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first job recording a band at my home studio, need advice
Old 17th July 2007
  #1
Gear Head
 
Balz's Avatar
 

first job recording a band at my home studio, need advice

I am recording my first band at my place for a little over 3 weeks while the folks are out of town, I have soundproofed my room and have quality gear and went to school for recording arts so I'm confident that we will end up with a solid product. Problem is we have not worked out how I will be getting compensated. I will not charge them much at all for my mixing since I'm still not very experienced with the software that I'm going to be using (reaper) and will obviously run into a few hurdles along the way as I'm still learning. Besides just recording I'm also going to be playing keyboards on some of the tracks, how much I'm not sure at this point.
Here's what I was thinking, I'll charge them $15/hour while we are recording up to a max of $2000 (negotiable), plus 25% of cd sales after they recoup the $2000 (if they do). I would really appreciate any input or advice before I attempt to write up a contract.
Old 17th July 2007
  #2
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sahiaman's Avatar
 

Make sure you put a "kill fee" in there if something goes bad and they don't want to finish the project with you. That way you can still collect.
Old 17th July 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 

$15 is a cheap date thats like $3 an hour per band member if there are 5 guys in the band and they may not respect you. If you have a cap at $2k, I'd get $1k up front a week or two before the session.
Old 17th July 2007
  #4
Gear Head
 
Balz's Avatar
 

Thanks for the responses so far...the band is your standard drums, bass, guitar, vocals plus some keys which I will be playing. I agree, $15 is too low, I'll ask $20/hour. I want to give these guys a deal but I also don't want to be taken advantage of. A couple of the band members used to be in a band with a friend of mine and recorded an album for $10,000 which they thought was a good deal. So instead of lowballing myself right off the bat I'm going to see what they were thinking of offering me. The whole kill fee thing sounds like a decent idea but I don't know how I would word that properly in a contract. How do these things usually work? I suppose that generally getting half upfront takes care of that but I'd like to have everyone feeling comfortable so maybe I could have it in writing that once things get going they can kill the project within the first week if for whatever reason they don't think that it's working and I would refund their money minus $500?
Old 17th July 2007
  #5
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DontLetMeDrown's Avatar
 

I have a couple ideas...

First off, since this is your first band, it's cool that you are getting paid anything. Having said that, it would be cool if you can get the max amount of dollars for your skills. The bad part is that you already scheduled to record and have not even talked about money. Get on the phone RIGHT NOW and call up the head dude and let him know you want to meet with them to talk about compensation for the upcoming project. Unless these guys are the a-typical musicians, they may begin to balk and your scheduled project may get pushed back while they work on getting the cash. Since this has not been brought up before and they know that you are somewhat green, they might be assuming you're doing the project for free. Now is the time to make it very clear that this is not the case.

About taking a percent of CD sales, maybe you should wait until you've got a few more projects under your belt. I guarantee it won't be fun trying to recoup that after the band has loaded up their gear and gone home-- no matter how close these "friends" are.

As far as session hurdles-- you should definitely be familiar with your DAW software before the band steps foot in your studio. For instance, you could set up all the drum mics you plan to use and test your inputs. Arm all of your tracks and hit record and make sure the click is working, all of the inputs are recording, etc. You can also practice editing by recording some scratch guitar parts. Dig deep and try to test out everything you think you will need to use. Even mid-session, if you are in a jam, I'm sure some of the Gearslutz will come to your rescue.

Best of luck with everything.
Old 17th July 2007
  #6
DNR
Gear Nut
 

another option you may want to consider is charging a day rate. I've found that to be effective for some projects (depending who) and keeps calculations to a minimum. You and the band will know what happens moneywise at the end of the day and there is no tallying up time.

definitely talk money before the project starts. it's one of the harder things to learn, but super necessary.
Old 17th July 2007
  #7
Quote:
Make sure you put a "kill fee" in there if something goes bad and they don't want to finish the project with you. That way you can still collect.
good advice.

i could have used a 'kill' feee many times in the past.
helps cut your losses.
Old 17th July 2007
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
BJohnston's Avatar
 

I do flat rates for projects most of the time. Depends on the band. I'd say $2,000 is definitely fair especially if you're just starting out.
Back end deals are becoming more and more rare these days... even for the guys doing bigger records on bigger budgets. Talking about points on a record is a good way to loose business when looking to get started. I think you've got the cart before the horse in that regard. I agree with the above poster who suggests getting a good chunk of records under your belt first before you start asking for points...unless the record that you do ends up going Platinum...then I think you might have a case.
Good luck with the record. Have fun. Welcome the world of recording.thumbsup

B
Old 17th July 2007
  #9
Gear Addict
 
hw2nw's Avatar
 

This is your first band?

Keep your rates where they are, and scrap the CD %. This will be a good learning experience, and as someone said above, it's great you're even getting paid.
Old 17th July 2007
  #10
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sahiaman's Avatar
 

Remember, you can do whatever kind of contract you want with them. Trust your ears, if you think their music was amazing and that you would pay them to record with you, then get yourself points on the record. If you think its ok, and just want to cover your ass just in case, then write up a contract that says if the sell over a certain amount of cds then you get a bonus of a certain percent of the sales.

Don't fret too much, even if they become huge with the recording you produce, others will come knocking, then you can start asking for points.
Old 17th July 2007
  #11
I charged $10 an hour for recording in a small 10x12 room with no sound proofing and no formal training and no where near the microphone collection I have now (which still isn't that great). I'd say $20 an hour is very fair, or if you are tracking for 8 hours a day maybe $150 a day? I don't think you should think you should try to take 25% of their sales, but if you can work that out more power to you. But, you built a clientele by networking and if you do a great job they will tell their friends about you, but if they aren't happy with the product they are going to feel ripped off and certainly not bring any business your way. Good luck! I'm sure you projects will turn out a lot better than mine, especially with the help of Gearslutz!
Old 17th July 2007
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
cleantone's Avatar
 

You'll be doing really good if your getting $2000 for your first project. Really good. I'm curious what your "quality gear" is. I'm not trying to dog you I really am curious. I have a hard time charging what I think is fair and getting work. No sense making your day rate $500 if you never get booked. I do a lot of stuff from $250-500 a day with a $20,000+ rig.
Old 17th July 2007
  #13
Vum
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I'd go for $20 an hour for a set amount of hours per day (8?) , that way if you go over and still need to work, you work for "free" and come across as a nice guy all the while you're still bringing in $160 dollars. Still though, get half up front.

Also, you're in your parents house, if you charge too much you'll come across as a charlatan.

Remember that since this is your first band, more important than getting paid is establishing a good reputation - word of mouth is king among musicians.
Old 17th July 2007
  #14
Gear Head
 
Doser's Avatar
 

Recording

I do a day rate. To me if you are going to do $20 an hour I would just do a $200 day rate with a 10hour maximum. This way you can make sure you know how much you are getting that day and it takes less pressure off the session who might be watching a clock constantly.

When working with new clients I make them pay the rate every day and i give them the option of if they don't like the way thier project is going as long as they are payed up they can take the files they have somewhere else to work on. Make sure you charge them a $20 fee to pay for your disks and time to transfer the project for them to take it.

Some things to think about with clients is what kind of client you are recording. For example a average joe type of band whos members work 9-5 and they earn a modest wage are not going to have a ton of cash to spend and they won't have all the time in the world to record either. So think how your techniques of recording will best situate thier budget. I do alot of 7" records for punk bands who don't have more than a $1000 to spend on thier project. I track everything live and over dub vocals and lead guitars in 1 day. The "in the box" mix comes on the following day and I offer them a couple hours of "fix a mix" a week later so they can really listen to thier product and tweak it. This works for me and my clients are happy.

Doser

Last edited by Doser; 17th July 2007 at 07:06 PM.. Reason: grammer
Old 17th July 2007
  #15
Gear Head
 
Balz's Avatar
 

Just so you guys have an idea of where I'm at gear wise here's the list:

Soundcard: rme hdsp 9632 with additional 4 analog inputs (total of 8 channels while using the spdif in)
Monitor Section: NS10's, Alesis ra-100 amplifier, a decent subwoofer, Sennheiser hd-600's, for tracking I have a 4 channel mackie headphone amp and 4 pairs of moreme headphones
Outboard: mackie cr1604, millenia td-1, joe meek twinq, 2 rnla's
Mics: 4 sm57's, sm7b, soundelux u195, audix d6, 2 studio projects c1's, 2 naiant msh-2's, 3 naiant msh-1k's

I also have a tb-303, tr-606 and a juno 6 that we might make use of as well.

I'm recording in a small room - 10x12 but I have covered the whole ceiling with 4 inches of rockwool with an air gap above, made a superchunk bass trap for one corner of the room and put up some more 2 inch panels on the walls, and hung a blanket in front of my closet so I think it will sound pretty good. The reason I was talking about points is that the drummer and guitar player (who wrote all the songs and will also be playing bass) are really good. I think this thing actually could take off so I want to be covered just in case. What do you guys think of this, I charge them 20 or 25/hour for tracking, 10 for mixing since I'm new with Reaper, $500 up front, and 25% if they sell more than 500 cd's (unlikely but just in case). If this goes well I really owe it to you guys, basically all of my gear purchases have been based on information from this forum.
Old 17th July 2007
  #16
Vum
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I wouldn't worry so much about the points mate. I'm not sure what the arrangement is as far as credits go, but if you're the prodcuer, then yeah, take the points, it's more common. But in all sincerity, I'd just focus on getting things right in the room and maybe sliding your payment scale so that mixing and tracking are the same cost for the band. It'll be easier to manage and you'll still make the same amount of money.

Also, be careful with having the whole of the ceiling covered in rockwool, some reflection coming back into the overheads isn't such a band thing - in that case maybe attaching a couple of hooks and suspending a couple of squares of reflective paneling will help. Also, this will add some complexity to the shape of a boxy room.
Old 17th July 2007
  #17
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sahiaman's Avatar
 

Sounds good, and good luck! Have a blast and make great music. Don't forget the back everything up, everyday!
Old 17th July 2007
  #18
I'm on my fourth album and I'm just now charging 15. First was free, next two were 10/hr. I know that it's nothing, but at least I can feel assured that I'm always going to be a great deal and I can get the ball rolling in terms of getting bands coming in. So now I'm at $15/hr and I get some good sounding songs. I plan on staying at this rate for a while. Keep it simple and keep track of hours...

I don't know why you need a max hours limit or a kill rate. First of all, don't you want as many hours of experience as you can get and as much money as you can get your hands on? Also the kill rate will give them the idea that backing out is okay. You need to mix being friendly with being business. Be as chill as you can while still making it clear you won't be taken advantage of. if you're all business and uptight, the band won't have fun and won't want to come back and probably won't recommend you to their friends.

Charge $15/hr. Charge $20 when you know your ****.
Old 18th July 2007
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Another vote against a percentage of sales. -E
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