“How much should I charge to make a radio ident?”

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Monday December 17, 2012
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One of our website visitors has an interesting question (its always interesting when it’s about money!)

I have been asked to make an identification cue for a local radio station. I will compose all the music, create the arrangement and make the recording. I have to pay two vocalists for three hours studio work. How much should I charge?

Recording, unless you are working at the very high end, isn’t particularly a well paid occupation.

Two benchmarks we like to use at Audio Masterclass are a school teacher and a plumber. Clearly both of these people are essential to the fabric of society. A recording engineer isn’t quite so essential to society but if your income after expenses is comparable, then you are doing reasonably well.

The actual numbers will vary according to whereabouts in the world you live, so please make your own local checks.

Once you have worked out how much you ought to earn, convert this to a daily rate and multiply by a number plucked out of thin air between 1.5 and 2.

This number represents the number of days in each working year when you will be ‘resting’. Freelance workers can rarely expect 100% employment.

Now take into account your equipment.....

Calculate the value of your equipment and estimate on average how long it will last. Now convert that to a daily rate. Multiply by 30% to account for the work it takes to manage your equipment. Don’t forget maintenance costs.

Now take your performers. Add their fees plus 30% for the work you put in sourcing them, and the fact that you will have to pay them before you get paid yourself.

At the end of all this, you have a real concrete figure for the value of your work that you can fully justify.

It isn’t set in stone though. Feel free to adjust it as you see fit.

There are two other considerations... do you really, really want this job, perhaps as a loss-leader that will bring more lucrative work further down the line.

Or do you have competition that will do the job for less?

Let us know how you get on.

If anyone else would like to share their methods for calculating recording fees we would love to hear.

By the way, if you are a member of a performing rights organization, you should also receive royalties every time the ident is played.

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