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Recording/cd sales fees, need fast help!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Nuno A., Nov 18, 2004.

  1. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    Im about to enter the studio to record a cd with the current trio i'm playing with, the leader of the band made me an offer which i think is not fair by any means , besides that, afterwards, i wont have any cd sales %, can you guys tell me what you usually do on theses situations, lets say a cd sells for $20, what you guys think should i get ? Even when he plays alone , if he still sells the trio cd , should i still get some $? What about cds sold in music stores? This is all new for me since in all my previous recording experiences, whatever the band made, everything was divided in equal parts, but this time, the leader is making the cd by himself, and i really dont know what should be fair to ask...but i think it would be fair if i would receive a % from each cd which will be sold.. am i beeing unfair or thats just the way things work nowadays? (he's offering me $400 + 20 free cds, which doesnt satisfy me at all)
    By the way, production costs(everything included) are something like $5/$6 per cd.
    thanks in advance...If you dont want to post here, please fell free to email me. basscrazy72@hotmail.com

  2. Hey Nuno,
    since I´m one of the cats here on this side of the Puddle,
    I´ll try to give you at least some information. The Americans have different copyright and interest regulations than we Europeans.
    First, are you a member of your local artists´and performers´interest organization? If not, ask your buddies how to get a membership and how to make an announcement that you are performing on a cd that´s going to be played in public. In Austria there is LSG, in Germany there is GVL, but I do not know about the organization in Switzerland. Anyhow, being a member and having given them the necessary information about your performance in the cd, you will be paid when ( or if ) the cd is played for exmple in radio, tv shows etc.
    The deal with your band leader or the producer should not have anything to do with this, if your laws are the same as in our country. And I guess they are, since our association called Gramex is a member of the AEPO, which is the Association of European Performers´Organizations.

    In additon to this, I´d suggest that you negotiate a small % of the sales, if possible. A trio is a trio, anyway, so he can´t be 100% responsible of how it´s going to sound, either. You have your own share of that, too. So why shouldn´t you ask what belongs to you?

    Hope this helps,

  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Keep it in perspective, Nuno. Around these parts it takes several thousand dollars to record, mix, master, decorate and manufacture one thousand copies of a serious jazz CD. That means the producer needs to actually sell several hundred copies just to make their money back. On many of the records my pals make the band is not paid for recording -- the recording IS their compensation. For the rest, payment is nominal. The only people who get paid a bunch are heavy-hitters brought in from away. (I've played on half-a-dozen CDs, including mine, and I got paid once.)

    On the one hand, you want to be fairly compensated for your work and you don't want to lose out on a serious business opportunity if there's a chance the piece will really sell. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of jazz releases sell less than one thousand copies -- heck, the overwhelming majority of jazz releases only PRINT one thousand copies and hundreds are given away. If that's the case, you don't want to get pitched off the session or burn a bridge altogether when there's no real chance to make money anyway.

    Hope this helps. Good luck, play great, have fun.
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    There are a couple of ways to look at this, and I've experienced it both ways:

    1. Is this bandleader recording his own original music, and the other two members usually work as sidemen? If that's the case, I would think you'll have to be satisfied with being paid for your services in the studio only, without sales percentages. In this case, he should also foot the bill completely for all production costs. In other words, it's just another gig. Same would apply if you are just cutting a collection of standards or covers.

    2. If this has been, in the past, a band of equals then you could realistically claim an equal share of sales, but then you'd be obligated (in my view) to work for free in the studio and pay equal shares of production costs.

    Guess, for me, it boils down to who is financing and organizing the thing. If one guy is doing all that, then the rest should pretty much expect to be paid something similar for your studio time as you'd get on a normal gig. The sales returns are reimbursement for the cash outlay and risk for producing the thing. Of course all that changes if original music is being recorded to which you are a contributor. Then licensing and all that must be negotiated.
  5. Brian K

    Brian K

    May 21, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    I agree with Sam and mchildree.

    To be redundant:

    Unless the group is a) recording compositions of yours, b) asking you to help pay for the production of the record, c) something you are involved with organizing, or d) going to sell tens of thousands of units, than $400 and a few CDs sounds like a fair offer compared to how things work here.
  6. Shornick

    Shornick Scot Hornick

    Dec 18, 2001
    Depending on what songs you are doing or if you think the leader is actually going to make money from it will make the difference. On the recordings I have done where I knew the leader was going to make his money back and then some, not a ton extra nut a good amount, the players always got at least $100 per tune and nothing after for sales. I tried the smaller pay and percentage of sales thing with a piano trio where the piano player also did a lot of solo gigs, keeping track of sales was never done very accurately so I don't think I will be doing that again. On discs being done by people doing original music, or things that I know won't make them any money or even get them to break even, or stuff that I just enjoy paying I usually do for free or for a little bit of bread if I have to turn down other stuff to get it done. If it is friends and they aren't making money free is good. Enjoy the experience and have fun with it. You will probably need them one day too for a recording.
  7. Most, if not all of the people I know get paid for their time in the studio. IF (and that's a big if) the artist who's producing the CD does any better than breaking even after all of the production costs, there won't likely be much to divvy up anyhow. Do you want to wait until he sells 2-300 copies before the money starts trickling in? I wouldn't count on it.

    My suggestion would be to treat the recording session as a gig. Time = money. What is your time worth? $25 per hour? $50 per hour? If you spend 10 hours over 2 days in the studio, ($40 per hour), I'd say that's a fair deal. If you go into a third day, you might want to ask for more. How many days does he have the studio booked for? If you know in advance what the time committment will be, it will be easier for you to determine what to ask.
  8. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    If I were laying out cash to make a CD and I hired musicians for the job, I would only even consider offering points on the sales if I was paying them less-than-scale for the studio time. If someone asked for points on top of scale-wages, I'd say no unless that player was critical to the recording. If I'm laying out the dough, I'm calling the shots.

    If you guys happen to be good friends, then that could complicate issues. Just be sensitive to who is risking their own money and you'll be fine.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Nuno, I'm not sure what has made you expect to get points on CD sales? Especially when you are getting paid for your playing up front. EVERYBODY I know who has done work on records gets paid for playing (and some CDs) and that's the extent of it. You can check the AF of M's website for current rates, best recollection is that it's about $125 an hour. Well, let's go see


    Check the bottom of the page for the LOW BUDGET RECORDING rates

    It sounds like $400 isn't bad for a 5 - 8 recording session. Especially since you're getting $400 worth of merchandise on top. If you're contributing a published piece of music, you can try to get some mechanicals for that (or your publisher can) but you got to weigh the possibilities - you get to have a piece of music recorded by a band you work regularly with; you can either relish the opportunity to get your work in front of a wider audience OR you can ask for money and watch as the leader decides that maybe they'll just do STELLA and pay Harry Fox the $65. AND hire Peter Washington, since he's in town for a jazz festival appearance.

    Or hell, buy my ticket over and I'll do it for $400 and 20 CDs. As long as somebody covers my room and meals.

    There's a few of unanswered questions here
    1. Are you contributing to the music in some way other than playing? Contributing compositions, arrangements, is the recording completely or partially group improvised/composed pieces.

    If the CD is coming out and is primarily compositions you have written or arrangements you have written, then maybe you should talk about compensation for contributions other than playing the bass part.

    2. Are you contributing financially to the recording? To the band? Are the funds, either in part or in full, coming from a band fund or is the leader (or another producer) paying the costs of production in full?

    If you put money, you should be able to get money back, over and above what you get paid for playing the bass part. And that needs to be worked out contractually before hand. If you and the other non-leader put up 10% of the money, you need to define how that money gets back to you, how any profit made gets distributed etc.

    3. $400 for the session - is that one session? or more? How many hours?

    $400 for one 5-6 hour session seems OK, for two days of 4 or 5 hour session seems alright, for a week of 10 hour sessions seems exploitive.

    As SAM'L says, even if you do get points, they aren't going to kick in until the production costs get paid off. So you've already got

    2 musicians - $800
    40 CDs as payment at cost - $250
    Recording time - conservatively let's say 6hrs@ $100per= $600
    mixing and mastering - again, 2hrs @ $100 per=$200
    Dupe house cost for design, printing and replication for 1000 units - $1800
    Mechanical royalties for non-original compositions @ $65 per tune (an average) -depends on the number, add or subtract
    5 tunes = $325
    Budget for this imaginary session is $3975 and doesn't include any tape/Cd costs (recording direct to hard drive), so at $20 a copy, you are going to have to sell 200 units before anybody looks at any "profit" to get points from.