Monday, July 22, 2013

Ten Minutes a Minute

Apparently a sound design is worth about $2/hour these days.

I just checked over how many hours I spend in design and engineering (and in rehearsals and tech) for the last show, and dividing the design fee I got paid into that comes out around two bucks an hour.

Actually running the board comes out a little better; seven bucks an hour.  And if you accept a 5+ hour "service" then it breaks down to almost $40 per service (that's musician talk there).

The old rule (from the game audio community) is that it takes ten hours to create a single minute of final game-ready audio.  Based on the pay rates above, I think I need to get down to a bit more like half an hour per finished cue.  I created about twenty cues for the show of which about half never made it to opening night (one of the longest bits of work that got cut was listening to recording after recording of small dogs barking.  And we never even tried a dog bark in tech.  But it was requested, so I had to spend the time.  Cutting the cue once all the work is done saves me NOTHING.)

But this ignores entirely the engineering.  I once got a thousand bucks a show just for engineering; no mixing, no sound effects.  Because there is literally that much work -- and that much expertise -- in tuning the audio system, figuring out routing, setting up the pit properly, plotting, adjusting (and repairing) wireless microphones, etc.

I spent four hours in the middle of tech doing "nothing" but playing music through the house sound system and tweaking the inter-speaker delays, relative levels and touching up the corrective system EQ.  Which is only a fraction of the time I need to spend on that system some time soon, once I have the right tools (aka SMAART) to do it properly.

So I spent almost four weeks of 12-14 hour days, and am in production for ten hour days Saturday and Sunday (plus some weeknights).......and my bank just hit me with another insufficient funds notice.  Ain't this a fun gig?

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