Fair price for programming drums?

Discussion in 'Drums & Percussion' started by IdentityDevice, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. IdentityDevice

    IdentityDevice SS.org Regular

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    Curious about what a fair or standard price is for programming drums for a client? I've been offered to program for a 10 song album. Not sure what to charge. Thanks!
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    The only real answer is How long will it take you X What do you value your hour at?
    But I too am curious to know industry standards, if there are any for this kind of thing (I imagine it would be less established than session rates etc).
     
  3. Necris

    Necris Bonitis.

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    I've programmed lots of drums for my own material, it's extremely tedious, time consuming work to do it well and it isn't fun at all. In this case "doing it well" means inputting playing dynamics by hand on each individual note and making it sound like a real drummer played it. Cranking all of the velocities on the midi notes to 127 and inputting your rhythms is, in my opinion, not doing it well - even for metal - but if you are getting paid next to nothing it will cut down your work load significantly.

    As for pricing, I've seen guys quote $50+ an hour, I've also seen guys charge $20 per song (I wouldn't recommend that). I'd recommend having some sort of base rate, either per song or per hour, and then additional charges based on things like song length (i.e. >5 minutes = additional $x per hour) and complexity (i.e. fill heavy death metal = additional $x per hour).
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
    schwiz and bostjan like this.
  4. IdentityDevice

    IdentityDevice SS.org Regular

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    Yeah that seems like a good idea. The song length thing. Appreciate the input guys. I know it's boring and tedious but if there's money involved...... Awesome lol. I mean I do it for my own stuff for free so.
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    +1 for an hourly rate. Charging per song could get you into serious trouble if you were expecting to program a 2-minute crust punk song and ended up having to do a 26 minute prog wankfest instead.

    I've always programmed note-by-note in order to achieve the best dynamics. I've fallen into a rut before where I threw a song together quickly before, and even though I programmed note-by-note and put a lot of effort into it, I did it when I was fatigued from doing a whole bunch of mixing right before, and it showed in the recording. So make sure you take your time, even if you think the job will be simple. Every little detail on stuff like this makes a difference.
     
  6. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    If you don't do this for a living, IMO, charging an hourly rate is not appropriate.

    Charge a per song rate that you know is fair, based on your experience. The reason I suggest this over hourly is because of the following:
    1. The band might not know how good you actually are. You could be awesome and efficient and get 1 song done in an hour, or you may be over promising and 1 song takes you 3 hours. If you charge an hourly rate, and need to tell the band 1 song took you an additional 2 hours from what you originally thought, the band will not be very happy.
    2. If you're experienced, you should already know the work and time effort involved per song.
    3. If you're experienced and fast, you should be rewarded for it. If the song took you 30 minutes, and that's what you charge the band, but your work is worth a flat rate, then you've short-changed yourself.

    Just my 0.02.
     
  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That's why you quote your time basis and then do your best to honour your quote. Nobody is expecting you to be able to just say "I charge $50/hour" and then not have the question of "well, how many hours will this take?" to ever come up. It sure beats the alternative of saying "I charge $50 per son," then having to explain why the song they sent you is actually three songs worth of work for you.

    But I'm sure you can make it work either way with enough communication.
     
  8. jonsick

    jonsick SS.org Regular

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    Honestly, I wouldn't take the job personally!

    When I used to do session work, it was a strict hourly rate, I did what the client wanted, no more no less. Some of it was absolute clown-shoes because the client had some backwards-ass ideas on how things should be done, other sessions ended up as great takes.

    Programming drums is somewhere between session work and mixing. So how many times are you allowing your client to come back on you to "change this" or "make this more that" or "hey we talked to a real drummer and that 270bpm blast beat is totally impossible you ripped us off!" before you say fugget it's done?

    Even with mixing my own band's album, there has to be a point where mixing a track goes from listenable to done. Nothing will ever be perfect, at some point you have to call it job done. With programming, I struggle to see where that line is.

    Added to that, let's say you charge per hour. Does that include edits? Does your client already know what they want? If so, how are they translating that across to you? Rhythm tabs? Notes? Or are you going to have them sat with you WHILE you program (oh lord I wouldn't recommend that one!)

    All of these things and knowing how pissy pantsy musicians are, I'd respond with "Go buy a copy of Superior 2 and learn that stuff!"
     
  9. Zombie13

    Zombie13 Guitartist

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    I've programmed 2 songs for other people, both liked the result, but it's something I won't be doing for peanuts again.

    This took me about 45 minutes with the rest of the band in the room

    This one was about 4-5 hours over email discussions


    I would not recommend doing it unless you have a steady workflow setup, as it will consume hours. Does your client have anything in mind for drums? Are their tracks in time? What is their budget?

    I'm no drummer, but I program the drums for my solo project and for all the songs I do on my YouTube channel, Make sure your client knows it's a time consuming thing.

    This track from my upcoming album took me a few months because I wanted to have the drums be more than just "blast beats and simple beats"
     

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