Rates for a designer in the music industry

Hi all,

I’m moving from salary to pay-by-project at a small record label, and my boss is asking me to create a menu with my rates.

Does anyone work in the music industry and can you help me know what to charge for things like Album Layout, Poster / T-Shirt Design, Video Cutdowns?

Sounds like you have experience with all of these things, correct? So look at how long things have taken you in the past, consider their value to the client and the end client, and charge appropriately. You can find hourly rate calculators online. You don’t have to treat them as the gold standard, but they are helpful. Are you going to be doing this as a 1099 contract worker or as a W-2 employee? That will make a difference — especially when you consider taxes.

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And medical/dental insurance; full social security “contributions;” a self-financed 401(k); no paid sick leave; no paid vacations; the inevitable and unbillable downtime; and one’s own equipment, office space, and software; etc.

In other words, if you come up with rates based on your previous salary, double them.

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I don’t like the idea of menus for graphic design.

I did one years ago and it was a disaster. Clients kept taking advantage of it.
There’d be a charge of say, for example, €450 for a logo design. Most of the time you got away with it and the client had a clear vision of the logo and what they wanted and it worked out well. But it started to happen that the clients never were happy and took up so much studio time that €450 wasn’t even close to covering the designers time.

That’s when we put in a flat rate for designers. It was per hour. And we used an online tool called Harvest for designers to track projects and their time. It could also generate the invoice at the end.

Plus, you could set budgets, so for example, in your case, you might have a band with a big or small budget. Once they know with the budget they have they can afford 10 hours design or 100 hours design.

We set that up in Harvest and you it was clear when budgets were getting near, you’d get alerts.

People could login to the system and see the time spent, see notes about the project, and other things.

I’d be very careful setting exact prices for services. I’m sure the recording artists for the music studio wouldn’t book the studio time to record their music by song.

They don’t get to pick a slot and say they are recording 5 songs today, and the manager gives them all the time in the world to record 5 songs.

It doesn’t work like that - they book the studio time, by the hour. Not by the song.

Same should go for the design - they don’t book by the design - they book by how many hours it takes.

I’m sure some can get into the studio and record 5 songs in 2 hours.
And others will record 5 songs and it will take 2 weeks.

And I’m sure the studio manager wouldn’t charge them the same.

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Pick up a GAG handbook. What you’re seeking specifically may not be in there, but it’ll give you a general idea of rates.

Like B said, make sure you cover your overhead.