First time job offer. What do I propose salary wise?

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  • #2698

    Sooo I was approached about scoring a 90 minute documentary about “science-y things” (exact wording) and the documentarian wants to let the producer know what kind of budget will go into the score.

    Now, I have exactly ZERO credentials… I have worked on no REAL projects and have only been making music as a hobby so I literally have NO IDEA how to respond.

    So my question is to anyone who might have some knowledge here of where a no-name first time beginner should go. What should I tell him is a reasonable salary? :/

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  • #2699
    Dante Vittone

    I am as much as a novice as you say you are, but I’ve read some material on charging for game audio. This isn’t exactly game audio-related, but maybe it’ll help!

    First, I would figure out exactly what it is you would be scoring. How much music do they actually need? In minutes? What kind of music is it? Figure out how long it will take you to produce music of the specified caliber.

    In a game audio book from 2008, the author said that, including creative fees and other stuff, a beginner should charge around $250 per minute of completed music. This is just what I read. The information is a bit outdated – and also, since this is a documentary, it might be different.

    Might be good to have them throw you together a scoring list of some sort, defining what it is they need for their documentary, exactly. Then you can talk about contracts, milestones, payment, etc.

    Hope this helps at least a little! This is goood-intentioned novice advice, lol.


    Awesome, thanks for the advice! Though $250 per MINUTE seems really high for a beginner… But it’s a starting point. 😛

    Mark Priest

    The book “Cash Tracks” by Jeffrey Fisher might provide you with some useful ways to calculate your fees for various projects. A helpful read, although likewise a little dated.

    That said, I once agreed to score someone’s no-budget ‘feature-length documentary’ a couple of years ago, “just to get a credit” for my first project, and a good recommendation. I kept the rights to my music (and everything is in writing – IMPORTANT!).

    It was exhausting, time-consuming work, with little material compensation, and a film director literally breathing down my neck (though very pleased with the end product – it was his first project, too). He got a decent score, and I got my credit on the screen at the end of the film, which is currently being shopped to film festivals across the USA.

    I learned from that experience, both artistically and business-wise, and as a result, outside of helping out an occasional needy college student’s class project, will probably NEVER agree to such terms in the future. It took a lot of time out of my life, and there is simply no such thing as a “free lunch.” My 2-cents.

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