A couple of weeks ago I was cruising the forum, and ran across a discussion about how much to charge. Someone had given a link to a great rate chart for television & film composing, but now I can't find it. Does anyone know of such a chart anywhere?
Lisa Smolen said:
Actually, I think the rates should vary from person to person. We're not all the same, are we? Why would we assume that the world should pay us that way?
Lisa Smolen said:
Apologies for taking the subject matter more towards unions, but I'd love to hear more reasons why there shouldn't be one. Not many people want to talk about it (understandably so I guess). Lisa- you mentioned that unionizing will take away the ability to negotiate rates but I'm not sure I follow, unless by that you are referring to rates that would be deemed below union minimals.
That's great that you know a well established composer who performs just enough to keep their health care, but doesn't that sound kinda sad? I mean, what if that situation was the other way around? I don't mean to instigate anything here, I'm just looking to educate myself on this whole situation. Feel free to email me if you'd rather have a closed conversation on it.
If a builder builds the nicest, most expensive homes in a town, does he somehow owe something to other builders who might build cheaper houses? Should he be expected to "sacrifice" a job every now and then so that less qualified or less experienced or less talented can do the job for the same money? He's probably unable to build every house in town, so who should build the rest? If competitor buys nail guns that allow one guy to do the work of twenty, should the builder complain or find a way to compete?
When someone says the Power Elites are taking all the money, a few questions come to mind.
Do the PEs have time to score every film out there?
What do film makers do who can't afford the PEs?
As a newbie, if I score a film really cheap for a newbie film maker, have we somehow cheated someone somewhere?
Like I said, I'm an outsider. . .just a few questions, that's all.
Have you ever read any Ayn Rand?
Lisa- I don't mean to get too personal so feel free to ignore this question, but is your composer friend against the potential composer union as well?
I've had a very frustrating conversation with several music hobbyists who see no reason to charge a minimum price, or even charge at all. They're happy just to get *exposure*. And what they don't get is that by agreeing to work for so little, it devalues all of us who aren't the so-called Power Elites. (And I say that because it's been my experience that PE's don't need to worry, because companies will gladly pay whatever amount just to get that big name on their product. Our team recently lost a gig because they decided after we'd submitted our demo that they'd rather just hire the film composer who they were using as a style template in the creative directive.) But back to my point, I come from a community that contains a vast number of hobbyist musicians, and many of them are tickled pink just to get their name out there at all, so they'll happily work for peanuts or nothing, and as I'm sure most of us here would agree that while that may affect some of us less than others, it's still just not really very good for any of us.
I've always used the analogy that let's say that for whatever reason, I found some unlikely job like database management or software coding outrageously fun to the point that I did it in my spare time, and so I went and found a company that had employees that did such and I told the boss "Hey, I'm just happy to do this stuff, I'll gladly do it for free!" that it would negatively impact the workers in that industry. Naturally, that's pretty unrealistic; it just doesn't happen. There's not going to be someone who knows how to perform surgery who offers to work for a hospital for free because they just like to do it and want recognition, thus putting actual surgeon's out of work. (I know there's all kinds of legal etc reasons why that would never happen, but just stick to my principle, ok?) ;-) But yet it happens every day in the music industry.
So the problem with wanting a standard minimum industry wage is that it applies to two different groups, really. As Lisa said, the folks who are professional and business-savvy probably aren't going to be willing to work for silly or insulting wages or terms. Therefore, setting a minimum could potentially tempt their clients to pay them less than they might negotiate on their own. On the other hand, we have all these folks (some are naive, some simply don't care, some just want another item for their credit list, and some might just be desperate for ANYTHING) who are willing to undercut their fellow composers intentionally or accidentally, and then the potential hazard is clients finding out that they can get the music for their project for practically nothing.
I'm not offering any kind of solution, I honestly have no idea what should be done at this point. I think we all realize that the industry has changed drastically in the past years/decade(s), and I think those of us who it's affected the most negatively are simply concerned about the future, and that's definitely a fair perspective to take. Likewise, it's also reasonable to be concerned about the present, and if somebody is making a reasonable living now, then why bother worrying about the state of the future industry? Maybe in 5, 10, or X years software will be so easy and"click-a-button-and-out-comes-a-soundtrack-y" that virtually none of us will have work, and THAT'S what we should all be worrying about; who knows?
In the meanwhile, I enjoy reading these discussions, because there are good points to ponder on both sides. I wish I had some good actual insight to offer :P I will say that I think there *is* actually some sort of happy medium to be found somewhere in all this, I'm just not positive what it is yet. :) I do think looking to the future is a great thing though, because many of the most successful people in the history of mankind have been insightful folks who have done just that. Worrying about problems before they're unavoidably upon us will always make things easier than waiting until we have no other choice than to deal with them, and I think that's kind of what Chris is going for.
Oh, and BTW, 98% of all the professional work I've done has been in FL "Fruity Loops" Studio ;) Don't be hatin' yo! lol