(Locked) How do you charge? - Music Producer

Hey guys!

How do you charge clients in your studio?

Hourly or a flat rate for recording, mixing or arranging a piece of music?

I was hoping to get some feedbacks from people around with their ways. Let’s say a client asked you, ‘Hey, what are you hourly rates? Any discounts if we record 5 - 6 hours?’


“Hey, I need you to arrange this piece of music. How much?”

Looking forward to hear some answers! :confused:

Hi reubenchng!

I usually go by hour. But in some cases it may result in a very expensive result and in that case I come up with a fixed price. But that depends on the client as well.

Lets say you have a client that you know changes his/her mind a lot or wants to change a lot of things a lot of times. In that case you could come up with a fixed price and then make a price for additional changes by hourly rate.

If I where to rent a studio I think its not a matter of getting discount if you rent it 5- 6 hours. more like 5 - 6 days. Just to set up for a recording takes more than an hour so 5 hours isn’t that much.

If you want to give a little extra to the customer you can name your hourly price and then drop that price per percent per hour so that the customer gets some extra value for each hour.

Oh just one thing that i have ben doing way to much is underprice my work. Don’t do that! It will just lead to you getting disappointed and the result being compromised. Feel ok with the price from the beginning. Its not worth working if you don’t get enough pay.

Thats my point of it :slight_smile:

Hi Tiam,

Thanks for the feedback. I too charge hourly in my studio but have often found charging hourly could be more stressing for the clients. They’d look at the clock often!
A flat rate with additional increment as you suggested is a great idea.

I was wondering about song arrangements. Do you do song arrangements and how do you charge for an arrangement?

I’ve never ever charged an hourly rate and don’t know any other composer who does (except tiam! haha), though I’m sure they exist.

Most mixers / mastering engineers I work with work on a per track / per album basis.

Recording studios usually charge by the hour, but you’re much better off booking a whole day as it’s usually cheaper and a bit less stressful.

Most composers I know vary their fees depending on the project. Many of them charge a creative fee per minute of music, and then a production fee on top of that to cover live musicians. I charge $1,000 per minute of fully-produced music, more if the project needs live musicians. Some might say that’s a lot, but it really isn’t.

In my opinion, it’s much easier to set a fixed fee, because then you know what your budget is going to be for the whole project and you can plan accordingly. I personally don’t believe that music-creation is something that can be ‘metered’. I’ve had movie trailers go up to 12 revisions and I’d feel like a punk if I kept charging them hourly, but that’s just me.

As for arranging, I’d charge by the song or if it’s an album, I’d look for a set fee for the whole album. If also depends on what exactly you’re arranging the instrument for. Are you arranging it for a band? For an orchestra? There are big differences.

In short, you should expect to be paid what you think you’re worth, but there is no rock solid answer to that.

You might find this useful, I wrote it a while back along with some contributions from other AJ users.


Note that there is no ‘correct’ way of doing things, but you will find very quickly what works for you and what doesn’t. There is also no correct price for anything. You will find people that work very cheaply, and you will find people that want $20,000 to master an album. There are just too many variables. If you’re good though, people will usually pay.




Most studios/engineers/producers I have worked for, at, or with charge on a per album/track basis. In addition if the track is going to be released commercially there is usually some sort of agreement with ASCAP for royalty payments as well.

Rarely do you see a studio that charges on an hourly basis unless they are open to the public for booking. Meaning anyone can look your site up etc. and book with you, most studios though only work within their closed circles because of the risk involved with allowing unknown customers to come through to a studio that houses 1Million+ dollars worth of equipment.

I can’t speak for composers of film and/or tv etc. but my experience comes from working in HipHop and Pop.

garethcoker said

Note that there is no ‘correct’ way of doing things, but you will find very quickly what works for you and what doesn’t. There is also no correct price for anything. You will find people that work very cheaply, and you will find people that want $20,000 to master an album. There are just too many variables. If you’re good though, people will usually pay.

Have to agree with that :slight_smile:

Wow Gareth! Thanks for the write up on that guide. Helps alot.
It’s great hearing opinions from all you producers. I go by hour in my studio for recording but when it comes to arranging music I rather go by project…

Another question came to me anyway.

Do you guys have any experience working for a film doing audio & music? Yes, the post production, the location recording, etc. How do you go about that then? Recent documentary film-making i worked for had a budget of MYR200,000.
How many percent usually goes for the audio& music guys?

I just charge my the type of music and the type of media that the music or sound effect go in.

But one thing I keep in mind all the time is the idea of networking and building client relationship. Sure, you may charge $5,000 for a 7 minute score with a deadline of 2 days, but will the client come back to you if they are not as desperate? I doubt it. So when I give out a quote, I want to make sure that the client and myself are comfortable with it enough that they have the possibility of coming back to me later in the future for more business.

And I simply charge by individual tracks if it’s for pure music production. But when it comes to motion picture scoring, I charge based on the budget of the client. If an entire film budget is $100,000 USD, I’d probably charge like, ionno, $20,000 USD IF the film requires a full live orchestral composition. However, if it’s a pure simple and electronic score like the movie, “The Social Network,” I’d probably charge less than that, maybe $10,000 USD? I dunno, it really varies on what the client offers.

Usually the client gives me a range of what they are able to offer, and I find a price that is not too demanding nor too low for my time :slight_smile:



For indie films, usually we agree on 5-10% of the film budget depending on the initial spot and how much music we feel the piece is going to require. Mainstream films of course are a smaller percentage since their budgets are usually gigantic. Though I’ve yet to have the pleasure of scoring such a film :stuck_out_tongue:

For sound design, more complicated projects are usually hourly based (maybe Im the only musician left on earth that has an option to be paid hourly)

Single songs are a mixture of a licensing and work fee, the license is a flat rate and the work fee can be hourly or decided before starting the project.

I haven’t had any experience with television yet but I believe most people charge per minute of music. + Royalties

I agree with Thomas, negotiating with the client is the most important thing especially when you’re starting out. People have a wide opinion of what music is worth to them. One client might be shocked and run and hide under their bed if you quote them $5,000 to score a short film. Another client might have been planning on paying $5,000 and be shocked when you quote him $400.

Very interesting and true feedbacks! Appreciate all of them from veterans as you guys.

thesecession view on negotiating with the client is kind true. I think we should all understand the customer’s willing budget before setting down with a price. Truly amazing industry don’t you think? The monetary is confusing and uncertain, yet you’ll need to understand and be comfortable with it.

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