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As a VERY famous man once said  " They have unrealistic expectations"  There is nothing you can do about that...

If everyone   ( all the sound persons) just  "got it"...  stuck to some sort of "guns" We would all live in a life filled with bliss...  well, almost... But... those dogs keep eating the other dogs... within our own pack...  It will never be perfect, but I do think collectively we could all make the situation better... 

A bee hive would never survive in our current working model.. It would die... and so may ours...

 

Put the bag with four wireless, transmitters and all the crap around their neck, then ask them to boom something theatrical... standing on a six step... while maintaining the radio mounts and batteries.. Absolute bulls**t.. 

 

 Why do they keep asking... because people do it.. pretty simple really..

Very unfortunately, I fear that their expectations are realistic; if insane sounding to self respecting professionals.

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AFMY: " It's a hell of a lot more than $250...  So why are YOU charging $250?  You have set a bar... "

if it were only all so simple...

there are a few of you working on big budget commercials with big expensive producers and directors and DP{'s... and keep in mind that the 15% agency commission on $2000 is greater than the 15% commission on $1000, so the agencies are happy to pay the top tier rates

 

von: " They also don't expect to use it everyday like I do so they have to charge more for the days it is sitting on the shelf.  "

not necessarily.  but you have demonstrated that you do not understand the equipment rental business, even as you are running one!

I actually pay more when I can " HUH ? :wacko:

'when you can' should = always!

Isn't that just the economics of the rental business? "

nope

 

" renting from a rental house is a different business from renting my kit that comes with my services. "

it should not be...

 

AD: " and a television feature POS movie last week that was offering $250/day on a 6/12 schedule. "

and the IA is signing deals like that!  but of course that does not include any package rental...

" in the end I know they found their guy. The fact that boom ops are out of the question is as great a concern. "

yep, we are discussing that here, and in another thread about shrinking crews... point is that is business, and they question you need to finally answer is 'what gigs you want to do?'... and BTW, the answer (it depends) will change over time and experience and kit.

look at the CL (and Mandy) threads, and the responses we make to those ad's... which has not slowed down the ads still coming! ::)

 

AFMY: " Their gear is transported...your gear is transported "

Their gear is transported for an extra charge, or at extra costs; ...your gear is transported by you included.

(we do give them that one, plus all the little adapters, bits and bobs...)

unreasonable expectations and all: " Why do they keep asking... because people do it. "

 

AD: " I fear that their expectations are realistic " they find folks who try hard desperately to meet them, but in the complete picture, mostly they do not

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;)  I have many times been called for very small one man band shows... I have never heard someone ask if they can pay me $250 for my package... ever, well.. maybe once... Free, yes...... many times..LOL

    It's usually something close to fair, or outright fair...  Maybe the $250 people just don't call me... who knows...

Very unfortunately, I fear that their expectations are realistic; if insane sounding to self respecting professionals.

It's only realistic to the people in their own head... and perhaps the bean counter... also in their head, and maybe down the hall...

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That said, I feel lucky to get 350-400 asking as a day rate and basic kit, being conscious of the fact that it is around 5 times minimum national hourly wage, and saving bits of overhead for better gear. I have also worked for $250 day rates, where $75 of it went towards gear that was not mine, but was happy to not be in an office or WAL MART that day.

This is very naive reasoning. The guy in the office or even at Wal Mart is working every day in the year, minus vacation and holidays (which are paid?), plus they are getting all kinds of benefits (health, etc.). And they don't have to spend their off days maintaining gear and aquiring new jobs.

And how many days a year are you actually working at that rate?

I expect all my major gear will last 5 years or more (much more). $250 a day is about $5k a month or $60k a year for a basic package. What does a basic package cost to buy? Maybe a third of that and we are not rebuying all our gear every year.

But are you really working 240 days a year?

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I think we can all agree that we would like to get paid more. You can argue with me about how I should charge more, but I think I have found the sweet spot for the types of jobs that are available in my market. Its a mix of cable tv shows, lower budget films ($300k-3 million), government videos, and commercial work. I'm constantly trying to raise my fees and negotiate the highest rates possible, but if I go much higher, I will be passing up a lot of work. I have a house, kids, cars, just like everyone else and I make a decent living. I'm not rich by any means, but we live a good life.  

For all of those attacking me for "not understanding the business", I challenge you to post your average rates for the type of work I've described above and the rental fees you get. None of this "it depends" crap. I would be ecstatic if the majority of you were getting considerably higher than my rates. I'll start charging more immediately!  I was simply trying to be helpful by posting my reality. Most of us don't have the luxury of working on major film sets or other projects with huge budgets.  I think 90% of the work available are the projects I described above. And it sucks that most of those are one-man-band type of jobs, but that's the way it is. There will always be young mixers trying to steal my job, but the only insurance I have is my skill as a mixer, my relationships with producers, and continuing to be responsive to the market.

Feel free to pick apart every sentence of this post now. I just hope that my comments have been helpful to someone.

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I think we can all agree that we would like to get paid more. You can argue with me about how I should charge more, but I think I have found the sweet spot for the types of jobs that are available in my market. Its a mix of cable tv shows, lower budget films ($300k-3 million), government videos, and commercial work. I'm constantly trying to raise my fees and negotiate the highest rates possible, but if I go much higher, I will be passing up a lot of work. I have a house, kids, cars, just like everyone else and I make a decent living. I'm not rich by any means, but we live a good life.  

For all of those attacking me for "not understanding the business", I challenge you to post your average rates for the type of work I've described above and the rental fees you get. None of this "it depends" crap. I would be ecstatic if the majority of you were getting considerably higher than my rates. I'll start charging more immediately!  I was simply trying to be helpful by posting my reality. Most of us don't have the luxury of working on major film sets or other projects with huge budgets.  I think 90% of the work available are the projects I described above. And it sucks that most of those are one-man-band type of jobs, but that's the way it is. There will always be young mixers trying to steal my job, but the only insurance I have is my skill as a mixer, my relationships with producers, and continuing to be responsive to the market.

Feel free to pick apart every sentence of this post now. I just hope that my comments have been helpful to someone.

Exactly - I always try to push my rate as high as the market can bear. But for the type of work you do can't out price yourself in your market.

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Before we establish what a fair rate for a basic package is (also known as ENG package), we have to establish what a basic package is. In NYC, (typically non union) it constitutes:

- Mixer with breakaway cable recording straight to camera

- Two radio mics

- Boom mic kit with pole

- All other loose ends to make this works (bag, cables, batteries, etc)

It is a single system package. The standard rental amongst us here in NYC for that "basic package" is in fact $250/day. If you go to one of the usual suspects asking for that basic package, that is also what they will quote you. For example, that is what Pro Sound charges:

http://www.pro-sound.com/p/RRENKIT2.html

If you want a recorder, 4 radio mics, IFB sets, etc, then that's a different story, as that's going to rent for well over $500/day. But we don't define that package as basic here in NYC.

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von: " I expect all my major gear will last 5 years or more (much more). "

no without periodic maintenance...

" I'm constantly trying to raise my fees and negotiate the highest rates possible, "

that is because you have already established your rates!

 

" I challenge you to post your average rates for the type of work I've described above and the rental fees you get. None of this "it depends" crap. " $750/10 + $600 + expendables (but, of course, it depends!) 

 

" There will always be young mixers trying to steal my job, "

you need a chipectomy to remove that thing in your shoulder...there are always going to be folks competing for gigs, and you need to decide if you are going to remain Mr cheap-sound,  or if " the only insurance I have is my skill as a mixer, " means you are worth more, and should be doing better gigs.

 

" There will always be young mixers trying to steal my job, "

and by that logic, by your being Mr. CheapSound, you are trying to steal my job..??

 

RVD noted: " as production companies "buying the gear," this practice as a business plan would be true, if you were consistently generating content such as reality shows. "

but many of them do the math and realize they do not make money owning equipment, but they do make money using equipment, and a number of rental companies have figured out the math to provide reality shows with good deals on leasing/renting their sound gear... often the camera-lighting-grip rental companies add on typical reality audio gear for a real bargain price, make some $$ renting it, and then sell it off used .

 

" the simple truth is, that if everyone charged the same amount, then the Producers would be FORCED to pay it, as they would have no other choice. "   ... and that ain't gonna' happen!

Edited by studiomprd

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Regarding rental houses and their rates, I had heard somewhere that Rental Houses usually pay less for the gear they buy for rental compared to us  sound mixers who usually pay retail or close. RVD, can you confirm or deny? 

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I don't think they're a simple solution to this problem. 

 

The way I see it everyone on set is at different skill/experience levels and are charging accordingly. The cheap mixer charging $250/day is most likely being hired by the cheap Producer who is also in the early stages of their career. Hopefully, as you gain more experience and gear you're able to increase your rate accordingly. 

 

Personally:

When I started off I made $100/day on student films. I showed up with a Edirol R44 and Rode NTG-1. I didn't even have a bag to put everything in. 

 

My positive attitude led to referrals which got me a low budget feature at $150/day. Woo hop!!! So, I bought a couple G3's and a sound bag. 

 

Someone from that film referred me to an internet based company that dealt with beauty products. I was then making $250 for a few hours a day and got a taste for working with actual celebrities. I bought myself a PSC elite boom pole, some more G3's, better cables, and B6's. 

 

Time went on and another referral landed me another job that offered me $500 for 4 hours. Since I never made that much before I was a bit intimidated and ended up walking into the Audio Department in Burbank, where I was welcomed by Frank ( rest in peace brotha!!) and was rented a sound devices mixer and a 416. I still had my Edirol in the bag and just stuffed it an another pouch so that the producer would only see the shiny lights on the sound devices, which wasn't being used at all yet it made them feel better I'm sure. (I still laugh about that). Shortly after I bought a nomad, ditched the G3's and went all Zax. 

 

Long story short, as time went on and my skills/gear got better I would charge accordingly. I would still get calls from some of the cheap Producers but I would explain to them why I'm not the cheap guy anymore. I'm now at the point in my career where charging $750-$900/day is becoming the norm. I just started doing Union work so the rates will probably get even better over time. As mentioned by others in this thread I've also told myself that I won't work the cheap stuff anymore because I usually end up feeling cheap when hour 13 arrives and we still haven't wrapped. 

 

In any case, what I think is the real issue at hand is that most newbie mixers aren't business minded enough to know how to up-sell their rates. I think a better topic would be :

 

HOW TO UPSELL THE PRODUCER

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Great stuff guys, new question so we can all be on the same page. When we say basic package what does that included to you? Basic package could mean different things for different people. So let's be clear to discuss what a basic package is so we all can begin to offer the same basic package. The more we are all alike in our package rates and what we supply with the packages we offer the more producers will learn what to expect to pay us.

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Great stuff guys, new question so we can all be on the same page. When we say basic package what does that included to you? Basic package could mean different things for different people. So let's be clear to discuss what a basic package is so we all can begin to offer the same basic package. The more we are all alike in our package rates and what we supply with the packages we offer the more producers will learn what to expect to pay us.

Reply #90 has what I have in my "basic kit" and what I know others in my market use our offer for their basic kits.

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MM: " so that the producer would only see the shiny lights on the sound devices, which wasn't being used at all yet it made them feel better I'm sure. "

Im not... in fact it was probably not much noticed... but, it made you feel better!

 

" As mentioned by others in this thread I've also told myself that I won't work the cheap stuff anymore because I usually end up feeling cheap when hour 13 arrives and we still haven't wrapped."

I usually would end up feeling abused!

" how to up-sell their rates. I think a better topic would be :HOW TO UPSELL THE PRODUCER "

I disagree with this, just move on to better gigs...  not only do they pay properly, but they really are better gigs.

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" As mentioned by others in this thread I've also told myself that I won't work the cheap stuff anymore because I usually end up feeling cheap when hour 13 arrives and we still haven't wrapped."

I usually would end up feeling abused!

" how to up-sell their rates. I think a better topic would be :HOW TO UPSELL THE PRODUCER "

I disagree with this, just move on to better gigs...  not only do they pay properly, but they really are better gigs.

I agree with the Senator here- I don't try to upsell anyone, rather, I know the value of my goods and services and charge accordingly. There are plenty of less expensive people that producers can hire, and that's fine by me, but what I offer doesn't come in that package. If price is the only consideration in hiring a mixer, then I will gladly lose that gig every time.

The clients I have and am looking for understand the value they get when they hire me and they understand and accept that my service and experience does not come cheaply. I don't want to upsell a client and risk them feeling ripped off. I want to be paid a fair wage for a job well done and create repeat business.

Marc

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mark: " If price is the only consideration in hiring a mixer, then I will gladly lose that gig every time. "

exactly!,  and on those gigs, price is often the only consideration...

well, maybe if they get multiple folks willing to meet their (unrealistic expectations) price, then they will try to pick the more experienced option for the $$.

 

" I don't want to upsell a client and risk them feeling ripped off. "

another aspect I was considering mentioning: when you do get them to come up in price, you can pretty well count on them to be even less professional and more demanding (even nit-picky) of their unrealistic expectations, since, after all, they paid you more than they were planning to.

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Michael Miramontes makes some great points. I think that is really what the issue at hand is. That as a new guy you come up and if you keep a good attitude and make connections you are going to get better gigs and better rates. I am however at a point with cheap gigs where I have to tell them no and move on because I wont risk becoming a cheap sound guy and I can no longer live under the cover of rookie. Turning down work because it is underpaid is hard when you are trying to survive but has to be done to maintain your personal and professional integrity. Im sure I am not alone in this middle ground between consistently making a professional rate and just starting out. I think this phase is more of a challenge than starting out was. 

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I always love threads like this. Rates are too often not discussed.

I ask 500/250 for my basic kit in NYC, which is a Nomad, two Lectros, two Comteks, and boom. I'm often asked to work for less and don't. I value the time off more. I will, however, happily take more when I can get it. Extra wireless are 75, ERX for camera is 75, Comteks are 25. So with all 7 wireless and 6 Comteks out my kit goes for 725.

I work solely on one-man-band bag jobs - docs, doc-style stuff, interviews, corporate, and reality. My biggest client is a growing production company headed by a doc filmmaker who is expanding his repertoire. I have grown my rate as they've grown their projects.

I believe that's my market. There are plenty of people working with carts and boom ops and I hope they are making much more.

I do think the idea that some young person is out there stealing your jobs for 250/day all in is a fiction. That guy is going to get fired or get bad sound. The production is not going to win anything by using someone green. Just like I'm not stealing a more experienced mixer's job with my rates. I'm confident that my rate and skills are a good fit for my gigs. I definitely push for higher rates when I can. But at least in my own world I'm satisfied with what I get and I don't think I'm devaluing the profession.

I also see a lot of posts in this thread disgusted with the 250 number for basic kit. I would love to know what you think is appropriate, and who your clients are. Hopefully I'm right, and you're working in a different network of clients than I am. This is just the phase of my career I'm in.

Thanks again everyone for being open and honest! I think it helps us all.

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.....I also see a lot of posts in this thread disgusted with the 250 number for basic kit. I would love to know what you think is appropriate, and who your clients are. Hopefully I'm right, and you're working in a different network of clients than I am. This is just the phase of my career I'm in.

 

I think a lot of people forget to take this important factor into consideration when discussing rates. Everyone is at different levels therefore what may seem good/bad to you will be seen as good/bad to someone else depending on where they stand in relation to the skills/gear you bring to the table. 

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