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In The Studio: How To Charge For Your Time

A look at the pros and cons of several alternatives for engineers, producers and musicians...

By Bobby Owsinski April 7, 2014

The second thing is an agreement stating the terms of how much and under what circumstances you’ll get paid.

While you should go to an attorney to get this drawn up, this can cost you money that you don’t have or don’t want to spend on a project that may never pay off. Even if it’s only a single page long, just be sure to get it in writing because people have a tendency to forget or remember differently over time and it pays to have something on paper.

At the very least, put down what songs you’ve worked on (or going to work on), the amounts agreed upon, and a time frame that you’ll get paid (example—30 days after signing a major or indie label agreement), and how you’ll get paid (“in full by cashiers check”) just so no one forgets.

This may not be legally binding or may have plenty of holes that a high-priced lawyer can drive a truck through, but if the people you’re dealing are on the up and up, you’ll at least have a piece of paper to remind everyone of your contribution to their success and how you all agreed you’d be compensated.

Charge an hourly rate. The safest way to go as long as you can get paid, an hourly rate means that when you inevitably spend that extra week on overdubs or mixing, you’ll get paid for the time you’re putting in. The hourly rate keeps people focused and stops them from adding those extra 5 overdubs “just to see what they sound like,” or from trying 10 more takes when you all agreed that number 3 was great.

A combination of the above. Many times payment consists of a little bit of money or a little bit of spec, some items at a flat rate and some at hourly, or some combination. Try not to get too complicated. A simple deal works best for everyone, especially when it comes to getting paid. Just realize that there are a lot of options available.

There are a lot of good books on the subject of how to structure a deal for yourself that are much more comprehensive then what was just laid out above. Even if you decide not to read them, get an attorney if it means any money more than what the attorney will cost. At the very least, always get it in writing.

Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog. Get The Music Producer’s Handbook here.


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About Bobby

Bobby Owsinski
Bobby Owsinski

Music Industry Veteran and Technical Consultant
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. To read more from Bobby, and to acquire copies of his outstanding books such as The Recording Engineer’s Handbook, be sure to check out his website at www.bobbyowsinski.com.
http://www.bobbyowsinski.com/

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