How much will my album cost?

Every so often I get a call from someone who wants to record an album or an audio book, and they want to know up front “what it will cost.” I quote my hourly rate and explain that it really depends more on them than on me. Then I ask the pertinent questions about their own level of preparedness:

For bands/musicians: How many members? How many songs? What’s the instrumentation? Are they well-rehearsed? Have they ever worked in a studio before? What’s the level of perfectionism, etc.

For audio books: Are they experienced readers? What is the word count? How many chapters/divisions will there be? Do they also want background music, etc.

The response is sometimes vague: “…well can you just give me a ballpark average?” My reply is: “…maybe, if you give me more detailed information to help me assess your project.” I explain that I’ve had bands who came in, set up, recorded, mixed and mastered a whole album in a single day. I’ve had other albums that took years. So with virtually no information about this project I really have nothing with which to gauge an estimate. Sometimes they understand, sometimes they grumble and hang up. Sometimes they ask if I can offer a package price for the whole project. That opens up another can of worms…

Years ago I used to offer a day rate (flat amount per-day, regardless of the number of hours.) This was appreciated by many, but was abused by some; the worst being a solo Gospel musician who started at 10 a.m. Friday and finished at 4 a.m. Saturday. So I can no longer offer flat rates. My hourly rate is very reasonable, my work is excellent, and I can produce many testimonials from satisfied clients.

So, what will it cost? I guess the best answer I can give is that I wouldn’t have hundreds of repeat customers if I was in the habit of padding hours. You can expect a fair deal at Commodore!

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