Sorry to post something so completely off-topic here, but I can\'t imagine a more qualified group of peers to advise me on this situation.
I have been speaking with a couple of producers out in NY who want to hire me to write their musical. The trouble is that they want me to work in a lot of different roles, and I am not sure what a fair price would be to quote them. Here are the facts.
1. It is to be an 90-min musical with some spoken lines. At least one hour of music. (songs + score)
2. They want me to write all the songs and score
3. They want me to write all the lyrics
4. They want me to record/mix all the background music tracks here at my project studio
5. They want me to coach their singers as to how to sing the songs
6. They want a music-only CD to play during live perfomances so their singers can sing over it (I would produce this from my studio)
7. They also want a \"soundtrack\" CD to sell, which means I would engineer, edit, mix and master all sessions with their singers at my studio. I would record them over the karaoke versions that I had produced earlier.
8. I will see no points or royalties on the back end, this is a straight buy-out fee for my services. It would be a work-for-hire.
9. This project would last for approximately 3 mos and would require me to fly at least a few times to NY
10. I would be working with their choreographer throughout to make sure that the songs I write are dance-able. (\"I may be a lover, but I ain\'t no dancer\" =-)
My sense is that while these people are in earnest about their musical, they are definitely amateurs. They are a couple of independently wealthy folks who have always wanted to do a musical.
They do not even have a definite budget for this project, and are hoping to shape it around my quote.
Any ideas? I am not afraid of losing this gig, as I think the pain-in-the-arse factor would be high. I will be their learning curve and they seem to have some difficulty agreeing on things now.
What do you think? You can email me privately at: email@example.com so we don\'t clutter up NS with specific information about money. I just thought you guys would be the best group to advise me.
Wow, my antennas are screaming, \"danger, danger, danger!\".
Unless, of course, you\'ve done this kind of thing before. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
I mean, you say that they have a lot of money... that can be good and bad. The bad part is that chances are, they got that way (being rich) by being very careful with their money, and by getting amazing deals on their investment. They\'re going to try to squeeze you as much as they can (that\'s clear from the fact that they want to buy your rights outright). Hold on to your copyrights, get a fair percentage for publishing. What if one of your songs becomes a hit? What if Coca-Cola (God forbid - the Evil ones! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] ) wants to use your song (but it belongs to your producers) - guess who gets paid?
From the looks of this, I would bet that if you take it on, they only way to make sure that you\'ll stay sane is to hire a team. Hopefully they will have enough brains to compensate for the fact that they have no experience. Again, I smell trouble, but only because you mentioned that they\'ve never done this before...
Good luck and don\'t be shy to negotiate hard - chances are they\'ll respect you more. Better yet, get an agent to represent you and negotiate. You\'ll sleep better.
I agree 100% with Z6. Buy-out is not a rational option, but they don\'t now that. This is strictly opinion, but as I see it...
Each line item should have its own rate and clauses-also note my \'codicil\' at the end:
First-is there a libretto, or are you also writing the story and spoken text? You are then responsible for creating the entire production except stage sets and lights... Charge!!!!
\"They want me to write all the songs and score, and lyrics.\"
With no points, this is the show-stopper. Suggest you give them a rate with points, and a MUCH higher buy-out price (such that it becomes uneconomical to do.)
\"They want me to record/mix all the background music tracks here at my project studio.\"
Fine, get your premium hourly rate.
\"They want me to coach their singers as to how to sing the songs\"
Amateur or pro singers? If amateur, very high rate (double pro rate,) if pro, a typical rate for your area.
\"They want a music-only CD to play during live perfomances so their singers can sing over it (I would produce this from my studio)\"
Part of the mix process-charge studio rate.
\"They also want a \"soundtrack\" CD to sell, which means I would engineer, edit, mix and master all sessions with their singers at my studio. I would record them over the karaoke versions that I had produced earlier.\"
Again, your top studio rates apply for all phases.
\"I will see no points or royalties on the back end, this is a straight buy-out fee for my services. It would be a work-for-hire.\"
This is where the price goes up many times the \"with-points\" rate. Get them to see it is NOT in their best interest to cut you out. If they want to be able to call the songs their own, \"Look what I wrote...\" that\'s got to be worth double yet again. Minimum, even with no points-your name is featured PROMINENTLY on all CDs and programs as writer.
\"This project would last for approximately 3 mos and would require me to fly at least a few times to NY\"
At their expense, of course. Plus room and a reasonable per diem.
\"I would be working with their choreographer throughout to make sure that the songs I write are dance-able. (\"I may be a lover, but I ain\'t no dancer\" =-)\"
Probably not much different than any \'producer\', again-amateur or pro? charge for amateurs.
They don\'t agree. Very well. Be ABSOLUTELY SURE to get an agreement for payment along the way-25% before commencement, 25% after completion of the first half of the music (not recorded, just written and agreed to), etc.
Get a clause in writing - if they can\'t agree, you STILL get paid. In full. Their lack of consensus is NOT your problem. Try to get one of them to be the \'executive\' producer whose word is final.
As each piece is written, or recorded, or mixed, etc. get written approval of the work. Be assured they will change their minds later, you MUST have a signed paper stating the work is to spec.
Every element that is amateur requires additional cash from them, as the PITA factor rapidly approaches Edvard Munch-ian proportions.
Consider tie-breakers: for $x, I\'ll give you a secondversion of the mix, you can decide later...
Good luck, guy. You\'re going to need it.
Been there, done that (not as a musical, but just with any number of wanna-be bands and singers...)
Thanks for all of your comments. At first glance, I think I may have accidentally overstated the level of this project.
Don\'t let the fact that they are residing in NY fool you;-- this project is so amateur that it cannot even aspire to being off-off-Broadway. It is a small-town affair with (sorry to say) no chance of getting media attention whatsoever. I say that because the story is really, really lame. And this their first time doing something like this. All the performers + crew are amateurs (\'cept me =).
Also, they are really trying to appeal to a specific market-- 2nd generation Africans growing up in the US, the conflicts they have with their parents, etc. They live in an area that contains a sizeable African population. Because I have some African heritage and am fluent with the culture, I feel conversant with the issues of their story.
Because of the above reasons, I am not that concerned with keeping any rights over the material I write. As much as I think my work will be appreciated, I really do not think there is any danger of getting screwed-over on such a gig.
My best guess is that the entire budget (minus music) will probably be under $20,000 USD. (I just found this out) So they are really biting off more than they can chew, here. I think their expectations are totally unrealistic for the miniscule budget they have. But it also presents me with an opportunity to make some change at a time when change would be appreciated. =-)
Just read your post, Blue. I guess they won\'t go for 60 grand!! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
Oh well, now the only reason to do it, IMHO, is for the experience that you will get. And only do it if you love the concept, story, and the people involved (cast, crew) - in the crunch, you\'ll only have these things to motivate you. BTW, all the more reason for you to hang on to your rights. They don\'t have the budget to buy your rights...