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How to put a value on PA/sound?

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How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Funkyflash5 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:55 am

Hi all,

I'm primarily a musician, but I also dabble in both recording and live sound, so when I gained a rehearsal space this past year I invested in a decent system to use for foldback during rehearsals and be able to supply when a band I'm in has a gig at a venue that doesn't have it's own. It also doubles as a recording interface for both live gig recording and to be able to do demos if we feel so inclined.

Last month a friend needed a system and tech for a small to medium gig with a "local hero" type, and because of who it was and that I would have the chance to actual run my system from FOH for the first time I was happy to do it on the relatively cheap. Today I got a message from another friend who is helping pull together a band for an event this Sunday that is being run by a non-profit group who is fresh out of favors in my book. I'm happy to play in the band with my friend, but the organizers have got wind that I've got the gear, and are offering half of what I charged the last time to haul out and set up my system.

I'm clearly not going to do it for what they offered, but it got me to wondering, how do I put a clear price on what I have? I wouldn't feel right calling up the local sound and light guys and asking what they charge, but none of them have price lists online to go off of. The nearest price list I could find was the local rental department of a national pro retailer that's located 2+ hours away, and they only rent the equipment, they don't include delivery or setup/take down. Is there a rule of thumb for the gear, and then I figure in an hourly rate on labor and travel, or some other method? I'm not looking to make this a regular thing, as tearing apart my setup is a pain, but being able to cover a couple month's rent on the rehearsal space for one days work with the gear I've got is nice enough that when asked and I've got the time, I'm hard pressed to say no.

edit: mods, if this is the wrong place for this, feel free to move it
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Brian M Rose » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:35 am

As an absolute bottom feeder (a charity hospital/community radio station) doing PA and playing out recorded music at local events, £100 - £200. This depends on who it is. For a charity fund raiser such as the local hospice, then no charge. Otherwise we sometimes ask for a contribution to cover our costs.
This is for fairly basic equipment, say £1500.00 capital cost. The few times we do this does help (we are after all a charity)
In the big world when I worked for a broadcast rental company, daily rate worked out at between .5 and 1% of capital cost. This was for dry hire only. So if you are also providing transport, crewing and insurance etc, it's going to be considerably more.
Is it worth it? Probably not. As Dragons' Den would say, can it be scaled? If you are very big with millions of pounds worth of equipment, then yes. Still, as you say, if you already have gear, it can help.
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby ef37a » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:48 am

I am sure there are some "accountant brains" on the forum that can come up with a rate for the gear hire based on capital outlay and how to amortize the cost as a function of the interest lost if you had not spent the money! #

The labour cost is harder to quantify. You have an annual income so you can work out what your hourly rate must be to get that. Your time running the rig will be more than that per hour because you will have to pay tax on those earnings and possibly VAT.

My guess is, when you do the numbers (and N very B, I am NOT an accountant!) you will come up with a pretty big figure which most clients will baulk at but think on?

If you don't really need the money only do it for a sensible margin. People might say "well you did so and so for X less than that". None of their B business. YOUR kit, YOUR time. If you want to do a charity gig, fine. If you want to work with "a name" for your own interest or experience, again YOUR call!

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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:16 am

Funkyflash5 wrote:...it got me to wondering, how do I put a clear price on what I have?

If you were running a PA supply business, you would buy the initial gear and then recover the cost by hiring it to clients over a number of years... but in that process you would need to charge a sufficient amount at each gig to cover all the overheads of storage, insurance (equipment and public liability), maintenance, transport, accountancy fees, etc, plus your own wages (including tax and NI) with enough built in for holiday and sick cover, and possibly including the wages of any assistants, and -- most importantly -- also including sufficient business profit to cover replacement of gear when it's broken or worn out as well as any business taxes.... Obviously, the more gigs you do in a year, the lower the rental cost can be for each one.

So you'll need to build a careful and realistic business plan...

Once you have worked out your hire cost for a profitable business, you can then decide by how much you would be prepared to discount a one-off gig in a good cause -- whether that is for a charity event, or for 'mates rates' or whatever. But whatever you discount, it should only really be the profit element you're giving away, not the core overhead costs because you don't want to be a loss-making business!

Whatever figure you come up with, do make sure that you have taken out adequate public liability insurance and have the equipment PAT tested before any of it leaves your private rehearsal room.

H
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:37 am

We tend to run with a core hire fee of 2% to 5% of capital cost for most items somewhat dependent on how fragile/prone to maintenance the items are, or their expected longevity. Radio mics go out at the higher end because headsets tend to have a high attrition rate.

Multiple days are charged at 50% for extra days, provided the gear is 'set in place' and isn't being moved/on the road.

Then add to that an hourly rate for a techie and travel is if it's beyond a 30km radius.

To that we often apply a 25% discount for community groups. Individual techies can donate further time if it's a cause they believe in. The reason given why we don't discount the hire portion more is that we have invested in the gear so that the community can use it. They are contributing to the viability of a useful service.

As standard, and this is important, always show the full commercial amount on the invoice and then show the discount taken off. Otherwise people do not appreciate what the realistic cost is.

As Hugh says though, it's all dependent on the business model you're working to, how competitive the market is and how busy you expect/want to be.

Like musicians, sound providers can be as busy as they like - so long as they don't charge!

Bob
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:16 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:As standard, and this is important, always show the full commercial amount on the invoice and then show the discount taken off. Otherwise people do not appreciate what the realistic cost is.

Re-quoted and emphasised because this is soooooo important! Always, always, always show the full invoice amount and then the applied negotiated discount -- whether you're invoicing equipment or your own skills, talents and time! The discount may vary, but your 'worth' doesn't!

H
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Dave Rowles » Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:39 pm

Time:
How much time will I be away from home doing this? How much time will I spend setting up and running the system? How many breaks do I envision getting?

Your Ability:
How good are you at what you do? How much do you think that ability is worth?

Gear:
How much did you gear cost you? Are you looking to recoup that cost?

Bothered-ness:
Do you really want to do the gig?

These are how I charge. Most of that is self explanatory, but the bothered-ness is a big one. I have increased my fee on some gigs because I didn't really want to do the gig, and then they agreed to pay it...so I was stuck doing it!
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Funkyflash5 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 12:17 am

Thanks for the thoughts guys! The invoice with discount percent thing is something I hadn't considered at all, but the idea of making your "worth" clear even if it's not the bottom line that day is right in line with what I'm trying to get a grip on, especially with the reasons this particular group isn't in my good books.

As I'm on the other side of the pond, a lot of the tax stuff is handled differently, especially in relation to a non profit, and PAT testing is non-existent (I had a quick google to even know what it was), but the bottom line of taking in to account what the gear is worth and then adding the expenses of storage, transport, ect has me thinking I was on the right track. I'm not looking to recoup all my costs, but if it can help justify buying the good stuff that's worth some of my spare time.

I have no intention of making this my main job, or even a regular sideline, but I'd like to have a number in mind when a friend or acquaintance asks so that no one ends up feeling cheated, and I don't undercut the guys who make their living at this. Ideally, I'll just be a backup option, for when the other systems in town are already booked.

As for this weekend, I am supplying the gear, but for more than triple what they originally offered and under a clear understanding that that's still less than what I'm calling market rate. If in the future they shop around, that's great, or if they ask me again next year that's OK too.
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:15 am

:clap: :thumbup:
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:22 am

Just a thought?

PAT testing might be "non-existant" at your location friend but I understand LAWYERS definitely exist!

I would do SOMETHING about showing the rigs are safe. Your third party cover might have a clause (or twenty!)?

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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Aug 26, 2018 12:57 pm

One way to ballpark it might be to call up local "competitors" and ask for a quote on a similar gig, or better yet, ask them straight out how they figured out what to charge. Most people are really interested in talking about the challenges they face and how they overcame them.
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Re: How to put a value on PA/sound?

Postby Mike Monte » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:47 am

I am a performing musician that has a local sound-provider business.
I charge a professional price for my sound services but do get contacted several times per year to "donate" my services for non-profits.

What I do: I provide my personal services for free -but- I charge for the rental of my gear - plain and simple.

If it's a non-profit that I really support I will charge $200.00 for the rental of my gear and donate my tech services.

Why charge for my gear?? Because every time I use it there is wear'n tear, also, a case in point: last April I provided a sound system (+ generator) for a 5k run in Boston. I charged my basic rate (listed above) for gear rental.

On the gig, one of the guitarists that was going direct into the PA (instead of using an amp) unplugged his guitar before I had a chance to mute his channel. The insuing "pop" blew an output relay on one of my FOH power amplifiers....which cost me $198.00 to have a tech repair it.

Another point: is the "police detail" at the event donating their services? Of course not....

There are expenses involved for putting on an event - the organizers are well aware of that... If you "give away" your services, your services will be valueless.

I have also provided sound services for some non-profits groups and charged my regular rate...only to donate back a sizable amount to the organization as they were great people.

The event that you mentioned is common; your band is playing and you will bring your band's PA. The organizers ask you if the band after you can use your PA...you say ok....then they ask if the band before you can use it....
What started out as a one/two hour set has now become an all-day affair......with you tech'ing the stage, trying to accommodate all of the bands' needs...

I hope that my writing has shed some light on the subject.

Mike
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