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Why Do I Charge For Recording Bands?

At first glance, that is kind of like asking why does anyone get paid to work.

A lot of the time when I am recording, I am going to see bands that I have not seen or spoken with before. From their perspective, they had no interest in having me attend their show, they had no interest in being recorded, and they did NOT ask me to come and record them. So how can I justify charging the band for a recording when they decide they do want a copy?

If a photographer is at a club taking pictures of the band, does the photographer owe it to the band to provide them the photos at no charge?

If the club records all band performances, does the club owe the band a copy of the recording, at no charge?

The flip answer is, if you don't want to pay me for my recording, then get someone you know to get some gear, learn how to use it, travel to the show, set up the gear, record the band, tear down the gear, take the recording home and burn to CD, then pass the recording on to the band. Or you can demand that the club you are in record you for free (if they have the capability).

I charge for: Recording a band.
I charge for recording because I am using professional gear (Fostex FR-2 - two channel digital Field Recorder and Audio-Technica AT801 - omni-directional, electret condenser microphones) and the two channel recordings are suitable for commercial release (after mastering). After I get home, I transfer the raw WAV files to my computer, normalize the volume (where necessary) and insert track IDs before burning to CD and mailing out to the band. My recordings have been used as demos, on web sites, on CD releases, in video productions (both short form and long form). I get a LOT of requests for CDs. Last year (2007) I made more than 150 CDs for bands. When I am making 150+ CDs and mailing them out, it starts adding up to fair amount of my time and money.

I do not charge for: Band photos.
I take photos of bands that I record. I use a Kodak EasyShare C533. This is NOT a professional camera, and I am only taking pictures so that I can remember the event. I do no additional processing. Since I am already there, it doesn't take any additional time and only minimal effort on my part. So I don't charge to e-mail photos to the band.

I do not charge for: Selling Merchandise.
If the band sets up a merchandise table near where I have set up my gear, I don't mind selling their merchandise. After all, I am already there, and it doesn't take much additional effort on my part.

The audio productions: Infrareds, Lava Rats, Migs, Neptunas, Outer Wave, Pyronauts and Relix had never asked me to record them previously, and only the Neptunas even knew who I was. Yet all of them asked for a copy of their show, and used part (or all) of the recording on public releases. I had not planned on recording the Neptunas (I was there to record another band), but since the band asked me I figured why not. The Neptunas had just changed from being an all instro band to a garage band with vocals and they needed a recording so that their fans could hear their new sound.

The video productions: Pounding Surf and Sound Of Surf both hired me to record the audio for their video production. This only happened because they saw me already on site recording the bands they were video recording and we then talked about my gear, my experience and they had a chance to sample my recordings.

Additonal Charges: none
Once a band has a recording of mine, they are free to do with it what they want. All I ask is that if they use it on a commercial release (or web site), that they give me a credit and / or a copy for my collection.

Typical Club Recording Prices:
The last time I checked (which was a few years ago), the prices clubs charged to record bands included:
$ 50.00 Spaceland
$150.00 Knitting Factory
$500.00 Whisky / Roxy
Also, the last time I checked, Spaceland recorded ALL bands, whether the band wanted to be recorded or not.

Prior Commercial Recordings:
While I haven't kept it up to date, this web page details out some of the bands that have used my recordings on their CDs.

In case you are curious about the quality of my recordings, here is a web page with links to some of the bands that have posted some of my recordings online.

Distribution: none
Another thing to keep in mind, is that because I charge for CDs, I only make copies for the band that performed the music. The only exception I make, is when a band gives me permission (or asks me) to make a copy for someone other than themselves.

Let me know what you think.

Chrome Oxide
have audio recorder will travel

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Last updated by Chrome Oxide on 05/26/2009

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