#1
Please move if this ain't in the right forum... Not sure where else it could/should go.

A guitar luthier wants to hire me to record some audio for some of his new acoustic guitars. These will go up on his website to showcase and promote the guitars etc.

I'm a semi professional musician, how should I charge for this? Hourly or a flat rate? What would be an acceptable rate? Obviously I don't want to over charge for this since it's not an album recording session or anything but as you all know, a musician's time isn't free.

I know what I've charged for live performances in the past (a two-piece acoustic guitar duo I used to be in could command $500+ for two 45 minute sets) but I've never been hired for studio work before on the guitar - just drums, my other main instrument.

Thanks
#2
An average rate for a beginner session musician would be $40-$60 an hour or $75-$100 per song. Even top Nashville guys don't make much more than that, maybe $150-200 an hour but they're booked all day 5-6 days a week, very lucrative business that way.
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#3
I wouldnt leave the house for less than $100. Ask yourself how much you think it will benefit his business, and how much that video is worth to him. If he sells 20 guitars because of your video, he could easily have made $50,000-100,000 on your labor

Consider royalties as well
#4
$50/hr unless your name is Steve Vai or Robben Ford. Then it's probably an endorsement rather than just session work.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#5
Quote by Cajundaddy
$50/hr unless your name is Steve Vai or Robben Ford. Then it's probably an endorsement rather than just session work.



Plenty of session players go for more than $50. Op asked what the session was worth. Not what his playing was worth

That's before considering most unions have an added fee for musicians appear on camera or on stage in a film of theater related gig
Last edited by bassalloverthe at Jan 8, 2016,
#6
Quote by bassalloverthe
Plenty of session players go for more than $50. Op asked what the session was worth. Not what his playing was worth


Plenty do make more than $50/hr. Probably not non-union 1st timers who are unknowns. If he paid union dues he would surely already know and charge union scale:

https://mpe.berklee.edu/documents/studio/paperwork/1.%20Important%20Documents/AFM-AFTRA%20Rates.pdf
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#7
Ask him for a guitar if they're any good.
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#8
Quote by bassalloverthe
Consider royalties as well


Session guys don't get royalties buddy.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#9
Quote by AlanHB
Session guys don't get royalties buddy.


Lol your kidding right? Are we not counting Hollywood sets then, or tv and commercial recordings then? Or royalties for streaming services? Or licensing royalties? That's even if you didn't compose the music

The only time musicians *don't* typically get royalties is am/fm play

Usually you post spot on shit. I'm quite surprised
Last edited by bassalloverthe at Jan 9, 2016,
#10
^From what I know, session musicians typically don't get royalties. There are exceptions but for the most part, unless you're listed as a writer, I believe you're not getting royalties. I mean, even Andy Summers who's part of Police don't get royalties for Every Breath You Take. So Alan's shit is pretty spot on I'd say.

That said, I don't think royalties applies to the TS's case anyway.
#11
Quote by bassalloverthe
Lol your kidding right? Are we not counting Hollywood sets then, or tv and commercial recordings then? Or royalties for streaming services? Or licensing royalties? That's even if you didn't compose the music

The only time musicians *don't* typically get royalties is am/fm play

Usually you post spot on shit. I'm quite surprised


It's true.

Firstly, when you do session work and go to get paid, you generally sign a document which states words to the effect that "In exchange for $$$ I forfeit any intellectual property rights that I may or may not have with respect to my contributions to the recording". That is, you sell your copyright entitlements on the spot to the original composers of the song.

Without those rights you don't get cash or royalties for any of those things you listed. So there isn't some bass player somewhere who is getting a continual stream of cash from the lines he played on Seinfield TV show - he likely did the job for $100 and his entitlements ended there.

Secondly, in the case that you don't sign such a document, it is debatable whether your part, played on a song that was not written by you, is of such importance to the song that you should now be considered an author of that song and receive copyright entitlements as a result.

As it is pretty standard that the first situation applies (ie. the session guy sells their rights), there is very little law discussing what happens in the second situation.

In your favour, the Whiter Shade of Pale case did find that a session organist was entitled to composers rights. It was claimed that he sold his rights, but the original documents were lost in a fire. This is an extremely rare set of facts thoguh, and I am not aware of another case where the session player receieved composer status. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/5941449/Procul-Harum-organist-Matthew-Fisher-wins-share-of-A-Whiter-Shade-of-Pale-royalties.html

But really, in the vast majority of cases the flat fee far outweighs any royalties that could come from the track. You play some guitar, get $100. The band receives $100 in Spotify royalties after it is streamed 1191 times. Most songs do not get streamed that many times.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Last edited by AlanHB at Jan 9, 2016,
#12
+1 what Alan said and I believe he is a lawyer.

Someone somewhere might have gotten royalties from session work in 1962 but the practice is very rare. Session players nearly always get paid a fee and go home.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#13
Yeah - it depends upon the contract.

Here's what I'd do, if I were you, because I get calls to do this as well.

If they say it's 2 hours, then charge a flat rate.

First of all, I would consider what it is you are doing: You are helping a Luthier get attention and hopefully selling guitars.

I call this a "Derived Benefit" that is, what you are doing, is providing a benefit for someone that is going to be making money.

What is that tangibly worth to the person buying? They should not feel that they can charge what they are worth, and you can't. That's not equity. So when you charge, don't give it away, even if you get paid, you can still be "giving it away" by not thinking of the fact that what you are doing is providing a direct tangible derived benefit for the client.

Second, consider your time...prep time. How long are you going to spend preparing for the piece to be played?

Third, consider your TIME, period...how much is your time worth, considering that when you are doing this session, you are not available to do other things in your life with that time, be it shopping, laundry, spending time with people. So how much is that worth to you.

Fourth, consider the market. Is it for a luthier in a small town doing a radio jingle, and not a lot of money? Come up with something that you can live with, that won't push him out of the water.

Consider service-in-trade. maybe he can do some work for you, or maybe there's a piece that he'd give you in exchange for x amount, or a discount etc. Look for creative opportunities for a win-win situation.

Thats how I charge, and every situation is different. I might play 2 hours for a show and get $400.00, but I may have also put a set list together for 3 weeks and rehearsed it over that time, and also provided my own sound, loaded my own gear and made my drive to and from in my veicle using my fuel. None of that is free, and that $400.00 may be a bargain when you think about what happened behind the scenes to play that 2 hour show, and impress that crowd, or whatever derived benefit I brought for that establishment.

Best,

Sean