What price to ask?

What price to ask?
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#1

Hi guys,

I resently did a mix, and with the help of some constructive critisism I think I got to a point where its ‘‘starting’’ to sound professional.

I’m gonna try to make a few more of these for my portfolio, and the goal is to go “official” this year, so I can start doing mixes for people and get a few bucks out of it. There are a lot of plans brewing to get my concept for this going, but one thing I find very hard, is determining the price.

Disregarding location, what whould you guys think I could ask for this level of mixes? minimum, average and/or maximum ?

Would help me out big time, to get your opinions on this.

Thanks a lot !

#2

There isn’t one right answer to your question, but based on my short experience I’d say that you should start by determining the hourly rate you’re willing to get and start from there, keeping in mind that being nice to people at the beginning is easy but getting them to pay you for the actual hours you work later is a whole different story.

Easier said than done. Good luck anyway…

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#3

Yeah, I know its a debatelble question. The problem is, I’m not fast yet, so charging by the hour would be off the table I think. At least for now.

Or do you think asking 160$ for only this song is reasonable ? :joy: (16 hourse at 10$/h)

#4

I think you are asking the question the wrong way, because it’s only a question you can ask yourself. I like to think of it this way: If someone came to me and said “Will you mix this song for me?” along with a price. If I look at the song and the price and get excited about mixing it, then the price is good. If I look at the song and price and don’t get excited, then the price is wrong.

Depending on the day and the song, my price might be really low. Other days or songs my price might be really high. There are other factors that determine that price as well (like how much I need money, etc)

You will need to start out being less selective. You will learn pretty quickly when a new song to mix becomes something you are looking forward to, or something you are dreading. You will get more selective as time goes on as you figure out what your own tolerances are, and if you are good, you will be able to be selective and still have people want you to mix their songs.

I know it’s not the same thing, but I approach plugins the same way. People come to me with ideas or contract work all the time. If it’s an idea that is interesting but not super exciting for me, I’ll quote really high. If it’s an idea that I really like, sometimes I’ll just make it for free and give them a copy because I want it for myself too. If it’s a plugin I really don’t want to make, I quote a number that would make me excited to make it. Sometimes that number is really high. Nobody ever takes the big numbers. That’s a win-win.

But I always can tell if I quoted well when it’s a month later and I’m 90% of the way into the plugin. If I wake up excited to work on the plugin, I know I quoted it well. If I wake up and find myself wishing I was doing something else, I know I quoted too low.

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#5

I think you answered your own question… Unless you live in some third-world country $10/hour is definitely not something anyone could deem expensive (unless your work is completely worthless, which I’m assuming it isn’t :laughing:). Now would it be reasonable for you?.. is the question you need to ask and answer to yourself. You can probably make more money with housecleaning but it’s less fun too, so it all depends on where you set your thresholds, I guess.

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#6

I find it both very good answers, but I gues my question is more like ‘is my mixing skill protaid in this mix worth of asking 20€ for, or should I be thinking more professionally already, more in the direction you guys are laying out’ ?

#7

Again, I think the issue is more complex than that. Being able to mix a song to a certain caliber is only part of the equation. Being able to market yourself as a service that would benefit someone else is a completely different, but more important, part of the equation.

The easiest way for you to find out if your skills are good enough is to start advertising around. If you can find people to pay you to mix and both parties come out happy in the end, then it’s a good price. But you can only know by trying, adjusting, trying again, adjusting again, etc.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you are not asking the right crowd. If you want to know if people are willing to pay you, you have to ask the people that would pay you. Pretty much all of us on here like mixing and practice it and want to get better, so very few of us are looking to pay someone to mix for us.

So I can only tell you that I personally wouldn’t pay for a mix. But that has nothing to do with your skill level and everything to do with the fact that I would prefer to do it myself, because it’s what I like doing. I would’t even have you do it for free. But I’m not your target audience, so whether I would do it or not is irrelevant. You need to find people who need mixing done and would be willing to pay. That’s how you’ll find your answer.

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#8

Fair enough :blush: good answer!

I’ll further develope my concept then and try to implement it, and see what happens :blush:

Thanks for taking the time!

#9

The business side of mixing is the part that almost never gets talked about, but it’s by far the most important part. I know there are some facebook groups or forums that are dedicated to the business side of mixing. I think that would be a good place to start.

I’ve never actually looked through the content, but https://www.thesixfigurehomestudio.com claims to focus on the business side of mixing.

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#10

SFHS is the only group besides MWTM and PRW where you can really start getting in-depth about the business side without getting trolled to death. I’d start with SFHS because there’s a real broad mix of low and high level experience (on the business end). If you put your numbers and your audio out there, you’re gonna have to be prepared for some brutally honest feedback. They’ll strait up tell you if you’re not even good enough to be charging, but its not anything like GS used to be. The moderators are great about kicking trolls out of the group.

I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately, that way I can nerd out and talk all day about finance, studio marketing, industry, product differentiation strategy, sales tactics, investing etc… (stuff that I really love) without annoying the piss out of everyone. I’ve learned a lot interacting with the group, as there are some people there who are making a LOT of money in their field.

And @DeRebel - there’s a lot of discussion on there about your question. PED. Price elasticity demand. PED is finding the market sweet spot between the quality of your service, and what you should price it at to maximize profits from your current client base within your market reach.

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#11

??? Not sure I have heard of that one. If it’s not this (see link), what does the acronym stand for?

#12

Yup. That’s it. A lot of the guys from the Womb went over there when Eric shut the last site down. That group is pretty knowledgable when it comes to a lot of stuff about the business, gear, and recording in general. But for what its worth, IRD still gets my vote for the best overall hangout spot on the net! :slight_smile:

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#13

I have downloaded a few multitracks from that guy. He seems sincere. Have checked a wibinar of him, and it seemed pretty interesting.

Well thats the thing, I have NO client base :smiley:

This is the first time EVER I’m considering asking money for my services. So its quite hard to find a starting point. Also, I’m limmited to mixing primarily since I have no room and mic’s to record drums yet, so my service offering is also limmited. So the thing is, how can I convince bands not to have their mixes done in the studio they are recording, and let me do it. This is I gues finding a ballance in price vs quality.

Since I’m nowhere near PRO, I was thinking of aiming at bands who are only just starting to think of getting a bit more serious, and record some stuff and start promoting online, and that do a lot of recording themselves to save money, and mix their shit, so it doesn’t sound like shit :smiley:

#14

I think you need to try and figure out a way to record solo vocalists. You will almost never get asked to mix if an artist doesn’t first trust you as a tracking engineer. Also, the way you acquire material to mix is usually by tracking it yourself.

I would also recommend starting with rappers and hip hoppers for practice. Don’t jump right into bands if you haven’t recorded for cash before. Rappers are a dime a dozen, and always waiting in the wings for studios with low enough prices. I would learn to really really really manage a vocal session before attempting to track bands. I know you said you wanted to just mix them, but its usually not the way this works.

If you really want to work toward only mixing, I would get really really good at doing mix assistant work. Do things to help them get the mix prepped to send somewhere else. Forinstance, say hey, send me the session and let me edit all your vocal comps and autotune your stuff for free. Then ask them if you can keep the track and add it to your portfolio, even if they send it to a master mixer for the actual dub. Or find people with home studios that have real rough sounding tracks, and ask if you can add guitars or drum programming to them. As much as you may not want to hear this, that’s how people get into mixing. By tracking and editing.

…the same can be seen in every other field. Foley mixers were once foley sound designers. Broadcast mixers were once field recordists and live sound techs. Its common for dialogue and ADR mixers to have also been field recordists, boom operators, and some learned audio restoration early on in their careers. Again, my point is that mixing is usually a trade you develop from having done tracking and editing for a while first.

Also, running live sound can be a good way to meet bands and pick up work.

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#15

Now that I understand your situation better, if you feel you must jump strait into the mixing gigs, I would do one of two things:

  1. Mix for free.
  2. Mix for $75 per song and not expect to get paid for it. And go down to $30 per song if you have too. Tell them if they are not 100% satisfied with your mix, no money owed. But treat the project and the client as if they were a grammy nominated artist. This will teach you a lot about the business, about communication, and about your own workflow.

Learn from your mistakes, and always remember the business of audio is ultimately about people. Not about art. Their money = their vision. Not yours.

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#16

Thats some soun advice :slight_smile:

I was actually thinking of doing some free mixing as well, and was thinking in the lines of 30€/song would be sort of reasonable :slight_smile:

If I get some time one of these days I’ll type out what I was thinking off as a concept, and pm you if you’re interested in looking over it? Then you can get an even better view of my situation. I’m curious what you would think about it from a long term business strategy point of view.

#17

I kind of skipped around through the thread, so if I repeat anything I apologize.
First things first: people who can “mix” are a dime a dozen. If all you’re doing is getting levels right and a decent overall eq, you are providing nothing more than a McDonald’s Happy Meal, and McDonald’s can do it cheaper.

If, however, you can add movement, interest and flow to a mix, then you have a marketable skill, and you should charge accordingly. You really need to be honest with yourself about your confidence in your skill level before you consider charging at all, as Jonathan and others have mentioned.
If you have a band bring you something to listen to, if you don’t immediately hear what you can add and relay that confidently, you are potentially screwing up your future business by charging anything, since your business will rely almost totally on word of mouth.
When you know you can help, your clients will sense your confidence and will be happy to pay a reasonable fee, noting that the time you spend on a particular project will be optimized by the efficiencies you’ve developed while you got to that level.
You can’t think of it as an hourly rate, you need to get very good at getting a very good mix 90% done efficiently, and charging for the 10% only you can add to the project. To express that in dollars, it would be $100-150, but if I’m paying that, I don’t ask how long it takes, I just expect really good results.

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#18

I couldn’t disagree more. Mixing is 90% levels in my opinion, and having listened to countless BTRs over the years, it’s the element that most people have difficulty with. If “all you’re doing is getting levels right”, then in my opinion, you have a mix. (I include EQ as part of getting levels right).

That’s the first time I have heard these elements attributed to the mix process. Can you give some examples?

Sorry Bob, I don’t have a downer on you, but again, I disagree. The client pays for the 90%, the 10% is a just a little bonus. If the 90% was easy, the client would do it for himself, it’s the fact that he can’t do it himself that leads to him paying someone else to do it.

(I know you didn’t say the 90% was easy, but the implication is that the 10% is the most important part. It isn’t - IMO).

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#19

I think your mixing will have to be a very high standard to get paid for your work
in this day ans age.

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#20

AJ, what I’m saying is that if you don’t feel confident in what you charge for a mix, you might not be ready to be in that business.
Levels and eq are of course the main elements of the mix; what I mean by flow and dynamics from a mixing standpoint are the proper manipulation of those elements to add interest, like building up to the chorus, weaving parts in and out of the mix, (ear candy), and fx that compliment the overall feel.
You are very good at all of this; a less seasoned person mixing might not get past the point of just getting things equal in the mix; in other words, the part can be heard, but it isn’t automated to make it effective within the context of what the song needs. To you all that stuff is second nature and part of your process. To someone trying to figure out if they can do it for a living, they need to be confident that they have all of that down and can add their own signature at a competitive rate in a reasonable amount of time.

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