Are You Charging Enough for Your Services?

Are You Charging Enough for Your Services?

By Rich Steve Beck

As an audio engineer or producer, you've poured your heart, soul, and probably a serious amount of money into building your studio. You have the technical skills, the musical ear, and the dedication to help artists and bands bring their projects to life. But are you getting paid what you're actually worth?

It's a question many audio professionals secretly struggle with. Setting your rates is tricky, and it's easy to fall into the trap of undercharging out of insecurity or fear of losing clients. However, undervaluing yourself is a recipe for burnout, strained finances, and resentment that can bleed into your work. Let's dive into the signs you're not charging enough, and how to fix it.

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Red Flags You Might Be Undercharging

  • Constant Hustle: Do you feel like you're always scrambling for the next gig, with barely enough time to catch your breath between projects? This could mean you're taking on too much work to make up for low rates.
  • Resentful and Exhausted: If a knot of anxiety forms in your stomach whenever you quote a price, or you get irritated when clients ask questions, it's a major sign your pricing strategy needs an overhaul.
  • No Room for Growth: Are you reinvesting profits back into your studio gear, upgrades, or education? Or does your income just cover the bare-bones expenses? Undervaluing yourself restricts your business growth.
  • Comparing Yourself to "Cheaper" Options: If your main concern is competing with the engineer down the street or pricing yourself against online studios - that's a red flag. It means you're not confident in the value you provide.

 

How to Calculate Your Worth

Pricing isn't just a random number you pull out of thin air. Consider the following:

  • Costs: Track every business expense diligently. This includes gear, rent, software, subscriptions, taxes, marketing, etc.
  • Desired Income: What salary do you need to live comfortably, considering your experience? Factor in future savings goals, too.
  • Time: How long do you realistically spend on each task within a project? Be honest and include admin, communication, and revisions.

Once you have these numbers, use online hourly rate calculators built specifically for freelancers to estimate a pricing baseline.

Beyond the Numbers: Why You're Worth It

  • Your Unique Skills: What do you do that sets you apart? Maybe it's a specific genre expertise, your creative mixing approach, or the ability to make nervous artists feel comfortable.
  • Client Experience: Do you go the extra mile, offer speedy turnarounds, or provide exceptional communication? This is valuable!
  • The Results: Your work helps artists achieve their goals, whether that's getting a record deal, topping their local scene, or simply having a beautiful recording of their music. This is priceless.

Reframing Client Conversations

When a potential client balks at your rates, don't panic. Explain your process, your expertise, and why investing in their project is worth it. If they're insistent, it's likely not a good fit – and that's okay. Trust you'll attract clients who understand your worth.

Don't let insecurity hold you back

Pricing your services is an ongoing process. Experiment, raise your rates incrementally, and track what works. Your worth isn't solely measured by the gear you own, it's in the value you provide. It's time to start charging accordingly.

Rich Steve Beck is the creator and owner of Produce Mix Fix Conquer/We Are PMFC and PMFC Atlas. As well as being a Mastering Engineer, Blogger, Podcast Interviewer and Community Leader, Rich has 20 years + experience in finance, insurance, account management and online marketing. This will be a regular series supporting new up and coming audio engineers and producers as well as hopefully throwing around some fresh ideas to industry veterans to help assist sustainability. Cherry pick what is helpful, leave behind what you don't need. Good luck on your audio adventures! 

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1 comment

Great article! Quick question. I charge by the Song ($400). Should I charge an $35 hourly rate instead? What rate do you feel is “fair”?

Bob Beals

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