Calculating your own fee

Many composers who just start out in the field are often unsure about how much money to ask for a job before they are hired fearing that if they ask for too much they will lose the job. Also, the insecurity often comes from simply not knowing what “one normally asks for this kind of work”.

When I do a calculation for my fee, I usually break it down internally to hourly rates. Trying to estimate how many hours of work I might need for a certain job multiplied by a decent hourly rate might give me a rough estimate about where I should be heading with the fee I’m asking for. This technique has proven to be quite effective to figure out how much money to ask for.

When you estimate an hourly rate, however don’t take regular 9 to 5 jobs and their hourly rate as baseline. Usually, rates should be considerably higher as you also cannot simply write music and be creative effectively 8 hours a day but also have a lot of unpaid things to do around that (phone calls, negotiations, meetings, bookkeeping etc.), as well as costs for your studio, gear etc. that “normal” employees don’t have.

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