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How much to charge for my home studio time? Full gear list included
Old 10th March 2021
  #1
How much to charge for my home studio time? Full gear list included

Hey, over the past year I've been getting a lot more serious about engineering and production. I've been producing for maybe 5-6 years or so but only really got into mixing and engineering maybe a year or so ago. I spent a good chunk of money kitting out my bedroom studio, and now want to make sure I set a fair price for my customers.

Due to COVID restrictions in my province(Quebec), I've only been able to have a couple sessions recently. I charged 50$ an hour and included free mixing on my own time when the artists weren't in the studio. This seems a bit low, but I would like to entice new customers to book so they can get an idea of my mixing ability, then maybe raise prices in a year or so once I have more repeat customers. I have a friend who owns less equipment and has less mixing experience who just so happens to be a genius with social media and getting his name out there, so he's also charging 50$ and seems to get quite a few customers.

I would estimate I now have around 10k CAD (8k USD) worth of physical gear not including the computer, DAWs, plugins and software. I have written a gear list below. Keep in mind that this is a very small bedroom studio, so it will most likely only be used for solo artists like rappers, singers, guitarists etc.

Microphones
  • Vanguard Audio Labs V13 (large diaphragm tube condenser, my nicest mic usually used for lead vocals)
  • AKG D5 (dynamic, somewhat similar to an SM57 and sounds good on an amp/cab for guitar and bass)
  • Sonarworks XREF20 measurement mic (omni pattern small condenser, mostly use it for zoom/discord calls but could be used as a room mic maybe?)

Controllers/mixers
  • Behringer X-Touch (8+1 moto faders with various other buttons and controls, works much better with Ableton than with Pro Tools)
  • Fostex VM88 (very old mixer. currently not plugged in, but could be useful if I ever need some more preamps)

Outboard gear
  • Midas L10 (cheapest 500 series chassis on the market, the card slots are not all straight making module installation a total PITA, but no problems otherwise)
  • Golden Age Premier PRE-573 (the premier version of their 1073 clone, has real Carnhill transformers and higher quality build)
  • JLM Audio LA500A (opto compressor modeled after an LA3A/LA2A with a HUGE transformer, sounds great on almost everything)
  • 2x Lindell PEX-500 (solid state pultec style EQs with aftermarket opamps installed by previous owner. bought 2 off reverb, one was DOA and refunded, paid for it to be fixed by a professional at Economik and is now broken again smh)
  • TK Audio BC501 (SSL bus comp style compressor with a couple extra features. my single most expensive piece of gear but it does wonders on the mix bus, especially with the THD switch turned on)
  • Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 (cheap, basic TRS patchbay. I have no need for a 96 point bantam model, some of the jacks have gotten a bit scratchy though)

Interfaces (aggregated into one device)
  • Solid State Logic SSL2+ (2 in, 4 out interface with a nice BIG volume knob. my main interface)
  • Steinberg UR22 mkii (2 in, 2 out interface used as a mono/stereo send and return with outboard gear)

Monitoring
  • 2x Genelec 6020a (these were purchased by a family member about 10 years ago at a HUGE discount at an audio warehouse liquidation sale, amazing monitors, same as 8020b with an added RCA jack)
  • Genelec 5050a subwoofer (passive radiator subwoofer that was sold as a complete system with the 6020a, sounds amazing)
  • Audio Technica ATH-M50XBT (bluetooth/wired version of the standard ATH-M50X, mainly used by the artist to monitor while recording)

Instruments/MIDI controllers
  • Yamaha TRBX174EW bass (amazing beginner bass, the second cheapest model at my local Steve's music store, purchased very recently to learn bass on)
  • La Patrie Presentation nylon string classical guitar (quite an old guitar, sounds pretty nice but I'm not really into guitar nor can I play well enough to judge it properly)
  • Behringer Odyssey (super nice, especially for the price. fully metal and built like a tank while even the original was plastic. sounds super fat)
  • Yamaha P35 (fully weighted full size digital piano with MIDI output, doesn't feel like a real piano but feels a lot nicer than the springy keys of the Behringer)

Other stuff
  • Audio Technica ATLP60USB (cheap USB turntable used as part of my aggregate device for sampling obscure old vinyl)
  • Peavey KBA30 (technically a keyboard amp, but I use it for bass as keyboards can actually produce lower frequencies than a bass, so no worries about blowouts like there would be with a guitar amp)
  • DIY rockwool/roxul acoustic panels (spent about 350$ and a weekend of my time instead of paying multiple thousand for prebuilt ones from Primacoustic or GIK)
  • Sonarworks Reference 4 with measurement mic (this in combination with the acoustic treatment made my mixes translate MUCH better than they used to. I highly recommend this for any studio)
  • Yorkville SD2 studio desk (cheapest studio desk I could find, this is the small version with 4u of rackspace, the SD1 is much wider and has 8u IIRC)
  • Yorkville SDW side monitor stands (I have my monitors on the main upper part of the desk, so these are used for my laptop and my turntable)

What do you think I should be charging for my services? Any input is appreciated, thanks!
Old 10th March 2021
  #2
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
We run everything with a ROLAND VS 2480 --- $75/50 per hour

Still have Floppies and early SCSI drives


Its never the gear with us ---
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 10th March 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
gear doesn't matter, it's all about your skills...
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo ➡️
Its never the gear with us ---
As long as you have a disembodied head playing harp you're all good.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
As long as you have a disembodied head playing harp you're all good.
No, man. We kicked that guy out for good. He was always coming in at the wrong time, moving around the room and knocking mic stands after we got everything set up, bleeding into other people's mics during the quiet parts. It got to be too much. A couple of times he outright asked for songwriting credits, although he backed off on that when we told him to chill. He was driving our best clients away, and he had to go.
Old 11th March 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
I know the gear isn't important but hopefully he didn't take that Langevin DVC with him.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
As long as you have a disembodied head playing harp you're all good.
Been that way since the 70's with us
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
I know the gear isn't important but hopefully he didn't take that Langevin DVC with him.
He did leave the UA 610 , though
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo ➡️
Been that way since the 70's with us
So besides harp guy what was at the heart of the studio gearwise in the 70's?
Old 11th March 2021
  #10
Gear Addict
 
bmanzer's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
You're already getting $50/hr, I would stick with that and build your client base. When you get too much work then think about an increase.
I think it would have been better to just provide a link to your web site where the gear list and pictures are rather than post a gear list here.
Old 11th March 2021
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
This is a basic business question, not a gear question. So what follows is advice for any small business starting out.

1) I don't want to be harsh but nobody cares how much you invested in your studio. Your clients certainly don't. That's just part of the deal of running a business. As your client, it's not my responsibility to recoup your investment for you. I should pay you based on the value of your work to me.

2) I don't know what the going rate is in your city, but whatever it is you should be below it. This is not because you aren't good or you're not talented, it's because you have very few clients right now. You should be below market until you have a full roster. Then you should keep raising your rates until you are at about 90% capacity. If you go over that, you're too cheap.

2a) Just to be clear... start out under market. And for what it's worth, in my market which is saturated with home studios and producers, $400/day would be a lot for a studio such as you describe. When I need to record something I can't do at home, I rent seriously badass spaces with fully treated rooms for not much more than that. Your market may be different.

3) The "x factor" here is your producing skills. If you're a really, really great producer... that could change things. So if you've had songs you've produced that have been successful (at least regionally) that could change things. If you're an in-demand producer in your area, ignore everything I said. But I suspect you wouldn't be posting this if that were the case.

Final point.

Do it!!! Go for it man. Don't be dissuaded by anyone that says you can't pull this off and don't be discouraged if it's hard to get it going at first. If you've got the desire to keep at at, you'll get where you're trying to go.

Last edited by GravesNumber9; 11th March 2021 at 01:44 AM.. Reason: clarifying meaning
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
So besides harp guy what was at the heart of the studio gearwise in the 70's?
Sony SOS 1/4 inch and Cassettes ruled the world -- Four track reel by 1983
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo ➡️
Sony SOS 1/4 inch and Cassettes ruled the world -- Four track reel by 1983

Our first DAW was the AKAI Dr4A

MIDI was the big thing in the late 80's >> sequencers ran the studio ....
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo ➡️
Sony SOS 1/4 inch and Cassettes ruled the world -- Four track reel by 1983
Funny that many people reading here would probably turn their noses up at the VS2480 and get all excited about the four track reel to reel while I'm guessing you are probably not missing it in the least.
Old 11th March 2021
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by northeastbeats ➡️
[. . .] want to make sure I set a fair price for my customers. [. . .]

What do you think I should be charging for my services? [. . .]
Charge more. . .and don't charge 'by the hour'.

But you have to find 'better' clients with deeper pockets, bigger challenges, and less time on their hands to be worrying about how much you charge by the hour.


My 2 cents,

Ray H.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
Funny that many people reading here would probably turn their noses up at the VS2480 and get all excited about the four track reel to reel while I'm guessing you are probably not missing it in the least.
Been with a ROLAND since 1996
Even at this wonderful studio --it was the VS 2480 >> for 4 years --I engineered .. https://youtu.be/PftPXmNitfI


All recordings are still via the Roland https://youtu.be/zwpjKoFc-xk
Attached Thumbnails
How much to charge for my home studio time? Full gear list included-_mg_9081sm.jpg  
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
Charge more. . .and don't charge 'by the hour'.

But you have to find 'better' clients with deeper pockets, bigger challenges, and less time on their hands to be worrying about how much you charge by the hour.


My 2 cents,

Ray H.
This too. Charge more depends on your market again... but 100% don't charge by the hour. Crappy way to work if you're the "talent" and a crappy way to run a business if you're behind the desk.

That's my opinion from being on both sides. I know many who disagree.
Old 11th March 2021
  #18
Lives for gear
 
DomiBabi's Avatar
The answer probably has more to do with your market, target customer base, your credits, the types of services offered, and how well of a job you do consistently.

While it’s possible to make a great record with minimal gear or low end/old/ less prestigious gear...Having a great setup obviously helps in many ways...

...that said, your setup isn’t going to impress the clientele. Take it from me, most artists don’t know gear, and your setup is far away from what most studios would consider “high end.” That isn’t meant to be a negative comment, but rather something to put into perspective. It’s not going to be the selling point. The product you provide, the relationships you build, and the positivity you bring to someone’s creative journey will always come first for a client.

If you are starting out... price competitively, and deliver what you promise. It will go a long way.

Also, vibe and workflow and comfort mean a lot to a paying customer. They will appreciate a clean sexy purposeful space over a dirty room full of gear. It’s a big selling point.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Webb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo ➡️
We run everything with a ROLAND VS 2480 --- $75/50 per hour

Still have Floppies and early SCSI drives


Its never the gear with us ---
What desk do you have? Looks great.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
'm not getting your issues with charging by the hour: with some folks/on some projects, this is very efficient tool to keep things within clear limits and/or prevent people from talking on end...
Old 11th March 2021
  #21
You duplicated your original thread. Why?
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
'm not getting your issues with charging by the hour: with some folks/on some projects, this is very efficient tool to keep things within clear limits and/or prevent people from talking on end...
If I'm on the business end of the desk I don't like it because it's very unlikely that I'll ever realistically want to do two sessions in a day. The setup alone is really annoying but, again... maybe if you had assistants and a large studio or multiple rooms that would be different.

On the artist end, where I have way more experience, I really don't like it. I just don't think in terms of hours if I'm being creative. Although I do appreciate half-day rates.

99% of this is probably just my own mentality, especially on the artist end.

On the business end you could make a great case for charging hourly for some services. Like mixing for example. I can see that. But not tracking, that just seems like a hassle to me.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Webb ➡️
What desk do you have? Looks great.
It was made for our 2480 -- Omni Rax https://omnirax.com/product/sonix-c24-4/
Old 11th March 2021
  #24
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Try to "recruit" clients == that work the way you like to produce.. Someone who feels comfortable with your approach ...
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GravesNumber9 ➡️
(...)
On the business end you could make a great case for charging hourly for some services. Like mixing for example. I can see that. But not tracking, that just seems like a hassle to me.
again: it does depend on the situation...

- tracking with orchestras is ridiculously expensive so there better be a very strict schedule (and everyone is charging by the our hour, at least on most occasions where i've been involved).

- sometimes i'm using a mixed rate system: a fixed rate for normal working hours but i then charge hourly for overtime/weekends (and add a penalty...).

- sometimes i charge daily or weekly but watch the clock ticking when mastering etc.

- and then there ard clients who don't bother much about a few days more or less so of course i won't charge by the hour either...

___


back to the original topic (but maybe with a twist): i do charge depending on how much time is needed but also how much gear and personnel is involved: the a cappella choir in front of stereo mic (or around and ambisonic mic) pays less than a band with a full blown production reheasing in the studio as they might need more mics than signals fit into a madi stream (and i'll want at least one assistant if not two).

so: it depends...
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
'm not getting your issues with charging by the hour: with some folks/on some projects, this is very efficient tool to keep things within clear limits and/or prevent people from talking on end...
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . .
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. 1925
There are exceptions to every rule. . .including my advice to not charge by the hour.

If the OP charges the $50/hour, that rate will be lucky - I think - to result in a real income of $1000/week. . .and a net business profit margin approaching zero. Now I recall the first time I was able to demand $1000/week for my time. . .and the first time I was able to demand $5000/week for my time. Both were appreciated. But in hindsight, both imposed limitations on creativity and income.

I'm implying that there are alternatives. . .and suggesting that having clients who think of being billed by the hour can be - at almost any hourly rate - far less profitable than having clients who want their concerns addressed. To appropriately attract and serve the latter usually means the service provider has to think way beyond hourly rates.

Thought experiment. Imagine the top sustainable real profits a creative business owner might achieve with each of the following types of potential clients:
  • Client Type A: Impoverished group of musicians trying to put an album together with no external funding.
  • Client Type B: Successful, busy entrepreneur wanting original intros for their podcasts and videos.
  • Client Type C: Large corporation wanting strongly branded sound design for their multi-million dollar campaigns.
  • Client Type Z: A deeply motivated and enthusiastic fan of your work - with sufficiently deep pockets. They want you to do the project and are really not concerned with hours. They want the results they know you will deliver.

The bottom line of my advice to the OP is to find a way to attract/create more profitable clients. Charging by the hour rarely solves this challenge. If you find musicians or business persons in which you wish to invest - or even just help with reduced costs - do so. But understand the opportunity costs involved.


Hope this helps,

Ray H.

To the problem of limiting clients who are inclined to stay around and 'talk on end', I would insist this can be dealt with diplomatically. We should always truly treat our clients as we would treat our friends. Generally be transparent that you need to focus on other tasks and that you look forward to seeing them in the future. Walk them to their car if you need to. Leave them with a smile and best wishes. Gotta get back to work. Bye.
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
hm...

personally, i tend to go with what i think will be interesting and maybe an intellectual challenge, engage in conversations and discussions with the artists, hope to get inspired by their work, be involved into something which is aesthetically pleasing and maybe even of some temporary cultural relevance rather than to focus on the rate.

as mentioned previously/elsewhere, some of my best work i did unter rather poor conditions, not only in terms of gear but with overall limited resources or even under severe restrictions...

...but then, some folks set different priorities?!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cS06eprlj2I
Old 11th March 2021 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
[. . .] personally, i tend to go with what i think will be interesting and maybe an intellectual challenge, engage in conversations and discussions with the artists [. . .]
That tendency was only slightly alluded to in my comment that charging my clients by the hour 'imposed limitations on creativity and income'. These notions have turned out to have been entangled particles across the vast space of my careers.

Either way, money isn't everything. . .and is insufficient to define our lives.


Spooky actions at a distance,

Ray H.
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