Simple recording of classical guitar - what's a fair price?
May 23, 2006 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Looking to record classical guitar music near me for a reasonable price - I am thinking of posting something up at the music school at the nearby university, and maybe a guitar shop or two in town if I can do that, and making some recordings with willing musicians. Is this a reasonable concept or a blindingly stupid idea? If it's workable, what sort of price range should I pay the musician(s)?

I need the music as backgrounds for edited home movies I am producing. I like the sound of classical guitar, and it goes well with the type of music I produce. I have some on hand that I like (particularly the Bach pieces), but I need more and ideally some where I can have a (non-exclusive) right to add it to movies I will eventually edit for other people. I'm willing to pay the musician(s) a fair rate for what this would entail, but I'm not sure what it would be.

Yes, I know it will come down to individual negotiations (if I even get that far), but I just would like a ballpark idea of what I'd be looking at. So how much would be fair for, say, an hour's worth of recording or something? Or a single piece? (I'm thinking of stuff that's short, as in 5 minutes or under). I am open to the idea of working out a royalty arrangement as well if that would seem worthwhile.

Thoughts? (And any recommendations of particular recordings to buy, since I'm on the lookout for that too?)

And audiophiles, please don't bother to admonish me that the recording quality would be hideous without expensive equipment. I will do what I can with what I have, and if I find out it's not suitable, I will figure out something else.
posted by beth to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: er, that should be "goes well with the type of movie I produce".
posted by beth at 1:36 PM on May 23, 2006

If you don't have great recording gear, maybe you could offer to pay for studio time in a really nice studio in exchange for the right to use the recordings in your movies. Most aspiring musicians would jump at the chance to record in a good studio for free, and they might be willing to just let you use the music, provided you're not making a bunch of money off of them.

Your'e in a town with a zillion starving guitarists. It shouldn't be hard to find someone good enough and desperate enough.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:51 PM on May 23, 2006

Students would probably be happy with $50/hr. A working pro would probably want $100 to show up and $50-100/hr after that.

That's for work-for-hire (no royalties).
posted by nonmyopicdave at 1:54 PM on May 23, 2006

If you are looking at hiring pros, be familiar with the union's scale rates. Be aware that pros are often very anal about OT, so have a schedule and give them music in advance.
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:07 PM on May 23, 2006

Response by poster: Sangre Azul, what you described is too big-time for me. I'm looking for students / amateurs since I can't afford anything else. Thanks for the info, though.
posted by beth at 2:23 PM on May 23, 2006

The wild card is royalties - what's due to the artist if/when the film is viewed and [gasp] earns income. For that info you'd need to know the typical arrangements for your part of the world. Someone at the same school, or a film school in your area could probably answer that best.

I'm assuming you're only considering classical music that's already in the public domain, so no issues there.

As far as payment for the recording date - you may be able to find a student who'd waive such fee in return for a film credit, a copy of all the recordings for their own demo reel, future help for their own recording project, etc.

[barely suppressed audiophile rant] at least try to borrow or rent the best gear you can. It's alot easier nowadays, with modern gear. I've used pro gear, but i'm getting great results as well just using a cassette or miniDisc portable, and an inexpensive stereo mic.

Regardless of gear, the room will have the greatest effect on sound, when recording classical guitar. If you can, find a small wooden church in a quiet part of town. They often sound fantastic.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:33 PM on May 23, 2006

You could also use royalty-free prerecorded music. It is likely that services like Music Bakery already have classical guitar music and other things that you might like. (Warning: embedded sound on page. Also there might be better services out there that people know of. When I volunteered at the local public access channel we used Music Bakery recordings all the time.)
posted by imposster at 3:11 PM on May 23, 2006

Okay, I'm procrastinating so I looked up what they have in stock and they only have one baroque guitar solo track that you can download.
posted by imposster at 3:18 PM on May 23, 2006

Are you ever in Houston? Email me (in my profile).

My boyfriend is a sound designer / editor who records people out of our house all the time - anything from low budget audio projects for friends to commercial voice talent. His scale ranges all over the place depending on the project and the work involved. He often considers available budgets for non-profit groups or individuals.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:40 PM on May 23, 2006

I am a music student at UW in Seattle. Most of the folks here [students] would do what you're looking for $50 - $100 an hour, even though that's below union scale. Especially if the parts are easy ('cause we're probably talking about "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Pachelbel's "Canon", aren't we? :))
posted by rossination at 3:58 PM on May 23, 2006

You can get perfectly decent recording quality with less than $200 of hardware and free software.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:51 PM on May 23, 2006

Solo acoustic guitar is actually one of your best bets for good sound despite budget equipment. Narrow frequency range!

Artful Codger is right that finding a very quiet room is what you should worry about most. Traffic noise or footsteps will kill a delicate sound like solo guitar.

When nonmyopicdave mentions "work for hire" (a common arrangement that many musicians-for-hire would be fine with), he means an arrangement wherein you completely own the recording after it's made and can do anything you want with it, never paying the musician again. Obviously, for this to work you have to either use music you KNOW to be in the public domain, or use music to which you already own full rights (your own composition or a piece you commissioned from a composer with a similar "work for hire" contract).
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:11 PM on May 23, 2006

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