. $15 an hour times 4 since there's some editing involved.
Not to sound rude, but it's YOU who cause the market to demand lower pay for higher quality. Why would someone pay me $50 an hour when they could hire you and perhaps get the same quality for $15? You are obviously serious about buying good gear and I have no reason to assume that you are not good at your "hobby."
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #64
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
It is absolutely up to us to work for a fair rate. Face it, the client is calling us asking us to work for them. If you are asking to work for them, sure they can set a rate, but it is the other way around.

It doesn't mean that you can't negotiate and it also doesn't mean that you can't charge people based on the depth of their pockets. When I'm working for Hollywood, I get a great rate. When I work for a non-profit, that rate goes down as they just don't have as much available to them.

Over the years, this has worked very well for me keeping clients at all levels happy. Things are rough right now, but it will come back and I'm still having small successes bidding jobs.

This weekend, I'm doing a 48 track recording of a show. My bid was about double what they wanted to spend. After putting together a secondary proposal (that was cheaper, but nowhere near as good), they took the high bid. In the negotiations, I gave a small "good faith" discount (under 10% on the whole project) and that ended up selling them. And right now with work sucking the way that it does, this ended up saving my month.

--Ben
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #65
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
They either care enough to have a recording of an event to be willing to pay for it. Or they are looking to exploit the recording to other ends.
I don't really like the view that paints recitalists, community ensembles, churches, and schools on tight budgets as "cheap-skates" who don't care about recording. (NOTE: Even the heaviest hitter in my area - The Virginia Symphony - is only being kept afloat by a loan from the City of Norfolk, VA. Virginia Symphony to cut costs as debts weigh heavily | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com) I've mentioned this in other threads, but not every client is looking to release a CD. Charging them release-a-CD rates means they won't record at all. Because of my philosophy, methods, and rates, I've been able to deliver services that other engineers in the area were NOT delivering. And it's been worth my while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
What I charge for now is packaging plus shipping for those too impatient to wait till our paths cross again. If I were to charge it'd probably be based on an hourly rate. $15 an hour times 4 since there's some editing involved. With travel time being a flat rate. But I'm not looking to make a living at it yet. Otherwise it'd be much higher to cover insurances and other profession in a country expenses. I'm just an amateur looking to achieve professional results on a budget. And most of my gigs are the good old boy network. Friends, family, friends of friends.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopthomas ➡️
Not to sound rude, but it's YOU who cause the market to demand lower pay for higher quality.


The fact that Shadow7 is getting business shows at whatever his rates are (I'm confused by the post) shows that he is filling a void that other engineers weren't able to. Plus, he can charge whatever he feels is worth his time. BishopThomas, I got the impression from your post that you wish the location recording industry were regulated. People have a right to choose whether they want to be a full-time professional (if they even have the option), and most location recordists choose to work part-time.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #66
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think there is not so much of a difference here as might be percieved. Norse, you set your rate for the area (as I do), but we still "set our own rate" in the sense that we try to get the most amount of money possible, in our area. So technically we are ascribing to that philosophy, but in the constraints of our market. For example, I have recently raised my base rate to $75/hr, but still jack that up a little depending on the client. I have also had people not record with me due to the high rate (which I sometimes discount for them, sometimes not).

So yeah, I think we are all a little closer to the same than we might think.

I still think Shadow7 would do well to at least double his rates considering his interest and dedication.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #67
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopthomas ➡️
Not to sound rude, but it's YOU who cause the market to demand lower pay for higher quality. Why would someone pay me $50 an hour when they could hire you and perhaps get the same quality for $15? You are obviously serious about buying good gear and I have no reason to assume that you are not good at your "hobby."
It really depends on perspective. And you're not reading all of what I wrote. $15 per hour times 4 (implies minimum 4 hours). i.e. 1 hour concert would be $60 plus travel, media, and other things they'd be willing to cover. From my perspective I'm creating demand where there previously wasn't any. I'm the drug dealer giving out free samples to get my patrons hooked on my drug. So I can milk them dry for years to come.

Almost all of my current patrons are 501(c)3 groups with no financial base. With my product (recordings that don't suck) they get paying gigs and make money. And the market is kick started and the circle of life comes full circle. They buy my old horns rusting in a closet somewhere. They buy me dinner. Everyones happy and the market is booming. (in theory)

Although my times 4 is based partly on import / conversion time for the media, setup / teardown / and verifying that my results don't suck. I have a basic two channel setup, so no mixing or spot micing. My gear is mildly better than a two SM58's. Assuming that two SM81's are better (never had 58's yet). And trust me, if someone from outside of the good old boy network hires me, my rate will be $50 an hour or more. If only because I don't know if their check will clear the bank.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #68
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse ➡️
The fact that Shadow7 is getting business shows at whatever his rates are (I'm confused by the post) shows that he is filling a void that other engineers weren't able to. Plus, he can charge whatever he feels is worth his time. BishopThomas, I got the impression from your post that you wish the location recording industry were regulated. People have a right to choose whether they want to be a full-time professional (if they even have the option), and most location recordists choose to work part-time.
I think he's saying that he does it for "free," covering the cost of packaging and shipping, but if he WERE to charge then it would be $15 an hour. "Filling a void" might be one way to look at it, sure, but maybe those paying nothing or even $15 an hour would be willing to spend $50 or more if the $15 wasn't an option. Of course I don't want to see the location recording industry - or any industry in our free market economy - regulated. Maybe I'm assuming too much about the clients that Shadow7 has. If they are not willing to pay for recording then yes, he's filling a void by doing it for free. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #69
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
Almost all of my current patrons are 501(c)3 groups with no financial base. With my product (recordings that don't suck) they get paying gigs and make money. And the market is kick started and the circle of life comes full circle. They buy my old horns rusting in a closet somewhere. They buy me dinner. Everyones happy and the market is booming. (in theory)
I see where you're coming from. If the groups aren't buying at higher rates then yes, don't charge them such. It's great that you are helping them get gigs and keeping the music alive in your area. It needs all the help it can get. And then if they end up doing well or finding a pile of money you can convince them to pay you more for the better quality that you'll be able to provide with the gear you bought with the extra money they're paying you.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #70
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
I'm the drug dealer giving out free samples to get my patrons hooked on my drug.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #71
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
I'm the drug dealer giving out free samples to get my patrons hooked on my drug.
Yes, but the "drug dealer" stops giving it away after a certain point.

We will destroy our own markets by letting the client take us for granted when it comes to that "special discount" rate.

Keep in mind that not everyone is a "penny-pincher"; you have to evaluate the situation when you're putting together your proposal.

Sometimes it's important to help the arts; you just have to look deep into your own circumstances to really know if you're doing the right thing or not.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #72
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #73
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
Yes, but the "drug dealer" stops giving it away after a certain point.

We will destroy our own markets by letting the client take us for granted when it comes to that "special discount" rate.
Again, a matter of perspective. I get free admission, the best seats in the house, a special all access / backstage pass, and other perks. So even if I'm not getting cash, I'm still getting paid from my perspective. But I'm just a weekend warrior for the most part. So it doesn't feel like a job to me. When it does feel like a job, or if the powers that be aren't nice to me, rest assured, I'll be charging.

For the moment I'm considering myself in that first six months of that 8 year training period. I'm fairly happy with my current rig (except for audiogate not running in linux). I'm not fool enough to consider this a profession yet. But then again, I used to make a decent living by making noise for a living. To include medical and dental benefits, which has been missing from most of my other real jobs.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #74
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
You may find it difficult to up the rates on your current clients even as things improve for them. "Giving it away" generally does not pay off for the "giver." Sad but true. Many on GS have commented in the past about low (or no) rates, and generally it does not pay off for them in the end. Unfortunately when you discount the rate to this extent oftentimes the client does not take you serious.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #75
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
At this point for me, it's not about paying off for me. I'm going to do it whether I make money (even just enough to cover the gear) or not. It's kind of pointless to buy / have the gear if you never use it. It will likely pay off in terms of having samples to show new clients, with references. As opposed to playing Wii 24/7 for months on end, to casually mention, oh by the way....

For the moment, it's just to promote an activity I hold dear, that would otherwise go unnoticed and unknown. Without something as simple as a demo CD/DVD to say, check this out. And every once in a blue moon there's a magic moment in time where a performance (even in rehearsal) is just beyond belief. And if I'm there to capture it properly when it occurs, jackpot. At a minimum it's a good training tool. And people / performers tend to become different and generally better people when you put a mic in front of them.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #76
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 ➡️
As opposed to playing Wii 24/7 for months on end, to casually mention, oh by the way....
You caught me! I've been addicted to Zelda for a couple of weeks now. And I'll be here for months, literally. It's tough to carry gear with a broken leg, though. I certainly understand that you need a portfolio and by selling your services for cheap now you can save money later on marketing and advertising.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #77
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
This has been a great thread and I have picked up some good ideas. GS has the depth of knowledge not found elsewhere. I am a rank amateur with some OK gear. I love doing this. I do recordings for a local chorale gratis. They are a non-profit with no real financing and could not afford to pay. They did offer a pittance for a previous recording which I accepted and contributed to their general fund.

I am in an isolated community two hours from Portland, OR. There is no one out here to do the work if I do not. Well, I have heard what the others have done and it is the two SM57 league. I also need to learn the ropes. I cannot apprentice to anyone and I cannot go to any school. I am obliged to buy Bartlett, Eargle, Streicher and Katz, stumble through their books and try to apply it in the real world. I do this by recording all and every. Mostly bar bands and jams in some pretty bad venues. Then there is the occasional good venue. But if I sit home and wait for a paying gig I will be doing not much other than reading GS and my reference books. As there are no really serious recordists out here I am not taking bread off anyone's table, either. Will I ever charge for this work? Well, Plush says I have another six years to go before I can. In the meantime I am learning what I can.

And I am grateful this discussion has come up so I can see more clearly what the real world thinks.

Cheers
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #78
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Yes it is a good discussion. Interesting to note that Plush's 8 year plan parallels what I've heard for other arts based fields. Particular private instructors for instrumentalists, with relation to playing Bass Trombone. Roughly 8 years to develop an amateur to a professional level player.

As far as taking jobs from others, I'm all too familiar with that. What I was paid / asked to do as a computer programmer probably took more jobs that I'll ever take as a recorder of exotic sounds. If only because it ultimately took my job, permanently. To that end, I don't use ATMs and do all of my bank transactions inside the bank. I don't go down the self check isle when checking out of the super market. I don't give automated calls any time of day. When I order online, I generally call the 800 number or email arrangements to pay by check via snail mail. If only to ensure that at some point down the line, there's an actual human involved in the process. Or at least some really sophisticated software + robotics.

I too live in a small rural area. 1908 census 450 residents. 1990 census 450 residents. But I'm only 50 miles-ish from the nearest big towns. With several of the larger metropolis's within 200 miles of home. Not that I'll be driving those distances without pay anytime soon.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #79
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Hi Sctt Stone,

You've gotten many good ideas about setting prices. Since this is your first remote, some folks have also thrown in good advice concerning backups, scouting the location, and the like.

Along those lines, I want to urge you to set record levels •very conservatively• - leave more headroom than you think you possibly could need. You only get one shot at it, and it can be difficult to estimate how loud those peaks are going to be in the heat of performance. With the wide dynamic range of 24 bit recording, there's no reason to risk "overs," so trim down your gain staging even a little more than you imagine might be necessary. I would give this advice no matter what you are recording, but it's especially apropos because operatic voices often have those occasional seemingly-physics-defying amplitude peaks that can sting you pretty quickly.

I know that this is off-topic, but it might make the difference between success and failure (and the difference between collecting your fee or not!).

On a related note, if you are going to have a backup recording medium, you might consider trimming that record level down yet a few db more, as an added safety factor guarding against overs....


Joe
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #80
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Good topic.

Setting rates is one of the hardest things to do.

Too little and people start to take advantage of you and some clients will walk away saying you are not charging enough therefore you must not be a professional. Too high and you may have lost some good long term clients.

I personally think that anything under $25.00 per hour is way too low because it is what you would expect to pay for someone with no experience and low end equipment.

Sometimes just raising your rates brings in more business. Sometimes it frightens away business. Finding that delicate balance is the trick.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #81
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Hilarious!

Never have I heard of so many people crowing about how low their rates are.
Is is a recipe for success?
Incredible!

Recently a very famous NYC engineer announced that he would do an out of town recording job for free. He was hired and some other guys lost the work. Then later, he was "convinced" that he better not show up to do it for free. Soon he withdrew his offer and said that they should find someone else.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #82
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
See Plush:

That's the crap I'm talking about.
It's just ridiculous behaviour.
This type of action ruins it for everyone in the long run.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #83
LX3
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LX3's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yup. I always end up regretting it when I do work at "mates rates". Not because I object to doing people a favour occasionally, but because the people that need me to do them a special deal always seem to cause me the most problems afterwards.

I'm not making these up:

"Can you edit together songs three, seven and eight, add some extra audience cheers between songs, burn three CDs and send them to our management asap? Thanks."

"Why can't you get the mix finished by this Tuesday? We MUST HAVE IT ON TUESDAY!!!"

"We need to start mixing asap, but I don't have any disk space. Can you put the audio on a hard disk, stick it on a bike to us, and we'll give you the money for it when we see you next." (Still waiting...)

(Followed by): "It's annoying, because the hard disk you gave us wasn't big enough for all the overdubs and bounces we wanted to do".

"Oh, did I not tell you, we need a 5.1 surround mix as well..."

(And, after you've spent two days doing a surround mix): "Oh, they decided not to use the surround mix in the end, because they couldn't work out how to put two audio tracks on the DVD."



I never seem to get these little surprise requests from paying clients. And at least if I do, I have the option of saying to myself "Well, I did get paid for this job, it's not a big deal." Or telling them I'll have to make an extra charge.

There's a motto that remains true to this day: "No good deed goes unpunished."
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #84
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Well not all things in the arts are done because they made / make business sense. It's not uncommon for a performing artists to do a couple of gigs for free when they relocate to a new location in order to get their name out there. Or to sponsor works not to break even or make money, but to increase the available literature for a given genre. I mean sure their peers laugh at the profusely, but they accomplish their goals. Arguably at great personal expense, but accomplished none the less.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #85
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
the people that need me to do them a special deal always seem to cause me the most problems afterwards.
Man this is so true.

I have also noticed that the ones I give the breaks to are the ones that either take months (if not years!) to pay, or who try to walk all over me in some other fashion.

The clients that get the breaks are often the ones who end up being not worth the trouble to work for, and the break you give them becomes an insult for the amount of effort and trouble you go through.

I find that people who pay well for the service tend to value it more.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #86
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videoteque's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Balance is the key. If you do free recordings to pro musicians you are stupid. You can't be the only one in a gig that doesn't get paid...

But we all have to start our "8 years" in some way, so everybody needs to do free gigs to start. Do them to the ones who really can't afford to pay, like students. Once you have made several ones and your recordings are valid, start to charge and move up in the music scene.

It's so true that working for free brings more problems that not, that I never work for free anymore. I always ask at least some money, if not to pay for gas and so time.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #87
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Don S's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Sorry if this has been siad before. I fully support professional engineers that take maybe 10% or so less to keep clients and therefore keep thier business afloat during this economic recession. But to think that clients will not be suspicious of engineering services provided for nothing (or close to it) is rediculous. As Ben's example clearly shows.
I try to be competetive and fair. I've never lost a client because I charge too much.
I fully appreciate people experimenting. I can't tell you how many times I've setup for a community/ school concert with another guy in the hall with (inexpensive) mics and recorder, only to ask me for a copy of what I got afterwards because of gear or operator error!
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #88
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
10% off is one thing; working for 10% of your rate is a whole other story.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #89
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Don S's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
10% off is one thing; working for 10% of your rate is a whole other story.
Absolutely! I'm with you Steve. That's why I wote "working for nothing or close to it". 10% falls in to the "close it" category!
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #90
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S ➡️
Absolutely! I'm with you Steve. That's why I wote "working for nothing or close to it". 10% falls in to the "close it" category!
Yes, IMHO you are 110% right.

There are times when you want to help the cause because it's special...

Sometimes, there are back-end deals that make sense.
Many times they are just pipe dreams, but we care enough to help anyway.

In any event, this should be the special occasion and not the norm.
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