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Recording/mixing for friends. Free of charge?
Old 18th July 2005
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Recording/mixing for friends. Free of charge?

Hello.

This is a difficult situation for me. A friend wants to record and mix a few songs. He wants me to do it. I want to do it, too, because he is such a nice guy and I know what kind of sounds he is looking for.

Problem is, I am doing this for a living, so lots of other "regular", "paying" sessions going on these days...

So, what is the right thing to do?
What would you do?
When you record or mix for friends, do you do it completely free of charge?
Or do you ask for some money for your time?


Thank you for reading this.
Any input appreciated.

Old 18th July 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Ruudman's Avatar
 

Definetly ask for some money, give a good price..
Real friends understand you make a living out of it.
This may create a distance which I think you'll need.

I don't like working for friends outside the buisness.
I've experienced delicate situations that affected my friendship.


ruudman
Old 18th July 2005
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman
Definetly ask for some money, give a good price..
Real friends understand you make a living out of it.
This may create a distance which I think you'll need.
I don't like working for friends outside the buisness.
I've experienced delicate situations that affected my friendship.
ruudman
Thank you for replying.

I feel awkard just typing this...
Do you think asking for half the usual rates is a good price?
Old 18th July 2005
  #4
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I've always found the only time relationships remain clean is when your friend has offered to pay full price or when you are offering to work for free.

Everybody tends to walk away from the middle ground feeling ripped off from doing something they couldn't afford to do.
Old 18th July 2005
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Ruudman's Avatar
 

Actually, you have a point there, Bob.

In that case, I'd charge the regular rate.

ruudman
Old 18th July 2005
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
I've always found the only time relationships remain clean is when your friend has offered to pay full price or when you are offering to work for free.
Everybody tends to walk away from the middle ground feeling ripped off from doing something they couldn't afford to do.
You are right about this!

Problem is:

-I can't afford to work for free at the moment (too many expenses to take care of)
-Something tells me he won't offer to pay full price...

So, what can I do?
I don't want to offend him. He is a nice guy and a gifted musician.
Old 18th July 2005
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by djui5
If you have enough paying sessions to pay the bills, and you really like this music, and you really like this friend, then it might be ok to do it.
Do ask for some money to compensate for your gas/food though. This way you aren't doing it completely for free and you won't feel as bad about it.
Be careful though, doing stuff for free leads to more stuff for free, and if it isn't stopped could turn into a f'n nightmare. Trust me.
I have just enough sessions to pay the bills at the moment. So, if I accept to do his project, I have to put time into it- time that I will take away from something else...

I know what you mean about doing stuff for free...I don't want to be in this kind of situation...

I don't want to be misunderstood- I am not a greedy person. I just have to pay the bills...
Old 18th July 2005
  #8
Lives for gear
In my oopinion there's nothig wrong with doing a favour for a friend and I cannot imagine charging for it if it's only a favour.

on the other hand...
if the friend will commercially profit form it, then that's a business arrangement and you should get paid.

and if you really (REALLY) don't have time to do it, because you need the work, then it's only reasonable to say so to your friend.
"I'd LOVE to do it but right NOW I just don't have the time"

certainly a friend would understand that.
Old 18th July 2005
  #9
Lives for gear
 
DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Just be honest up front.... Give him a few days (or however long you're prepared for the project to take) gratis and tell him that if it goes over that the project will have to be billed at normal rates for any excess time.

The real concern with doing free projects, in my experience, is that often the artist will not be as prepared as when they would be paying, and will be far more picky about sounds...leading to the project taking way too much time. If there's no pressure to complete a project, it's likely to take forever, so you need to be clear to your friend about how much time is available, and that its going to have to cost if it goes over-time.

Cheers,

Kris
Old 18th July 2005
  #10
Gear Nut
 

I do my work for my friends for free. My friends are such that It comes back to me in other ways. I am not money motivated (wrong business I know - or right one depending which you look at it) So I'll happily sacrifice my time for them. Even if it means for a couple of long days. But then I believe in Karma so it makes sense to me. I have always found that whenever i give from the bottom of my heart honestly and openly without judgement or attachment it comes back ten fold. Sorry for the hippy speak, but thats how I handle it
Old 18th July 2005
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
This is a really tough one. I've done a special friends one-week special. I've decided to not do that anymore because I either get worked really hard because the band thinks "we're never gonna get cheap time again." And like previously mentioned without putting out real money, people don't always prepare.

I do owe a friend a favor, and I went out to his home studio yesterday and tracked all day (and brought some mics). I'm going to track vocals and mix the project in my room for a discount.
Old 18th July 2005
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Riad's Avatar
 

I just bumped a friend of mine for a paying session. I'm not going to charge my very close friends, but they understand that a paying session takes precedent.

I give discounts to friends of friends so they feel like they are getting something.


ymmv,
Rob
Old 18th July 2005
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
StefanM's Avatar
 

...you can't imagine how many friends I have
- if they need something done in the studio.

What I do is simple: I do free work for people that do something
in return (be it working on my car, doing metal work for speaker stands
or something else...)

Cheers,
Stefan
Old 18th July 2005
  #14
Lives for gear
 
David R.'s Avatar
 

One thing NOT to do, is give your friend an open ended commitment. Recording a few songs can take a day, or months. "Hey, can I come back and re-do those guitars?" "Sorry it is taking me so long to do the vocals, I should have practiced more before coming in. I'll get it next time."

Only give away what you can afford to be without. A real friend will not ask for more that that.

One more option is bartering, if he is a good musician, maybe you can put his services in the 'bank' for future use.

Good luck.
Old 18th July 2005
  #15
Lives for gear
 
DeeDrive's Avatar
 

I've been in this same situation many times before, and if it's a serious project, (not just a couple guys that want to screw around in a studio for free for the afternoon), I just tell them that I do this to make money, and if it's going to be free, they are going to be your LAST, LAST, LAST priority. I think most serious musicians understand your investment and that your time is valuable, so they should agree to pay something. The best album I've ever done was a friend of mine's band, and was paid for with $100, and having all the band members come over the day before and paint my entire studio for me. So if part-time slavery is an option.....
Old 18th July 2005
  #16
Lives for gear
 
the1Hub's Avatar
 

ive have spent the last couple of days bailing out a friend (another studio owner) who has gotten himself into some trouble doing work for friends. where he diffinatly screwed himeslf was by not setting a firm timetable for his friends recording sessions, and taking on a second friend project before the first was fininshed. in the first session was a band that there man in charge has OCD, and to make it worse he is attending a major university pursuing a degree in media arts. he has taken a lot of courses on music production and thinks because of that he know what hes doing, in all reality hes has no clue. that guy broke down the sessions and brought them to a grining hault. Because my friend did not want to offend this kid, he could not change the vibe in the studio to get things going again. well to make a long story shorter i had to take over both projects, iam only gettin paid his friend rate wich is about a 5th of what i usualy make and i have ocd boy asking for my cell number to ask questions, thank God my friend refuses to give it to him.

there are only to good points to all this.
1 the second project rocks the guy is a total pro, hired first call players and really great person to work with
2 i dont have to mix the first project.

moral of the story. i just think that once a session starts dont let your friend walk all over you. you cant be affraid to tell your friend how it is. if he/shes a real friend they will understand. and dinner should be included after every session

Old 18th July 2005
  #17
Lives for gear
 
joaquin's Avatar
 

WOW!! This Forum is incredible!! I'm having the very same dilemma... just talk to a friend this afternoon, cause he also wants his next album to be recorded at my place!? I have to agree with Mr. Olsson
Quote:
I've always found the only time relationships remain clean is when your friend has offered to pay full price or when you are offering to work for free.

Everybody tends to walk away from the middle ground feeling ripped off from doing something they couldn't afford to do.
...I'm not going to charge full price, cause I want to help the band, and also their musicianship is going to be a pleasure to work with...but, I do think that there will have to be a payment. I believe that it's going to make everybody more comfortable, and they as well want to help me...If you and they are serious about your work, money should not be an issue, and like the saying in spanish goes "cuentas claras...conservan la amistad"...something like...honest accounting...keep friendships...
Old 18th July 2005
  #18
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

i am bartering studio time with an excellent chilean carpenter as i read this
post...
Old 18th July 2005
  #19
Gear Nut
 

If we are talking albums then, I think I'd haver to at least for something near cost - plus some points. A doy or two for a demo is one thing but an album can seriously compromise your income. I'd break down a reasonable cost of rent electric etc, and then work for free so it isn't costing me anything. Again as has been metioned so many times - make it clear this is a business, you can help, but you can't be expected to bank roll the project. It's kind of like meeting in the middle. And set firm time limits - it really does inspire preparation when they know the clock is ticking. Sometimes, if I know I have enough work for four months of money without having to worry, i'll juggle the time so a large slot is available and because I know it's already paid for I'll let a friend pick it up for next to nothing. But If I was full every week of every month I'd have double to triple what I need. Shame I'm not!
Old 18th July 2005
  #20
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Individual friends, I take care of in my spare time.

Friend's bands pay about $25 per hour.

They always appreciate it, and I always like doing it. But I schedule it at my convenience so I am not the one who feels shafted by taking it on. Good friends always understand and never ask for too much.

War
Old 19th July 2005
  #21
Lives for gear
 
David R.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom
i am bartering studio time with an excellent chilean carpenter as i read this
post...

Wow! A bartender spilled chilli on my carpet as well.



Oooops. Sorry about that.




heh
Old 19th July 2005
  #22
Gear Guru
 

the trouble with doing your friend's project for free is that when they finally have some money, they will take their next project to a "real" studio. tutt
Old 19th July 2005
  #23
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
If a friend needs help painting his house, I'll pitch in. If he needs help working on his car, I'll lean on a fender. If he needs to record something, he pays card rate.
Does your friend let you walk into the music store during his shift, pick out a nice Les Paul and walk out with it? If you think those are two different things, you're not in the recording *business*.
Old 19th July 2005
  #24
Gear Addict
 
jebjerome's Avatar
 

If you worked at a bank would you give them money for free? If you were a hooker would you give them free blowjobs? What would your pimp say about that?

Have them take care of your girlfriend's cat while you're out of town. That's what I did.
Old 19th July 2005
  #25
Lives for gear
 
joaquin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom
i am bartering studio time with an excellent chilean carpenter as i read this
post...
heh heh heh
...great music & carpentry comes from my beloved homeland!! Please salute my fellow compatriot
Old 19th July 2005
  #26
Lives for gear
 
DeeDrive's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jebjerome
If you were a hooker would you give them free blowjobs?
I know I would.
Old 19th July 2005
  #27
Gear Head
 
KenRutkowski's Avatar
 

I received some good advice from a graphic arts friend of mine once...

I have a special "friends and family" discount that I don't stray from.

I normally charge $50/hour in my studio, but my f and f discount is $30/hr. That way I can easily cover my expenses and make a little profit and they're still getting a great deal. So far no one has complained and I don't resent it because I'm not cutting my own throat.

Hope this helps,

Ken Rutkowski
www.OuterLimitRecordingStudio.com
Old 19th July 2005
  #28
Lives for gear
 
catfish11's Avatar
 

good friend, give him 1 or 2 days free
after that, pay, whatever rate u decide
this will motivate the sessions and if it all goes well
maybe earn u a dime or 2

whatever it is, spell it out
that way no one has hard feelings

i like to charge, at any rate
so as it is valued and people are prepared
Old 19th July 2005
  #29
Way too many people who should know better don't respect what they get for free...
Old 19th July 2005
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

I have a best friend who comes around and records. I dont charge him a thing. In return, he might do me the odd favour...but he also sends paying customers in my direction. So thats great.

Another thing, because I'm working for free, I tend to experiment on his stuff more. I can either palm him off with a lackluster production...or I can be all creative and experimental on his songs...using him as guinie pig ahaha.

kinda like a free hair cut by a trainee.
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