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Why do ME's charge so much extra to sit in? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 13th March 2014
  #31
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb and be the odd man out, maybe piss-off a few.

I never understood this thing about charging more for attended sessions. Not 25 years ago or from this current forum has anyone given a reasonable argument to charging more. For instance, the sessions are longer, don't most of you charge by the hour? Longer session, more money. And just like recording studios, you should have a policy of 24 to 48 hour cancellation notice. If someone is an A-hole, then you can chose to not do business with them, or like many recording studios you can have a deposit policy. The mastering studio I use most they request the masters ahead of time, at least a day.

I've been a mix engineer for an F'n long time, and never have I or the various studios I have worked at charged more for attended sessions. I could make the exact same claims as every single one of you that chimed in as an excuse to charge more.

The first of only two arguments (although i don't care for this particular one) that makes any sense in my opinion is, not being able to push more jobs out in a given hour, verses a client taking up an entire hour on one project. Personally speaking I try to always attend mastering sessions (unless the studio is in another country, or I just can't make it for whatever the reason is) because this idea that the person mastering my project that I bled for weeks or months over, is going to slip in other work around my job puts me off.

The second argument that has weight and I don't think that anyone has mentioned is, the mastering engineer doing their best work unattended. If I really wanted someone to master one of my projects because I like their body of work, and they tell me that they have a process that works best for them and that involves my not attending the session, then I will respect that wish. I can always go somewhere else. But it's not because the studio doesn't want to pay for a few bottles of water and a banana, or god forbid scrub down the toilet or take a shower.
No piss off, and you make some good points. There is no right way or wrong way, as long as what you are doing works for the client and for yourself.
I guess some of us were taking the long way around to say what you mentioned as a second argument. For me anyway, I work better alone, when I can focus intently. Often having other people around disturbs that focus. Pretty much that simple. YMMV.
Old 13th March 2014
  #32
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
Seems like most MEs these days use a flat rate and not hourly too.
I like the flat rate too, less surprises for both parties. I think mastering is much easier to predict than mixing or recording as far as time involved.
Old 13th March 2014
  #33
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honestly, i prefer working alone. because it's what i'm used to.

and sure, sometimes attended sessions can take longer.

but geez, having company once in a while sure is nice. i can't think of any attended sessions i've had where i didn't have a pleasant time hanging out with the clients. and more likely, we had a great time and had a really interesting conversation.

i know i've gotten at least one gig where the client said "yeah i called _______, but they wouldn't let me attend. wtf is with that?"

reading some of the posts on this thread (and forums in general), it's like some people view their clients as the enemy. or at least a nuisance. i've never understood this. i actually like my clients. the 1% of them who want to attend are more than welcome.
Old 13th March 2014
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobro View Post
You're basically paying for private lessons. How much does a classical vocal coach charge per hour in a big city?
Exactly.
Old 13th March 2014
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
No piss off, and you make some good points. There is no right way or wrong way, as long as what you are doing works for the client and for yourself.
I guess some of us were taking the long way around to say what you mentioned as a second argument. For me anyway, I work better alone, when I can focus intently. Often having other people around disturbs that focus. Pretty much that simple. YMMV.
I most certainly appreciate that, being that it's to do with supplying the best outcome for the client.

Personally speaking I've never charged different rates for my work, unless we're talking sliding scale for production, recording, and even mixing. Not everyone makes the same amount of money, so I respect that.
Old 13th March 2014
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by blindjoni View Post
Exactly.
So when an Artist shows up, you think they're there to learn the tricks of the trade, highly doubtful. I don't think for their next record they go out and setup a 100k+ studio in their basement and in a flash they're as skilled as you are. Sure, they might at some point get into some software and try giving it a shot. But more than not they'll just end up in Gearslutz asking the age old question "why isn't my master sounding as good as..." And most skilled mix engineers already know a thing or 5 about mastering, but even then, most who are good are generally too busy to seriously shift gears and suddenly become a mastering engineer. Unless highly established there's also just not enough money in it, and too much supply for the demand for whatever money is out there.
Old 13th March 2014
  #37
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I don't feel that attending clients are there to learn and steal tricks and techniques, I think they just like to see how things are done and hear their project come together as a whole in real-time.

Kind of like the people at the car wash that have to watch thier car travel slowly through the wash.

I just personally prefer to work alone and happy to set my rates appropriately for doing so.
Old 13th March 2014
  #38
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jperkinski View Post
I don't feel that attending clients are there to learn and steal tricks and techniques, I think they just like to see how things are done and hear their project come together as a whole in real-time.

Kind of like the people at the car wash that have to watch thier car travel slowly through the wash.

I just personally prefer to work alone and happy to set my rates appropriately for doing so.
Watching the car wash might be OK; some want to get in the driver's seat and "help" you drive............
Old 14th March 2014
  #39
Btw i forget to add that i don't charge more for attended, it's just taking longer time for all the reasons i gave, so it cost more.
Same rate, but more hours so....
Flat rate ( per song ) is really tricky as every project require a different amount of job.
Old 14th March 2014
  #40
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The whole idea of attended for me was to meet the client and for them to accept what you are doing and work on an album together.

This changed for me last year when I had a couple of attended sessions by people who didn't really know what they wanted sound wise, gave the thumbs up in the session and then decided after listening at home they wanted it to sound different. This for me defeats the purpose of attended. I ended up doing exactly what I would have done unattended and they were happy. So now I do charge more for attended sessions as some people just don't know the room and monitors well enough, I'd rather them listen to the results in their studio.

It also does take up more time as clients are often late or not prepared and that eats into your day.

Having said all of that I do enjoy a chin wag with my clients as they are often friends or just interesting people, so maybe that's why it takes longer...
Old 14th March 2014
  #41
I agree with Ben on this one - the biggest point in attended sessions for me is immediate client feedback.

I recently made 4 versions of a mix, all the communications were done via Internet, and we agreed that it would be more productive if the client comes over and sits through the session guiding me through his thoughts as we go.
Old 14th March 2014
  #42
Has anyone thought of or doing an online high resolution monitoring of the mastering session remotely, and in real time. This way the client can sit in their environment that they're used to and essentially attend the mastering session. I would think this would eliminate some of the frustrations posted on this thread. I'm definitely considering it.
Old 14th March 2014
  #43
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I get people asking me to do that all the time, along with asking if they can pay me to teach them to master remotely. I don't see how it could work, the whole point of mastering is taking these so so studio acoustics out of the equation. If I'm fixing a track because it has too much bass caused my a room mode on the their end, having the producer is sitting in his studio saying "no it sounds great here", well....

I get the desire, but without having someone in the room with me I don't see how collabs like this could work. Even when people ARE here in person, they're usually not used to hearing music in a decent acoustic environment or (sometimes) full range monitoring.

I love helping other producers whenever I can, but I stil can't think of a way around this primary obstacle.
Old 14th March 2014
  #44
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I would send work to a lesser ME if it meant he would allow me to sit in.

I'm quite sure, that at some point, every great ME sat in on mixing sessions to learn a thing or two.
Old 15th March 2014
  #45
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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I was working with a client remotely. He was in Boston and I was here in Oberlin. I had worked previously with this client and knew his likes and dislikes when it came to mastering. I mastered the tracks and sent them to him. He said I did not have enough bass in the mastering. I redid it with a lot more bass and sent it to him, now he said there was less bass than before. My speaker were rocking to the bass. I sent him yet another mastering and he said it was not working. I was starting to get puzzled. I asked him what he was monitoring on and it turned out to be his car and some small bookshelf speakers in his apartment. I sent him a series of stereo test tones with one test tone being in phase and one being out of phase. I asked him which had more bass and it turned out that the tones with the out of phase signals has a lot of bass. I told him that his speakers were wired out of phase and that he should reverse one set of leads and that would put him back in phase. He did that and said the bass was way too much. It also turned out that his car had the speaker cables reversed as well and he redid them. Now he was listening to what I was listening to. That is one reason I like the client to be here. We are both having the same listening experience. I love it when a client says there is not enough bass and when you ask him or her what they are listening on the say their 2" laptop speakers. Oh my
Old 15th March 2014
  #46
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attended sessions for 1 track go by an hour rate, with a max on the invoice of 1.5 hour ... more tracks attended go just by the fixed rate and really depends on the projects and what the client wants ...
fixed rate seems easy , but I find it not very flexible & I prefer tailoring to clients wishes & budget.
attended sessions for 1 track always seem to take more then 1 hour, clients prefer to discuss the project, we can have a few versions and compare & listen just a bit more ... the clients who come for 1 track seem to enjoy and appreciate the discussing & listening with me in my mastering room ... before you know 2 hours are spend. I'm really not there to bill hours, but would like to get a reasonable payment for my work.
Old 15th March 2014
  #47
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The online model works extremely well, to have a real ability to master music and provide that online is a really great situation. I would never rule out attended sessions for the future (though being honest I am asked once or twice a year normally so demand seems not to be that high to attend, most people really do not have the time) but I have great focus when I work alone and there is simply no question that attended sessions would take significantly longer.

If I want to end at 5pm on the dot I can do so with the online model and start early the next day. It is a service matched in heaven for the online way of working for engineer and client ! You know, we still have phones as well ; )

Flexibility for me is great, many times mid day I go for a long walk to the PO to send some masters off by hand etc. or do some admin catch up and there is a hell of a lot of that when you are working with 1,000's of people over the years.
Old 16th March 2014
  #48
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If mastering engineers don't want to do attended sessions why is it that almost every top mastering engineer has some type of seating (usually a couch) in the back of their room??? I have to assume it is for the client(s)to sit while the mastering engineer does his or her "thing"
Old 16th March 2014
  #49
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I would love to do more attended sessions. I'd charge the same as unattended sessions, as currently it's only happening about twice a year. That's because about 90% of my clients are not geographically close.
Old 18th March 2014
  #50
To me this seems like a new trend. I have never not attended a mastering session, and was never quoted more for my attendance. (Until very recently).
Old 18th March 2014
  #51
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I like attended sessions and I don't charge extra for them. I like the majority of the artists & bands I work with and like hanging out with them. Sure, the workflow suffers a little bit on attended days but that's ok. I like having people come to the studio. Works out nicely for vinyl projects too - people get to see the lathe and ask questions about the process. This is a social business. I'm not an introvert.
Old 18th March 2014
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I never charge more for attended sessions. In point of fact I prefer the musician/artist to be here during the mastering for immediate feedback. As always different strokes for different folks.
+1 Never have charged more....
Old 19th March 2014
  #53
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I also do not charge anything extra for attended sessions. I do however implement a two track minimum or a two track minimum charge for attended sessions.

Attended sessions for just a single proved to simply be too time consuming in comparison to mastering a single unattended to not implement some sort of minimum charge. In my experience once you get into attended sessions with EP's or full albums there is not that much of a time difference vs. working unattended. Sure there is a bit more chatting (which I typically enjoy) but I end up taking breaks less and/or getting distracted online or whatever than if I am working unattended so it usually comes out in the wash.

As long as a client is bringing in more than just a single I charge no differently for attended sessions than unattended sessions.
Old 19th March 2014
  #54
I don't know any mastering guys who charge more for attended sessions. I know Scott Hull doesn't.
Old 19th March 2014
  #55
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It always cost money to see a dying breed doing their thing.
Old 20th March 2014
  #56
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Funny this topic is going on now. I had a potential client call me up and asked if I charged more for an attended session and I said no. He said he had contacted a few other local mastering places and they had somewhat balked at the idea of an attended session. I wonder if some of the is because they really don't have a mastering studio and the pictures on their page are "lifted" from other sites and they don't want attended sessions because the person will see that all they have is a bedroom and a computer. Just sayin....
Old 20th March 2014
  #57
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i wonder the same thing. but i did attended sessions when all i had was a bedroom and a computer!
Old 20th March 2014
  #58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strange Leaf View Post
It always cost money to see a dying breed doing their thing.
nice
Old 20th March 2014
  #59
I charge both flat and hourly rates, as opposed to just charging more for hourly attended work. That said, I do offer some unattended discounts for work I can do outside the studio - if I can do some aspect of the job at home, I can charge the client less (eliminate studio fees, charge mostly for my time/gear).

I think the reasons why some might charge more are already explored above in this thread. I don't buy the "takes longer" argument as an excuse though - if you're charging hourly AND it takes longer you ALWAYS get paid more (or from client perspective, costs more). You can change client behavior without being a dick by being clear: collect deposits, and make sure every attending client knows the terms (e.g. clock starts when you booked, not when you arrive; cancellations require lead time; etc), and sending friendly reminders.

One argument I didn't read that I struggle with is efficiency. When I started mastering 20 years ago I was much slower at my job than I am today. Topping/tailing took significantly longer, and I was less sure of things I heard than I am today. Moreover technology improved to the point where process that used to take longer-than-realtime (e.g. better-than-hardware sample rate conversion and digital limiting in mid 90s) are now potentially FASTER than real time (in the past real time was the grail - kept analog gear in chain etc). Combine these efficiencies with new competition (read: client acquisition and retention costs more) powered by newly affordable technology (every basement studio now offering mastering, claiming "good enough"), and it's nearly impossible to raise rates. So effectively the best engineers of this generation took pay cuts as they got better in this business!

Flat rates allow us some breathing room. We can offer a fair, flat rate to do a particular kind of work, and as long as most sessions are unattended, scheduling is a non-issue. As I get better, I can do more jobs for the same rate, effectively giving me a raise (as for my clients, getting periodic raises when my skills improve isn't an unreasonable expectation). The busier I am, the more efficiently I can arrange my work - for instance I stack processing tasks up like jets at O'Hare on days I'm booked in the studio, and bounce files while watching TV at home for review the next morning. That removes a little more pressure. I finally rose my hourly rates a year or so back when I realized those same efficiencies had artificially made my flat rates seem too high, versus actual production. It had become cheaper for clients to work hourly than flat rate because I'm decisive and experienced. So rather than raise rates for 90% of my clients, who prefer the security of a flat rate, I raised the hourly rates a bit and kept the flat rates where they were. And I still have more attended sessions than in the past, since it remains the "low dough" alternative... client's in the room so only revisions now come from their choices or technical flaws in parts.

That brings me to a confession: I almost always lavish more time and care on unattended work because I'm not accountable to the clock, only my pride and professionalism. I'll denoise something 3 different ways to hear what sounds best unattended; no normal client would sit quietly as you burn through an hour deciding which tool to use so that never happens in attended sessions. Then there are the questions and conversations - that's what makes attendance take longer - I'm fine with that, but since it's billable I tend to be curt. Without a client in the room, I work until I'm happy. With a client in the room I work to their budget. I find no fair way to compensate myself for that extra time investment (which represents the bulk of my professional discography), but without it I'm not sure I'd be as fast in attended sessions (I get to learn the tools better unattended), or be able to attract the clientele I enjoy working with.

Just some random thoughts on this matter...

Last edited by Dave Davis; 20th March 2014 at 05:41 PM.. Reason: content
Old 20th March 2014
  #60
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Charging extra for attended sessions is wrong, imo.
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