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No More free...can we agree?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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foamboy's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
No More free...can we agree?

Many of you have probably seen this, but I just stumbled upon it and I AGREE!!!


Oh well, each to their own.




fb

Last edited by psycho_monkey; 1 week ago at 09:35 AM.. Reason: Embedded link properly :)
Old 1 week ago
  #2
It's easy to say, especially when you are an established veteran that started out in the older industry.
Much harder to put into practice when you are desperate to get your foot on the first step of the ladder.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Thread Starter
True, but the thing he said that I liked the most was, that it doesn't have to be money. Maybe trade of some sort. Just so that YOU are getting something out of the deal. For example, if I was trying to make a start as a session player I would ask if I could get a block of studio time for my own project, or something. IDK, I just think that the world is saturated with desperate "wanna-be's" and unless we can agree that our skill has a value, then "buyers" will always get services for free. Meh, those are my thoughts.

fb
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Agreed on basics. Never say never, but I think the principles laid out are pretty sensible and are forgotten at some risk. Now, I completely get what Chrisso is saying -- a lot of us scrambled hard starting out, working with and for others who were not likely to see much/any money and it DOES, to be sure, pay to be flexible and creative.

But, as Maserati notes, unless there is some sort of understood 'deal' -- not necessarily for money or goods, but SOME understanding of shared, mutual co-responsibilities -- human nature being what it is, someone is very likely to be disappointed, maybe even embittered. And, unless there was a reasonable understanding out front, the other party might not even realize he hasn't upheld his end of the 'deal.'
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Trouble is, at the bottom, entry level, those with the purse strings know everyone is desperate.
I can see people saying no, they won't give you any free studio time (for example).
Once you get above that level, then yes, I always try and get something. Whether it's a friend paying me back by playing on my stuff for free. Or whether it's some free publicity.
In the end, if you have to do something for free, at least make sure it's a learning experience....like you are working with people better than you and will get some insight out of it.
I happened to watch that Maserati interview a few weeks ago and thought then.... I don't think getting something, whatever it is, always happens.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
[...]
In the end, if you have to do something for free, at least make sure it's a learning experience....like you are working with people better than you and will get some insight out of it.
[...]
Indeed, I did learn something. I learned to lay out the deal, whatever it is, out front. And to be deathly afraid of any 'open-ended' arrangements that don't involve some form of pay-as-you-go commitment.

Again, not necessarily money, but SOMETHING. Because if you don't get it clear in everyone's head that your time (like everyone else's, of course) is worth something then people will tend to slip into treating you (and your work) as though it's not worth anything or that it's a 'free commodity' like air.

Certainly, agreed that, in the real world, such prearranged exchanges do not always shake out well for all involved, and responsibilities or equities may well not be met -- but as long as you had an arrangement that was clear in everyone's mind in advance, it will be a lot quicker and cleaner sorting things out and figuring out who hasn't held up their end or, possibly, who 'owes' what to whom.

But -- for sure -- flexibility is important, whether you're starting out or, as Maserati noted, keeping old, reliable clients happy.


PS... I'll give away my own music -- particularly if I think it will further my efforts/recognition/etc. But work for flat free on other people's music? Not likely to happen at this point.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Thread Starter
I think it is a good idea to start training young musicians about self worth.

It is interesting to me, however, that in my own small circle of "clients" and friends, who they themselves feel the impact of competition or "free" in their own daytime jobs, they seem to be more willing to actually pay me something when in the past they just thought it should be free. Heck, I even charged my OWN brother to work on some of his stuff about a year ago. It was funny, because at first he was a bit peeved, but once he understood that he could not get the same quality of work and attention for what he was being charged, he actually started calling me about booking more mix sessions and he would always say....."is it cool if I pay you x now and then give you the rest next week"?

I get that that there are entry level bees that might do some free stuff and in all honesty, I guess I understand, but hopefully they are smart enough to ask for SOMETHING if they are getting return calls.

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Old 1 week ago
  #8
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DeltaCharlieEcho's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by foamboy View Post
True, but the thing he said that I liked the most was, that it doesn't have to be money. Maybe trade of some sort. Just so that YOU are getting something out of the deal. For example, if I was trying to make a start as a session player I would ask if I could get a block of studio time for my own project, or something. IDK, I just think that the world is saturated with desperate "wanna-be's" and unless we can agree that our skill has a value, then "buyers" will always get services for free. Meh, those are my thoughts.

fb
This is exactly what happened to the graphic design industry. I was in school on and off for Graphic Design for around 10 years and earned an AAS in my first two. I spent the next 8 years looking for even the most insulting jobs I could find to just get experience. Well those insulting jobs you used to be able to get have now been made obsolete by apps and Adobe giving away industry secrets. The slightly higher insulting jobs have been sent over to India. The projected growth is currently sitting at around -2% annually. The only internships I could find were unpaid and even those dried up around 5 years ago for me.

Don't let this happen to the music industry, I mean any more than it already has. Demand compensation of some type for your work; intangibles do not count.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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dights's Avatar
 

Hate to be the negative one, but when it comes to engineering in the recorded music industry the horse hasn't just already bolted... the horse is dead... and the stable has burnt down.

Unfortunately this isn't because people are willing to work for free, that's just a symptom of it.

Should you work for free? Of course not!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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shanabit's Avatar
 

Music is all FREE , havent you guys heard???
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

As an artist who hires engineers based on the quality and body of their work, I have NEVER found anyone who works for free! Ever. Never. On top of that, these folks are BUSY- I have to look at least 1-2 months ahead to find dates.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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iangomes's Avatar
I disagree. When I was working on my first projects, I found the value I was getting back was having SOMETHING to record other than myself. If you are fresh, working for free is a great way to learn what the heck a session feels like when you're running it as well as giving you the opportunity to make mistakes. Not sure how that's different from an internship at all!
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Lives for gear
Not to mention, some just like being helpful of others and do not need the income. Why should they not be helpful?
I also give away my other trades to Habitat for Humanity.
What should I do, say 'hey you on the bottom of some socioeconomic stack, stay there!'

Helping people in need fulfills me.
It is the pay I need.

I think you can make a better case for those at the top, who have made it, get out and make room for others.

With that said, benevolence doesn't seem that popular anymore. Me first and the gimme gimmes everywhere.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigGreen View Post
Not to mention, some just like being helpful of others and do not need the income. Why should they not be helpful?
I also give away my other trades to Habitat for Humanity.
What should I do, say 'hey you on the bottom of some socioeconomic stack, stay there!'

Helping people in need fulfills me.
It is the pay I need.

I think you can make a better case for those at the top, who have made it, get out and make room for others.

With that said, benevolence doesn't seem that popular anymore. Me first and the gimme gimmes everywhere.

Giving away time and services as a volunteer to a charitable or community cause is wonderful. But the topic here is giving away time and services in the course of plying one's actual vocation...not to "be cool with a good client in need" as Tony Maserati says (also a great thing to do when you can as an established professional), but as a way of "breaking in" as a newcomer.

Sometimes it is (or seems to be) necessary to do freebies as a startup, but I think TM's advice is good: get at least SOMETHING out of it, if the gig is viewed as a stepping stone in one's early career. That's not selfish at all...it's as fair a market exchange as can be had in the circumstances.

Of course, if the gig is viewed as a charitable donation of time and expertise for a needful cause, then go ahead and donate the service and call it a good deed.


BTW, to the OP: love the dog pic! My wife and I are the happy new custodians of a Boston pup ourselves. Cute dude, but what a handful...
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by iangomes View Post
I disagree. When I was working on my first projects, I found the value I was getting back was having SOMETHING to record other than myself. If you are fresh, working for free is a great way to learn what the heck a session feels like when you're running it as well as giving you the opportunity to make mistakes. Not sure how that's different from an internship at all!
When starting out, one certainly has to be prepared to sacrifice -- in any field. And it would, of course, be wrong for a beginner to charge the same rates as an experienced pro who can not just do good work but do it quickly and efficiently. In fact, one's first efforts are likely to be 99% learning and 1% desirable results.

In the past, it was just plain hard to get yourself into a position where you could learn -- gear was very, very expensive. Even a really crappy personal rig could cost used car money. Hell, enough money to buy a NEW car wouldn't go all THAT far. In those days, internship (or just 'hang-time' as it was sometimes known in the day, mooning around a studio hoping to be able to be helpful) was about the only way to learn -- at least until a few academic programs started up in the late 70s and early 80s.


BUT, to wrap back around, even in those most informal of circumstances, it's very helpful to have SOME form of 'deal' -- money need not change hands -- but some kind of arrangement with the 'client' underlining the fact that both his time and your time are valued commodities. You don't have to get all stop-watchy about it, but, from my experience (even with very nice people), if there is not some sort of understanding that there is value in the services you are providing, it will be much more likely that you are taken advantage of, even if completely unconsciously.

"Shouldn't we at least buy Ian a hamburger? After all he's back at his studio mixing our album for free?"

"Gee, I'm kind of broke right now and, you know, Ian, he loves to record!"



Quote:
Originally Posted by BigGreen View Post
Not to mention, some just like being helpful of others and do not need the income. Why should they not be helpful?
I also give away my other trades to Habitat for Humanity.
What should I do, say 'hey you on the bottom of some socioeconomic stack, stay there!'

Helping people in need fulfills me.
It is the pay I need.

I think you can make a better case for those at the top, who have made it, get out and make room for others.

With that said, benevolence doesn't seem that popular anymore. Me first and the gimme gimmes everywhere.
I like your attitude a lot. And I have no problem with pro bono work.

But -- even there -- it can be very helpful to approach it as a time-budgeted project where all the participants have their own responsibilities and where time frames and deadlines are respected. Or at least fretted over.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Head
 
DeltaCharlieEcho's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dights View Post
Hate to be the negative one, but when it comes to engineering in the recorded music industry the horse hasn't just already bolted... the horse is dead... and the stable has burnt down.

Unfortunately this isn't because people are willing to work for free, that's just a symptom of it.

Should you work for free? Of course not!
You say that it's dead, but I know of a few bands that need a studio, I know of at least 2 people that want to either have a sound engineer for their youtube channel or to start one. The only way the industry is dead is if you fall for the trap of working for someone else. As long as you run your own business [as a secondary business] you will make money. I guess not everyone wants to run their own business, and that's cool; but it's what I've been planning to do for around 7 years now. Have a business plan drafted for a food truck that service artisan espresso and the studio will be my secondary.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeltaCharlieEcho View Post
You say that it's dead, but I know of a few bands that need a studio, I know of at least 2 people that want to either have a sound engineer for their youtube channel or to start one. The only way the industry is dead is if you fall for the trap of working for someone else. As long as you run your own business [as a secondary business] you will make money. I guess not everyone wants to run their own business, and that's cool; but it's what I've been planning to do for around 7 years now. Have a business plan drafted for a food truck that service artisan espresso and the studio will be my secondary.
I never said you can't make money doing it anymore, just don't expect to make a decent living.

There's a reason that audio colleges are far more viable businesses than big studios these days.

I've also been one of the lucky ones. I've been a recording/mix engineer for a long time, and had the privilege of working on staff at a major studio, and eventually owning my own studio.

Would I advise anyone to do that as a business or career path today? Unfortunately not, and I say that with a heavy heart
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Head
 
DeltaCharlieEcho's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dights View Post
I never said you can't make money doing it anymore, just don't expect to make a decent living.

There's a reason that audio colleges are far more viable businesses than big studios these days.

I've also been one of the lucky ones. I've been a recording/mix engineer for a long time, and had the privilege of working on staff at a major studio, and eventually owning my own studio.

Would I advise anyone to do that as a business or career path today? Unfortunately not, and I say that with a heavy heart
I understand that completely. I'm extremely business minded and determined to never work for another person again once I have my degree finished up. Current plans are get a the food truck started up, once I've established that as successful then we move into the music plans I have. So far the idea is a small studio and a small venue focused on living room shows of up to around 100 people max.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
When starting out, one certainly has to be prepared to sacrifice -- in any field. And it would, of course, be wrong for a beginner to charge the same rates as an experienced pro who can not just do good work but do it quickly and efficiently. In fact, one's first efforts are likely to be 99% learning and 1% desirable results.

In the past, it was just plain hard to get yourself into a position where you could learn -- gear was very, very expensive. Even a really crappy personal rig could cost used car money. Hell, enough money to buy a NEW car wouldn't go all THAT far. In those days, internship (or just 'hang-time' as it was sometimes known in the day, mooning around a studio hoping to be able to be helpful) was about the only way to learn -- at least until a few academic programs started up in the late 70s and early 80s.


BUT, to wrap back around, even in those most informal of circumstances, it's very helpful to have SOME form of 'deal' -- money need not change hands -- but some kind of arrangement with the 'client' underlining the fact that both his time and your time are valued commodities. You don't have to get all stop-watchy about it, but, from my experience (even with very nice people), if there is not some sort of understanding that there is value in the services you are providing, it will be much more likely that you are taken advantage of, even if completely unconsciously.

"Shouldn't we at least buy Ian a hamburger? After all he's back at his studio mixing our album for free?"

"Gee, I'm kind of broke right now and, you know, Ian, he loves to record!"



I like your attitude a lot. And I have no problem with pro bono work.

But -- even there -- it can be very helpful to approach it as a time-budgeted project where all the participants have their own responsibilities and where time frames and deadlines are respected. Or at least fretted over.

Great points! You are 100% right. If I Dont put limits on it, it ends up like my personal stuff, and never gets finished. A trick I use to force this without much effort is, set up Friday night, track Saturday, and mix Sunday. With that said' if I enjoy the music, I tend to want to work on it longer and harder. So, I can undermine myself.

Thank you for a cordial response.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
Giving away time and services as a volunteer to a charitable or community cause is wonderful. But the topic here is giving away time and services in the course of plying one's actual vocation...not to "be cool with a good client in need" as Tony Maserati says (also a great thing to do when you can as an established professional), but as a way of "breaking in" as a newcomer.

Sometimes it is (or seems to be) necessary to do freebies as a startup, but I think TM's advice is good: get at least SOMETHING out of it, if the gig is viewed as a stepping stone in one's early career. That's not selfish at all...it's as fair a market exchange as can be had in the circumstances.

Of course, if the gig is viewed as a charitable donation of time and expertise for a needful cause, then go ahead and donate the service and call it a good deed.
I dont disagree with anything here.
When I was for hire, the first thing I did was free work for a local band of significants, just to get their name in my ads and on my site. This led to a ton of work.
I am old, and so have mentally, emotionally, financially been about everywhere. Ive been of all these options at one time or another.
Just sharing where I am now. If I were TM, I'd prolly be trying to give everyone I can a slice of good life. There is so much to share.

Thanks for the cordial response.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
I agree for more reasons than those already mentioned for not giving away work. Besides de-valuing audio engineers as a whole, unless you are interning or getting SOMETHING out of the deal, those whom you are working for (and other potential future employers) are also more likely to believe your work is not really worth much, anyway. Even if you agree to work for less than what you believe your fair rate in the industry is, you have, in a sense, just set a value on your work that is below your expectations. Consequently, those who are looking for an engineer may think, "this guys works for cheap.... and, well... you get what you pay for". And how can you get out of this trap, if it becomes known, that you work or have worked for dirt cheap? They will continue to attempt to guilt you down, or even more likely bypass you for someone who is confident in their rates (and themselves).
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejbragg View Post
Besides de-valuing audio engineers as a whole...
It's the DIY community that is doing the most to devalue engineering as a profession.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by americanbison View Post
It's the DIY community that is doing the most to devalue engineering as a profession.
Care to expound on how and why DIY is devaluing the profession? I am genuinely interested in hearing this.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Head
 
DeltaCharlieEcho's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
Care to expound on how and why DIY is devaluing the profession? I am genuinely interested in hearing this.
Not trying to be condescending here but I'd imagine that DIY devalues the music industry the same way it devalues any other industry. Instead of having someone pay a working professional to do the work, they're now doing it at home. Instead of getting a professional quality result they're okay with a mediocre result that's justified as okay because you didn't pay for a professional to do the work. At the end of the day many of those DIYers are not paying for their software or plugins by getting them via freeware or torrents. This all takes money out of the pockets of professionals in all sectors of the industry. The only people making any kind of money are sellers of their used gear or music stores for the things people can't get used.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 

"Free" is a valid and widespread business strategy. It's called a "loss leader".

Sometimes "free" is the price at which the market clears. If your market value is not very high, then in working for free you might actually be getting the better end of the bargain.

Of course this is different from being a doormat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
Care to expound on how and why DIY is devaluing the profession? I am genuinely interested in hearing this.
If you do things yourself, you're not paying for someone else's labor.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeltaCharlieEcho View Post
Not trying to be condescending here but I'd imagine that DIY devalues the music industry the same way it devalues any other industry. Instead of having someone pay a working professional to do the work, they're now doing it at home. Instead of getting a professional quality result they're okay with a mediocre result that's justified as okay because you didn't pay for a professional to do the work. At the end of the day many of those DIYers are not paying for their software or plugins by getting them via freeware or torrents. This all takes money out of the pockets of professionals in all sectors of the industry. The only people making any kind of money are sellers of their used gear or music stores for the things people can't get used.
So let us talk about DIY in that context - The technology has made it possible to make mediocre sound incredible. The line between pro quality and amateur is too blurry at this point. We have artists who use DAWs as part of their performance and situations where the mix is the performance. Thats just a natural progression of musicians using technology to their advantage. There is no gatekeeper to making the sounds that are in your head. It just takes grit and persistence and a little talent to get the job done. Okay moving on...

There is still a ton of money to be made in live sound and video. The pro recording studio is moving to the sound stage. Every fool in a 100 mile radius of Boston with a line of credit is opening a media barn. They aren't just recording studios - they are full service media companies. All it takes is 2 or 3 people who have a level of intelligence and passion to make it work. Meanwhile the people who used to do this professionally before DIY screwed it up, they gave up, or they have studios at home for their pet projects, or they are doing tutorials on youtube. Something to that extent. They have found a way to stay afloat. Some are just finding artists and producing them.

DIY isn't killing anything. Media consumption has changed and we weren't smart enough to grab on to it and make it profitable when we could. Now everyones an indie but everyone is on a level playing field. How are we going to make money now? Video. Performance. Documentation. Management. Just providing that service and being the best at it has kept my place afloat for the last 7 years.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yummerz View Post



If you do things yourself, you're not paying for someone else's labor.
What if you are the one providing the MEANS for the DIY'er to do their thing?
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Gear Head
 
DeltaCharlieEcho's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
So let us talk about DIY in that context - The technology has made it possible to make mediocre sound incredible. The line between pro quality and amateur is too blurry at this point. We have artists who use DAWs as part of their performance and situations where the mix is the performance. Thats just a natural progression of musicians using technology to their advantage. There is no gatekeeper to making the sounds that are in your head. It just takes grit and persistence and a little talent to get the job done. Okay moving on...

There is still a ton of money to be made in live sound and video. The pro recording studio is moving to the sound stage. Every fool in a 100 mile radius of Boston with a line of credit is opening a media barn. They aren't just recording studios - they are full service media companies. All it takes is 2 or 3 people who have a level of intelligence and passion to make it work. Meanwhile the people who used to do this professionally before DIY screwed it up, they gave up, or they have studios at home for their pet projects, or they are doing tutorials on youtube. Something to that extent. They have found a way to stay afloat. Some are just finding artists and producing them.

DIY isn't killing anything. Media consumption has changed and we weren't smart enough to grab on to it and make it profitable when we could. Now everyones an indie but everyone is on a level playing field. How are we going to make money now? Video. Performance. Documentation. Management. Just providing that service and being the best at it has kept my place afloat for the last 7 years.
But that represents the death of one industry and the birth of another. This is a completely philosophical debate at this point but it's a conversation that needs to exist. I went through a degree in graphic design, when I entered the degree you could have an AAS and get a job doing low end button pushing stuff like filling out templates, when I graduated with my AAS you needed a minimum of a BA or BFA to get a paid internship and you'd need to not only poses the skills of a designer that would be rarely utilized but you'd need the skills of a front end developer and markup coder. This was not an industry shift, this was an industry pheonixing. Graphic Design as an specialized art skill died and from the ashes cam the insult that is today's graphic design/ux developer.

*edit*
You can replace industry with career but the point remains the same
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
So let us talk about DIY in that context - The technology has made it possible to make mediocre sound incredible. The line between pro quality and amateur is too blurry at this point.
That MYTH is exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe some genres can fake it- virtual instruments, everything drowning in reverbs and distortion...purposefully 'lo-fi.'

Music that requires capturing great instruments in nice spaces, or amazing voices sitting perfectly in a mix, with euphonic goodness, are NOT getting it DIY on the cheap.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostwars View Post
What if you are the one providing the MEANS for the DIY'er to do their thing?
If DIYers are paying techs, then the tech industry will advance. Better quality gear at ever lower prices. More and more gear makers, clones, mods, pcb kits, etc

If they are not paying someone to track and mix, then tracking and mixing will decline as a profession. Fewer pros in business, and those left will make less money on the whole.

More resources -> growth.

Fewer resources -> decline.

But the root cause is not DIYers, the root cause is people don't buy CDs at Circuit City or Borders or Sam Goody any more.
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