How do you handle setting the rate(s) for the work you do? Is it always "whatever I can get?" or are there some clear guidelines related to market and experience level? I've always been willing to work within any budget but sometimes I have to juggle financial needs with my desire (or necessity) to take every job that comes my way.
In our studio, the engineer and studio is an all-inclusive price - very similar to the previously mentioned rates. We are open to guest engineers, to be sure, but that would significantly rate the rates due to the fact that we would need to provide an assistant to help with the setup, etc.
Overall, most of our clients just get quoted one hourly rate and it includes an engineer.
I'm glad no one is bitching about this issue here. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had over the bar at mcguiness with the guys who aren't working, who think they just didn't get a fair deal. You have to get your expectations ironed out up front. If you agree to work for less than you think that you're worth, then you can't bitch about it. And if you don't like the arrangement then say no. It's okay. Just say no.
And be very weary of the flat rate. I used to do that all the time, and I've realized now that most of the time I was bitter about it when it was all over. Then last year I got into a flat agreement thinking it was about six days worth of work, and it ended up being a couple of months. And the whole time I did the best I could to honor the agreement, but my attitude sucked. Finally after having it out with the band, they got another $1000 together for me. Which, I appreciated, and they thought it was very kind. But I still did the project for less than half of what I'd been making for two years.
I guess my two cents is do your best to work it out up front, and if you don't, then you just have to live with it.
I can't remember who said this to me, but at some point I heard "get two out of three: good music, good money or good hang... if you get two then do the record."
Another word of advice I heard was a Hollywood saying, "One for the studio, and one for me" Do something for the money, and don't forget to voluneteer for something that you really believe in. We are creating art here aren't we?
by the way... Here's my nuts on the table boys...
I get about $500 a day if I can. Anybody else wanna chime in?
Flat rates suck. We had the same experience in NYC - we used to charge flat rates on the regular, and always ended up feeling screwed in the end. We wanted to put out a perfect product, so our clients were thrilled, but at a flat rate, if you make a mistake (especially if you add video editing to the mix - geez), corrections or improvements can take an extra day sometimes!
Now, we are hourly. Period. We estimate how long things will take upfront, and then try to match or beat that for our clients.
Let's face it.... When it comes to making an album, where do we cut corners. Are the producers gonna cut their fees??? Nope!!! Can you negotiate rates with the AFM or AFTRA????? Nope!!! Can you bargin with studios and engineers. YEP!!!!! We can be replaced by someone that can and will work cheaper, not better........ I always tell my clients that they get what they pay for. If you want your buddy to mix your record in his living room to save a few hundred bucks a day then don't bring it back to me to ask why it doesn't sound as good as the single that I mixed. Now before everyone jumps my shit, I do not and I stress do not consider myself God's gift to mixers, but this happend to me just the other day. A client that I mixed his first two singles that got great reviews especially in the sonic relm, cut the rest of his record somewhere else to save money. Then after they mixed it twice he brought it to me to mix, which blew there's away and he was happy, but CDX time came back around and he wanted to know why the new single I mixed didn't have the MY Big Drum Sound (the ones I cut and mixed). I said, Well (name withheld) they're not MY drums, only my interpretation of someone elses drum sounds.
As a drummer, I'll second that. I take price in my drum tuning/sounds and it matters, not, without a great engineer. Joe Baldridge and Bryan Lenox are two, in particular, who have gotten superb drum sounds with me.
For me its a percentage of the cost of the gear for rental - usually between 3-5% of cost
Add in a fixed cost for insurace/office rent/phone/other expenses
Add in the cost of transportation of the gear - truck rental/gas/insurance
Add in your fee whether it be a day rate/hourly/hourly minimum
Add in cost of employees rates plus payroll taxes/insurance
Multiply by whatever markup you need. After all, if your not making a profit, whats the point? Right?
Sounds like a lot, and it is, but otherwise you're throwing money away.