Working for free...Let's talk free.
Old 10th March 2013
  #1
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Joe Haze's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Working for free...Let's talk free.

Being asked to work for free, in some cases could lead to other opportunities (well known band asking for a free mix)... but I just realized that there is a margin between free and DIRT CHEEP/FAVOR
Free is a bit of an insult no matter what project it is.

Most people can afford to kick down $50.00 (a TIP)..?
Old 10th March 2013
  #2
Gear maniac
Sometimes I do it but I need to LOVE the music and I need to be sure that they are totaly broke.

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Old 10th March 2013
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Haze View Post
Being asked to work for free, in some cases could lead to other opportunities (well known band asking for a free mix)... but I just realized that there is a margin between free and DIRT CHEEP/FAVOR
Free is a bit of an insult no matter what project it is.

Most people can afford to kick down $50.00 (a TIP)..?
Work on spec. Not for free. Fair enough to want to see what someone can do for you, but if they like and want to use, they pay.

No "band" is so broke they can't afford a few hundred bucks for a mix - that's a night out for most. If they don't value the result enough to want that sacrifice....
Old 10th March 2013
  #4
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Haze View Post
Being asked to work for free, in some cases could lead to other opportunities (well known band asking for a free mix)... but I just realized that there is a margin between free and DIRT CHEEP/FAVOR
Free is a bit of an insult no matter what project it is.

Most people can afford to kick down $50.00 (a TIP)..?
The only time I work for free is to prove myself. If I already have samples of my work to show and credits/references then no more freebies.

So for example if I've never done voiceover work...I need to demonstrate that I can record and mix a pro sounding voiceover.

Plenty of rock music in your portfolio but no rap? Record and mix some rap music for free. I would rather work for free and screw up (because I've never done something before) then get paid and screw up. Because if you're working for free then hey, the customer can't really complain right?

I've heard from restaurant owners that celebrities will often ask that their meal and the meals of the people they're with be comped. Now here you have someone who can obviously afford to eat out and they want free stuff. It really does boggle my mind!

If you have a well-rounded audio reel PLEASE for the love of god turn down free work. YOU are seriously devaluing our services. "But doom, I don't have any expenses so what does it matter". Yes you do. Food, electric, rent, etc. The barber "doesn't have any expenses" either but you don't see HIM giving people free haircuts, DO YOU?
Old 10th March 2013
  #5
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Joe Haze's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Work on spec. Not for free. Fair enough to want to see what someone can do for you, but if they like and want to use, they pay.

No "band" is so broke they can't afford a few hundred bucks for a mix - that's a night out for most. If they don't value the result enough to want that sacrifice....
Yes!
Old 10th March 2013
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Talking

.

The ONLY time I work for free is when the work is REALLY, REALLY hard - and lasts forever.

Otherwise, I politely decline.

.
Old 10th March 2013
  #7
I have to chime in. It is my experience that the same people who want free goods and services would never, NEVER, lift a finger to do anything for anyone else. The same overblown egotism that allows them to think they deserve others to provide services for the privilege of doing so also allows them to think they shit diamonds and everyone else should pay good money just to breath their rari****ingfied air.

Don't do it. If they can't pay you something, then they don't value you or your services and ultimately will do you more harm than good. Only in very rare situations when its someone you know and their finances are also known AND you are trying to do something for them, not for yourself, then its ok.
Old 12th March 2013
  #8
Gear Head
 
pollydave's Avatar
 

Can't afford to work free. I do play benifits for free but thats cause I might need help some day.
Old 12th March 2013
  #9
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ksandvik's Avatar
 

I've done recently free keyboard gigs, of many reasons: need to test out my new keyboard rig, cool to learn new songs, marketing and just more fun than sitting back home watching TV on weekends. Most likely I will get paid gigs soon as some of the bands think I should get paid and that way they know I show up :-).
Old 15th March 2013
  #10
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John Moran's Avatar
 

why do it for free ?
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Old 15th March 2013
  #11
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Haze View Post
Being asked to work for free, in some cases could lead to other opportunities (well known band asking for a free mix)... but I just realized that there is a margin between free and DIRT CHEEP/FAVOR
Free is a bit of an insult no matter what project it is.

Most people can afford to kick down $50.00 (a TIP)..?
If the project is worth anything to them they CAN find something to give you.

But once you accept a NO FEE gig - the balance of power changes. If you have not negotiated anything in return they will feel you don't value 'you' as much as you value 'them'.

Long story short:

Worked with group who liked my work and wanted me to produce and mix a track for them. My FEE was a contract for the song. They enthusiastically agreed.

Song was finished - they liked it - they ask to leave studio with the mix - without a contract.

I remind them of our initial discussion and our agreement. They 'remember' and say they will return with contract.

They return and ask to hear the now improved mix and... take it away - I ask for contract - they still don't have it! ...start saying how 'other' producers they are working with are offering free services…

I say the track does not leave the studio without a contract. They are angry, upset, frustrated. They leave.

They return with contract agreed by both parties - I give them the track and send them subsequent improvements.

The whole scenario really, really, pissed me off because I thought we were friends. and I was very clear and firm about my FEE from the beginning.

I was initially totally flabbergasted with their behaviour, but I had to hold my ground (to define an important boundary).

We no longer work together.
Old 15th March 2013
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by noiseflaw View Post
If the project is worth anything to them they CAN find something to give you.

But once you accept a NO FEE gig - the balance of power changes. If you have not negotiated anything in return the will feel you don't value 'you' as much as you value 'them'.

Long story short:

Worked with group who liked my work and wanted me to produce and mix a track for them. My FEE was a contract for the song. They enthusiastically agreed.

Song was finished - they liked it - they ask to leave studio with the mix - without a contract.

I remind them of our initial discussion and our agreement. They 'remember' and say they will return with contract.

They return and ask to hear the now improved mix and... take it away - I ask for contract - they still don't have it! ...start saying how 'other' producers they are working with are offering free services…

I say the track does not leave the studio without a contract. They are angry, upset, frustrated. They leave.

They return with contract agreed by both parties - I give them the track and send them subsequent improvements.

The whole scenario really, really, pissed me off because I thought we were friends. and I was very clear and firm about my FEE from the beginning.

I was initially totally flabbergasted with their behaviour, but I had to hold my ground (to define an important boundary).

We no longer work together.
.

If I had a dollar for every story like this for almost EVERY artist I've worked with...

Some I never worked with again, after they pulled this shit.

Many, I DID work with again, AFTER they signed the agreements.

But, man oh man, are memories SHORT in this monkey business!

And the shit artists and "collaborators" tried to pull on me is unending!

The excuses, rationalizations, bullshit, legal maneuvers, victimization garbage, etc.

I especially love all the charm-school, promises, blatant patronization, and seduction shit female artists pulled on me -
sorry, girls, but you can be REAL dooshebags, sometimes!....holy, moly, the stories I have.

It's gotten to the point that almost every time I see some poor schmuck guitar player producer dude
with some sexy female singer-songwriter artist - my first thought is -
jesus, I wonder how badly that poor **** is getting skrewed!!


Anyway, most artists usually ended up coming back to me with their tails between their legs, and signing my contracts - especially, after realizing that most successful, busy producers didn't give a **** about them - and that the chances of them ever going anywhere without (my or someone's) serious production, marketing, and business support and endless hard work - were virtually zero.

Of the indie bands I produced and co-write with - several artists, bands and collaborators I produced and promoted were signed to majors.

I also worked with major label acts during my artist production and engineering time.

I worked my freeking ASS off for every artist who entered my studio and life.

In general, as I said in another thread, when you work on 'spec', you can 'spec' not to get paid.

I know there are others here with different experience - for better or worse -
but once again, memories get VERY short in most business arrangements - ESPECIALLY, the music business -
but really, in ALL business.

So contracts, in general, are a great idea.

That said, you should NEVER sign a contract with someone you wouldn't do a handshake deal with.

...because, you will almost ALWAYS regret it.

That little feeling in your stomach telling you you can't trust a person - is almost always dead on!


To end this post on a more positive note, there's a TON of joy, inspiration, excitement, electricity, and wonderful experience to be had working with and collaborating with artists, tech professionals, and even industry business folks - but the business side of things is often EXTREMELY difficult for most sensitive, creative folks like us.


Way too often in the music industry, it's the business dealing that kills a potentially successful project.

Unfortunately.


So, in general, the best idea for success is to make the business arrangements VERY clear, and very pleasant.

This is often a huge challenge, but can CERTAINLY be done, and IS done, for the lucky few.


All just my own experience.

As always, YMMV.


.
Old 15th March 2013
  #13
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
If I had a dollar for every story like this for almost EVERY artist I've worked with...

Some I never worked with again, after they pulled this shit.

Many, I DID work with again, AFTER they signed the agreements.
That's good to hear, because with artists like that - or in my case, you just let it go and just expect that there is a resentment on their part, (and an unfounded one at that). I would be pleasantly surprised - no... astonished, if I was approached by the same outfit to 'collaborate' with them again...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post

But, man oh man, are memories SHORT in this monkey business!
God yeah! So many artists fixed 'with-their-eyes-on-the-prize' - so mesmerised by where they are going and what they are going to get, they just dont realise that you need other people who are consistent, credible, able and have integrity.

Like you say...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
...the chances of them ever going anywhere without (my or someone's) serious production, marketing, and business support and endless hard work - were virtually zero.
Old 16th March 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
I have some clients that are tradesmen. They do music on the side and are plumbers or carpenters or brick layers during the day. Sometimes they ask for free services. If the tables were turned would they be so receptive to working for free??? I really doubt it.

People seem to think that because you have all the equipment you are making a lot of money or you have it made and some how because of this your time is not worth anything. They will ask for things like extra duplicated CDs or for a complete redo of a track because they rewrote it and think that it should be re-recorded and mixed for free.

If a carpenter puts up a wall and you decided to move the wall or change the way the wall was angled you better believe that the carpenter would charge you for the redo.

Why is it so hard for people to understand that if you are working then you need to be paid for your services???

I guess many people figure that if they can do something themselves, like audio recording, why should they pay someone else for the same job. Of course when a pro does the job it will usually sound GREAT and if the person does the recording and mixing themselves it may not sound as good but they don't seem to see that when it comes to paying you for your work.

This idea that somehow the world owes them something seems to be deeply rooted in many musicians. A lot of musicians think they are always getting screwed by club owners and people they buy equipment from so they think that it is OK to screw the people who provide services for them. I cannot tell you the amount of people who tell me "you owe this to me". I am not a club owner and I don't sell them equipment so why do I owe this to them?

If you work for free you send a message that your time and talents are not worth anything and that, IMHO, is not the message you want to be conveying to the world.

FWIW and YMMV
Old 17th March 2013
  #15
Gear Head
 
Umbra's Avatar
I have considered posting an ad to do work for free ... to gain clients. Before you bash the hell out of me, let me explain.

I have been working in and building up my home/project studio for a number of years. It is now well suited for a singer-songwriter or duo situation ... not good for a full band (no room for drums or more than two others besides myself). Recently, I have been thinking about posting an ad to record a singer/songwriter for free ... so I can add a singer/songwriter project to my reel. I have no intention of continuing free services, but to open the door to being a commercial entity (specializing in singer-songwriter/duos), I feel it would be a good move for marketing my studio. Especially since I don't get out and do networking (hate bars and clubs) ... I spend my time working in the studio, working on my engineering and producing.
Old 18th March 2013
  #16
Gear nut
 
wayne_kerr's Avatar
 

Imagin if chicks had to intern as hookers with no pay

Amadna Palmer tried freebee thing and it blue up in her face
Old 18th March 2013
  #17
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne_kerr View Post
Imagin if chicks had to intern as hookers with no pay

Amadna Palmer tried freebee thing and it blue up in her face
Or for that matter let's see if colleges would like students to do a "4 year trial". If they are happy with their education at the end of that four years then they get paid. If not then the student doesn't get the degree and the college doesn't get any money.

Sounds crazy, right? Well that's exactly how spec/internships work!
Old 18th March 2013
  #18
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Joe Haze's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
I like the idea of "at least" a 50/50 split if a track does something.

It just hit me like a ton of bricks... I enthusiastically take on projects form "name" artists then soon realize I am working for free! FREE...FREE

What is free..?? Who works for free? A cup of coffee is $5.00 NOTHING IS FREE..
Old 18th March 2013
  #19
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frans's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Haze View Post
well known band asking for a free mix
That. The power game "Oh well, WE are SOOO important, we can command whatever we want, for freeeee!"
Old 20th March 2013
  #20
Toronto Maple Leafs fan
 
jordanvoth's Avatar
FREE is better than CHEAP

While I don't like working FREE I do it way too often and it has NEVER returned anything in new clients nor has it made the original client come back but, free is still better than CHEAP.

Cheap is garbage because the client is still paying and therefore has a right to expect something from you. If a free project goes off the rails and people start losing their shit, forgetting parts, showing up loaded I can simply throw my hands up in the air and tell them to GET OUT. CHEAP on the other hand the client gets to say "well we still gave you $100 for these 4 songs" and because you failed to agree to any terms other than 4 songs for $100 you are stuck delivering that and in any small music scene the last thing you want is to do a shit job in a short amount of time and have it put out there for the community to hear with your name on it.

Free or full rate. Want to weed out the crap? raise your rates.
Quote
1
Old 20th March 2013
  #21
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanvoth View Post
FREE is better than CHEAP

While I don't like working FREE I do it way too often and it has NEVER returned anything in new clients nor has it made the original client come back but, free is still better than CHEAP.

Cheap is garbage because the client is still paying and therefore has a right to expect something from you. If a free project goes off the rails and people start losing their shit, forgetting parts, showing up loaded I can simply throw my hands up in the air and tell them to GET OUT. CHEAP on the other hand the client gets to say "well we still gave you $100 for these 4 songs" and because you failed to agree to any terms other than 4 songs for $100 you are stuck delivering that and in any small music scene the last thing you want is to do a shit job in a short amount of time and have it put out there for the community to hear with your name on it.

Free or full rate. Want to weed out the crap? raise your rates.

Agreed. If I want to try out a new piece of gear or new type of service to offer then I might work for free. But never cheap...not anymore. If your mixes hold up well to other people in your area then charge around what they're charging.
Old 20th March 2013
  #22
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

The only time I work for free is at my insistance. For example I often have friends sometimes approach me to ask if I will record their band. I always decline and suggest I do it for free. My reasoning is I am NOT a pro and what they won't get is me at their beck and call. I have very little time and will fit them around my projects, but it's at my convenience. So that way it sets the bar... I'll do it but on my timetable, and if I don't like the project I will decline.

But otherwise, I get paid for other things. I get to choose, not them.
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