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GAGaudio   

Fellow sound mixers!

 

I wanted to get your feedback on Los Angeles non-union rates. I recently upgraded and bought more gear. So I wanted to share with you my gear and see what you guys charge. That way I am not under cutting other mixers or being offered less then a fair rate by clients.  So again what would your labor rate and kit rate be? Also what would your kit include before you start charging a la cart? Thanks for your time with this.

 

Below is what I currently have

 

(1)    Sound Devices 664 6-Channel mixer/recorder
(3)    Zaxcom TRXLA2.5 transmitters
(2)    Zaxcom QRX200 & QRX235 ENG receivers
(3)    Countryman B6 Lav mics + all mic accessories
(1)    Sennheiser MKH-60 Shotgun mic
(1)    Zaxcom Camera Link Transceiver
(2)    Zaxcom ERX2TCD IFB/Camera Link Zaxnet Audio & Timecode Receiver
(1)    ENG Breakaway Cable for Sound Devices 664 with various camera ends
(1)    9-ft K-Tek boompole
(1)    Rycote Softie

 

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It all depends on the job category/type of work you are doing. By your kit it seems as if you do doc/bts/eng/industrials type work. Seems if you want an honest answer the question you asked, it should have more info in it. 

CrewC

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I have a similar kit, 664, lectro 211/um 200 4x, Mkh 50, cs3e, cos-11 or b6.

Basically I do 450/10 plus $250 basic kit rental (1 wire, boom and mixer..50$ more for double system) $65 a wire after that, 50 per sync box, 150 for camera hops. Also one thing I may do different is my labor rate goes up if Iam mixing more then 3 wires(it's more work) 500/10.

I am in LA and most I'd my work is corporate so usually 5-8 hours days. And doc which are usually 10 hour days.

Maybe I am way off? I guess no better way to find out then put it all out in the open:). Obviously every job is different and I feel things out accordingly, every once in a blue moon a land a commercial and I start at 700/10 plus kit, so I def feel it out but that gives you an idea of where Iam at. :)

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mikewest   

Yep CrewC

 

Judge each job

 

What gear do they actually need

 

Are they a regular client

 

What do you need

 

What do they want to pay

 

Commercial work is more

 

Drama pays less (but offers long term)

 

Documentaries pay less

 

Corporates pay little

 

Always discuss and negociate

 

mike

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True, type of work definitely influences how much you should charge, such as with commercials being higher paid. But these are also dictated by the IA. I don't do commercials (they are all union, at least the good ones anyway, I'm not in the union). If you are doing non-union work, you are likely working ENG, docs, reality, etc.

In my case, rates are pretty much the same across the board because I primarily do non union work for TV networks including reality, internet content, lots of sit down interviews and b-roll, and some doc. I don't do (non-union) narratives, they just don't pay well in my experience.

The best way to gauge how much you should be charging is to look at your peers in your market, and see what everyone is charging. And we should be open about discussing these things because we should all be striving to getting paid well and fairly for our work. That can only happen if we are all in the same page.

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Jose that's a real nice looking rate card! Might have to adopt a version of this!

Go for it dude. Mine was made after seeing inspiration from other mixers, so definitely feel free to it.

I made mine in Pages (though Word will do it just fine as well). Nothing some color and borderless tables cannot make look good.

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Not sure why that seems outrageous RVD? Yea I am serious, and if am mixing more then 6 it goes up again. This is labor rate mind you and doesn't affect the price of each wireless system.

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RVD, I am a one mic kind of guy! For sure, but I still put the wires out so I can get the rental mostly(and it usually is something production wants...although they are rarely getting any wires in the mix) Most of my work is 1-2 wireless...and there is nothing but boom in the mix. But I have been successful charging more for more wires, not so much for the input but rather the time and work of micing everyone up and then chasing down the wires. All my work is non union

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Personally, I can't imagine changing a labor rate based on the number of inputs used. Let's say I start a scene with just the boom and as things progress I have to add a plant mic, do I stop and talk to the UPM to let him know it's going to cost a little more because I actually have to mix two microphones? I know that I am working in a different world than Jeremy, all Union jobs where I have negotiated an hourly rate to perform ALL of the duties of the Production Sound Mixer (whether that means 1 microphone to 1 input or having to wire up 6 or 7 actors and work with 2 booms). The equipment package is negotiated completely separate from the labor and is based on the requirements of the job, the prevailing rates and practices for the job (feature films tend to have a weekly package rate, commercials on the other hand are much more ala carte).

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I've heard of plenty of people having a different labor rate for something like 1 boom and 1 lav lock-off interview sitting at a table in front of a backdrop all day versus run&gun reality with 10 wireless mics on rotating talent going to 10 411s in a heavy bag and sending 2 channel mix feeds to 3 cameras plus occasional booming. If there is no utility/A2, then that's a lot more work to set up and oversee all day, and physically carry.

I can definitely see an argument for that situation getting a labor bump. Those are also jobs that would have been done by 3 mixers a few years ago, so production is still saving a lot of money if they give you a big labor rate bump. More importantly, wrangling a 664 bag full of wireless mics is worth a LOT more than $450/10. I would ask for more than $500 btw. A lot of reality shows will balk at paying more than $450 for labor (claiming that's "the standard rate in Los Angeles"), but that's way too low in 2014 if you know what you're doing. 

 

BTW I feel like this side discussion comes up every few years going back to RAMPS. "would you charge less for an easy day / should you charge more when you know the job is going to be treacherous". 

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Again I charge more labor for the more labor it takes to deal with more wires not for the inputs*....maybe I've convinced myself that this is reasonable and it's not hahaha I am forever grateful of this website (thanks Jeff!) and all of you who contribute. I put this all out in the open so we can discuss, if I am totally hurting our craft I will not think twice about changing. Don't feel like I am but I am also always open to discuss;)

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Jeremy I think it's totally reasonable. We all have the freedom to structure our rates as we like, as long as you are getting the work. It is your business after all.

I am likely to up my labor rate on non union if I think the job is going to be very difficult. Or if I charge the same rate, I am less likely to accept a lower offer if I'm carrying a full bag with wires, can hops, ifbs, etc. On a reality show as opposed to a corporate interview. I don't word it as 4 or more wires and my labor goes up, it's just one of those things you get a feeling for while you are learning about the job and negotiating a rate.

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jp: " I've heard of plenty of people having a different labor rate for something like 1 boom and 1 lav lock-off interview sitting at a table in front of a backdrop all day versus run&gun reality with 10 wireless mics on rotating talent going to 10 411s in a heavy bag and sending 2 channel mix feeds to 3 cameras plus occasional booming. "

which goes back to the original question of what the rates are, and it clear that with a wide variety of persons, gear, and gigs: IT DEPENDS.

I'll add one thing:  my rate is typically not about the equipment I am renting, but about the gig itself.   The equipment rental speaks for itself; that said, I would not charge more for a piece of equipment I bring at my option when it greatly exceeds the needs of the gig:  I might bring bigger mixer-recorder than the gig calls for but charge as though I were bringing the smaller rig that actually fits the gig.

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I feel that those who work primarily narrative features don't always understand how varied the gigs are for many of us who work across many worlds.

In most fields of endeavor, higher positions of authority are accompanied by higher pay, in no small part because with more responsibility comes increased stress. When we bid a job that we know will have us scrambling, with accompanying elevated stress levels, it's entirety reasonable to expect more compensation.

If the production company doesn't want to pay the rate, they can hire someone who isn't quite up to the job and then come back to me when they realize the difference -- and if they don't, I can enjoy not dealing with the increased stress.

Charging more makes total sense for many of the jobs we work when a client's expectations clearly signal we will be dealing with elevated stress.

To clarify, we're not talking an arbitrary rate boost during a gig, we're discussing what rates are quoted when bidding a job.

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Thanks for sharing that Jose.  Interesting conversation is whether to post a rate card or not. I've always opted not to as you often get productions just shopping around, if they have your rates they may have no reason to call and speak to you, thus losing your opportunity to convince them you would be a good hire.

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RVD: " This must be the "new world," as I've never been paid more than a standard day rate for anything I've ever worked on, regardless of the stress level. "

it is the non-union world...

and even in the union world there are now all sorts of rates, many of them dismal...

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I have my day rate and my gear rates that I use as a starting point. When I am approached about a job, one of the determining factors when it comes to negotiating is how much money is involved with this job? Is this job a high-dollar union shoot for a pharmaceutical company? My rate just got adjusted skyward. Is it a shoot to gather a single celebrity soundbite that will require a mixer, a hardwired hand mic and two hours portal to portal? I can come off my rate a little. All I want is my fair share of the pie.

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The other factor that goes into my varying rates is the type of work. There are different "going rates" for commercials, corporate, reality, docu, Eng etc. They seem to be in a similar range, but I have found a different common expectation from producers in those different categories.

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Thanks for sharing that Jose.  Interesting conversation is whether to post a rate card or not. I've always opted not to as you often get productions just shopping around, if they have your rates they may have no reason to call and speak to you, thus losing your opportunity to convince them you would be a good hire.

 

Sure thing. And yeah I hear you. My rate card isn't really readily available nor publicized in my website or elsewhere (except maybe here now :P), but I'm not opposed to producers seeing it first hand. My hope is that they get an idea at least what these services are worth in my market, instead of just making up in their minds and picking some number that they think is really worth. I made this rate card to have all my services and prices listed for convenience.

 

I chose my rates based on what the other non-union mixers are charging in my market (NYC / Tri-state area), to be both competitive and not undercut anyone in the process. I think it's really important to be open about these sort of things amongst ourselves, for the obvious reasons.

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