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Studio owners: do you charge set-up time and mic placement?
View Poll Results: Do you charge the time required to set-up instruments and place microphones?
YES! This is a part of the job.
87 Votes - 83.65%
NO! I consider the session start when I hit Record.
17 Votes - 16.35%
Voters: 104. You may not vote on this poll

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Roswell
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#1
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Studio owners: do you charge set-up time and mic placement?

Hello,

I'd like to know if you guys charge the time required to set-up instruments and the time you need to correctly place the microphone?

In other words, when do you consider the session start?

I'm asking this because I was really surprised to hear musicians saying that the time required to place the microphones shouldn't be charged! For me, this have to be charged because this a part of the job! What do you think? What do you do?
#2
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Of course I charge for mic placement, levels, tones, etc. Sheesh - that's the part where I'm doing some of the most important work of the day! I'll let them show up 30 minutes early (if they can manage it) to load in free of charge, but the clock starts ticking at the session start time. That stuff about only charging for tracking time is just some BS that gets repeated by inexperienced clients. Every professional I know charges for placing mics and getting levels/tones.
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#3
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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If you don't charge for that then you're not charging for arguably the most important skills you bring to the table as an engineer.

Either charge for it or have a basic fee that includes the standard setup fee based on how long it typically takes you (and your assistant(s) if you're so lucky... ).

imho and all that.
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13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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What are you going to charge than?
Pressing the record button?
Anyone can do that.
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Roswell
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#5
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Yes, that's my point of view as well! I mean this is the most important part of a sound engineer work. What made me wonder is that they said in every other studio mic placement was free of charge... As far as I'm concerned, I've never been in a studio like that! As Trakworx said, if the guy is cool you'll be offered to show up 30 minutes before the session start.
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13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Yes you charge for that.
#7
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roswell View Post
What made me wonder is that they said in every other studio mic placement was free of charge...
Dunno, maybe that's just how it's done in Zeta Reticuli...



But seriously, you should ask them to name one studio that doesn't charge for mic placement. I bet they'll avoid answering...
#8
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam View Post
What are you going to charge than?
Pressing the record button?
Anyone can do that.
+1
#9
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Yes - of course you charge.

Knowing what microphones to use and where to put them is why they chose you to do the recording (or it should be).
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Roswell
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#10
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Dunno, maybe that's just how it's done in Zeta Reticuli...



But seriously, you should ask them to name one studio that doesn't charge for mic placement. I bet they'll avoid answering...
LOL I guess!
#11
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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I think the ones who ask that question, or have a problem with it are generally inexperienced...or they come from a very indie/punk rock type ethic where things are supposed to be gratis because its cool. If you want to give musicians free setup, I think that's somewhat appropriate, but tell them ahead of time: "you guys get a free hour of setup", then sit on your ass until the hour is over and then start setting up mics, etc. If you have it 80% ready when they walk in the door, or setup simultaneously while they setup (and they are all anxious and giddy about being in the studio) they take it for granted. After getting burned on the time myself for years (through my own ignorance and inexperience), I've told everyone since the late 90's that it takes me 2 hours (+/-) to setup from the first mic stand to the cue setup to record (i.e. full bands, if there are no drums then its faster).
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#12
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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Sure I charge. If you ever do anything for free to be a nice guy, next time, it's expected. Don't fall for that trap.
#13
14th May 2012
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dude,

set up time and mic placements are billable hours. We as engineers must do all this precision work so the whole process goes well. Shame on those persons who beleive set up time should be free...a basic band can be up and running within the hour...depending on how efficient or sober they are.


On the other hand the only time I do free set up time is if there are blocks of time purchased ahead of time. Assuring a quality experience. I can go either way but the subject of set up time is always a common subject these days.
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#14
14th May 2012
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Yes. Always billed time.

Im regurgitating something a more experienced engineer told me a while back but...

"When I'm doing something for free, I'm trying to get it done fast. when I'm being paid, I'm trying to get it done right"

Makes sense to me.
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14th May 2012
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Yes you charge for setup time. If they give you any shit, tell them you charge for the tear down and clean up time too.
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#16
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Makinithappen View Post
...

"When I'm doing something for free, I'm trying to get it done fast. when I'm being paid, I'm trying to get it done right"

Makes sense to me.
For me it's the opposite. If I'm getting paid for set up time, I feel obligated to work as fast as I can. If I'm setting up on my own dime, I can take the time to do it right without worrying about the client freaking out, imagining dollar bills floating out the window. (I used to be the client imagining dollar bills floating out the window. That's the reason I built my studio. Coming from the other side of the glass gives you an entirely different perspective.)
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14th May 2012
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I also charge time for breaking down all the mic stands and rolling up cables. While I do that the band is taking their stuff to the van, I bounce rough mixes, etc.
If it isn't work, why would it need to be done?
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#18
14th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roswell View Post
What made me wonder is that they said in every other studio mic placement was free of charge...
Ask them to phone the guys from that other studio to come over and set up then. After all, if they do it for free, they clearly won't mind doing it for somebody else for free.
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14th May 2012
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Picking and pointing the mics is the hard part. And it's not like you can sell that time to someone else.
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#20
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
I think the ones who ask that question, or have a problem with it are generally inexperienced...or they come from a very indie/punk rock type ethic where things are supposed to be gratis because its cool. If you want to give musicians free setup, I think that's somewhat appropriate, but tell them ahead of time: "you guys get a free hour of setup", then sit on your ass until the hour is over and then start setting up mics, etc. If you have it 80% ready when they walk in the door, or setup simultaneously while they setup (and they are all anxious and giddy about being in the studio) they take it for granted. After getting burned on the time myself for years (through my own ignorance and inexperience), I've told everyone since the late 90's that it takes me 2 hours (+/-) to setup from the first mic stand to the cue setup to record (i.e. full bands, if there are no drums then its faster).
Actually a jazz band who asked for that! I've been engineering for quite a long time but I've noticed how musicians are trying to pay less and less these days. Oh yeah and there's a band who asked me to mix 8 songs in one day! Funny because maybe I'm slow but I can't mix more than one maybe 2 tracks a day.
#21
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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Scoring stages ($200+/hr) will always have your entire list of mics and pres setup and ready to go, console organized, sessions fully setup before the engineer arrives. Additionally the engineer is typically there before the clock starts on the session, he'll do final adjustments before the downbeat. All other pro studios have either a setup charge, or the session time begins when the engineer first arrives. Some small budget studios have "free" setup time but you can bet they are making up for some other deficiency by offering their clients free setup time. I would encourage everyone to charge for setup time, as our esteemed colleagues have said above, this is the most valuable and critical portion of the day.

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14th May 2012
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I go even further... at first I only charged when audio was being recorded... then there were complaints so now I only charge for when audio is being recorded and there is signal present. A typical vocal session nets about 7 minutes. Since I got talked down to $20/hr that session grosses me a little over $2. It's all paying dues right?
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14th May 2012
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Yes, I charge set-up time. But for me it safes a lot of time when I setup and test mics without being disturbed, if possible before the session starts, sometimes the day before.
Old 14th May 2012
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File this under: Bands who want to book 3min & 23seconds of studio time to cut their new single.
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14th May 2012
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Yes, I always try and prepare/check mics, cables, preamps etc the day before the session. I was only talking about mic placement really. I recognize that it can takes some time but it's worth it and absolutely important.

What about you? How long do you take to place the mics, let's say for a typical rock band playing live in the studio?
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14th May 2012
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I record a lot of rappers so usually my go to mic is already set up. I used to charge as soon as we started recording but then I got really sick of people bullshitting around for 20 / 30 minutes after they got to the studio. So now for rappers I start charging as soon as they walk in the door.

Funny story: I had one guy think 'recording time' meant the actual time you spent recording each take. After the session I told him the final amount due and he got into a fight with me that I was lying and cheating him out of money. Haha
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14th May 2012
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I would charge. It's hard enough dealing with new bands and all the expected slave work and drama that can become of that.

If you get paid in peanuts, you'll be treated like a monkey. That's just the way it is. I find if you charge right things go a lot smoother and you get treated with the proper respect. We have all made the mistake of selling ourselves short at the beginning when dealing with fresh talent. It's a hard lesson learned
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14th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solo-bration View Post
File this under: Bands who want to book 3min & 23seconds of studio time to cut their new single.
It's "studio time" so the charge should start when they walk in the front door (or booked start time if earlier) and stop when they walk out the front door.

During that time the studio is exclusively theirs and you can do no other work during that time, so it should all be paid for.
#29
14th May 2012
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This is why most guys as least in Nashville have a day rate. I know what I'm getting paid for the day, so then it becomes about maximizing everyone's time. I'll have mics setup and patched before anyone shows up. When they show up, I place mics, get sounds and get rocking.

The hourly rate thing doesn't make much sense in Nashville and doesn't get used much. I'm speaking as an independent engineer though, not a studio owner. I have a studio that I work out of, but I don't charge any extra for it. My day rate is my day rate whether we work at my place or someone else's. If you're a commercial studio where anyone can walk in off the street and book a session, then I can certainly see having an hourly rate schedule. I think as long as you're trying to maximize the client's time, they'll appreciate it. It will lead to you getting taken advantage of sometimes, but I aways try to err on the side of giving my clients more than they're paying for.
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#30
14th May 2012
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Plus, if the drummer needs 3 hours to fix his drums kit (as this is often the case), then you'll end up working half the day for free!
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