How much to charge

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by stretchcat, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Not sure if this is the right forum, but here goes.....

    I play about 8 gigs per month (keys and bass) and in my travels I have met some songwriter types who have expressed interest in recording some demo tunes in my modest home studio. I'm not sure how much I should charge per hour for my services which would include recording, programming drums, playing bass, keys, and probably producing and arranging their songs to a degree. I have recorded my own projects and done some favors for friends, but have never brought in a "client". I would like to charge by the hour rather than a flat fee. Any thoughts?

    My home studio includes:
    2.4 gHz Pentium IV PC
    Delta 10/10
    Cubase SX 2.0
    Halion 2.0 (Vintaudio Yamaha C7 and PrecisionSound Dusty)
    Drumkit From Hell Superior
    Korg 01/W and CX-3
    Focusrite Trakmaster
    NT1 and SM57
    various plugins
    Lexicon MPX 200
    Yamaha P-150 (used as 88 key controller)
    Event 2020bas
    and a bunch of other stuff....
  2. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    $55--$70 are rates in the DC metro area. This is for a seasoned engineer with good gear.
  3. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I know you said you would like to charge by the hour, but it may be a good idea to quote a flat rate for a project, for the first one anyhow. The reason being that it will give a good idea of how much of a time, money and energy investment it will be, and help figure out a good work flow so that you can more accurately determine a fair hourly, and determine if you really want to offer the service. Not to say that you don't have a system, but if you don't nobody likes paying hourly when you are spending twice as much time as you should to be to accomplish a task.

    Also because you are being asked to be a musician and "composer" in a way, thats another consideration and in my mind makes your time more valuable than if you were just recording. That being said, you may want to work a deal for just recording the individual and then additional money for when you are being a musician. That will help in the long run too if a person simply needs you to track a guitar and a vocal. Its a whole different deal if you need to program drums and play bass as well.

    To give you an idea of $$$ in my area, college town of 150,000 people or so. Smaller computer based digital studio's usually see between $35-50 an hour, the larger studio's with more pro gear and clientele are in the $80.00 an hour range. Of course multiple day deals are the norm. The studio I do work at is $50 and hour and I take $15 of it, which is not a great deal, but I don't have to book it, I just show up and engineer. Typically $35 an hour is what I charge for location stuff, Pro Tools training and other freelance stuff. That is pretty good rate in my experiance. I think for the recording side of your service I would start there. As far as charging as a musician, I don't do that so I am not sure what it is standard. How much do you feel your abilities are worth? Are you a fast learner, how much experiance and training do you have? That all plays into it. Someone with a degree in music can charge more than somebody without, and usually its worth it because they can get good results faster. So I guess I'll leave that one up to you.

    Hope this helped, good luck.
  4. full_bleed


    May 27, 2005
    HEHEHE :confused: :meh: :rollno: anywho... I would also agree that you need to set some low flat rates for at least the first few artists that you take in. I say if you find that the product that you are putting out is on par or better than what can be done by your local competition then raise it up a little more. However I would never pay a person recording out of their home the same or more as a recording studio. I might be alone in that thinking but that's fine by me.

    You know what I hate though... if you don't have a damn degree you'll never be even half as worthy or great as someone who does. I mean just look at all of our musical hereos. They must have all gone to like Yale or something cause they sure are good. :bag:
  5. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I in know way meant to say that you have to have a degree in music if you ever want to be a good player. I speaking more from being the engineer on sessions where the hired gun was an unknown and "paperless" player who ended up running up session time versus the "papered" player who nailed it. Of course the converse is tru too, and every situation is different. Most of the musicians that I know and respect are good because of passion and dedication, not because of school.
  6. Thanks for the responses. They have been very helpful.

    I do not have a "music degree", but I have studied jazz piano privately and played in band in school into college so I have an understanding of harmony, rhythm, reading and writing charts and arranging. My keyboard and bass playing are very solid and the phone keeps ringing, so I must be doing something right there.;) I have worked with jazz, rock, blues, country, and gospel groups since 1990. Since these projects are more demo-oriented, I feel like my musical services are more valuable to these clients than my engineering skills which are pretty basic compared to someone who engineers professionally.
  7. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I think for what people are going to ask of you, basic engineering skills won't be as important as what you can do musically. Thats something to keep in mind. Maybe you should push the "musician/producer who can record", more than an "Engineer who can play and produce". I think if you are straight up with people you should have no problem working out a good deal. Just make it fair for everyone.