Fair pay for lyric video
April 18, 2021 5:53 PM   Subscribe

What would fair pay for a four-minute lyric video be? Details under the fold

I recently contacted a font maker about making a lyric video for a four-minute song. The video is supposed to look like an old-school Pine email, with the lyrics being typed out as the song plays. This is the first time anyone’s commissioned this person for a video, and they asked me what I could pay them. I don’t have a huge budget for this project, but I want to make sure they’re paid fairly. What would the going rate for a project like this be?
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (5 answers total)
What rights do you need? Worldwide, in perpetuity, all media?
posted by Ideefixe at 6:17 PM on April 18, 2021

Do you need to get a font created? Can you maybe ask to use the font that ALPINE is currently using?

Or do you even need to go that far? When I telnet into ALPINE (via KiTTY) to check an old email account that I still maintain, the default is Courier New. Here is the screen I get after I log in.
posted by sardonyx at 6:44 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ideefixe: I would be willing to either share the rights to the video or let the rights revert to the designer a year after its release. This would probably be worldwide rights, since it would be going up on the internet, not broadcast on TV.

Sardonyx: The person I contacted was the only person I knew who has the experience to make this video. When I explained my idea to other friends of mine who make videos, they were unable to do it. I asked this person and they were down.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:29 PM on April 18, 2021

The fact that no one has ever paid this person to do make a video before means they don't have a lot of bargaining power. I'm not encouraging you to take advantage of this person, but this person is not a professional, and shouldn't expect a typical professional rate. Does this person have an hourly rate for other work they do? See if they can give you an estimate of the time involved and then negotiate around their typical hourly rate (i.e. offer them less than their typical hourly rate, because this isn't what they do professionally).
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:16 PM on April 18, 2021

Best answer: Is the font maker the only one who's capable of doing the video because it's necessary to actually create a font, or is it just because your friends don't know how to replicate the old-school graphics and this person does? Also, the job wouldn't involve any audio mixing, right?

Honestly, the job as you describe it isn't particularly challenging for a video editor, just kind of tedious doing the 'typewriter effect' for all the lyrics. Someone who knows what they're doing could knock that out in less than half a day, even if it's tricky to finesse the timing. The real question is how long it would take to design the gfx. How much time does this person estimate they'd need for that?

To give some idea, a lesser-experienced freelance editor working on unscripted TV shows or documentaries in NYC/LA typically bills in the neighborhood of $400-$500/day. More established editors are around $750/day, with a pretty wide range on the high end, upwards of $1500/day (though that's usually more for commercials and boutique stuff). Often it's a weekly rate instead of a day rate because we're talking about jobs that can last months. An editor who's doing small jobs that take very little time (like your project) might bill over $100/hr, but a good editor likely wouldn't bill hourly at all. None of this would include serious gfx work, color grading, or audio mixing.

This is not the type of editor you'll be working with however, and they shouldn't expect to bill like that. In smaller markets, editors who are doing stuff more along the lines of corporate videos and weddings would charge less and probably would offer an hourly rate. They'd also probably be less specialized, which means they could do their own gfx, color grading, etc. Such an editor might bill in the neighborhood of $30/hr if they're just starting out, but that's kind of a stab in the dark guess on my part. Of course this would be higher if they have more experience or if they're a full-service director/shooter/editor/designer and also mixing audio.

I'm really going out on a limb here, but based on the Google image results I see for 'Pine email', an editor with gfx experience should be able to design that look and complete the edit in a day and a half at most, maaaaybe two days if they're working very slowly. From your perspective, in this situation, it'd probably be best to offer a flat amount rather than pay an hourly or day rate. I think that's justified because this person seems inexperienced and it's kind of a unique project for them. But first, find out how long they expect it'll take.
posted by theory at 12:00 AM on April 19, 2021

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