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Studio rates and Value
Old 2nd March 2019
  #1
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andersmv's Avatar
 

Studio rates and Value

I'm going live with the below video tomorrow and implementing the plan for 2019. Call it harebrained or a social experiment, but for the rest of the year I'm not going to have a rate. I'm going to leave it up to customers to decide what they want to pay and just go with it. There might be people that pay nothing, there might be people who pay more, but I'm just going to jump in and see what happens.

This isn't a part time job for me or anything, this is how I eat and pay bills. MillSounds Studio is only 2 years old, but I've been doing this professionally for 15 years now. At the same time, I'm doing well right now and can take the risk of giving this a shot. I got the idea from Damien Keyes video that blew up entitled "Stop Selling Music" (YouTube). It made me think more about the concept of value and how we apply it in the music industry. In a nutshell, I think one of the biggest problems is that we don't know how to define and apply value to a lot of areas in music. Everything's all over the place and no one really knows what they're doing or what they're worth.

I'll leave it at that, but I'm curious to see what other people think about this. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that there's not some universal answer to "how much should I charge". I see threads like that on here all the time and it just turns into a crap shoot with people telling everyone else they're wrong. The funny part about it is that a lot of times, everyone's right. It's just so dependent on circumstances, location and dozens of other variables. I'm hoping that after a year of this, I'll have a better idea of my situation and client base so that I can make some better and smarter decisions moving forward. We shall see!



Last edited by andersmv; 2nd March 2019 at 06:16 AM..
Old 2nd March 2019
  #2
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Poopypants's Avatar
 

This is cool. I'm going to bet that no one will pay nothing, and hopefully some of the people who pay very little will have music that deserves to be recorded and need this kind of opportunity, while people with means reward you for both your work and your business model.
Old 2nd March 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poopypants View Post
hopefully some of the people who pay very little will have music that deserves to be recorded and need this kind of opportunity
This was another aspect of this plan. I had considered just doing some "pro bono" work for some people I thought were good and just couldn't afford it at the time. I know that before I moved here and set up the studio, most of my life was paycheck to paycheck and I went through periods where I had a lot of money and absolutely no money depending on work. I know for a few of my clients, they'll more than likely come out for a day or two and not pay a lot, and then a few months later will come back out and pay a lot. Again, I have a feeling things will just balance out over time and at the very least increase foot traffic through here.
Old 8th March 2019
  #4
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I think given the opportunity most musicians will opt to pay nothing.
Old 8th March 2019
  #5
Gear Guru
 

I just think the music industry, and more within the entertainment/content creation industry, is suffering from two primary problems;

1) Technology makes production far cheaper than ever before, and it's going to get 'worse'. The democratization people talk about is great for consumers, not for craftsmen.

2) People not only don't want to pay, they also choose not to pay. I've lost count of how many times my friends casually mention they've made it a point not to pay for content while they know full well I make a living relying on people doing what they're 'supposed to', as opposed to infringing on copyright. No industry can compete with "free", even if that "free" is essentially illegal.

So the two items above makes me think that the solution to figuring out what the value is isn't "pay what you want"..
Old 9th March 2019
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I just think the music industry, and more within the entertainment/content creation industry, is suffering from two primary problems;

1) Technology makes production far cheaper than ever before, and it's going to get 'worse'. The democratization people talk about is great for consumers, not for craftsmen.

2) People not only don't want to pay, they also choose not to pay. I've lost count of how many times my friends casually mention they've made it a point not to pay for content while they know full well I make a living relying on people doing what they're 'supposed to', as opposed to infringing on copyright. No industry can compete with "free", even if that "free" is essentially illegal.

So the two items above makes me think that the solution to figuring out what the value is isn't "pay what you want"..
You cant compete with free even when it is legal. A lot of free stuff is not ripped off but just posted for free. Think amateur doing it for fun vs professional grubbing for money. If you are the top pro you can make a living. Otherwise it is a VERY l oo nnn gggg tailed phenomenon where the vast majority do not even break even and a handful cover expenses.
Old 9th March 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
 

This is an interesting experiment. Good luck with it and please keep us updated on how it turns out.
Old 2nd April 2019
  #8
I am not super optimistic about the outcome, but this is a really interesting idea and I wish the OP all the best.

Please prove my lack of optimism wrong!
Old 18th April 2019
  #9
You'll have to be extra careful not to be sucked into massive time sinks which will pay nothing!
Old 18th April 2019
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Hope it works out well for you! I'm hopeful that in person (rather than clicking shopping baskets on the internet) people will be good-spirited about this.

All the best!

Old 18th April 2019
  #11
I wish you the best of luck, and you have a beatiful studio!
Old 18th April 2019
  #12
Gear Addict
 

If also my local supermarket and petrol station and vet and clothing shop decides on a similar "pay what you want" deal I would be happy to follow this model.

Having said that I wish the OP the very best! Cool cat.
Old 18th April 2019
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
I'm going live with the below video tomorrow...
How many competitors do you have in your area?
Old 18th April 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
How many competitors do you have in your area?
There are other studio's in Arkansas, but the closest one to me is at least an hour away. That one was been here for a LONG time and it's a larger facility with a lot of overhead, definitely more expensive than I am. The other guys are at least 2-4 hours away, and we all know each other and talk from time to time. I had a conversation with 2 other guys around me when I was thinking of doing this. I guess we're "competing" to some extent, but not really. I have some local people come though via word of mouth, but I'm not making a huge push to get local musicians in here. I've been doing this long enough to where I have a good network built up, most of my business is from out of state with people I've worked with for a while.

That was more of the purpose of the studio, to have a "getaway" for people. All this to say, I guess the competition aspect is irrelevant to me and hasn't played into things. I talked to the guys around me and ran it buy a few of them first so they wouldn't feel like I was trying to screw them over. We've all got plenty of business, and I doubt any of our customers would consider switching over and going to another studio. This isn't a convenient location in a lot of ways, so none of us are really fighting for local business like you do other places.
Old 14th June 2019
  #15
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How’s this model working out for you so far? Any success stories or horror stories? Is revenue up or down compared to your previous pricing model?
Old 14th June 2019
  #16
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It's been a busy 2 months, so its definitely increased traffic flow. So far, pretty much everyone has paid a little more or exactly the same. There have been 2 exceptions where I was paid a little less than what I probably would have quoted (by less, it was ~$100 both times). In each case, the artists had said before hand that they didn't think they could afford it and were going to back out. They were both really cool projects, so I encouraged them to just do it anyway and not worry about it. Surprisingly enough, what they came up with was pretty close to what I would have charged them for a project rate. Both were older and their only experience in studios was in Nashville in the 1980's where they were being charged close to $1000 a day. They just figured that was normal everywhere.

One of the weird side effects of this model is that a lot of people are completely thrown off by it. For pretty much every new customer so far, I've just had to tell them strait up what I was charing before this for us to get anywhere. It's a little frustrating, but encouraging as well in a way. Overall though, so far so good!
Old 26th June 2019
  #17
Gear Head
 

The only way I'd see this being non-awkward was if you were in a certain niche: religious or other types of music that has a certain lifestyle attached to it (reggae, ska punk rock etc)
Old 26th June 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjones View Post
The only way I'd see this being non-awkward was if you were in a certain niche: religious or other types of music that has a certain lifestyle attached to it (reggae, ska punk rock etc)
You're definitely right. On the other hand, I guarantee you most people with studios have gotten the email about "I saw you're posted rate of $X and I only have $X to work with.". People want to negotiate ALL the time, this just throws them off. Again though, most of my clients are people I've worked with for a long time that are traveling to come out here. More than anything, I wanted to see if this would make it easier for a lot of them. I thought it might also drum up more business (Which it has), but I've just had to strait out quote most people for a job.

Nothing wrong with that, it just wasn't what I was expecting. Then again, I don't really know what I should have expected doing something like this... haha.
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