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  • Wed, Sep 24 2008 11:39 PM

    • Dreamer D
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    What should a beginner charge?

    Hello everyone,

    I'm a student, and have been creating videos for a friend of mine for free, so I can gain experience.  These have been a series of shorts about a creative project she's doing, and she has them up on her website.  I don't mind doing this for free because she's a good friend for many years and I feel I have so-o-o much to learn.  I'm not yet ready to "go pro."

    However, I had a friendly argument with a classmate/friend of mine who has an opportunity in front of him.  He, like me, is almost finished in our program at school and was recently approached by someone who wants him to do some video shooting & editing - it's a demo reel for a performer.  The guy was vague about compensation (either that or my friend was too timid to ask).  My classmate feels like he should just do this for free and I told him no.  It is quite similar to what I do for my other friend, so he used that as a reason why he shouldn't charge this guy.  I tried to tell him my case is different -- I was the one who approached my artistic friend and asked if she would let me shoot what she does and make videos documenting her work, and she signed release forms giving me the rights to everything, which I intend to use for a short documentary of my own later on.  The little snippets we put on her site is good practice for me.  But this guy approached Jimmy (my classmate) after seeing some of his work, and so Jimmy would be a shooter/editor for hire.

    But when Jimmy said, "Okay, then - what should I charge him?" I was stumped.  And I realized this is something I should know for when I'm ready to start charging for my work - and they don't offer classes about that.  Is there some standard formula out there? (haha)  He has to rent some equipment to do this, and will so obviously that should be covered - but can anyone give us some guidance on what is a reasonable hourly rate for a student/beginner to charge?  Basically, the guy wants him to shoot this musician performing on stage, and put together a short demo from that performance.  So it's a couple of hours shooting, and cabs for lugging stuff, and then however long it takes to edit something together -- and we're in NYC.

    Any feedback appreciated.  Thanks!

    Dreamer

    Avid Xpress Pro v5.8......Dell Precision Workstation 390......Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (2.13GHz/Dual-core)......Windows XP Pro (SP2)......2 GB DDR2 ECC SDRAM... [view my complete system specs]

     

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 12:06 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Dreamer D:
    Basically, the guy wants him to shoot this musician performing on stage, and put together a short demo from that performance.  So it's a couple of hours shooting, and cabs for lugging stuff, and then however long it takes to edit something together
     

    My advice to you is to total up your projected expenses and add 35%.  Or you can estimate the total amount of time required, expenses accounted for, and give them a package price for the job that includes the first cut and one round of changes. And include language along the lines of "any requirements beyond these deliverables will be available at an additionally negotiated rate" to protect yourself against the type of client that will try to take advantage of you. In NYC, I would think you could use $50 to $60 an hour per person as a rule of thumb.

    Newscutter Nitris DX 9.5.3.5 * Media Composer 5.5.3.6 (At Home on PC running XP Pro) * Symphony 6.5.2.1 (At home on MacBook Pro3,1 running 10.7.2) * Interplay... [view my complete system specs]

    Larry Rubin

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    The Pentagon Channel

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 12:21 AM In reply to

    • Dreamer D
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Thanks, Larry, this is a good start.  Now I'm also wondering if there are any websites with templates for such types of contracts.  I'll have to investigate.  Being a student, I don't think Jimmy will be able to hire a lawyer.  Also, does anyone know whether or not Jimmy will need to get clearance for any of the songs that this musician will play, or if that is just the responsibility of the person hiring him. Thanks again, he will appreciate this info (and it is great for me , too!).

     

    Dreamer

    Avid Xpress Pro v5.8......Dell Precision Workstation 390......Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (2.13GHz/Dual-core)......Windows XP Pro (SP2)......2 GB DDR2 ECC SDRAM... [view my complete system specs]

     

    I edit in my dreams*

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 12:32 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

     Here's a good start for a production contract.

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 12:35 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Dreamer D:
    Also, does anyone know whether or not Jimmy will need to get clearance for any of the songs that this musician will play, or if that is just the responsibility of the person hiring him.
     

    It's called performance rights. Any venue with live music has to have a BMI/ASCAP license. It is the club owner's responsibility, not yours.

    {EDIT} However, if you were to use the finished video to in any way make a commercial profit, you will need to acquire additional rights to stay legal.

    Newscutter Nitris DX 9.5.3.5 * Media Composer 5.5.3.6 (At Home on PC running XP Pro) * Symphony 6.5.2.1 (At home on MacBook Pro3,1 running 10.7.2) * Interplay... [view my complete system specs]

    Larry Rubin

    Senior Editor

    The Pentagon Channel

    www.pentagonchannel.mil

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 1:33 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Larry Rubin:
    It's called performance rights. Any venue with live music has to have a BMI/ASCAP license. It is the club owner's responsibility, not yours.

    I'm no copyright lawyer and what Larry says is true, but if you are recording that performance and creating a video that will be sold (being paid for your services is "selling")  or that video will be presented to the public (ie, the performer's myspace page), then rights have to be secured for any music performed in the video.  

    Frankly, though if the performer is doing all cover songs, then why even bother with a video?  (the performer that is)  The idea is to be known and recognized for you OWN work, not performing other people's songs. 

    I would guess based on the facts given here so far that if quoted $50-$60/hr per person that the performer will run and hide.

     

    Kenton VanNatten | Avid Editor (for hire)

    "I am not obsessed... I'm detail-oriented"

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 1:44 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

     I'm making the assumption that this demo is to be used for promotional purposes only. BTW Kenton, I edited my post before I saw your reply. And Kenton's right that in this case, given a small budget client (hopefully not a NO budget client) an hourly rate is probably not appropriate. A package price deal that's both affordable for him and reasonably profitable for you is the best way to go here.

    Newscutter Nitris DX 9.5.3.5 * Media Composer 5.5.3.6 (At Home on PC running XP Pro) * Symphony 6.5.2.1 (At home on MacBook Pro3,1 running 10.7.2) * Interplay... [view my complete system specs]

    Larry Rubin

    Senior Editor

    The Pentagon Channel

    www.pentagonchannel.mil

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 2:02 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Larry Rubin:
    I'm making the assumption that this demo is to be used for promotional purposes only

    Probably so, but "legally" speaking even promotional videos have to have cleared music rights.  The chances of getting nailed are slim especially if you're not making a big splash, but if a demo vid is created and uses the theme from Magnum, PI - then sync rights must be obtained (legally speaking of course).  That is why those Royalty Free Music companies clean up, for relatively low cost you can get "similar sounding" tracks to sync to for a video project and not break the bank.

     

    Kenton VanNatten | Avid Editor (for hire)

    "I am not obsessed... I'm detail-oriented"

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 5:18 AM In reply to

    • Dreamer D
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Kenton.VanNatten:
    ...if you are recording that performance and creating a video that will be sold (being paid for your services is "selling")  or that video will be presented to the public (ie, the performer's myspace page), then rights have to be secured for any music performed in the video....
    Hi again.  So, if my friend is an hired by this musician (or his manager) to shoot the performance and then make a short demo out of it (which the musician will use to get more gigs) wouldn't he be considered like an employee of this guy and not responsible for song clearance?  I'm sure the musician will take this video and make some DVD's to send out and, come to think of it, will likely put it up somewhere on the web hoping to get bookings with it -- but I would think that the artist himself would be responsible for clearing how he's going to use the songs after the performance.  Would my friend Jim be responsible if this guy hires him to make it for him?

    Frankly, though if the performer is doing all cover songs, then why even bother with a video?  (the performer that is)  The idea is to be known and recognized for you OWN work, not performing other people's songs.
    That's a bit of an odd statement.  Not every musician is a composer.  It's not pop music or a singer-songwriter.  Even though some of the older music performed could be public domain, a few will have been written and/or recorded previously by others.  Besides, lots of performers of various genres will play songs that are not their own yet are far from just being "cover song" imitations, since they will do entirely different arrangements and breathe new life into old compositions.

    I would guess based on the facts given here so far that if quoted $50-$60/hr per person that the performer will run and hide.
    Actually, I was leaning toward suggesting to Jimmy that he do the "add up your expenses and add a percentage" option that Larry suggested.

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    I edit in my dreams*

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 5:58 AM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Dreamer D:
    if my friend is an hired by this musician (or his manager) to shoot the performance and then make a short demo out of it (which the musician will use to get more gigs) wouldn't he be considered like an employee of this guy and not responsible for song clearance?  I'm sure the musician will take this video and make some DVD's to send out and, come to think of it, will likely put it up somewhere on the web hoping to get bookings with it -- but I would think that the artist himself would be responsible for clearing how he's going to use the songs after the performance.  Would my friend Jim be responsible if this guy hires him to make it for him?

    In short no, your friend Jim is contracted for the project to videotape and edit.  It would be up to the performer or essentially the person who "owns" the footage, to secure the proper rights.  Jim would only be responsible if he were to maintain ownership.

    Dreamer D:
    lots of performers of various genres will play songs that are not their own yet are far from just being "cover song" imitations, since they will do entirely different arrangements and breathe new life into old compositions.

    I understand what you're saying, I enjoy a good "re-arrangement" as much as anyone (Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings doing "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" comes to mind).  The picture you painted before led me to believe that the musician was another student just wanting to have a video of a performance.  But in any case, if the song (or it's composition) is not public domain I'm pretty sure rights must be secured either by the performer, their producer/agent, or the record label if the composition is recorded in anyway for public consumption.  For example, Beethoven's 5th is in the public domain, but the recording of the Boston Symphony performing it is not.  You or I could record our own version of the song as many times as we wanted, but we can't (legally) videotape the BSO performing it and post it on YouTube.

    Kenton VanNatten | Avid Editor (for hire)

    "I am not obsessed... I'm detail-oriented"

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 7:11 AM In reply to

    • Dreamer D
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Kenton.VanNatten:
    In short no, your friend Jim is contracted for the project to videotape and edit.  It would be up to the performer or essentially the person who "owns" the footage, to secure the proper rights.  Jim would only be responsible if he were to maintain ownership.
    Phew!  That will be good news to Jimmy.

    The picture you painted before led me to believe that the musician was another student just wanting to have a video of a performance.
    Oh, no - sorry that wasn't clear.  My friend Jim/Jimmy is the student (like me), but he was approached by someone who is not a student to do this shoot and make a promo video.  The musician who wants the video has been around a few years, and works professionally but isn't a household name and wants to get more work.  Like most artists who sink tons of money into their craft, even paying gigs don't really get them out of the hole until they start making more of a name for themselves and can ask for more money.  But he's not a starving artist.  Jimmy told me he would do it for free to get his name out there as a video producer/editor, but I told him he should ask for something.  So this whole discussion was spurred by the fact that neither Jimmy nor I have any clue about what to charge!

    But in any case, if the song (or it's composition) is not public domain I'm pretty sure rights must be secured either by the performer, their producer/agent, or the record label if the composition is recorded in anyway for public consumption.
    So, if the artist (and not Jimmy) distributes the video that he hired Jim to create and puts it up online, the responsibility for clearing rights is still the artist's and not Jimmy's.  As long as Jimmy doesn't do anything with it.  I guess if Jimmy wants to use part of the artist's promo for his own demo, Jimmy would need clearance (if he wants to use a clip of a protected song)?

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    I edit in my dreams*

  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 12:45 PM In reply to

    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Dreamer D:
    So, if the artist (and not Jimmy) distributes the video that he hired Jim to create and puts it up online, the responsibility for clearing rights is still the artist's and not Jimmy's.  As long as Jimmy doesn't do anything with it.  I guess if Jimmy wants to use part of the artist's promo for his own demo, Jimmy would need clearance (if he wants to use a clip of a protected song)?
     

    That is essentially correct. Full out negotiations for rights clearance can be a very convoluted and complex task. I have a good long time friend who has made a career of doing exactly that. Musicians can be very temperamental and unpredictable regarding rights and usage.

    For full "wall to wall" clearance of using a copyrighted music performance, agreements must be struck with the composer of the music, the publishing company of the music, the performer of the music and the recording company, any one of which can decide they don't like the way you will use the material and any one of them can say no, nixing the deal.

    This is one of the reasons for the existance of BMI/ASCAP blanket licensing agreements, since 95% of all music published is within the domain or one of the other organization.  

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 1:50 PM In reply to

    • BLKDOG
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Kenton.VanNatten:
    In short no, your friend Jim is contracted for the project to videotape and edit.  It would be up to the performer or essentially the person who "owns" the footage, to secure the proper rights.  Jim would only be responsible if he were to maintain ownership
     

    This is not strictly true. In 1989 I was working for a Post house in Chicago. We produced a video montage of the Mayor's race done to Frank Sinatra's "Here's to the Winners". Even though I was but a lowly editor, I was named in the suit because I was the person who actually created the product so, legally, I was on the hook too (My one claim to fame...got sued by Sinatra).

    Now, Warner Bros. Lawyers called and admitted the futility of taking us to court over something so trivial and dropped the action saying "Don't do it again" but it was still scary seeing my name on those papers.

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 1:55 PM In reply to

    • switthaus
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    Yeah, you need to be careful here.  Even Jimmy does not use it on his reel, he should get the artist (the one Jim is doing the video for) to sign an indemnification form to help him stay clear of some legal issues.  Not bullet-proof by any means, but a bit of documentation if anything goes awry.

    Scott Witthaus

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  • Thu, Sep 25 2008 5:40 PM In reply to

    • Dreamer D
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    Re: What should a beginner charge?

    switthaus:
    Yeah, you need to be careful here.  Even Jimmy does not use it on his reel, he should get the artist (the one Jim is doing the video for) to sign an indemnification form to help him stay clear of some legal issues.  Not bullet-proof by any means, but a bit of documentation if anything goes awry.

    Oh, something like ARTIST agrees to accept all responsibility for song clearance rights and indemnifies PRODUCER against any legal action or costs relating to such (but in real legalese)..?  Or even put in that the artist would pay legal fees if producer were sued?

    Dreamer

    Avid Xpress Pro v5.8......Dell Precision Workstation 390......Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (2.13GHz/Dual-core)......Windows XP Pro (SP2)......2 GB DDR2 ECC SDRAM... [view my complete system specs]

     

    I edit in my dreams*

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