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What are you guys paying session singers these days??
Old 24th January 2007
  #1
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What are you guys paying session singers these days??

Hi,

Just recently looking to hire a singer to sing a new dance production of mine. What are you guys paying your session singers? Like most session singers, she doesn't want to give me a price. I am having to come up with that on my own and I guess she will say 'yes' or 'no'. What is fair for somebody singing on a dance record? Are you giving any royalties? I expect the prices aren't what they used to be since labels aren't paying as much to pick up a record.

Thanks
Old 25th January 2007
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
theoryinmotion's Avatar
 

Well, in our case, unless the singer has a BIGGER brand name associated with their voice and stage name...then we pay them nothing.
And no royalties...we do however give them credit on all works containing their voice.

Here is the deal...how much are you going to make on the work? Hard to tell right. So, unless they are bringing a name to the project that will garauntee sales... then really, they probably need you more than you need them.

I can not tell you how many times we as a group have spent hours upon hours on a project or projects, that have paid absolutely nothing....not to mention shows done as a favor or just for the chance to be seen by a crowd on stage.


So, the question is:
1) Do they want to add a piece to their portfolio that they can say "Listen to this...it's my voice" or or would they rather can sit at home and wish that someone will discover them and pay them big bucks for a voice that hasn't yet and may not sell any records?

or

2) Will you sell records by just having their name in the credits or say as "Blah blah Feat so in so" ... as the title of the track?


And the real question is...who wants who more?

This may sound harsh...but really we all have to get our name out there and prove ourselves before the money rolls in.

If I was to give royalties to a singer who has less of a branding to their name it would be at 5% tops.

Otherwise, is it really that hard to find a good voice out there as a replacement for the project....?

If they are a "household" name already ...well, if I were you I would give them just about whatever they need to get them on my album or get their voice in my project!
Old 25th January 2007
  #3
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theoryinmotion's Avatar
 

Checked out your myspace.... nice!

Bro, you have alot of shiz under your belt.... so like I said, who wants to work with who more?

That really is the deciding factor I would think...........
Old 25th January 2007
  #4
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C Heat's Avatar
 

I just got a price from a session singer in the UK for some song demo's.

150pounds, 1 song.

Ditto on the nice credits
Old 25th January 2007
  #5
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Jorg's Avatar
Usually 200 to 400 Pounds per Song. Depending on how known/established they are and depending on the length of the session of course.
Old 25th January 2007
  #6
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Theory in motion:
I think the point you might be missing is that when he says "session singer," he means a professional. A session musician typicallly does not get royalties, though if htey are a member of the union they do get residuals, but you don't have to worry about that.
The point of hiring a professional, even though they are not a houshold name, instead of someone you can get to do it for free for the exposure, is that you can expect a proffesional to listen to your aesthetic suggestions, implement them immediately, and lay down a really good track that is exactly what you want with a minimum of hassle (and a minimum of studio time, if you are renting a studio.) I should point out that there are many people who are houshold names who do not have the level of musical skill and versatility that I would expect from a pro. If you can get these qualities in someone who will do it for free, who is not a member of your band, then you are very lucky. (OTOH, a professional shouldn't balk at quoting you a price, so I'm not sure what that woman's deal is.)
Old 25th January 2007
  #7
I generally pay around $250 for a decent singer. And generally no royalties unless they write the lyrics.
Old 25th January 2007
  #8
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HEADROOM's Avatar
 

Quote:
we pay them nothing

I hate to disagree here , but if you don t pay the sessionplayer or singer a reasonable fee and have him or her sign a clearance form, you re asking for trouble.

Nobody really knows where a record goes, sometimes the one thing you dont believe in yourself goes through the roof.

And all the participants end up in court and spend all the money they earned on lawyers..

Watched it happen often enough.....



tutt
www.nickoosterhuis.com
Old 25th January 2007
  #9
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Thanks guys for the responses ... I have worked with both 'professional' singers and 'new talent'. However, in dance, I find the few 'divas' out there like to ask ridiculous amounts of money to sing on a record, so I now shy away from them.

The reason I posted this question on the board is because I found a singer locally that sounds great. I asked her what her price was and she wouldn't give me an answer. I guess her way of thinking is if I come up with a price for her, then it will probably be more then what she was going to initially say. I guess it is one of the downfalls of having a small bit of success in the past. I feel that we could be in a stail mate if I don't say some sort of price, so I thought I would ask you guys.

I must say that I definately feel that no matter what experience a singer has, he/she deserves to get paid for their time. But, I think that is a sliding scale based on name recognition, and their ability to help sell the product.

As a side note ... I wish I could sing, because then I wouldn't have to invest in any studio gear etc .. but still be able to make as much as the producer of a dance record ... hehehehe ... believe me, it has happened in the past
Old 25th January 2007
  #10
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HEADROOM's Avatar
 

Make an offer ......( anywhere between 100$ and 500$)if she wants more she ll have to come up with a price .
Then you can say yes or no.........It s really that simple.
And dont forget to have her sign a clearance formular.




www.nickoosterhuis.com
Old 3rd June 2012
  #11
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Personally, I charge depending on the project. Much like anyone involved in a production would do, I look at the budget, the project goals and how much work is involved (i,e, are there background vocals to be done, am I doing my own editing, etc..)

Normally, I would charge around $150 for a lead and one harmony. I do the editing and clean it all up and deliver the files. I believe that is a very reasonable price. And yes, as a session singer, I would be a "work for hire" and therefore not entitled to any royalties.

However, there have been times I have done a project for free with a percentage of the royalties or points coming back to me. A project that promises good exposure would get me to compromise my price a great deal, but I don't believe in working for free. the engineer doesn't..neither do the studio musicians. So, the vocalist shouldn't either.

If someone wants the lyrics re written, then some more negotiation would have to be done and writer's royalties would apply.
Old 3rd June 2012
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovesound View Post
I must say that I definately feel that no matter what experience a singer has, he/she deserves to get paid for their time. But, I think that is a sliding scale based on name recognition, and their ability to help sell the product.
I like your attitude and I think the "pay them nothing" attitude sucks. if you have a budget and the singer performs as desired, then she should get paid.

However, don't try to lowball her; just offer what you honestly think is a fair price. As someone else noted, she is probably not a seasoned professional if she doesn't even know how much she is worth.

factor that into the price. she might not be able to take direction as well as a pro. But if she knocks it out of the park, you can always pay her more than promised. and no royalties if she does not contribute to the writing.
Old 3rd June 2012
  #13
oil
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nmw
Old 4th June 2012
  #14
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AKMusic's Avatar
I ALWAYS pay the singers!

I've been paying between $100 and $125 per (3 hr. max) session. Depending on the track, the budget, etc... but they always get paid.. They also sign a WFH release, but I include a clause that guarantees them another 10% of MY net should that song sell.

I have come to realize that these singers are worth it. I have some great ones at my disposal. They drive to my house whenever I need them (because I pay)... they all complement me for being so organized and easy going. I appreciate their effort and respect the fact they show up EVERY time I call. Gas isn't cheap either. Neither is time. Mine or theirs.

Because of this, my reputation in Minneapolis precedes me! I'm now known as the guy that pays all his singers and everyone has heard of me and wants to sing for me. I like it that way. Now I get nothing but the best singers too!
Old 4th June 2012
  #15
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dan p's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMusic View Post
I've been paying between $100 and $125 per (3 hr. max) session. Depending on the track, the budget, etc... but they always get paid.. They also sign a WFH release that guarantees them another 10% of MY net should that song sell.
Yep thats what I pay with a signed release I might add.
Old 4th June 2012
  #16
Quote:
January 2007
Now THIS is what I'm talking about
Old 4th June 2012
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christiandoofer View Post
mmmm.
but still relevant and still helpful...

btw, if something is "writhing in pain", it is not dead.
Old 4th June 2012
  #18
Nowadays I pay 200 - 400 $ per session for a real pro. Or even more, but only if the singer is already popular and "famous". One session is 1-2 songs, depending on the complexity, around 3-4 hours. Maybe even 3-4 songs if I just record some simple phrases.

Credits is self-evident.

Copyrights is split according to the tasks they get from me. Usually I leave the lyrics and melodies up to them, so 50%. And when they come for the recording, they bring different ideas and we may correct some little things here and there together.

No royalities. Usually they don't want that anyway. Way too much hassle to check for that. Copyright is much more important and SUISA (GEMA, ASCAP, etc.) delivers the money automatically.
Old 4th June 2012
  #19
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"Copyrights is split according to the tasks they get from me. Usually I leave the lyrics and melodies up to them, so 50%. And when they come for the recording, they bring different ideas and we may correct some little things here and there together.

No royalities. Usually they don't want that anyway. Way too much hassle to check for that. Copyright is much more important and SUISA (GEMA, ASCAP, etc.) delivers the money automatically. "

Deft bonz, I work exactly that way when I'm also the writer, it's very fair that way. But I never, ever relinquish writer's royalties. I've never met a writer who gave that up.
Old 4th June 2012
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgen View Post
Deft bonz, I work exactly that way when I'm also the writer, it's very fair that way. But I never, ever relinquish writer's royalties. I've never met a writer who gave that up.
No you shouldn't give it up. As a producer I'm not willing on giving 50% (when being 2 persons involved) just for one line like: "I'm on fire" and when it's me telling the singer what to sing. That's a work time about 15 minutes including warm up heh I think that's worth max 5%

As soon as there are more lyrics to write and different variations to sing plus a couple of accapellas, then 50% is very ok for me, because I leave the work completely to the pro. Finally it depends on the amount of work and the creative input. Very important: ALWAYS sort these things out BEFORE the session starts heh
Old 4th June 2012
  #21
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cowboycoalminer's Avatar
I do a lot of vocal work for people on line. I charge 50 bucks a track. If they want harmony, its 150 for three tracks. But if I work local at another brick and mortar studio, that goes up to 100 per track. Fuel is expensive these days. Plus I bring my own gear sometimes.
Old 4th June 2012
  #22
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
No you shouldn't give it up. As a producer I'm not willing on giving 50% (when being 2 persons involved) just for one line like: "I'm on fire" and when it's me telling the singer what to sing. That's a work time about 15 minutes including warm up heh I think that's worth max 5%
Third for a word, my friend!!

Big Names Cash In On ‘Third For A Word’ Songwriting Rule

Regards,
Frank
Old 5th June 2012
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Third for a word, my friend!!
Regards,
Frank
No third for just one word, but half for real lyrics

Maybe I need to describe it more in detail. Here are some different scenarios I usually have:

1) If I write the song and the single word/line e.g. "Get up!"(I wouldn't even call that writing ) and think of a melody for the word/line, then the singer gets nothing but the salary for the session.

2) Song: me, word/line: me, vocal melody: singer >>> 5-10% plus salary

3) Song: me, word/line: singer, vocal melody: singer >>> 25% plus salary

4) Song: me, full lyrics: singer, vocal melody: singer >>> 50% plus salary


Until now every singer was happy with this kind of deal. They get the salary plus points. No investment, no risk. If it works, they get some extra cash from the points. Scenario 1 & 2 usually only happens when the singer comes for a scenario 3 or 4. Scenario 4 is the most common for me, because I normally tend to have more than just single words or line So I automatically tend to leave the work to the pro
Old 5th June 2012
  #24
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
No third for just one word, but half for real lyrics
I've done similar deals working with vocalists. I've had vocalists who come in an write melodies or lyrics and I always give them a writing credit. It's only fair.

I was just poking fun at that practice where someone comes in, changes one word and wants a third of the publishing! (when there's two songwriters already). I was really referring to that situation that happened with Victoria Beckham on the song, "Out of Your Mind." It had two songwriters already who wrote everything, but she came along, changed one word and demanded 1/3rd of the writer's credit.

Regards,
Frank
Old 5th June 2012
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
I was just poking fun at that practice where someone comes in, changes one word and wants a third of the publishing! (when there's two songwriters already). I was really referring to that situation that happened with Victoria Beckham on the song, "Out of Your Mind." It had two songwriters already who wrote everything, but she came along, changed one word and demanded 1/3rd of the writer's credit.
ouch... but then a famous person can multiply your income, so it could be reasonable to do this for the 2 songwriters. Maybe this way they earned more than otherwise. Although it sounds like a joke heh
Old 11th June 2012
  #26
Here for the gear
 

Yup! I agree..One or two words is not a reason for a writer's credit..I work a lot with people from other countries who need English speaking singers. So, very often , I have to change up some of the lyrics so they are correct from and English standpoint. I don't ask for a writer's credit for that. Now, if I'm writing a verse or a hook, then of course I would be cut in. The last thing a session singer should be doing is alienating a client. Word travels fast!
Old 2nd December 2012
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

How does 50% for a singer that writes and sings the lyrics make any sense? So if you have 2 singers that both write their own lyrics and sing on your release that = 100% and the record label automatically goes into debt..It doesn't make any sense at all to me that a singer could ever get anything near 50% of the royalties. Someone please explain how it makes sense.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #28
Here for the gear
 

I know the topic is old but.... A composition is lyrics and melody. The lyrics and melody can be put to any beat. Chord progressions don't count, see the circle of 5ths. There is a difference between the composition and mechanical side. Anyone sitting in a room composing a song has an equal share, unless specified before hand on split sheets. As even someone strumming chords on a guitar, giving no input on lyrics and melody, are still a part of the creative process influencing the flow of creation by inspiring ideas with their playing.

That being said, your song, if any good, has monetary value and to "piggy back" on someone else's famous brand has a cost. You can leverage with your song, if they see potential and share the song by giving them the "word for a third". Sorry, but a relative nobody, is just that. You want a chance using someone else's hard earned name.... You pay for it. Especially if one of their song's equates to millions and 100 percent of your song with no such backing amounts to zero. The dilemma here is many fail to see that it is the MUSIC BUSINESS. Not music BUSINESS or MUSIC business. An artist/writer must leverage one's songs in the market to make it in the business doing so without sacrificing your creative voice is the trick. Instead many grasp tightly over copyrights to retain every bit of what they have... 100% of zero =
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