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When does the session start?
Old 29th April 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 

When does the session start?

10am - arrive at studio and fire everything up

10:30am - all of the equipment is warmed up and ready

11:00am - lock doors and go out for some breakfast

11:40am - return to studio

12:00pm - scheduled band load-in time ...

12:30pm - ...scheduled band load-in time passes without the band

1:00pm - make sure front door is unlocked, and slightly ajar

1:15 - 4:00pm - have made phone calls to band who are "running late" and "not sure exactly when we'll be done with _____"

5:00pm - band shows up


At what point within this time frame does the agreement mean you have to pay me for my time?

12:00pm?

Or when the band decides to show up?

A short demo session could have been done during the 5 hours wasted waiting for the band.

Is this where a clearly defined couple of lines in a contract should come into play?
Old 29th April 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
If its a day rate, the session starts when the rules of the house says it starts or the time agreed with the client.

If it is an hourly rate from the time that the client is due to arrive, then if you wish to go in and spend 4 hours preping for the session that is up to you. Ok its not unreasonable to expect the gear to be fired up ready, but setting up mics, plugging up, setting up band gear is all chargeable time. You are there, you are working, the facility isn't available to other clients, they should be paying for that.

Beyond this you get into lock-outs etc and all these should be documented by the house contract.

A friend of mine had a major act booked into his studio who cancelled only about a month before the session start date. Because if was a fairly long booking he had in the meantime turned away other work. In the end he came to an arrangement with the band to do some pre-production rehearsals at a reduced rate. Whilst this mittigated his potential losses he was very hacked at the fact they were running his Otari Radar 18 hours a day at a bargain rate!

Rules is rules and if you don't have them sorry to say there are many musicians that will take the piss.

Regards


Roland

P.S. getting the band to pay you whilst you go to breakfast is great, if you can get away with it!
Old 29th April 2003
  #3
10 am - Jules asleep
11 am Jules having breakfast (foolish early band LOCKED OUT)
11:59 Jules open studio
12:00 Gear power up
12:10 tea & coffee - sesion starts

Unless I am mixing.... then anything goes, late session start & end etc...
Old 29th April 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
cajonezzz's Avatar
 

the clock runs at the agreed upon time. 12PM MEANS 12PM.

of course it's case by case, but if you don't establish a precident some Muso's will run right over you.
Old 29th April 2003
  #5
Riffer
 
lflier's Avatar
 

A 12 noon start means a 12 noon start. Generally any housecleaning procedures (aligning tape machines, archiving and defragging hard drives, etc.) are expected to be done off the clock, and some places will allow an hour for the drummer or other musicians to get there early without charging, in order to load in, set up and tune the drums and start getting sounds - but that's entirely up to you and your agreement.

If they don't show up at the agreed upon time, it's their loss. They agreed to pay for the time and you have no way of making up that lost income if you don't charge them for it. You could be "generous" and say you were giving them 30 minutes of load-in time so the clock would have started at 12:30, but they should certainly pay for all the rest of the time you spent waiting.
Old 29th April 2003
  #6
Lives for gear
 

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jules
10 am - Jules asleep
11 am Jules having breakfast (foolish early band LOCKED OUT)
11:59 Jules open studio ...


LoL
Old 29th April 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by lflier
A 12 noon start means a 12 noon start. Generally any housecleaning procedures (aligning tape machines, archiving and defragging hard drives, etc.) are expected to be done off the clock, and some places will allow an hour for the drummer or other musicians to get there early without charging, in order to load in, set up and tune the drums and start getting sounds - but that's entirely up to you and your agreement.

If they don't show up at the agreed upon time, it's their loss. They agreed to pay for the time and you have no way of making up that lost income if you don't charge them for it. You could be "generous" and say you were giving them 30 minutes of load-in time so the clock would have started at 12:30, but they should certainly pay for all the rest of the time you spent waiting.
I wouldn't feel comfy trying to do a session without the studio optimized and ready. As a client, I've found it very unprofessional and discouraging when a studio doesn't have their shit together and the question "Are we paying for this?" gets tossed around. So no, I'm not charging anyone what should be session time for studio maintenance projects.

Letting them load in early... hmm. It's cool if they want to just load in and even rehearse a little for a limited time, but as soon as they want me to start putting mics up as a part of getting sounds, the session starts. Fair enough? Should that be agreed on paper?

Quote:
Originally posted by Roland
If it is an hourly rate from the time that the client is due to arrive, then if you wish to go in and spend 4 hours preping for the session that is up to you. Ok its not unreasonable to expect the gear to be fired up ready, but setting up mics, plugging up, setting up band gear is all chargeable time. You are there, you are working, the facility isn't available to other clients, they should be paying for that..
If they do it in advance of the session start time, I have no problem with it. If they ask me to tune a drum or a guitar, or move drums around the room to find the best sounding spot, I guess I should consider that go time.

The problem has been that it's (too?) casual. I haven't had to develop any rules because my own approach is pretty casual. I want to keep it relaxed. I know that when I've been a client, I don't respond as well to a studio that hands me what looks like a lawyer's draft before we start a session, and asks someone in the band to sign it for the rest of us. It's not that the rules in such a contract are unreasonable, they just take away from the personal relationship with a studio.

How is the personal and professional relationship kept in balance when rules are imposed?

Lean too far one way and the session becomes a mini-party, it takes too long to get anything done, and someone's girlfriend breaks your coolest lamp.

Lean too far the other way and you have a bunch of back-biters trying to corral you into the I'm Not Getting Screwed Ranch.

You dig? So what then?
Old 29th April 2003
  #8
Riffer
 
lflier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
I wouldn't feel comfy trying to do a session without the studio optimized and ready. As a client, I've found it very unprofessional and discouraging when a studio doesn't have their shit together and the question "Are we paying for this?" gets tossed around. So no, I'm not charging anyone what should be session time for studio maintenance projects.
Oh, absolutely. I always make sure I've got any maintenance stuff done before they get there (including cleaning up the place!).

Quote:

Letting them load in early... hmm. It's cool if they want to just load in and even rehearse a little for a limited time, but as soon as they want me to start putting mics up as a part of getting sounds, the session starts. Fair enough? Should that be agreed on paper?
Yes and yes. You should post your studio policies on your web site if you have one, and have a print brochure that spells it out too. Also, whenever the session is booked, let them know verbally what the deal is. Lots of places ask for a deposit up front when a session is booked, particularly if it's a new client. They also charge a cancellation fee if the session is cancelled less than a week, or 3 days, or whatever, before the session. You REALLY have to protect yourself from this kind of thing because lots of people will be total flakes if they can get away with it.

Nothing like a client that cancels when you've rented some gear especially for the session, too. tutt

Quote:

The problem has been that it's (too?) casual. I haven't had to develop any rules because my own approach is pretty casual. I want to keep it relaxed. I know that when I've been a client, I don't respond as well to a studio that hands me what looks like a lawyer's draft before we start a session, and asks someone in the band to sign it for the rest of us. It's not that the rules in such a contract are unreasonable, they just take away from the personal relationship with a studio.

How is the personal and professional relationship kept in balance when rules are imposed?
Well, there's a difference between being relaxed and having no rules at all. There are ways to explain the rules without coming off as the "heavy." You don't have to hand somebody a contract full of legalese - a simple verbal review of the rules over the phone, before they get there, is all right, or you can list your policies on the receipt if you charge a deposit. You can word your policies in friendly English, even with a little humor thrown in, rather than lawyerese.

A studio where I often work has what I think is a really great way to state their policies on their web site. Check it out for a fun learning experience!
Old 29th April 2003
  #9
I think there need to be some distinctions made here

1) Studios with ancilary staff (runners, gophers, tape ops receptionists, managers) that start work 'early' and are experienced enough to let bands in to set up.

2) Studios that are located at the engineers house / apartment.

For example if I lived at my studio, I wouldn't mind opening up for a band and saying, go a head set up there & there, put new heads on the drums - whatever, but dont bug me I am eating breakfast, help yopurself to the studio tea & coffee see you in an hour...
Old 30th April 2003
  #10
Lives for gear
 
littledog's Avatar
 

For me I'm always willing to give more slack (like setting up some mics the night before gratis) on a project that I know will end up being a massive amount of hours. I don't feel bad about throwing in an hour of set-up time on a one hundred hour project.
Old 30th April 2003
  #11
Gear Head
 
Fat Cat's Avatar
 

Every session is the same for me.
Supposed to meet at 4pm.
Band shows up by 4:30pm
Unloading, BS'ing til' 5pm
during this time they get warmed up and I pull up their files/session if it's not already up.
Clock starts at 5pm, if I take a break-no charge, clock stops when they leave.

If it's the first day, I give 2 free hours of setup time for me to leisurely tune their drums and get mic'ed up. The bands love this cause it makes them feel like their getting alot of free time, and I like it so that I have a chance to make the kit sound great without being rushed. And happy drummers play better.

My sessions go 6-8 hours on week nights and 8-10 hours on the weekends. Weekends usually get going by 2pm.

The studio I used to work at opened at 10am. I hated it and so did the clients.
Now that I have my own place I keep musician's hours.
Old 30th April 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Tim L's Avatar
 

For me, if the session's booked for 2pm then that's when the 'money clock' starts rolling and I start setting up mic's... I make sure everybody understands that! I let people in about 45min to an hour before that for drum set up and to allow for gtrs to acclimate, tunings, and amp warm-ups.

That being said, I am in a house and keep a loose and relaxed (but productive) atmo' but the musso's have to understand and respect the fact I'm not a charity. If they get too shitfaced the night before and show up late... too bad, they booked for 2pm and that's when the clock starts... period. If they had a car accident or something like that than that's different of course and I'll gladly work with them but other than that, it's on their heads.
Old 30th April 2003
  #13
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subspace's Avatar
My hours are pretty much the same as Fat Cat's. Sessions start at 4pm, if nobody's there by 4:30, I lock the door and go home. Usually, I'll get a call around 5pm that they're standing in front of the studio, and asking if they can still do the session. They'll sometimes offer to pay for the missed time all by themselves. This usually instills an appreciation for agreed upon meeting times in them so it doesn't end up a chronic problem. Well, most of the time it is a "chronic" problem, but that's another thread...
On the first day of tracking, I let them set-up off the clock and spend the time putting up the first guess mics/ running cables. I explain the clock starts when I start listening to the mics and making decisions based on their sounds. After that, all subsequent tracking, overdubbing, and mixing days are billed from the agreed upon start time. Bands seem to be happy with this arrangement, and I'm only off the clock for 1-2 hours during the "getting to know you" phase of each project.
Old 30th April 2003
  #14
Moderator emeritus
 

I find it interesting that a lot of y'all wait until you're on the clock to start setting up mics for a session.

How common is this?
Old 30th April 2003
  #15
Riffer
 
lflier's Avatar
 

Yeah, funny Dave but I think this practice has gotten more common recently. In this day and age when everybody's working on the cheap and trying to undercut each other's rates, people are less and less willing to do anything off the clock. Which is understandable I suppose.

I tend to do things pretty much like Fat Cat says, myself. I feel better if I can set up at a more relaxed pace and I know the musicians will do better if they have adequate time to tune drums, get their amp sounds the way they like them, etc. So I usually allow an hour or even two hours of setup time at the beginning of a project, off the clock. But I agree with Littledog too, it's easier to do that if it's a larger project, so it's kind of an individual call. If someone is only paying for a 5 hour session I'm probably not going to spend 2 hours off the clock setting up mics!

On the other hand, at my home studio I let people record for dirt cheap, and usually drummers use my drum kit. So I don't mind having all the mics set up in advance, it's no big deal and I know I won't have to be dealing with old heads, squeaky pedals, snares or hardware that rattle, etc. I also know which mics will sound good where on my own kit, so oftentimes I can just leave them more or less set up from session to session. If I'm working out of a larger studio and the drummer's bringing his own kit, then the old rules apply: I'll usually allow a bit of setup time off the clock on a larger project, but I'm pretty clear as to when the clock starts.

There's also the "jerk factor." That is, if I like working with someone, enjoy their music and they are appreciative of the time I spend off the clock, they are more likely to get more of it out of me. Those who try to nickel and dime me are likely to get nickeled and dimed in return. I prefer to spend my time and energy on projects I enjoy, clients who go the extra mile for their work and deserve the same from those they work with. Prima donnas pay every penny that I can get out of them! heh

I am doing an album right now for a singer/songwriter who's a dream client. She pays at the end of every session, always figures the hours correctly without even having to be told, always buys food for everyone, and now she says she figures the record will be done for less than the budget she had allocated, and if that was the case she would just give the producer and me the rest of the money as a bonus when it's done. I keep pinching myself to make sure this is really happening. You think I don't spend extra time off the clock for this client? Anybody'd be crazy not to!
Old 30th April 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
I think there need to be some distinctions made here

1) Studios with ancilary staff (runners, gophers, tape ops receptionists, managers) that start work 'early' and are experienced enough to let bands in to set up.

2) Studios that are located at the engineers house / apartment.
3) (my sitiuation) Studios that are run by the owner/operator who does not live there and has no other staff. My place ain't no apartment.
Old 30th April 2003
  #17
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by lflier
Yeah, funny Dave but I think this practice has gotten more common recently. In this day and age when everybody's working on the cheap and trying to undercut each other's rates, people are less and less willing to do anything off the clock. Which is understandable I suppose.

...If someone is only paying for a 5 hour session I'm probably not going to spend 2 hours off the clock setting up mics!

I suspect that some of it simply involves the different ways that different studios work. With custom sessions or demos here in Nashville, a 10:00AM session means exactly that - usually tape is rolling at 10:00 (or at least the rhythm section is working on the tracks).

So at most studios, a kit is set up and miked already; if cartage is bringing a kit for a drummer, that usually shows up at 8:00 or 8:30 (Or sometimes the night before), and the house kit is moved out of the way (leaving the mics). The musicians bringing their own gear are usually in the studio between 9:00 and 9:30 so that they're ready to work at 10:00

The appropriate mics are set up where amps, acoustic guitars, etc. will go, and and then the set-up time is used to work on getting good sounds, not screwing with mic stands and cables. in fact, at my place, the Wurly and Rhodes are already plugged into DI's; all I need to do to record them is bring them up on the console and assign them to a track.

Of course, all of this can change on a major label date...

And a project I just finished tracking was a lot more complex than that - a 9 piece band, all recording at once. No DI's - all mics. That did take a few hours to set up, because none of my 'usual' mics were being used in their usual spots. After al, it's not that often I record a Stromberg wth an RCA 77DX...
Old 1st May 2003
  #18
Gear Nut
 

I think a distinction has to be made between the 'high-end' with their runners, assistants, booking managers & receptionists, and the 'owner-operator' joints where one person usually does the lot!

Remember sessions often finish with bands still to pack up their gear & vacate, and to break down the mic & cue set-up & zero the console etc. After a ten hour day it's tough to face a couple of hours cleaning up before you can go home.

I don't like working late, I wish I could but my bodyclock dislikes it for some reason. Funny thing, I hate getting up in the morning too!

Still, the wife sets the alarm for 8am anyway, and if a session runs into the night I know I'm not going to eat properly, and then I get a little grouchy when the talent starts to whine about something or other.

Back on topic, set your session times in print, and only vary this with prior agreement with the band, it doesn't have to be in writing if lines of comunication are clear enough. Clients take the piss, aways have, always will, even ones who were my friends. And they always seem to go out and get rat-arsed the night before starting a recording project.

With the 'high-end' gaffs, money isn't usually an issue on an hour by hour basis, so what if the drummer turns up two hours late? Or everyone goes out for pasta for a couple of hours at lunch? No one is counting.
Old 1st May 2003
  #19
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by crispy
I think a distinction has to be made between the 'high-end' with their runners, assistants, booking managers & receptionists, and the 'owner-operator' joints where one person usually does the lot!
I'm a one man shop, and sessions typically start at 10:00. At least once a month, someone will want to start at 9:00. Those days, I'm in the studio at 8:00...

Quote:

Remember sessions often finish with bands still to pack up their gear & vacate, and to break down the mic & cue set-up & zero the console etc. After a ten hour day it's tough to face a couple of hours cleaning up before you can go home.

Yeah - I'm better off doing that sort of thing in the morning. But since it's a one man shop, I don't usually have to tear down all that stuff, and I never zero the console - I'm likely to need it all again in the morning...

Quote:


With the 'high-end' gaffs, money isn't usually an issue on an hour by hour basis, so what if the drummer turns up two hours late? Or everyone goes out for pasta for a couple of hours at lunch? No one is counting.
Maybe so - it does here, though. Since I'm the producer for most of the stuff recorded here, I'm the guy hiring the musicians. If one of my guys was as much as a half hour late (without a reason), they wouldn't work here again. Why? Because if my 10:00 session runs long, it runs into my 2:00 session. And that can make my 6:00 session start late...
Old 1st May 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
littledog's Avatar
 

To elaborate a little further on some of the above points:

Whenever I've gone into a hi-end commercial studio (as a player, not an engineer) it's a big empty room until the clock starts. Nothing is preset, except maybe a piano might have been wheeled into position and tuned ahead of time.

But as a little guy, most folks in my situation in a competitive market find little ways to make the client's (and their sidemen's) experience in the studio an enjoyable one. I can't stress how much of my business comes from word of mouth from hired musicians on projects done here. (Like almost all of it, as I do ZERO advertising).

So my survival depends not only on making the client happy, but impressing the hired musicians. Naturally, the most important part is getting a great sound on each instrument. But often it's the little things that can separate your place from the rest of the pack.

It could be unusual food and drink, a relaxed non-pressured atmosphere, a drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend with a great sense of humor, a little dog... you never know exactly what's going to generate that killer word-of-mouth. (Or all of the above, in my case!)

So one of the things that I do that is unusual is make sure everything is working before anyone arrives, even if it means presetting the whole session. There's nothing that kills a session faster than crawling around a bunch of impatient bodies for a half hour trying to figure out why the bass player is only getting signal on the left side of his cans.

In reference to what I said before, I'm not going to spend two hours of unbilled time setting up for a session that's scheduled to only last for two hours. But if it's a full length CD project from tracking to mixing involving lots of musicians, I'll eat all kinds of time up front to make sure the experience is an unforgettably positive one for everybody. (I want them saying: "Did you see that cat, man? He had the drums set up and mic'ed in one hour flat, and they sounded KILLER! I'm comin' back here when I do MY project...")
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