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Mixing for free.....how to make it pay???
Old 17th May 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 
jazzius's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Mixing for free.....how to make it pay???

I'm about to mix an album for free!!!......it's a nice project with good musicians and singers.......everyone is working for free and i want to be a part of the project to get a foot in the mixing door...

..at the moment there is no record company involved......the idea is to make the music first and shop it second..

..i look at it as an investment in the (my) future but i need to come to some arrangment with the producer about future payment for the album if/when it makes money (which i believe it will)....which brings me on to the reason for this post:

Does anyone have any suggestions about what is possible/normal/sensible to do in these circumstances?....

......should i arrange to get a percentage of the money that the record company makes from the album?......if so, how do i keep track of what money the record makes in the future?......how would i know the record company is honest about earnings?...what % do i ask?

.....should i also try to get a cut of the publishing..(as i understand it, this money is easier to keep track of)? in this thread, jules says he has a cut of the publishing.......is this normal for an engineer/producer to get some publishing money even though he hasn't written the songs?

Are there any sources where one can get a standard legal formula to use in this circumstance or do i need to shell out money for legal advice?

If anyone has any tips/experience to share it would be much appreciated

cheers..........Darius
Old 17th May 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What you are really talking about isn't really mixing for free as much as it is just mixing for payment on the backend. Most of the indie projects I've done in similar situations I get 10 producer points, that is to say, I don't have to wait for recoupment before I get paid, which should be minimal anyway. It's not easy to track down how much or little the label is taking in. Trust plays a key issue. When I do these deals, I usually tell myself I'm doing them for free, then if a check comes in, I'm suprised and not budgeted incorrectly. I don't even pass these things to legal powers that be. Make sure that everyone understands the priority level that they are at, so if some label offers you a wheel barrel of cash to do a dream project, you can do it without feeling like you are abondoning anyone.
The one time I felt like I sorta got reamed, a client sold about 10,000 independently, which ain't too bad considering there was no middle man (@ $10us X 10,000= ). All the money the band made from the cd went to funding mechandise, a website, tour, promo, etc... and I probably should have gotten a chunk, but when they were signed to a label with significant funds, they didn't flitch when I gave them a slightly higher rate than normal, and they had me do the whole project. I could've bitched and moaned and went out and bought a SPIDER, but instead I made a lot more by choosing my battles.
Old 17th May 2003
  #3
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
A lawyer can make a contract up for ANYTHING.

Here's how you can 'do it wrong'

1) Not getting it in writing before you start - negotiating during or at the end is - ONE GIANT WASTE OF TIME. (so if you are about to start, I put it to you that you can count on being screwed on this one, but will have a stratagy in place in time for 'the next one')

2) Not insisting on payment from 'record one' - you want to be paid back from the sale of the first record, not just when the band recoup all the recording costs'

3) By being shy and counting on friendship and other people 'doing the right thing' - this is the music industry! You must be prepaired to carry out threats of a later start untill things are properly in place.

Anyhow, I am no expert, while I have been "adventuring" in the world of speculation deals for the last 3 years I can honestly say I haven't made much more than a few beans from it to date by way of revinues from royalties nor have I banked any sort of "pay off". (just basic return "paid" work) BUT I WILL KEEP CHIPPING AWAY FROM IT!

I do however, relish these sorts of topics, I see spec work as the only way I am going to ever make some big money, if ever...

Keep em coming!

GOOD LUCK!

Old 17th May 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
jazzius's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The way it's set at the moment, i've agreed to do one mix for free, then, if they like what i've done (which they will) we're gonna talk business for the rest of the album.

E-cue, what's a producer point?.......is that 10% of what the producer would normally get?....

.....even if i don't make a crumb from it, i want to have something on paper before we start, just so they don't think i'm doing it for free..........like i said, it's an investment in the future and i'll get more work from it...

.........the problem for starters like myself is that it's difficult to find stuff worth mixing for free.....i could mix countless semi-amateur projects, but i feel it would be counter productive to play these mixes to anyone as mix-demo's 'cause i honestly think that most people (including many producers and ALL a+r) cannot seperate out the different elements to a song.....what i mean is, if it's a crap song, they feel it's also a crap mix.....or rather they don't get a good feeling from it, and may blame your mix......so it's just a case of being able to mix something good to get the ball rolling.
Old 18th May 2003
  #5
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius

E-cue, what's a producer point?.......is that 10% of what the producer would normally get?....
A producer point is 1% of the record that begins at the 1st record sale. An artist point isn't the same in that the artist doesn't see a dime until all the project fee's (studio time, mastering, tape cost, etc) are full recouped.
If one record was sold for $10 (at 10 points), then I'd reicieve $1. This percentance (even if it was an artist point) is higher than what most artists themselves make on major label stuff, but if it's released independently, it works out nicely for all. If you don't have many hit songs, or at least, songs that people seem to like that your worked on, I don't think you can justify asking for too many points. If a manager gets involved and doesn't want to give any points up, just tell him your full rate, tell him you'll log the hours each day, and set up a payment plan when the record is done, with 15% interest, overpriced overtime, etc.

Good luck! Sounds like you'll have a lot of fun.
Old 21st May 2003
  #6
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Good luck jazzius I am 101% behind what you are doing!

I am just getting some 'bites' on acts I have speculated on, but prior to these potential acorns I had done about 5 or 6 acts before as 'training projects' with about 6 acts rejecting my offer of speculative work.

My point?

I feel now several projects on, that I am skilled at 'meetings.' Sure I had producing covered, but not the chin wagging skills required to conclude a spec deal.

Now I must have had about 12 bands in front of me, scratching their chins wondering if they will accept my offer...

One of the early bands I was interested in phoned me, my first email in response was to send them 2 contracts!! DOH! Talk about un-subtle!

Anyhow, knock em dead tiger,

And the one track for free thing? I love the 'talent handgrenade" idea..

Toss one of those suckers in and devastate em!

Old 21st May 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I've done a few "spec" jobs in the past, and IMHO if there isn't money in the project to start with, there probably never will be. There are a few exceptions, notably Paul Youngs first album (those involved with that all made a lot of money), but this is an exception rather than the rule.

Good luck, take careful head of Jules advice, but don't get involved if you can't afford to end up possibly giving the time away.

Regards


Roland
Old 21st May 2003
  #8
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
A chum of mine is pals with David Greys producer.. (big here in the UK) He did his first record in a bedroom on spec, I DO BELIVE he is on course to be a Milionare soon (the producer that is) nice chap! I met him once.. - Yestin is his name.. Lend us a fiver "Yestie" I would say if I met him again!

Old 21st May 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 
jazzius's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the encouragement guys.....

......the producer is gonna be going places (he's musical director of 2 big acts here in NL) so that's why i'm so keen to get involved.........but the album is a "pet" project involving all his mates and he was planning to mix it in his own studio (which will suck).......**** it, i think i'll just do the whole thing for free.....then i'll have a great demo reel (the album wil feature different vocalists in different styles)......
Old 24th May 2003
  #10
Lives for gear
 
cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A while ago I offered to do free demos for a bunch of bands/individuals. They all said they were REALLY INTERESTED. I called them back a week later and none of them gave a ****.

People have to suffer to appreciate something.
Old 25th May 2003
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Yeah!

If its worth doing, its worth being paid for. If the guy is doing this with his mates and he's big time, a few quid is nothing to him.

My way of doing favours these days is to let a few extra hours slip into the schedule, but I can't remember the last time I agreed to work for free.

Regards


Roland
Old 26th May 2003
  #12
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Roland

If its worth doing, its worth being paid for.
If its worth doing, it can also be well worth doing for free.

NOTHING is worth doing for cheap. That's where everything gets confused and everybody walks away feeling like they got ripped off.
Old 26th May 2003
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
ultima's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
NOTHING is worth doing for cheap. That's where everything gets confused and everybody walks away feeling like they got ripped off.
man.....That is just too true.
Old 28th May 2003
  #14
Gear Head
 
Gijs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hee jo Jazzius,

I see youre getting all the good advice you can get!
Hang in there, I think you should do it.

Old 7th July 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
PhilE's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultima
man.....That is just too true.

TRUE A great shame but very true
Old 7th July 2006 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I just did a similar deal for similar reasons. I structured it so that I own the masters. They have to buy CDs from me at cost plus $1.00 per unit. Downloads are split 50/50. It's structured so that even in the event the material is re-recorded by another label/studio, I get paid under the same guidelines. There's also a clause that any distribution and sale of songs/cd not covered in the agreement, a portion of which will be paid to me in accordance to the spirit and intent of the original agreement.

Now here's some advice. Set a recording schedual as part of the contract. Exceeding the hours in the studio is subject to full studio rates over and above the original contract. This is a biggie! If not, they'll be in your studio for a year. They'll work at their convenience instead of yours and you'll start feeling that your being taken advantage of. That's REALLY BAD for the creative process.

No matter what deal you make, stick with it as if your getting paid $1000/hour and give them your best. You owe them that, even if you agreed to do it for nothing. Remember, the choice was yours to do the work.
Old 8th July 2006 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
not that this thread is 3 years old or anything
Old 8th July 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Ol' Betsey's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Cowboy
not that this thread is 3 years old or anything
Oh yeah and like this thread is so totally not relevant to what's going nowadays, huh?
dfegad

Good points Kats...

R.
Old 8th July 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
cajonezzz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
If its worth doing, it can also be well worth doing for free.

NOTHING is worth doing for cheap. That's where everything gets confused and everybody walks away feeling like they got ripped off.

Bob, I've been reading your posts here for years now, always solid, well thought out, and backed up by years of experience.

This comment however is the real back of the head slap for me.

Thanks. It really resonated for me-

Keep em coming Yoda.


cz
Old 9th July 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
If its worth doing, it can also be well worth doing for free.

NOTHING is worth doing for cheap. That's where everything gets confused and everybody walks away feeling like they got ripped off.
This is some of the Best advice i have heard in a long time ,,, It really hits home with me now, I have just opened my new room and been giving away time for less than it costs to power the desk....
For me its been necessary to work the bugs out but after 3 weeks of sessions and no real problems...... I am ready no more big bugs....


There are projects that i love to work on and wont charge for, the people wouldn't be able to afford it anyway and i can spend the amount of time that I want to on those projects.

But....


I still need to make the rent and bills, So................

Its time to raise the rates !




steve






Old 9th July 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep
This is some of the Best advice i have heard in a long time ,,, It really hits home with me now, I have just opened my new room and been giving away time for less than it costs to power the desk....
For me its been necessary to work the bugs out but after 3 weeks of sessions and no real problems...... I am ready no more big bugs....


There are projects that i love to work on and wont charge for, the people wouldn't be able to afford it anyway and i can spend the amount of time that I want to on those projects.

But....


I still need to make the rent and bills, So................

Its time to raise the rates !




steve







The problem comes Steve, when they all start going to the next room that lets them in for nothing/next to nothing until they in turn raise their rates. With all due respect to everyone here, if a job is worth doing it is worth paying for. Sure when you open a new room it may be wise to have an introductory rate, however freebie's and deals usually do no one any favours.

Recently a client of mine that has been overseas for a few years returned to England. He had been married over there and it hadn't worked out. When he got back into England he immediately called me and came round. We discussed work that we had done in the past, work that he had been involved with over the last few years abroad. He had a few tracks that needed a quick bit of mastering that I did for him, (I didn't charge for this, it was only a few hours work and we have done many projects before where I had been properly paid) . He was obviously a little bit low so my wife and I invited him over a couple of times for dinner and I put him in line with a couple of contacts. He discussed us working a couple of jobs together along the lines of work that we had done in the past and mentioned that he wanted to record his new band. I came up with a project involving his band that we could do together, he was unsure that it could be done affordably, so I invited him over and we discussed how we could make money out of it with the minimum of upfront outlay.

He has a mailing list, and I happen to be on it. A couple of months later I get an email from the mailing list telling me about this wonderful project that he is embarking on and inviting his mailing list fans to attend, interestingly this is the exact same project I had proposed to him.

I am sure that he has found someone to participate for free, I wouldn't object if it had been his idea and he had rang around for quotes, but I would have understood it. The situation is that I feel used by someone that I have worked with over 15 years. Now I know that not all people are like that and some are as honest as the day is long, but it points out why you should think carefully about what services you give away. With the availibility of cheap kit, high number of weekend warriors it is difficult at the best of times to make a living in this game, unfortunately at the moment I have no choice as I need to pay my mortgage and fortunately enough people do feel that my services are worth paying for, however it isn't easy.

The real problem with the music business is that everyone owes someone else a favour, but few people owe anyone real cash, if everybody paid, we'd all be better off!

Regards to all


Roland
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