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So, what are your rates?
Old 11th October 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
So, what are your rates?

I don't have them posted on my website because I'd rather have people call to get a rate. That way I can try and hook them into visting the studio and booking time that way. But, I get a few emails a week that ask "What r da rates?" and nothing else. How do and would you answer that?

I vary things a bit depending on the project and I like to keep things in the ball park. The high and low end of my rates are sepereated by about $25 per hour. I try to tailor them to the project, longer bookings are less expensive per hour then someone doing 4-5 hours. Still, when I get the one line email I'm sort of lost because I almost never hear back from those people. So what would you say?
Old 11th October 2002
Gear Head

I mostly operate as a freelance engineer so I am $15 an hour 9 times out of 10 I get some great gigs where I can pull $35 an hour but usually that is adequete compensation for how miserable I am doing them. At my home studio which I only use for low budget mixes vocal overdubs/ minor overdubs, I charge $20 an hour. 2 times I have gotten **** from other area engineers about my cheap rate basically cause it makes them look bad for their inferior product, and they have gotten a bad name. I charge 20$ at home and I am gonna raise it whenever I move/get my 2 inch machine for overdubs. I know I have excellent equipmant here for the overdubs(Neve 1073/Distressor/1176s/API pres and EQs/ Pendulum Mic Pre/DPA 4011s/Nuemann M 149/Fatso/PT Mix Plus). I would much rather keep my rate low and get to 75% of the time pick and choose which bands I devote my time to and be booked 28 days a month. I had possibly the worst band I ever had to work with (both as personalities and musicians)come in on saturday and I thankfully can afford to politly tell them to take a walk and finish up in another studio since I dont need the business. As well working as a mastering engineer assistant I make enough in one day of work to cover my bills for the week usually so that makes life a much easier. If I get reffered from a diffrent studio and I don't know the band I will usually match the other studios rate if its higher. More and more with every month that passes I just get a budget from a band and I figure out how many hours/days for free I feel its worth it to throw them and figure out how to make the record happen in those days. The problem I am experiencing is if I do a pro tools mix and they know about total recall there is some records I have been recalling for 6 months and not getting paid when I do recalls. There was a record I finished in May I got paid 0$ for over 20 recalls over the course of 9 months cause the drummer was paranoid and everytime someone would critique it hed wanna acomdate them wether the person was deaf or not. Thankfully the pay off is I have gotten jobs from this record since the record has since blown up in the scene its in. More and more I am starting to think of asking for mroe things in exchange for the low rate. Most of my work is with large indies and if I mix something or produce it I am considering demanding credit on at least the back cover and eventually if there is a sticker on the cover I will demand I am credited there as well.
Old 11th October 2002
I charge

Mostly per track (recording at a big studio is clients extra expense) I prefer to mix at my place. I work Noon - 11pm but much later when mixing...

Freelancers get the place with assistant per day

I am doing a LOT of spec work my payment there is publishing & production points if released. (A side line gear hire business help keep money coming in)

My rates are all FAR TOO LOW.

$1,200 per song for a band / manager / tiny lable (my typical clients)
+ royalty agreement - 3 points
Studio time used - till I am happy with it, usually a week or so. I am going to have to start adding a legal fees surcharge of about $300 as well.

Private hire - Studio with assistant:
$400 per day (noon - 11pm) (only gets hired to friend engineers)
I often go lower, especial if an assistant has a junior project to bring in, then I charge a tiny fee as the experience they get is valuable to the studio long term. I charge a little more if we need to get an AV rig set up and have to rent in a monitor (I have a Umatic I bought in a sale for $75!)

Me with the studio as engineer:
Very rare... dont like to do it really.....
Old 11th October 2002
Lives for gear
Ol' Betsey's Avatar
I'm just about to become involved in another studio again and have been thinking about this quite alot too.

I like the idea of qouting the "high" rate on cold calls in order to sift throught the riff raff.

Then once you get the serious buyers down to check out the studio and you have had a chance to suss them out, you can carry on discussions then.

For instance: the artist/producer/label really like the studio but would only have the budget for a few days @ book rate. Your then free to negotiate and suggest, say, 5 days for the price of 3 etc. I find that the people then feel like your trying to help accomodate them and as a result tend to respect you and the facilities much more.

And friends ALWAYS get a "bro" deal. I would rather have my mates (or equivalent associates!) paying £150 a day and kickin' out some serious jams, while respecting the studio, than some body else paying £400 and setting coffee cups on the console! My bank manager would certainly disagree but it ain't his studio, is it? (not yet anyway )

And as an aside: I would categorise anybody that doesn't have the time to actually call a studio (or at least send a polite and slightly informative note explaining the project) but instead sends a one line "What r da rates?" email as RIFF RAFF!
Old 11th October 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Jules, I think you and Cannon missed the point of the question. How do you respond when someone calls are emails and the first question is "what are your rates?" It seems like I have a lot of people contacting me who haven't thought about a budget and want to establish that last when it should be first IMHO.
Old 11th October 2002
Lives for gear
Tim L's Avatar

Re: So, what are your rates?

Well, without being evasive I say "it depends". If the inquiry comes in the form of an email I'll ask them to call so we can discuss their project. When they call I suggest they come, meet me, and see the studio before I drop a number on them. Basically, that's how I handle it.

I also try to keep the "walk through" down to two people max if possible so I can keep a close eye on stuff. Perhaps that deserves another thread.
Old 11th October 2002
I tell them I need to know more about the project (IE who is paying etc) before giving them a rate..

I sorta "keep them in suspence"

Many find this a little uncomfortable, I find the ones that really dont like it are the wrong customers. The ones that know my recomended skills may aid their act, hang with it.

As I am 'all included' usually - a concept of how long the project will take from the client (usually wildly off the mark BTW) is important for me. A 20 min chat usually does it.

Tell them you prefer to meet in person to discuss the ins and outs of the whole project. Get accross that if you are rcomended, then surely a meet up is worth it.

Anyhow, futher on my weirdness, I MAKE them send a cd/tape first before I will meet with them, unless someone I know has personally called me to recomend em and tipped me off that they are 'worth it'.

I turn down a lot of stuff (IMHO garbage with zero cash). But mine is a very private studio, not trading as a commercial one.

I say try to 'draw them in'.

"Meetings" are crucial to my operations. It's ALL about meetings. Nothing happens without a meeting or epic call to get the whole picture...

The cold call for hourly price rarely happens so perhaps I aint the person to respond to such a question.

If I still missed the point explain again and I will get it eventually.

Old 11th October 2002
Lives for gear
Kris's Avatar
My experience is if that is the first/only question asked, then the project isn't worth a damn. I'd estimate 90% of the time it is a crappy musician (if you can even call them that) looking to get something for nothing.

Tell them your rate, and be done with it, knowing that you aren't missing out on anything when they don't call back!fuuck
Old 11th October 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

two ways of dealing :

as a rental studio :

500 $ a day or 65 $ / hour without engineer.

In house engineer: Marc and Chris : 25$ / hour extra - Raf : 15$/hour extra.

Backups are charged seperately. Mostly these days IDE hard disks or CDR's / DVD's when it is only a couple of songs.

Now the studio does not go without engineer to just anybody. Only a handfull of people get to do that right now.

For larger projects discussion is allways possible and my prefered way to work is in the line of Jules .... to know who and what and get a piece of the action if interesting.

75% we operate as a private facility though ... although that may vary depending on what projects get offered ....
Old 12th October 2002
Gear Guru
Drumsound's Avatar
When I get cold calls I try to hype the studio before getting to rates. Even when that's the first question I still go into my spiel (Neotek, 3M 2", Manley, Lexi, blah blah blah) first. I have a standard rate that is somewhat flexible. I tell it's $35/hour plus tape costs. I also mention that my rates are going up on January 1. The only independents that are "allowed" to use my room are guys I know and they call me if they have a project.

One thing I will not do is estimate how long it takes to make a record. I tell the contact person that I have not heard them play, I don’t' know what type of production we will be getting into etc. I will estimate that mixes take me two-fours per song on average, but there are exceptions.

Usually If potential clients come in for a meeting and see the place and the stuff and hear some things I've done, they book time. I also have an eight song demo CD that I give them. We usually listen to part of it while they are there and then I take it out of the CD player and give it to them.
Old 12th October 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

i just post my top rate on my site. no sane person pays top rate. as to answering emails, it depends on the project. i usually just say call me and work out the rate in the phone call.

man, one project i was SUPPOSED to do recently i lost to some ****head who offered to do it for the band for FREE. what dip****s! man... they should at LEAST charge then $10/hr. especially for a band that is doing it all live they should certainly be able to come up with $30 for a recording. these free people need to be dealt with [heavy handed].... in all likelyhood the recording will sound like ****.
Old 12th October 2002
Lives for gear
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar

these free people need to be dealt with [heavy handed]....

alpha... we hear you plight over here in OZ... I think its just a common thread amongst both dickheads and newbiers that think they can 'wedge' their way into an already over crowded market.

But often is experience and good old 'gearslut know how' and GEAR!!!!! that trumps in the end.

IMHO these sorts of people who offer 'musical communism' will in the end suffer the same fate as communisn itself as its a non pepetuating cycle. Any good bands/talent whatever!, that come through will soon be Better players, get better MGT and play more gigs --> get more $$. Next time they will go up a rank etc and look else where becuase they know they need to make tha next step etc.

All these bottom feeders attract are the same scummy crappy musos that genrally are too lame, boring, cheap or think that everyone in the world owes them a break and their vocation!.. like
**** THAT!!!!

Also as they are often doing things for free of next to nothing, they often are never able to afford to go the next tstep to promote, upgrade the sutdio to attract the next tier of clientel

So invariably they go and another bottom feeder takes their spot in a vicious circle..

alpha what makes me sick is the fact that they are doing it for free!.. like i would want a case of primo beer or a nice fat bag of buds or something else tangible that will make my life a lil less hassle for recording some god awful freaking powerballad about he dude whose bitch goes and runs away with a professional accountant cos the muso who writes the song cant be assed getting a half decent 'casual' job, or cant quite put the bong down or whatever and sits and consoles themselves with another cones (insert favourite medicative resource)

I psoe its kinda funny when u record lamers but it is rude to laugh to their face..... often i cant help it tho so sue me!!!!


Jules we need to create our own Version of the UN for audio... so we can create an international charter to rid these people!!! and curtail their activities!!!

I have vented for now!!! feel free to flame my ass but freebes fuct it for everyone including themselves!!

Old 13th October 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Originally posted by alphajerk
man, one project i was SUPPOSED to do recently i lost to some ****head who offered to do it for the band for FREE. what dip****s! man... they should at LEAST charge then $10/hr. especially for a band that is doing it all live they should certainly be able to come up with $30 for a recording. these free people need to be dealt with [heavy handed].... in all likelyhood the recording will sound like ****.
The price of free is hassle. Every time I run into or work with someone who got a free recording I hear the same story. The engineer was never around or could only work limited hours like every 3rd Tuesday for two hours at a time. Or they wanted to do everything their way and the final product sounds bad, nothing like the band or both. There's one guy in my area that's been attracting bands with the offer of a free recording because he's going to shop them to majors. His band is signed to one (I forget which) so the bands usually go for it. They sign a contract with him and get locked into it. Then they end up with a crappy recording (I've heard two so far) that they can't release unless they pay for his engineering services and buy him out of his contract. **** that.

The last time I gave someone a free recording was when I had moved the studio and I needed a guiena pig band for a day or two and they covered my food and the materials. There are other projects I'll do for friends or others with great music and limited budgets but nothing is ever free.
Old 13th October 2002
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar

I have had the same conversation with Wiggy a lot lately. I still do weekender bands after a few years and have been trying to push my self out of them. No future in a band that cannot play and have no budget for the recording let alone do anything with the CD. (Note I do have a day job 3 days a week in IT to keep the gearslut habit going)

The first thing I get told is how many songs they want to do (around 6-8 lately) then they want to book only a weekend to do it so how much. Also can you make it sound like X and Y bands Major release in that weekend.
I will tell them first off for a good recording they would look at rather a song a day and I am US$25 per hour. Telling them I have a HD system, good pres etc makes no difference as the studio down the road with a digi001 system and a Mackie 1604 and is still a Pro Tools studio. So now I just let them go if the money scares them off.
As Wiggy has said around here there are to many small fry, US$10-15 studios that are killing each other as they struggle to pay rent and eat each week. Let alone upgrade gear. I am going to sit out of it and do bands I prefer more and more, Mid level around here is US$200-$400 a day so not that much to start with.
Old 22nd October 2002
Motown legend
Bob Olhsson's Avatar

The best advice I ever got was to charge top dollar per hour and then be extremely generous with how many hours you charge for.
Old 22nd October 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

if $25/hr is scaring them off... then i wouldnt want to record them anyway. $25/hr here seems to be the newbie studios rate, $50/hr seems to be the average for the mids, and then all the way up from there...
Old 22nd October 2002
Gear Addict

I've considered what it would take to open for business. $25/hour wouldn't keep me in studio rent and utilities, my own rent and utilities, and Top Ramen. It's ceased to amaze me whenever some kid bankrolled by his parents tries this for three months or so, only to be replaced by the next kid doing the same.

So do you suppose they burn out on the balance sheet, the quality of the bands coming in, or the quality of their work?

Old 22nd October 2002
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar

Alpha and Bear,

Rates in OZ dollars are not great, normally most studios charge the same $ value just the OZ$ is worth half so I am charging AUD$50. My rent's around US$80, cheaper in Melb then Sydney.

Its really the gear that is really expensive here as they all come in at US$'s. My U99 cost around AUD$4,200, so many more hours work to pay it off. Yes I still do a day job, for gear habit.

Had a call yesterday after rates for a demo and the guy said that X studio was doing 8 hour days at US$80 and is a pro tools studio.
He really is only a 001 studio and has no gear and I just said well you get what you pay for. The band did not understand so did I want them anyway

Now at US$80 a day he must also work out of his bedroom and have no rent as he sure would not be making a profit from that.
Old 22nd October 2002
High End Moderator
mwagener's Avatar
Studio blockrate $ 1,250/day (plus material)
Engineering (mix) $ 1,000/day

For a complete project
Producing $ 5,000/song (plus points)
Engineering $ 3,000/song (including mix)
Studio time $ depends on length of project.
Old 22nd October 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

damn, im only $750 a day... including me, and i get sucked into the producer role w/o extra pay far too often. sometimes i even play on the album. i even pulled a full length album out of my ass in 2 days before.

i need to sell like 50 million albums so i can charge more [iow, buy more toys]
Old 22nd October 2002
Well, mastering is a different beast, so it's not a fair comparison...

Card is $225/hour (me and the room), but my indie rate is much more appealing...
Old 22nd October 2002
Lives for gear

Originally posted by Bob Olhsson
The best advice I ever got was to charge top dollar per hour and then be extremely generous with how many hours you charge for.
Yup. Bad news first and good news later makes for long term clients in my experience.

Truth be told, for excellent clients, I make it a point to occasionally do a mix recall or other job for them, bill it at full pop, then put an equal discount for a zero total. I include that as a seperate invoice along with the others.

Not only does it tell them I value them as a customer, it also puts it in writing for them to see. Win-win. Everybody is happy.

Brian T
Old 22nd October 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I think a lot of you missed the point. I didn't want to know what you charge for your services...

I wanted to know how you respond when the only question you get is "what do you charge?"

Sigh... grudge

Anyway, I'm gonna lock this one up because it's headed in the wrong direction. Maybe I'll try again later.
Old 23rd October 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Ok, I reopened it because of overwhelming demand. I didn't really want people to give up the amount of money they charged. It's kind of a personal thing like jerking off...

Someone did ask a good question though. They wanted to know that why, with a big studio and the gear they own, they can't charge more then some of the other people that have answered. I'd like to know the answer to that myself.
Old 23rd October 2002
Lives for gear
Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Have I missed the "point" of this question? This is a really easy one, right?

A big studio and the gear contained within does not a record make.

(if that isn't stating the bloody obvious... )

I feel a Formula One driver in a Toyota and Grandma in Ferrari analogy coming on here...

Old 23rd October 2002
"I wanted to know how you respond when the only question you get is "what do you charge?" "

The answer is - dont answer directly, get them IMIDIATLY into a dialog! At first a great many people will be VERY SUSPICIOUS about you avoiding a direct answer especially those with over active 'bull**** detectors". You only have a very short time to do your 'sales magic'.


How many tunes did you want to do?
Where did you record before?
How did that go? How long per tune? (well why do you think you can do twice as many songs in half the time this turn? - you moron!)

If they get impatient, say - " I have several different rates depending on what type of project it is, so!.... What type of project is it?

OK - Here's a buzzword trick I use, say this very quickly:

"I charge between ($$ top rate ever made) to ZERO (then pause for a sec then continue) - "you really have to help me out with more information about what you wish to achieve before I can tell you what I will charge for it."

See, you dont tell them that the only person you ever charged zero was RELATED to you or sleeping with you (or both
) anyhow - the ZERO gets their attention and can shake some idiots out of their single minded quest for a day or hourly rate.

I get managers that hop up and down wanting 'the answer' impatiently, I just need to get them hip to the 'Jules program'. I do it with 'sales' technique.

Old 23rd October 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Someone did ask a good question though. They wanted to know that why, with a big studio and the gear they own, they can't charge more then some of the other people that have answered. I'd like to know the answer to that myself.
i dont know either... i just ask for as much as i can get away with. i guess its also about who you deal with and who you are.

price is a funny thing. i have seen studios and wondered why they charge so little after hearing some of the work they have done, i have seen the exact opposite as well.

i was wondering why you closed the thread. i posted exactly what i would say if i was asked the question you posed. i think i have a good rate where if the person is serious about recording, they are piqued by the price and want to investigate it further [which i ultimately work out a "deal" with them... no one in their right mind pays full rate] or they are stunned and go to another studio [which i dont mind because it means they dont have a budget or dedication enough to work with me... i HAVE done low low budget albums in super quick times to get around the adding up of hours, but the band has to have their **** together]
Old 23rd October 2002
My answer is the same either way, unless I know the person already...
Old 23rd October 2002
High End Moderator
mwagener's Avatar
Originally posted by Brad Blackwood
My answer is the same either way, unless I know the person already...
same here. Some people hang up right away, others are still interested . . .and then we can talk...heh
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