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Portable Location Recording Rates?
Old 8th May 2009 | Show parent
  #151
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Question What else are you worth?

Has anyone used the barter system?

i.e. You've provided remote recording services in exchange for... __________?
Old 8th May 2009 | Show parent
  #152
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse ➑️
Has anyone used the barter system?

i.e. You've provided remote recording services in exchange for... __________?
Yes - I record for a Choral Society here in Auckland, New Zealand. I give them archive recordings of their concerts in return for a β€œSponsors” listing in all their programmes. That way I get the opportunity to record some of the major choral repertoire in the best venues and musicians in the city. Being listed in their programme has got me several projects for other organisations.

Larry Elliott
Old 8th May 2009 | Show parent
  #153
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have bartered with video studios for editing time and such.
I've also bartered with musicians for wiring and other field shop needs.

This type of exchange has to be a win win for both parties involved.
It can be a serious drag when one doesn't live up to their promise.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #154
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NorseHorse's Avatar
I've bartered for performances - that is, I record a concert for someone and in exchange they perform at a concert or record a piece for me.

I've bartered for academic credit - recorded a composer-professor who in turn helped me avoid an administrative morass.

I've brought this over from another thread, because it augments what I've said earlier in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse ➑️
...I'm always up for learning more (especially in regards to gear and techniques - however, when it comes to business approaches, I and others have to carefully consider whether a given approach will help or hurt in our area).
I just recently learned that an engineer who used to record one of the top high schools in the DC area is no longer being hired by the school. The school used to alternate between two engineers, and now they're just going with one. What was the deciding factor? I can't sure for sure since I'm not on the inside, but I can tell you for sure that the first engineer was requiring a $200 fee per concert and would then sell CDs to parents at $15 (EDIT: Dug up an old email - turns out it's $9. Maybe the Band Boosters resell them for $15?). The second engineer sells CDs for $15 too but doesn't charge the school a fee. The school is now seems to be working exclusively with the second engineer, and he has about 10 gigs with them a year and probably is making just as much (or more!) per concert than myself, B. Garris, B. Maas, or R. Mays (at least according to our respective published rates). And in case you're curious, both engineers do an equally good job (in my non-ABX casual review) and use top-shelf gear.

Interesting, eh? Lower rates can = more profit for same amount of work!

Much love. Anyone else have interesting barter or sales arrangements they would like to share?
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #155
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Just playing "devil's advocate"...

I'm not sure I see how he is making much more than the first guy.

I would guess that the same amount of parents purchase CD's regardless of what he charges the school, so isn't he making $200 less per concert?

Or is it the case that he is now doing more concerts and therefore making more money in the end?

Either way, he has to sell 13 more CD's per concert to make the same amount of money for a single concert - not taking into account the cost of packaging the CD's. A cheap duplication job for a small run is about $1.25 per CD so in reality, he has to sell 17 additional CD's. If 10 concerts doubles the number of concerts that were recorded previously, 85 of the additional CD's he sells from the extra gigs would be making up that $200 per concert for the first 5 concerts. Not sure what the CD sales from a school concert are, but I'd guess 40 to 50 is a generous estimate.

Whatever works I guess, but I bet the guy that he undercut to get the gig will not be hiring him to sub-contract or fill in (if he ever did) - so there may be loss of income there which should also be taken into account.

Basically, by my estimation he is doing two concerts for free just to break even with what he could have got before and shooting himself in the foot with regards to peer referral work.

I am not sure I'd buy into this as a good way to do business. Conceptually there is nothing wrong with his approach, but the execution in this case doesn't seem like a sound practice.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #156
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Good points for sure.

However, he IS making equal to or more than standard "concert" rates; saying he undercut anyone would be innacurate. After all, asking for more than others doesn't automatically mean those other folks are undercutting you (for various definitions of undercutting, check out https://gearspace.com/board/remote-p...-business.html). Making a solid profit or getting a great hourly wage in a low-stress situation surely doesn't qualify as undercutting. Instead, I view the 1st engineer as not catering to the market, demanding more, and now getting less work. I have no insight into the relationship between the 1st and 2nd engineer, though if anything, the 2nd engineer might now be getting more work to refer than the 1st engineer!

Plus, if the 2nd engineer insisted on the $200 fee too, I can name other services/engineers in that area that would have been happy to take the gig. It's quite common in that area and isn't called "undercutting" by anyone I've ever met. In fact, it's seen as "sound practice". There are also video companies and photo companies doing that exact same thing for plays, festivals, sports competitions, etc. etc.

So, in short, I agree with you. The engineer asking for the $200 fee would have made more. However, I think you need to add "if he got the gig" to the end of that sentence, and my thoughts will make more sense. Making more than most engineers isn't "shooting yourself in the foot", but charging too much for the area you're willing to travel in might be!

That said, charge as much as your market can support and more power to you!
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #157
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
I just recently learned that an engineer who used to record one of the top high schools in the DC area is no longer being hired by the school. The school used to alternate between two engineers, and now they're just going with one. What was the deciding factor? I can't sure for sure since I'm not on the inside, but I can tell you for sure that the first engineer was requiring a $200 fee per concert and would then sell CDs to parents at $15. The second engineer sells CDs for $15 too but doesn't charge the school a fee.
Quote:
However, I think you need to add "if he got the gig" to the end of that sentence, and my thoughts will make more sense.
According to your first statement, the first engineer actually HAD the gig. I can't speak with knowledge of the situation, but to me it looks like the second guy said "I'll waive the $200 fee and do it for the CD sales alone."

This is undercutting pure and simple. At some point, the market had no trouble supporting the $200 fee, but because someone comes with what appears to be an undifferentiated product at a lower price point, there is now downward pressure on the market price. This is really deflation of a sort and it is not healthy for any market.

Quote:
Interesting, eh? Lower rates can = more profit for same amount of work!
No - the second guy is doing more work for less money. His profit margin just shrank and the price for his services is now devalued. He may make more money overall because of volume, but he will have to do more work and undertake more expense to earn it.

There is an opportunity cost here as well - because he now has to book more gigs to make his monthly nut, he may have to turn down work or subcontract it out. Even if he subcontracts it, because his profit margin has gotten smaller, he will make less profit than he would have because a greater percentage of the revenue will go towards paying the subcontractor. Maybe he'll make something, but it won't be as much as if he had not undercut the market to begin with. Maybe next time, his subcontractor will undercut him and cost him the gig.

Just curious - how many CD's can these guys sell at one of these gigs? Maybe the $200 is a pittance compared to the amount one makes from the CD sales?
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #158
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson ➑️
According to your first statement, the first engineer actually HAD the gig. I can't speak with knowledge of the situation, but to me it looks like the second guy said "I'll waive the $200 fee and do it for the CD sales alone."
Sorry if I wasn't clear. They'd both been charging those respective rates for at least two years. (After all, IN MY INITIAL POST, I didn't say anything about either of them changing rates in reponse to one another. I was just stating each of their systems/fee structures. Nothing misleading about that.) Either the 1st engineer up-ed the fee he wanted since I last heard from him or the school finally settled on the 2nd engineer after the two-engineer trial period (which went for at least one season). Obviously, I'm not on the inside, I'm just speculating here.

The bottom line is that the 2nd engineer is getting paid a GREAT price and the 1st engineer has no work (at least in this regard). He might be busy elsewhere, but there's no indication of it.

****EDIT!***** - Just dug through some old emails (2007). Turns out the 1st engineer was only selling CDs for $9. (I apologize for the innacurate info above.) I guess he charged less so the band boosters could make a profit and perhaps help sell more CDs? Not sure, but it seems the "no money down" was the approach that has appealled to the school the most.

Anybody else try the "no money down" approach? I have, but I'm all typed out for the moment.

And I'm still interested in the whole bartering thing. I'd love to hear some more ideas/experiences.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #159
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
You weren't unclear, you were misleading. I understood it exactly as did Rob, which was exactly as you stated. Now I'm not sure what to believe in your original post. Maybe you could clarify for these gym class girls.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #160
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I think the only way for CD sales only to work is if the school can guarantee a number of sales. And then make up the difference if that number is not met
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #161
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
That's exactly the angle I'm working on now, a guaranteed minimum amount of CD sales or a fee based on the difference.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #162
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NorseHorse's Avatar
True. The 2nd engineer has a minimum (don't know about the 1st, but probably does too), but I don't think the school has ever had to pay a cent. But what if there was a horrible accident during a concert and no one wanted CDs. A minimum would certainly be a good idea.

All the DVD / video sales folks seem to operate on this principal. Not sure about photo folks.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #163
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Over the years my sales of the recordings to the choirs I work with has diminished. Back before rampant CD copying I could sell 50-100 units of each concert reliably, especially in the cassette era. Now 50 is tops and sometimes it's as low as 25. I charge a much higher set fee than my predecessors and current competitors and deliver the CD's at a much lower unit cost to the choir director/officials and that is what is working for me these days.
In all honesty, it hasn't been the cost factor that has determined who gets the job but the quality of the sound and attention to detail, but I thought I'd weigh in on the cost discussion.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #164
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
One of the first DVD productions I did was of a concert with over 80 kids in 4 different groups. I offered CDs and DVDs and sold 1 CD and 3 DVDs. I had to pay the guy doing the video for me so I lost money.

What happened was normally there was a guy doing it illegally with the school's own equipment and selling 40-50 DVDs but the year before screwed everyone and didn't make the DVDs (and made off with $1000). The parents were very wary of me the next year. I was not informed of this beforehand.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #165
Gear Guru
 
joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The real life scenario I've seen is that actual CD sales to the students/parents/audience have plummeted. What happens is that one brave soul will buy the CD, convert the tracks into mp3's, and from thence it gets duplicated endlessly and spread all over Christendom (sorry, Christian.)

So I would have to say, waiving the recording fee in the hopes of making anything like the $200 in profit from CD sales is pretty optimistic.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #166
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran ➑️
What happened was normally there was a guy doing it illegally with the school's own equipment and selling 40-50 DVDs but the year before screwed everyone and didn't make the DVDs (and made off with $1000). The parents were very wary of me the next year. I was not informed of this beforehand.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #167
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Sorry if I wasn't clear. They'd both been charging those respective rates for at least two years. (After all, IN MY INITIAL POST, I didn't say anything about either of them changing rates in reponse to one another. I was just stating each of their systems/fee structures. Nothing misleading about that.)
No worries - I didn't mean to imply that you were misleading - hopefully it was not taken that way - I was just commenting on the situation as it appeared from your initial description.

Quote:
The bottom line is that the 2nd engineer is getting paid a GREAT price and the 1st engineer has no work
What is this great price?

How many CD's does he sell (not expecting exact numbers here - give me a ballpark figure)? What is his minimum?

It is hard to evaluate a business model when (a) the numbers and terms keep changing and (b) we have no idea what sort of sales volume to expect.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #168
LX3
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LX3's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Maybe it's nothing to do with pricing or equipment. Maybe the school just like having engineer 2 around more than engineer 1?

Over the years I've seen tons of evidence that that's a big factor (arguably the main factor) in getting on in this industry.
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #169
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NorseHorse's Avatar
I did change ONE number on the first engineer - sorry for being honest - didn't realize changing one number would be so hard to follow.

I'm feeling some antagonism right now, and it's hard to tell who is actually interested in hearing and who just wants to pick a fight. I wrote out my response, but just deleted it. If you're geniunely interested, shoot me an email.

I should start charging for research.

LX3: Could be! Maybe engineer 1 had an illness? Or had a falling-out with the director? As I've mentioned before, it's speculation, but I think the correlation is tied to causation. But there's no guarantee!
Old 3rd June 2009 | Show parent
  #170
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
No antagonism man - I don't mean any of this out of hostility.

That one number is a big deal. Now it appears that Engineer #2 is actually charging more than Engineer #1 AND getting more business, which completely negates the point that you were making by sharing this example with us.

If you are going to crunch numbers on price/cost structure and really evaluate which model is the better of the two for profitability and sustainability, it is important to have all of the information to compare.

Let's have a hypothetical example based on the numbers we have before us.

Let's say each guy does the gig and sells 40 CD's (optimistic I know - sorry Joel)

Engineer 2: $0 base + 40 CD's*$15 = $600
Engineer 1: $200 base + 40 CD's*$9 = $560

Engineer 2 has taken a greater risk, but stands to make a greater amount of money for a certain volume of sales per event. He has redistributed the cost over a greater amount of buyers which will make everyone involved happier. This is a good business model for this scenario.

But you'll notice, his "rate" in this case is actually higher than Engineer 1's.
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #171
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Around here everything is a la carte. Recording fee is paid and then if the presenter/musicians want copies they are charged for them. I require to know what I will be paid and other copy work can be farmed out. I agree that making cds is a good profit niche but depending on them for your fee????? Why would a person do that??

Oh I see---because that's the only way they could get the job. By charging an amount called FREE.

Pitiful. I can't pay for a new car or a school year with that.
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #172
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I agree with you Plush, but what I've come up against is that the band directors don't want a recording. Rather, they are giving the engineer the "opportunity" to make a profit off CD sales by offering them to students/parents.

It sucks but it seems like in these couple of instances it's either no work or free work with CD sales.
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #173
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson ➑️
Now it appears that Engineer #2 is actually charging more than Engineer #1 AND getting more business, which completely negates the point that you were making by sharing this example with us.
Shhhhh... don't let the secret out.
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #174
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mpdonahue's Avatar
As time goes by, the guy working for free will find that the $15 price point will become a stepping stone to the same elephant in the room that the music industry in general is attempting coming to terms with, piracy.
Very soon he'll find that several of the enterprising, media savvy parents will buy a single disc and copy it for the others. Once this starts, the basis of the business model goes down the tubes.
Where I come from we call this business model slow death.....
I'll push Hudson's buttons for a second and give an other example of this. Naxos has a set recording fee per project to deliver a finished master. Let's just say that after 2 days traveling out and back, 3 days of recording, 2-3 days of editing and some more time putting a high shine on the master so it gets approved, you're working for marginally more than minimum wage. There are VERY few individuals that can make this model work for them, and they definitely have to make compromises in the final product based on the financial parameters of the arrangement. The people that make this work spend their life traveling from gig to gig, editing the last project during every free moment of the current project and cranking out masters on the week at home, where there is virtually no home life. And to add insult to injury, at the end of the year, they make not much more than the bartender that serves them their drink. God forbid that they slip and fall and have to spend a couple of weeks laid up. Lost income and no way to make it back.
Just some food for thought.

-mark
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #175
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue ➑️
As time goes by, the guy working for free will find that the $15 price point will become a stepping stone to the same elephant in the room that the music industry in general is attempting coming to terms with, piracy.
At least in the area I'm most familiar with, this hasn't been true. And the reason is pretty easy to guess: it isn't only about the music. It's about getting a cool CD to remember all your hard work by. I've never heard piracy mentioned even once by the guys that do these types of gigs in VA/DC, and they've been doing it for years.

That doesn't apply to everyone though. Rick mentioned his sales dropped, and I think T.W. Bethe has also had to deal with this?
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #176
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sonare's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue ➑️
Naxos has a set recording fee per project to deliver a finished master.
The way to make it work with Naxos (as Soundmirror surely knows) is to work for the client, not N. The client then gets to negotiate terms.

Rich

PS- Ever feel like a rat on a slowly sinking ship?
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #177
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sonare's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse ➑️
At least in the area I'm most familiar with, this hasn't been true. And the reason is pretty easy to guess: it isn't only about the music. It's about getting a cool CD to remember all your hard work by. I've never heard piracy mentioned even once by the guys that do these types of gigs in VA/DC, and they've been doing it for years.

That doesn't apply to everyone though. Rick mentioned his sales dropped, and I think T.W. Bethe has also had to deal with this?
But is it piracy when you copy an illegal CD? If the copyright mechanicals aren't paid it is technically illegal, and it doesn't matter if there are 5 or 5000 at $5 or free.

Of course several ARCHIVAL CDs are a different matter (wink, wink, nod nod).

Rich
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #179
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quality will always be required by some.

Quality in recording takes knowledge learned over time in the trade and very expensive equipment. Both these factors need to be in place in order to deliver to the market that requires quality! For example, the city banker with a recording hobby might have the most incredible recording rig in terms of quality (as he can afford it) but does not have the experience, mindset and skills required to do the job to the standard required as it is not his full time thang. He also literally does not have the time as he is not a full time recordist.

I see it as a long term road, I havn't quite reached Plush's 8 year plan yet (at least not in terms of specific location recording) but see that those that make it that far will be few and far between. The market will always be able to support the few dedicated full time recordists that reach that pinnacle of experience and capability to deliver high-end service and product.

The hobbyist recordists are ideally suited to deliver to the hobbyist musicians.

The tonmeisters are ideally suited to deliver to the professional players.

No conflict!
Old 4th June 2009 | Show parent
  #180
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
We charge a fee and provide CDs and DVDs at a very reasonable rate to the clients we serve. There is another company near here that does a lot of school gigs and he does things a bit differently. He does the recording for free but the school has to purchase a minimum of 75 CDs at a cost of $15.00 each so he gets $1125 for the recording and 75 CDs. He then offers them a discount if they get more CDs but it is not much of a discount. It the school is using this as a fund raiser it has to put the cost of the CD at $20.00 or more and many parents balk at that price point.

We have had to put an FBI warning on the beginning of all of our DVDs since parents who are somewhat tech savvy were making copies of them and giving them away. They probably still do but...

Our typical CD sales are 25 per concert and our typical DVD sales are 35 per concert.

We get a few calls every year from schools offering us the "opportunity" to record their concerts and when we start discussing our fee structure things turn interesting. They want us to do the recordings for free and to make our money off the CD or DVD sales. They tell us they will not guarantee us a minimum amount of sales and they will not help us with the sales. I tell them what our setup is and that we will charge them a flat fee for the recording. provide reasonably prices CDs and DVDs and they can take the risk of of selling DVDs or CDs to the parents. Most times they say NO THANKS and look elsewhere.

Computers and the internet are changing the way people propagate the recordings of the concerts.

One parent told me that he can make lots of copies of our CDs or DVDs at high speed using his computer for a lot less than we are selling them for and wonders WHY we are charging the groups so much for our services. He has completely taken out the cost of our equipment, the cost of our duplicating and printing equipment, the post production of the event and the rendering of the DVDs and the mastering of the CDs and is basically saying that he can make copies cheaper. SO WHAT! He also was very proud of the fact that he could take our CD make a copy of the artwork (which took us a couple of hours to produce) on his scanner and then use his Epson printer to make copies exactly like we were providing. I did not want to tell him that I could report him to the FBI for pirating CDs and DVDs but I felt like I should at least tell him that he should read the warning at the beginning of the DVD so at least he knew what kind of fine he would be facing. His response was" well that notice is on the front of every DVD so what no one pays any attention to that"

It is an interesting world we live in and it grows stranger every day.
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