Raising rats. When, and How?

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Raising rats. When, and How?

Post by Chris_Avakian » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:21 pm

So, ive been recording bands on and off for about 12 years now. i started off with an old soundtech console, an adat, mostly all dynamic mics, and cool edit pro 2.0. one room, actually mixed on p.a. speakers. i was 18, i charged 10 dollars an hour, and it was great! i recorded tons of shitty punk bands, and made some awesome sounding stuff for what i had then.

That was 12 years ago...

since them, ive run live sounds for tons of big name acts, invested tens of thousands of dollars, built a control room. i mean VASTLY superior to my old gorilla days. My skills are better, equipment, environment, Everything has improved dramatically over the years.

Im still charging 10 dollars an hour.

Ive tried to tell people im going to raise my rates, to maybe 15, 20 an hour, but all my clients just throw fits about it. ive tried, and actually lost out on work when trying to raise my rates even to just 15. i feel stuck.

what can i do? just stick to my guns? keep the old rate for long time clients? what?

i feel like my services are worth more than 10 dollars an hour.

I dont know what to do, honestly.

Has anybody been successful in raising their rates? and how do i go about it convince these bands that my time is worth more now than it was 12 years ago, after so much improvement in my skills, gear, etc?

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Post by fossiltooth » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:10 am

You should definitely charge more for your time. You could easily make that much as a barista in many cities, and have a blast making music for fun on the side -- with no investment in the tens of thousands of dollars needed.

I've raised rates several tines over the years, and each time, it's turned out to be a good idea. You may however, have to accept that some of your current bottom-dollar clients may not be coming with you. It's entirely possible that no amount of "convincing" on your part will change their outlook, their needs, or their economic reality. You may need to find new clients instead.

In almost any major city, $10/hr (especially if studio costs are included) is far too low to create anything that resembles a sustainable career. Even if you were able to consistently get 60 hours a week, 50 weeks per year (which may be pretty insane for one person to expect, or to pull off) you'd be barely be cracking $29,000. And that's not even factoring in any of your business costs!

At a rate of $20/hr, you'd still hit that same target, but with half the hours. That's an improvement. It stands to reason that you could afford to double your rates and lose half your business, and everything would remain the same for you financially. And with a higher rate, you'd have a better quality of life, you'd probably do better work, and you would have more free time to pursue new clients and new streams of revenue.

Also keep in mind that by keeping your rates as low as $10/hr, you are probably scaring away the kinds of higher-value clients who would be willing to pay more.

I can't speak to the economics of Little Rock, but in any major metropolitan area, studio time worth paying for tends to start around $40/hr with engineer, give or take $5/hr. If you're trying to take this seriously as a career in a major market, you should shoot for a rate at least in that realm. (Maybe just a little lower in Little Rock.)

In my experience, if you begin to value your time more, and you'll find that others will come to value it more as well. Just remember that you can't squeeze blood from a turnip -- you may have to accept that many of your former clients may not be your future clients, and that's okay.

If a precious few are great friends and an honest joy to work with, maybe continue to cut them a break, rather than lose them. But if they're not inspiring you and they're not valuing your time appropriately? It may be time to move on.

If you find yourself unable to sustain all this a couple years down the road, remember that there is no shame in finding a good job and doing recording on the side, or only making music only because you love doing it. Whatever way you go, here's wishing you the best at making it work.

(For more on this, and a detailed breakdown of how to set rates based on business and personal costs, try this: http://trustmeimascientist.com/2013/01/ ... ey-charge/)
Last edited by fossiltooth on Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by ubertar » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:39 am

I nearly got a job as an assistant in a science lab. A big part of the job would have been raising rats. If I had got the job, I'd be able to give you some advice, but it didn't come through...
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:06 am

the ones in the parking lot behind my building...sweet jesus i swear they're like 2 feet long and weigh about 40 pounds. terrifying. i'm glad i'm on the second floor.

frizeyed, 10 bucks an hour is crazy low. that's a reasonable rate for serving coffee, but for tracking and mixing? no way. double or triple it immediately. honestly, if your clients can't handle paying you a reasonable wage for your work, then fuck 'em. you're not running a charity here. if you're really feeling benevolent you can give old clients the old rate.

i keep my rates pretty low, but they're still a whole lot higher than what i was charging 12 years ago!

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Post by kslight » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:16 pm

As far as I'm concerned any client that only thinks you're worth $10/hr is a client worth dumping. You might as well have a McJob really at that. At least then you'd get benefits.

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Post by ott0bot » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:51 pm

kslight wrote:As far as I'm concerned any client that only thinks you're worth $10/hr is a client worth dumping. You might as well have a McJob really at that. At least then you'd get benefits.

When I finished school and had a smaller resume...I didn't charge much, if at all sometimes. A couple years back I started charging a flat rate of $30 an hour...then I'd just offer discounts if the project demanded a smaller budget and I was willing to take a cut in pay (which is almost all of them). That way when i do a corporate gig, and they are used to paying that rate (or more), I dont get screwed. Your old clients may not like it, but I'd they are decent human beings they will accept it or move on. I can't image at $10 and hour that would break the bank, and if I does, then it's time to branch out an find some new clients.

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Post by Chris_Avakian » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:29 pm

See... thats what im thinking. it was a fine rate when i was 17-18 years old with a makeshift "studio" in the loft of a barn.

gas was a buck 30, and a bottle of mellow yellow was 50 cents.

im by no means a professional outfit, but if im making 150 for 5hrs of work at the local metal club, i dont see how 20/hr+ rates would kill anybody. it also feels like id be hurting other studios around me. you know... "this guys only 10/hr, why are you so much more?" kindof a thing.

before i take this any further these rates are going up.

i feel alot better about it after reading the replies.

Thank you!

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:43 am

"Raising rats. When, and How?"

It depends on the rat breed. I dislike rats i. general, however I have seen a few Nordic rats be used as pets, by the local goth/punk/emo, or whatever kids call themselves these days.

They are cleaner than gerbils, and are very intelligent.

Good luck in your rat raising adventures.

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Post by digitaldrummer » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:09 am

I think my daughter makes somewhere around $10/hr babysitting a couple kids (kind of like raising rats...).

I have a regular Friday night gig I play. its easy - close to home and only 7-10pm - but it only pays $50/man. but that's actually pretty typical for a gig in the Austin area... anyway, the club owner wanted us to play new years eve and offered the same pay. We politely declined as I realized my daughter was going to make way more that night than I was!

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Post by GooberNumber9 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:50 am

I thought maybe the title was an Angel reference, in which case I would have offered mad props.

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:16 pm

I have no idea how this would fly in reality, but you might want to raise your rates a bunch right now ($20/hr, or more, whatever you want), but then, going forward do a COLA thing. You can go online and calculate the cost of living increase or inflation increase for the year and up your rates by that percentage. Then you won't have to "sticker shock" your long standing clients again. But maybe doing a bigger increase less often is more palatable in the long run for most people. Just something to consider. I think it's kindof hard to argue with "I raised my rates 3% over last year cause that's the rate of inflation." And someone would have to be a real douche to walk out on you over $0.60/hr. For shits and giggles you could go back 12 years and calculate what you'd be making now if you'd done that. It compounds, y'know. Make sure you pick the right CPI though. The mainstream "urban clerical worker" one is bogus, it doesn't include food or fuel, or some shit like that.
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Friend rates?

Post by Evan73 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:53 am

How about giving low rates to friends and bands that you like to record,
and otherwise raising your rates?
What are peoples experience with this?

The obvs problem is word getting out and everyone wanting a deal.
Most studios I've been to give friend rates and incentives to record bands they want to record.

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Post by xpulsar » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:47 am

Raising them is worth it,but not so easy.
A lot of people including very well to do bands are getting studio day rates with and assistant for $400-$1000 a day in Citys like NY,LA,and Nashville.
It really depends on your market and what your competition is and how booked you are. If you are booked 3-6 months out then you can look at raising your rates. If your not booked beyond next week then you should keep it low and working. But you need to be charging at least $25-30/hr or your fucked after the tax man gets his cut.
I would also set up a sliding scale situation Low-Unsigned,Mid-Small Label,High-Corporate /Major label.
As a freelancer in Detroit I maxed out at $35/hr ,I worked in rooms with SSL's and API's . Thats why I moved to Nashville. I work a lot more now but the rate of pay is not much more than that. There are hundreds of dudes in Nashville that are looking for work.

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Post by xpulsar » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:50 am

Also the title of your post is Raising Rats not Rates.

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Post by sears » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:58 am

rats off to ya!

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