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C Plute

Rates Forum?

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Hi Jeff,

Thank you so much for this site, I'm on here every day and am constantly learning new things. I've noticed that two forums (WTB/WTS and Who I Am Today) are only accessible to users who are signed in, and was wondering if you would consider adding a similar forum for discussing rates and negotiating. It would be great to have a way discuss the topic on here in a slightly more private way.

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I will consider the suggestion. I'm not really in favor of more sections, over the years I have actually thought about having LESS sections to navigate. I will think about this.

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I'll throw in my opinion to the pot:

While I'm not opposed to more sections, as I think it helps organize threads better, I do  think that such conversations about rates and negotiation should be and remain open to the public. There are currently a few threads that already cover both negotiation tactics and rates, that many of us have been very open about posting and sharing. I think everyone benefits from such conversations being open and uninhibited, even to those who are browsing the forum for the first time. This way we continue set a standard for ourselves.

I'm still very grateful to those who were always open about such things to me. It made me a much better negotiator, and I helped keep living wages for my region. There should be no reason to keep that from being open to the public. Unions certainly don't.

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I tend to agree with Jose (not an unusual occurrence).  

For producers looking in, it's good for them to know what a proper rate is for an experienced, fully- equipped sound professional.  They can also learn (in this case, the easy way) what a low-baller can end up costing them in the long run.

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Interesting idea. If Jeff decides to add another section (and I share his interest in having fewer sections), perhaps the rates idea could be expanded into a Business section. Negotiating rates, dealing with recalcitant clients, insurance, business structures (e.g., S-Corp vs LLC), and that sort of thing.

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Conversely, they will also learn what a low-baller can save them in the budget. In every business sense sound recording for video is a competitive market.

In some instances the low-baller can provide exactly what is needed and nothing more; the types of shoots that occur now are different because the delivery medium (smartphones, tablets, laptops) is different than in the past and the tools to put cost effective media on those platforms (DSLR) is causing consternation, grumbles, rage and despair because of lost work opportunities.

Any discussion forum on rates should also include the ever changing technology landscape and it's correlation to rates--and adaptive strategies.

Rather than carping about the people who work in that area; maybe carping about the manufacturers who made the current landscape what it is would be more to the point, but a lot of people don't see it that way, since it's computer companies, internet giants, internet service providers, smartphone manufacturers and manufacturers of equipment we use, or equipment we don't use and don't like the existence of because it hurts the bottom line.

The issues surrounding this changeover in technology flare up on this site fairly often enough in the form of complaints that discussion, in my opinion, would not be harmful to clear thinking business men and women.

 

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If everyone in this forum understood the true value of their work, I'd say Yes to a discussion on rates but unfortunately, there's way too much evidence to the contrary.  Therefore, such a discussion, whether open to public or veiled in the erroneous notion that it is not, would likely be damaging to all so I vote No.

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1 hour ago, Jim Feeley said:

Interesting idea. If Jeff decides to add another section (and I share his interest in having fewer sections), perhaps the rates idea could be expanded into a Business section. Negotiating rates, dealing with recalcitant clients, insurance, business structures (e.g., S-Corp vs LLC), and that sort of thing.

I very much like this idea.

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2 hours ago, Laurence said:

If everyone in this forum understood the true value of their work, I'd say Yes to a discussion on rates but unfortunately, there's way too much evidence to the contrary.  Therefore, such a discussion, whether open to public or veiled in the erroneous notion that it is not, would likely be damaging to all so I vote No.

But a public discussion is warranted if you want to change those perceptions, isn't it? I worked my way up from student films on Craigslist and, while in some ways I was paid a small stipend to learn my craft, as time went on I wish I had had such a forum to teach me what to ask for. I don't know why the subject of money is so taboo among us.

I also think the value of your work often depends on who's paying. I remember one week where I worked four days at one rate, two days at double that, and one day at double that again. No great difference in my duties, but one was a friend's indie short, one was a documentary, and one a corporate TV spot. I think it's appropriate for those of different means to pay different rates. And of course, there's the non-monetary value in helping a friend or working on a struggling doc you care about. 

This is a rambling way of saying I think there are many answers to the rate question but I think we can all only gain from discussing it. 

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My observation on this is a bit removed, but I have in the past spent a lot of time up to my neck in it.

My real thought is I am of  2 minds about this question and see good arguments for either side.

This already exists in the following thread, along the lines Abe points out.

http://jwsoundgroup.net/index.php?/topic/13188-us-sound-equipment-rates/&page=1

This could be expanded by anyone, at anytime, to include a business aspect, that Jim suggests.

I suggest that anyone (assuming newcomer) who is after knowledge can read this first, then expand it by asking a NEW question,

not just asking the same question over again (as I often see in this forum).

Looking at my favourites filing list for this forum, I have folders in various catagories, that I can go straight to.

Such as "JW carts"  - "RastOrder on JW" - JW microphones - "JW power" - JW Lapel mic attachment".

A possible suggestion I have for Jeff is to have sub folder links somewhere, maybe in the framework of the main board.

And yes I have used that search engine with JWSound and I think its pathetic.( the search engine that is)

Rob

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Here's my simple 2 cents.

If the region was to adopt a standard and the rates were the same across from one professional to another, why would the producer or client go with someone who has 3 years of experience compared to those of 15+ years of experience if their rates were the same?  I'm with José on this, though, it's quite a debate among my colleagues who are trying to move up, or those who've established a client base that have had newcomers take their clients away due to a cheaper pkg.

Another situ is when one mixer has moved up so quickly that when they hit that BIG gig, or multiples of them, they're unable to troubleshoot problems on set it becomes a double-edged sword.

A.

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22 minutes ago, Alan H. Chang said:

If the region was to adopt a standard and the rates were the same across from one professional to another, why would the producer or client go with someone who has 3 years of experience compared to those of 15+ years of experience if their rates were the same?

Indeed. But it's a moot point, since any attempt to adopt standard rates would constitute price-fixing, and the FTC would take a very dim view of such an agreement. The unions can get away with it because they have exemptions under federal antitrust law.

 

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"any attempt to adopt standard rates would constitute price-fixing" --- this statement has nothing to do with labor union scale rates whatsoever and in fact demonstrates a lack of understanding of union membership and employment. It is not "price fixing" when a company signs a  CONTRACT binding them to pay a certain amount of money and provide specific working conditions for its employees. It is no different than a contract or a purchase order between two entities that have agreed on a price, whether it is for labor or a 1000 lbs. of macaroni. Both parties sign a contract, it's that simple. The unions aren't "getting away" with something that would otherwise be illegal. There are, in fact, lots of laws on the books, at both the Federal and State level, that protect the sanctity of the contract for both the employer and the employee. 

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Well, I thought I was making a distinction between, on the one hand, collective bargaining agreements (which we both seem to agree are legally sanctioned by a large and well recognized body of law), and  every one else. If a large group of non-union sound mixers (or any other trade, for that matter) got together and agreed among one another that they would all charge the same rate for their labor, that would be a pretty clear case of price-fixing, and would be illegal. So, I guess I'm unclear what it is I'm not understanding about union membership and employment.

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17 hours ago, Jose Frias said:

I'll throw in my opinion to the pot:

While I'm not opposed to more sections, as I think it helps organize threads better, I do  think that such conversations about rates and negotiation should be and remain open to the public. There are currently a few threads that already cover both negotiation tactics and rates, that many of us have been very open about posting and sharing. I think everyone benefits from such conversations being open and uninhibited, even to those who are browsing the forum for the first time. This way we continue set a standard for ourselves.

I'm still very grateful to those who were always open about such things to me. It made me a much better negotiator, and I helped keep living wages for my region. There should be no reason to keep that from being open to the public. Unions certainly don't.

Since many users on here post under their full name, I thought the added privacy would make it more comfortable to ask sensitive questions like how to deal with a specific difficult situation or client regarding rates or expectations. It sounds like the consensus is though that it would be more beneficial to all to keep discussions public.

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I'm from Finland where almost everyone who works in media belongs to the media workers' union. We have a price list which cross references the length of the gig and the job title / required experience level. It makes negotiating salaries super easy and painless. The rates are a lot lower than in the US / England though, so there's that. For example:

technician on a 2-10 day gig: 217,10 euro / day; on a 11-24 day gig: 185,56 euro / day

engineer on a 2-10 day gig: 259,91 euro / day; on a 11-24 day gig: 197,96 euro / day

designer on a 2-10 day gig: 305,00 euro / day; on a 11-24 day gig: 237,40 euro / day

etc.

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6 hours ago, C Plute said:

Since many users on here post under their full name, I thought the added privacy would make it more comfortable to ask sensitive questions like how to deal with a specific difficult situation or client regarding rates or expectations. It sounds like the consensus is though that it would be more beneficial to all to keep discussions public.

I'm not opposed to the forum being semi private, as with the sale and buy one; you may be right in your assessment. Just saying I'm fairly open about these things because those who paved the way for me were as open about it to me.

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I don’t think it’s a necessary addition to the forum. Adding another section just adds clutter to the site for a topic that could easily fit under general discussion. I’m usually in favor of discussing actual rates, but I don’t think much will come from a new section here. There are too many variables, even beyond location and experience. Negotiating also takes into consideration other valuations and that can get very personal. Sometimes a job isn’t just about the money, but also who you’re going to work with, the script, even the potential experience gained. But at the heart of negotiating is the willingness of either party to walk away. Sometimes you’re the last sound person in the hiring pool that production sees who’s available. Sometimes the job is the only one you can get at the time. 

 

Using a recent topic - if asking a question about a slate can bring about harsh responses, what will a conversation about money do? If I describe how I work or handle a particular problem at work, you may disagree, but there isn’t a quantitative metric beyond “did it work?” But comparing money is too ripe for ridicule. 

 

On one hand, it is enticing to have a business topic. I’d love to read and discuss more about tax     and business structures. But I think those topics can be handled in a discussion. If you want to know a sound mixer’s opinion about S-corps, then ask the question. If you want to know how much mixers in Cincinnati are making during the month of August, then ask the question. But I think you’ll find more mileage having personal discussions with the circle of mixers you know. In your own community. 

 

So, if someone is tallying a vote, I don’t think a new section is necessary or even helpful. Public or not isn’t really relevant. If you want to have a public discussion about rates, ask a question and see if you get answers. If you want to have a private one, email people instead of using a public forum. 

Josh

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On 3/28/2016 at 2:01 PM, Joshua Anderson said:

I don’t think it’s a necessary addition to the forum. Adding another section just adds clutter to the site for a topic that could easily fit under general discussion.

Hey, Jeff! How about something akin to the "Show Me Your Bag" section, like "Show Me Your Rate Card?" Sound people get to show their rates without drawing trolls and flamers. If someone really wants to ask a question, or discuss an undercut or overcharge, there's always the option to use the general forum, or as Joshua points out, a nice PM...

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My two cents is this: Young people coming into this field of work often have no clue what the rates are, and often don't even know that they should be charging for labor, equipment, expendables, etc. they just see a number in a job posting, and recognize that it is often a better number than what they were making at McDonals or Starbucks, so they go for it, even though it is grossly under what the "going rate" may be. When I was starting out, there was very little community in the production sound world, other than this and the ramps forum. But the older generation for the most part would have nothing to do with the young guys, and so the young guys, with no guidance or direction, had to make up their own rules. We did not know about the idea of charging a sort of "going rate" for a service. We had this notion of charging less because we were newbies and didn't have those sorts of clients, even though many of us did have professional kits. Had we known what we know today, there certainly would be a lot fewer producers conditioned to believe that they can get decent sound for anlow rate from a young guy coming up.

Luckily we have a more open community now, and people are willing to discuss things like rates and negotiations, so the indie world is seeing better rates in my region than it was seeing when I was starting out. 

But those years of the young guys making up their own rules (and rates) damaged the rates for everyone because it taught a lot of producers that they can get sound for a lot less, and subsequently, a lot of the older guys ended up being forced into retirement, or taking lower rates, because they weren't open to mentoring younger people in any sort of way in the first place. 

So imho this is an important topic that should be discussed openly, and with the given factors stated by others above. How it is executed is certainly open for debate, but the subject is just as important as anything else being discussed on the forum, and sharing knowledge is ultimately only going to benifit anyone here that is serious about pursuing sound as a career. 

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I'm with Jeff, I think less is more on this one.

Although discussing rates may help others negotiate I've also seen the flip side to this. I've seen newbies say they are entitled to X amount of dollars because that's what the going rate is yet they absolutely SUCK at their job and have no "setiquette" whatsoever. At the end of the day the low ball Producers end up producing crap work that may never be seen, a hungry mixer will undercut his peers to pay the rent, and those who take this job seriously and work hard will get what they deserve. It's an open market just like anything else. No sense beating a dead horse on this one. 

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I still like the idea of a "Sound  Business" forum where we can talk about rates, business structures, taxes, insurance, and that sort of thing. I mean, we talk about that stuff now but the discussions are kinda scattered. 

But finer grained than that, I agree...too many forums/folders would be too many.

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I too like the idea of a Sound Business forum (with an international section) and I think that other categories could be eliminated instead, to reduce clutter. E.g. "the daily journal" and "general discussion" are almost indistinguishable, and could be amalganated into one forum. Same with "mac and that other..." and "all things apple". They could be reduced into one forum, and now we'd have one more forum, but less clutter

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4 hours ago, Constantin said:

I too like the idea of a Sound Business forum (with an international section) and I think that other categories could be eliminated instead, to reduce clutter. E.g. "the daily journal" and "general discussion" are almost indistinguishable, and could be amalganated into one forum. Same with "mac and that other..." and "all things apple". They could be reduced into one forum, and now we'd have one more forum, but less clutter

+1

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