• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23

Topic: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

  1. #1

    OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Sorry everyone for the extremely off topic post, I need to try and get a reply if possible in the next couple of hours....

    A good friend of mine is re-negotiating his contract with the recording studio he works at. He has been there part time, for three years. He is the recording engineer and often assumes the role of producer too when recording various projects for clients.

    The studio is now offering him a full time position but at a serious drop in wage. I know its hard to compare wages against various currencies and economies but it is roughly $18,000 (U.S. dollars) a year that they are offering. Here in Australia that is about the wage that a receptionist gets after a week of training.

    I told him that they are not taking his 3 years of service into account plus the skills he brings to the table. I understand that they now have to pay sick leave, paid vacation, etc but this still seems a paltry amount.

    Does anyone know what the expected wage would be for a recording engineer of medium level experience?

    Thanks everyone and sorry for being so O.T. [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    69 Lois Lane, Metropolis

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Good lord, if I was him I\'d tell them to kiss me between the cheeks. And I\'m talking butt cheeks, with tongue.
    Granted I\'m going by US standards, but that gives new meaning to the word lowball. You couldn\'t even live off that up here unless you were in Alabama, had no electricity and didn\'t mind pooping in an outhouse and sharing the hole with a bear. And as you noted, that proposal is even more insulting in light of the fact that he\'s been doing serious work for them for 3 years.
    He should be getting his current salary matched plus benefits to start at the very very least. Starting wages up here were 20-30K depending on your skill set last time I checked...and that\'s fresh outta audio school. I mean, 18K is less than $10 per hour, fer fracks sake...

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    This is probably the toughest type of salary to argue about. Being a live sound engineer and producer, I can start off by telling you it is ENTIRELY on the market of the area. Many studios in the Atlanta, GA area maintain engineers for years, but other than the senior engineers, they would rather take interns (and promise them a career at the end of their internship, then drop em and get a new intern). I have known several engineers screwed over by the studios.

    Most studios are having a tough time staying afloat. The major Nashville studios (Emerald, etc) are mostly on the brink of bankruptcy if they haven\'t filed yet. For the studios with SSLs and racks of high $$$ gear, the market cannot afford to pay the financing on the gear and engineers. This leaves many studios in strange situations because the engineer is who makes the gear work properly. However the money is not there. Honestly, if your friend has not produced a top 40 hit or charted a recording on soundscan/billboard, there is not much leverage to work with.

    Seeing as he has a secure job opportunity in the current state the industry is in, is a good sign for him. I would NOT lend a \"production role\" unless he receives major \"points\" on the album. This is the other leverage, but much harder to obtain. He should have either a \"point system\" or a seperate production clause in his contract. The top studios in Atlanta pay approx (on average) $40,000 for the top engineers (no production though). On the flip side, my friend is the engineer at the famous FOX theatre in Atlanta - however this is a live gig - and makes around $100,000 a year.

    While $18,000 is not very good. And probably compared to the hours it is even worse, it is however a good starting point if he has a year or two to try to get that hit.

    Some FYI: while most people are along the lines of scoring here, I thought I would share: Timbaland (the hottest hip-hop producer right now) earns $150,000 per song he produces and records and retains production points for royalties. If his customer is on Interscope\'s label, then he only charges $50,000 per song due to some contract he has with Interscope. So, imagine a multi platinum cd in royalties, with 10 songs.....this equals 1.5 milllion in studio work plus royalties. Just thought that would put it into perspective with what someone can do with studio production and engineering. But, they have to start somewhere.

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Hi Scott

    This is a really hard question to answer as studios right now are really suffering. But i would recomend the following
    1. Aske for some sort of retainer. Maybe $25000 ozzie dollars a year

    2. $50 an hour per project on top if engineering

    3. $100 an hour per project if producing plus a point on sales and a credit. It\'s all about credits.

    4. Be prepared to be flexiable as if your friend is making money whilst the studio is empty they will just fire him out of desparation.

    hope this helps.

    ed buller

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Sounds to me like he\'s been giving it away so long they\'re expecting charity.

    But unfortunately, he\'s in a tough spot, because studios-for-hire are losing business fast. Unless it\'s a big room with name brand clients, there\'s just not much high-rent work around, therefore not much wage to pay. Consider that the rooms are going for $30-40 per hour in block, including engineer!! What does that leave to pay your friend after rent, bills, and owner\'s cut? Not much.

    Sorry to bear bad news, but I think your friend may be in a tough spot. Perhaps he could negotiate for a little more salary. The most important thing he should do is STOP producing bands for nothing. The minute he has to do anything but push buttons, he needs to be getting a separate fee. The fact that he is being put in this postion says something about the studio owner, so again, not a great sign.

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    In addition, I know studio hours get crazy, but he should have an hours worked quota for such a low salary. Seeing as many studios work there engineers over 60 hours a week. Maybe negotiate a max of 35-40 hours a week for $xx,xxx and then excessive hours are at $x an hour. This was just another thought.

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Given 3 years experience,for being a paid employee, $12.50 per hour @8 hours per day = $26,000 annually. With this should come 1 week paid vacation first year, 2 weeks paid vacation 2nd year, 1 week of sick leave, and paid Federal and State holidays. This is a 40 hour work week.

    Now, this is for a SALARIED employee, which means guaranteed wage no matter how much work.

    The employer is required, in the US, to pay matching Social Security (7.5% of the gross salary), unemployment insurance, and workman\'s comp. In all, figure that an employer pays out 30% above the actual salaried cost of the employee.

    Depending on the engineer\'s savvy, he could work out a deal for a slightly lower salary but a percentage of the gross for the bands booked. This is also an incentive for the engineer to develop a following and have a steady string of regular clients.

    There\'s also the consideration of wage vs. hourly. If hourly, then after 40 hours (in most states) you get time and half. In California, if you work over 8 hours for the day, you get time and a half. This is an important consideration since you need to know by your state\'s labor laws, the definition of a full time vs. part time employee.

    Depending on their background, their skill level, and the kind of music being paid, an engineer in Los Angeles is paid $25 to $250 per hour.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Melbourne, Australia

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Scott, does your friend play any instruments good enough to be a session player? Maybe he can provide services as an arranger/player for additional fees on top of that engineering job? Just a suggestion...

    Good luck to your friend nonetheless!! And seriously, AUD$35,000 a year is VERY low... I don\'t think I can survive on that salary here in Perth on the West side, not to mention you folks in Melb/Sydney...

    Jun - aka meeehoon

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    Thank you everyone for your replies. My friend is going in to negotiate in a few hours... I have passed all of your comments along, even this one from Hudson;
    Good lord, if I was him I\'d tell them to kiss me between the cheeks. And I\'m talking butt cheeks, with tongue.
    Granted I\'m going by US standards, but that gives new meaning to the word lowball. You couldn\'t even live off that up here unless you were in Alabama, had no electricity and didn\'t mind pooping in an outhouse and sharing the hole with a bear.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Not sure if he\'ll say it like that though. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Mind you, he has about the same humour and says that part of his job description is to; \"polish other peoples turds\"

    Thanks again Guys.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Urgent reply sought - wage for engineer?

    I know TONS of guys in similar situations around here. I think Nashville and LA get more hopefuls then anyone! The really big studios often will treat their engineers as such. I\'ve known some guys who try to drive a hard bargin and the studios just say see ya. They know the market for engineers is sparse so the guys are really at their Mercy. I have a friend who was in a similar situation with a big studio here (i won\'t tell you who but it\'s been mentioned in this post!). He was faced with the same situation and basically worked it out to continue working for $8/hr if he was just holding the fort down, and if he steps up to be the main guy he gets usually $25/hr. His \"main duties\" are suppose to be to open the studio in the morning and close it at night, keep the fridge stocked etc. He was there about 3-4 years when the same thing happened and he worked out this deal.

    My experience with really good entry level guys is the studios see them as disposable but don\'t want the hassel of traning a new guy. So the above situation seems to work well for both. I know a couple of people who have similar deals!

    Best of luck.


Go Back to forum

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts