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The Email you don't want to receive... DAW Software
Old 1st October 2017
  #1
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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The Email you don't want to receive...

Got this Email from a long time client. We have done this gig for well over forty years.


Greetings,

Thanks for calling today. We've got the local college's audio department, handling our concert recording, so we won't need your help with that anymore - but I'd like to ask what you charge for CD and DVD duplication, because we're not really set up to produce concert CDs and DVDs in bulk.

Thanks,



Not really something I wanted to read...FWIW

The college does it for nothing..we charge. Oh well another client bites the dust.
Old 1st October 2017
  #2
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The fat lady hasn't sung yet...you might want to give it a couple of months until the comparisons are made between the quality of the audio dept's recordings and yours...they could well find they are 'getting just what they pay for' !

So they are just now getting into CD/DVD duplication ...what was happening to their recordings for the last 40 years, and why the move into this diminishing realm of repro-encoding in late 2017 ?

You might be able to make more on this than you did on the recordings...replication hardware is probably going the way that 2 track tape machines did in the 90's, if you want to move into this area...I'm sure the payoff period would be short if you got the replication gig ? Presumably over the 40 years you've increased your clientele base, so the shedding of one is replaced by the pickup of new others, although it still stings...there's no doubting that.
Old 1st October 2017
  #3
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We have done all their CD/DVD duplication for the last 22 years. Before that it was cassettes. Second audio/video recording client lost in the last two years. Not good. The biggest problem seems to be money, or lack of it. They don't want to pay for the recordings but they DO have money for professionally produced glossy programs that costs them BIG $$$$. With the programs they get to see their names in print and have a "memento" at least that is how I see it. The recordings, which are something that chronicles the history of the group are not so important.

Thanks for the reply...
Old 1st October 2017
  #4
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jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Got this Email from a long time client. We have done this gig for well over forty years.


Greetings,

Thanks for calling today. We've got the local college's audio department, handling our concert recording, so we won't need your help with that anymore - but I'd like to ask what you charge for CD and DVD duplication, because we're not really set up to produce concert CDs and DVDs in bulk.

Thanks,



Not really something I wanted to read...FWIW

The college does it for nothing..we charge. Oh well another client bites the dust.
ah, thats sucks ... sorry to hear ... but you still have one part of the job ... and as Studer mentioned ... wait and see what Quality of work they put out .. !!!

i was a Video Director for (said company) and as i was being phased out (traveling director) i had to train the local guys in each town to do my job .. they got what they paid for in most cities ..

do the CD/DVD replication and be happy with that until they figure out they can do it themselves, or that there is technology where they can Stream this stuff !!!

Positive note: maybe there is a new opportunity for you with them that you / and they, just have not been able to see yet !!! reinvent yourself with them !! might not be the same money you have ben making but might open up something that is more money !!!

cheers john
Old 1st October 2017
  #5
Gear Head
 

We have had this happen as well. It stings a little, but there may be something in the future with these folks, who knows.

I had a long term client (college) tell me the faculty decided to go with someone else to record their concerts, sorry, but thanks for your past work. Around a month later the choir director calls me to tell me about her upcoming concert and how they were going to stage things differently. I thanked her, but asked why I would need to know this, and she told me "for your recording setup". I told her someone else was doing it, a discussion ensued, and she said she never misses a faculty meeting, and changing to someone else was never discussed. Turns out the new person was a good friend of the department chair, and that friend needed work badly.

The client came back to me a year or two later to duplicate a CD they were distributing to donors and potential incoming students. It was a "best of" collection from the various ensembles. It included two tracks of things I recorded, the rest my replacement recorded. His were not good.

Move on. I've not looked back!

Doug
Old 1st October 2017
  #6
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tourtelot's Avatar
I was going to write a detailed post and I realized everything I was going to say can be summed up pretty simply. Getting fired sucks. Good luck with the rest of your business moving forward, and don't take it personally.

D.
Old 1st October 2017
  #7
Of course, my own personal experience is quirky and downright unpredictably weird, but... I seem to be transitioning thusly: what were once "vanity" projects for ensembles, bearing the cost themselves, are now paid for by the local classical radio station-- everyone wins!

The group gets a CD of their glorious efforts, I don't need to deal anymore with neurotic/anxiety-ridden/cost-conscious middle men, the station gets exclusive content of these magnificent local concerts, and there is really no question at all of substituting sketchy, inexperienced technicians to do the job.

Which, you can't possibly underestimate the "standards" that some of these group leaders will abide by. The latest "unbelievable things you have heard" comment came from a guy who runs a coffee shop/open mic venue. He'll prop his cellphone up to stream the proceedings... and was free-associating out loud about feeding this to the radio... and the words I heard coming out of his mouth were, "well, I mean, it doesn't sound THAT bad..."

Old 1st October 2017
  #8
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The fat lady hasn't sung yet...you might want to give it a couple of months until the comparisons are made between the quality of the audio dept's recordings and yours...they could well find they are 'getting just what they pay for' !
I'm not in the same business as Tom. But with some of my clients, they aren't really interested in anything more than checking stuff off a to-do list. And if they run into overages on something and have to steal money from somewhere else, cheapness becomes the priority.
Old 1st October 2017
  #9
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
I was going to write a detailed post and I realized everything I was going to say can be summed up pretty simply. Getting fired sucks. Good luck with the rest of your business moving forward, and don't take it personally.

D.
Thanks!!!

I am not taking it personally. BUT do I think it is a TENOR of the times we live in. Everyone seems to wants to live in a Walmart world where we get everything for practically nothing.

The local "Not for Profits" are having a hard go right now. The charitable foundation that use to fund a lot of these groups is having to put more and more money into food and shelters for the poor of this county. So they have put a lot of these NFP organizations on a short leash money wise. I understand there concerns but fancy glossy programs that costs $$$$ are IMHO a waste of money and a Xeroxed program provides all the same info a 10% of the cost.

Thanks again!
Old 1st October 2017
  #10
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Thanks for your all your thoughts.

The college in town seemingly wants to do everything to do with audio in the town and on campus. They now record in all the churches where students and faculty are preforming (something we use to do on a per inquiry basis for pay) they are also offering their services for editing and mastering and video production. They are basically running a parallel service operation and we cannot compete with their prices. They have more money invested in equipment than I could ever hope to have. They also have the resources to hire student engineers to do all of this and pay them under a federal work study program, meaning they get the help for almost free. Not a good situation. If this were a state institution they would not be able to take work away from local vendors but since they are private they can do as they want as long as they don't run afoul of the tax man. Not sure, I may have to think about retiring or going into some other non parallel field.

Thanks again!
Old 1st October 2017
  #11
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Got this Email from a long time client. We have done this gig for well over forty years.


Greetings,

Thanks for calling today. We've got the local college's audio department, handling our concert recording, so we won't need your help with that anymore - but I'd like to ask what you charge for CD and DVD duplication, because we're not really set up to produce concert CDs and DVDs in bulk.

Thanks,



Not really something I wanted to read...FWIW

The college does it for nothing..we charge. Oh well another client bites the dust.
That sucks, Thomas.

Make sure to get a hold of the first performance without you and work up a sales pitch comparing the two. Hopefully, someone will understand the value. Maybe offer to use a gaggle of their best students as interns, too. The intern thing is a real benefit to their program.

It's still a punk a$$ move on their part...
Old 2nd October 2017
  #12
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I expect that as a private college, they are a 501(c)(3) charitable tax exempt entity. If you really wanted, you could make an inquiry with the IRS about the propriety of this charitable tax exempt entity operating as a competitive commercial business. While it may not necessarily be significant enough to jeopardize their tax exempt status, if that income is deemed to be unrelated business income and taxable, it might modify their activity. Depending on how they are operating, they might also be violating state unfair competition statutes. Just a thought.
Old 2nd October 2017
  #13
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku View Post
I expect that as a private college, they are a 501(c)(3) charitable tax exempt entity. If you really wanted, you could make an inquiry with the IRS about the propriety of this charitable tax exempt entity operating as a competitive commercial business. While it may not necessarily be significant enough to jeopardize their tax exempt status, if that income is deemed to be unrelated business income and taxable, it might modify their activity. Depending on how they are operating, they might also be violating state unfair competition statutes. Just a thought.
Thanks, I will look into it.

A few years back a small print shop was forced out of business in town when the college forbade any of the professors and staff people from going there by refusing to reimburse them for any purchases made there and would not issue any POs to the shop. The college has their own print shop and were afraid that more and more people would use the one up town. (Especially since the college's print shop was overwhelmed with projects and took weeks to get even a simple project completed) To say the owner of the shop was upset would be an understatement. I know she consulted a lawyer and he said basically "forget it" when she asked about their 501(c)(3) charitable tax exempt entity. But who knows. Thanks again.
Old 2nd October 2017
  #14
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There is a difference between actively competing with a local private competitor for third party business, and requiring their own students, faculty and staff to use their internal services. Best of luck. I know the college has a very substantial presence in your community (my daughter attended for a year) which makes them difficult competition.
Old 2nd October 2017
  #15
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku View Post
There is a difference between actively competing with a local private competitor for third party business, and requiring their own students, faculty and staff to use their internal services. Best of luck. I know the college has a very substantial presence in your community (my daughter attended for a year) which makes them difficult competition.
About 350 students live off campus. This is down from about 600 a couple of years ago and now the college wants to have all students live on campus. They say they are losing a lot of money by not having all students live on campus. If implemented it would mean that the college would have to build more dormitories and the landlords in town would have to, in most cases, sell off their student houses. The college is having a lot of fiscal problems but the way they are trying to solve them seems strange, to say the least. I guess the college doing all the audio in town is not the way I would try and increase revenue but I am not in charge. Oh well...
Old 2nd October 2017
  #16
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frans's Avatar
As somebody else said: "defund, then take over" The notion to run a college as a for-profit-organisation seems to be the opposite of what it should focus on or how it's role in society should be. Maybe somebody eventually notices that all that audio stuff doesn't even make for so much profit when they have cornered the market.
It sucks, Thomas.
Old 2nd October 2017
  #17
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jwh1192's Avatar
it does sound a little fishy, like walmart or a mall, putting all the small businesses in the area out of business ... might be worth speaking to someone about it .. don't get your hopes up obviously though ..

i know when house of blues bought a bunch of audio and camera gear we did not hire Tm Powell in Chicago anymore .. as it was all done in house .. but HOB did not go out to local Chicago venues and try and get more business .. it was all internal .. the gear was all built in but i suppose if it was Rack mounted and ready for the road they might have tried to make some more revenue .. i was happy they did not because i love me some Mr Powell recordings !!!! and he is a great person to work and know ..

Tom, as i am sure you are a nice person to know and work with too ...

i wish you much luck in figuring out what the next move is in your town ..

cheers john
Old 2nd October 2017
  #18
Sorry, Tom! That sucks. Colleges should be focused on on-campus training opportunities with institutional ensembles. Not renters. If they want the kids to learn, they could just require that outside engineers be open to student techs shadowing as a professional learning experience. Instead, we get college grads who know next-to-nothing because they haven't worked outside their bubble.
Old 2nd October 2017
  #19
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Sorry, Tom! That sucks. Colleges should be focused on on-campus training opportunities with institutional ensembles. Not renters. If they want the kids to learn, they could just require that outside engineers be open to student techs shadowing as a professional learning experience. Instead, we get college grads who know next-to-nothing because they haven't worked outside their bubble.
We employ a lot of local college students working here as it is (45+ so far in the 22 years we have been in business). The college seems to want to do everything with their own people and just shut out anyone from the outside. Maybe it is job security? Maybe it is for the money? Who knows. What ever the motivation it is putting us out of business in this town. Not fun!

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 2nd October 2017 at 08:26 PM..
Old 2nd October 2017
  #20
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Is your business dependent on a single client?
Old 2nd October 2017
  #21
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Is your business dependent on a single client?
Not at all but they generate a percentage of our income so it means less money coming in. More and more groups are going the self record route and just putting things up on the WWW. We can only lose so many clients and then we are out of business. FWIW
Old 2nd October 2017
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Not at all but they generate a percentage of our income so it means less money coming in. More and more groups are going the self record route and just putting things up on the WWW. We can only lose so many clients and then we are out of business. FWIW
Yes, things change over time. I can't even begin to count the number of "traditional" businesses within the average community whose viability has vanished due to market trends and tech shifts. On a personal level, I stopped teaching music lessons because the students would go out and take "gigs" for nothing, thus demeaning and debasing the live music market.

Coffee shops have replaced coffee houses. What used to pay now doesn't...unless the beans they're offering for a set or two are "magic beans".

I'm glad I made it through to retirement age...
Old 3rd October 2017
  #23
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The rapid advance of digital DIY gear has created a new paradigm of music recording and video capture at every level. As Wyllys pointed out, there will always be winners and losers in the "progress process". The "hit and miss" reality of novice technicians may or may not be acceptable to a given client but certainly the harbinger of forecast able revenue of pro recordists is closely aligned with the status of big dollar studios: a further explanation should not be necessary.
Hugh
Old 3rd October 2017
  #24
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At every level of endeavour (perhaps excluding the medical profession) there have always been hobbyists, amateurs, beginners (I know that's how I started out, being at least smart enough to know how little I knew of the skills of recording.....and thanks to this forum I'm still a life-long learner !)

As one progressed through the ranks...of qualification, jobs under the belt, a greater circle of clients etc the amount charged could increase commensurately with demand and delivery of product calibre.

Others have been lucky enough to receive specific on the job and/or theoretical training, or secured work with an outside broadcast organization, studio, radio station...etc etc...familiar story, no need to elaborate.

That was the old paradigm. Now it's an Uber world, where anyone capable of acquiring the tools (any cheap tools will do) is now an instant expert, same as I could declare myself a taxi driver/delivery service tomorrow...simply because I own a car. Maybe the money is now in creating a 'dial a recording person' app....
Old 3rd October 2017
  #25
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My company has adapted to the changing workplace by diversifying.

The current problem, as I see it, is that everything is getting done more and more DIY and less and less by skilled technicians/engineers. Now everyone who has a pocket video camera or even an IPAD or IPhone is now an instant videographer/photographer. Anyone with Reaper, Audacity or pirated software is now a "recording engineer or mastering engineer". Anyone can now call themselves an audio engineer with out really knowing anything about audio. If you go to Fiverr you can see hundreds of ads for someone to do your mixing or mastering for next to nothing. There are thousands of places on the internet for you to get things done cheaply if that is someone wants.

I thought on location recording work was somewhat exempt from that scenario since it involves specialized equipment and someone who knows how to use it. I guess that is no longer the case. More and more venues are putting in audio and video recording equipment, even churches have extensive setups for video and audio recordings of their services. They make these facilities available to people who rent the hall/sanctuary for a nominal charge or even in some cases for free. These facilities are usually staffed by volunteers in the case of the churches or staffed with minimum wage workers in the case of a venue, who know which buttons to push but really do not care about the sound. These same places then put in all kind of requirements so that outside people are basically exempt from doing any work in these venues. A couple of churches we use to work in put in a "no cables on the floor" rule which basically means that only their people can record the concerts as we have to have microphone cables and AC power cables on the floor in order to work. Not sure where all of this is going but it seems that eventually all venues will be self recording and most of us will be out of a job.

We were doing some pay by the concert recording for a local civic orchestra. We were asked to do some recording in a venue that is also a wildlife sanctuary with a 300 person auditorium attached. We started to do a setup but the facilities manager came in and told us that we would have to put our microphones in the back of the auditorium due to fire laws. Then we were told where we could setup (which was behind some bleachers with no view of the stage). We were getting paid for doing the work. I went to see the orchestra conductor and told him that I would not be able to do a good job with the recording if the microphones had to be in the back of the auditorium. He went to see the facilites manager and convinced him to let us run two mic cables to the front of the auditorium. So we started running the cables but were then told they would have to be run UNDER the bleachers which were, for all intents and purposes, impossible to get under. We finally convinced the facilities manager to let us run them up a side aisle with gaffer's tape over them. After all of this 21 people showed up and the facilities manager was again upset that there was such a low turnout. The facilites manager said after the concert.."see this is why I want to have our own equipment to do audio and video recordings...

FWIW
Old 3rd October 2017
  #26
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jwh1192's Avatar
think about the Avid Venue system with built in Pro Tools .. was intended for FOH engineers to refine the mix before the show after the sound check .. but now has become .. oh we can record .. we do not need you anymore !!!
Old 3rd October 2017
  #27
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"After all of this 21 people showed up and the facilities manager was again upset that there was such a low turnout. The facilites manager said after the concert.."see this is why I want to have our own equipment to do audio and video recordings..."

WTF is the correlation between these two things? Am I correct that your client was the ensemble? Not the venue, correct?

I think you went beyond the "call of duty" to try and make things work. SMH. Mama told me there'd be days like this.

D.
Old 3rd October 2017
  #28
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Oh and also

The last time one of my clients was convinced to let the venue's soundman record their show, he "got busy" before the show started and, literally, forgot to push the red button.

Next show, guess who was hired to record their show? A recording engineer; me. And all talk of a "bargain rate" was off the table. Win-win.

D.
Old 4th October 2017
  #29
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Don't forget also that the seemingly never-ending flow of machinery of this ilk:

https://www.sounddevices.com/news/so...-mixpre-series

New! Onyx USB Interfaces | Mackie

plus Zoom 4 and 8 track recorders allows new kids to the block to choose a price-point of entry and quality/complexity and (with a reel of cables and a handful of mics) to compete with more established operators.

It's the continual 'democratization' and accessibility of this sort of hardware, not to mention the 'plug a thumb drive into the mixer and record multitrack', which is furthering this Uber mentality.

The upshot of all this could necessitate a move "uptown" to a client base who are able to discern, appreciate and pay for the recordings which result from captures/mixes/masters derived from long experience, intelligent mic placement and commercial CD or better audio quality. In short, the need to seek out a new stratum of customer ? Digital disruption....ain't it great ?
Old 4th October 2017
  #30
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[QUOTE=Thomas W. Bethe;12880674]Thanks for your all your thoughts.

The college in town seemingly wants to do everything to do with audio in the town and on campus. They now record in all the churches where students and faculty are preforming (something we use to do on a per inquiry basis for pay) they are also offering their services for editing and mastering and video production. They are basically running a parallel service operation and we cannot compete with their prices. They have more money invested in equipment than I could ever hope to have. They also have the resources to hire student engineers to do all of this and pay them under a federal work study program, meaning they get the help for almost free. Not a good situation. If this were a state institution they would not be able to take work away from local vendors but since they are private they can do as they want as long as they don't run afoul of the tax man. Not sure, I may have to think about retiring or going into some other non parallel field.

Thanks again![/QUOTE

What happens when students figure out there are no jobs to be had after graduation because of this unless they happen to get on as faculty or staff at the college? Sorta hard to pay back student loans without a paying job.
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