We’re back with another episode of FAQ Friday!
We have a lot of great questions today! Some about mixing and some related to business, which is always a nice balance!
Let’s get right into today’s featured question: “You suggest getting 50% upfront before mixing, how have you determined the final price? Is it a quote on an estimate of the amount of time you think it might take to complete?”
Yes, that is exactly what it is! Today for instance, I was talking to an artist in Ireland and we were discussing doing a certain amount of songs but the number of songs depends on how much it will cost.
We might do three songs or we might do five, we have to determine what their budget is and what I can do for it.
If someone comes to you and says “I have $1,000 to spend” how much does that mean to you?
• Are you trying to get $200 a day or $1,000 a day?
• What are you going to charge?
• What do you think your time is worth?
For many of us who work in the music industry 10-12 hour days is pretty standard, 15 hour days is quite often what we have to do. So if you’re going to do one of those 10-12 hour days, especially doing the nitty-gritty things, like editing things a little tighter, and doing automation. It’s not about listening for 10 or 12 hours blowing your eardrums out. – It’s about spending a certain amount of time working on the songs.
For that amount of time, what do you need to get paid? What is your time worth? Is it $10 an hour, $50 an hour, $100 an hour? It really is something you have to determine. For some people it could be quite a lot of money, for others it could be fairly modest because they may have a modest lifestyle and live in an inexpensive place. – I’m sure someone who is based in New York City would not be working for $10 an hour.
For me, if someone is coming along and it’s an acoustic guitar, vocal demo and they want me to put drums, guitars, keys, vocals and mix it. I could probably do that in about a day if the arrangement is good.
It’s quite possible I can do it because we can go play drums in the other room, I can plug in and do some electric guitars, do some acoustics and put a baseline down. It’s relatively quick and something I can do in a 10-15 hour day without feeling rushed. – if the song is already an arraignment we love.
Otherwise, we’re going to have to spend on preproduction so maybe you’ll add in half a day or 3-4 hours where you sit with the artist and go through the arraignment and get the tempo, key, and everything right.
Maybe they go back and rehearse it and finish up the ideas and come back.
The point is, those are the things you have to decide. It might be that you’re not a great multi-instrumentalist and you need a bit more time to perform all of those parts and maybe you need half a day just to do guitars. – Which is absolutely fine there is no pressure in this.
So now suddenly you’re adding pre-production, extra time to do additional guitar parts. You’re now at two full days for one song, you get where I’m going – you need to have a good understanding of your own abilities, your own limitations, where you excel and where you don’t excel.
Do you need another musician? Are you not a drummer, do you need to hire a drummer? Are you going to do drum programming? Do they want to do EDM stuff but you don’t do EDM stuff and they want something organic, maybe it’s the other way around. – All of that kind of good stuff
These are all of the things as a producer that you have to take into account when you’re budgeting. Sit there and work out what elements you need, what instruments you need, what instruments you play, what you need someone else to play anyhow much they are going to cost, and how long you think it’s going to take.
If it’s one, two or three days to do that song, budget it at an hourly wage that feels good for you and take into account any additional expenses. – That could be $1,000 for a song because it might take 3 days of your life.
Remember it’s not just you, you have to charge for yourself, your studio, your electricity bill, maybe you have an intern or somebody helping you, there are a lot of things to take into account.
We have all overextended ourselves and worked twice as many hours as we should for half as much money. Get a pen and paper, make some notes and see if you can come up with something that makes some sense to you.
Maybe have a little bit of latitude in there in case it goes half a day or a couple of hours over. – Budget in a little extra failsafe.
We cover the following questions during this episode of FAQ Friday!
•When you’re charging by the hour for a mixing project, how can you prove that you’ve worked “X” Amount of hours so you can get paid properly? (6:12)
• If a client only has enough funds to have you mix one track but is unsure of which track should actually get mixed. Can they send multiple tracks and then you pick on of those to mix or is this unrealistic based on your time commitments? (10:38)
• Do you ever record with a click track on flashing light in the studio? (14:48)