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  1. #1
    Helter's Avatar

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    Default What should I charge for album art?

    I just did a poster for a band and they loved it: http://www.gigposters.com/posters.php?poster=28408

    They've asked us to do their next show and mentioned the possibility of album art. I've never done this before ... what should I charge?

    They don't have a lot of cash, as usual, and we did this poster for free, but I don't want to give our services away. Is there a going rate for album art?

    Thanks people!

    Oh, and so far, i'm assuming that I'll prepare a digital file and send it off somewhere to be printed.

  2. #2
    danieldanger's Avatar

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    just take into consideration how many albums theyre prolly gonna sell, what kind of budget they have, and if they have a chance of getting you better paying work inthe future (if they are soon to be signed) or wahtever.

    i rarely do full album art for under $300. but if its your first, consider going lower. or just go by the hour.

    its a completely different ball game if theyre on a label with money. then the price goes up up up

  3. #3

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    if they are putting out themselves and you do it cheap (don't work too cheap)
    make sure they know that the price they are paying is just for the one they are putting out, and that if another label picks it up you using your artwork,
    the new label has to pay you.
    with a little luck you might actually get paid what you are worth

  4. #4
    danieldanger's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike king
    make sure they know that the price they are paying is just for the one they are putting out, and that if another label picks it up you using your artwork, the new label has to pay you.
    REALLY good point. theres a local band around here that got signed and their album rereleased on trustkill, so the designer got another grand out of the deal for basically doing nothing but allowing his work to go out on another 5000 cds or whatever.

  5. #5

    Default

    for years and years and years (my first cover was in 1979) i did album art work for $150 to $300 a pop. i would max out around 800 to 1200 (for the big labels). after doing record covers at that price for over 20 years (and seeing the demands for rights and usage skyrocket - and the additional costs of having to support $15,000 worth of computer equipment, software and upgrades) i had to raise my minimum for a bare bones indie or even a self-release to at the very least $1000 (plus all expenses additional) just to break even. back in 1980, i was doing record covers for indies at $300 - and that was JUST an ALBUM cover - the back was tossed in for free. now you not only have to do the front and back of an album, you have to do the cd package (front, traycard, booklet, disk, labels, etc,. etc.) you have to toss in a free poster or t-shirt and always a few little free ads. it's a bad deal. i saw folks literally make a million dollars off my image, and i'm stuck with a few hundred bucks.

    so, there is no way to make any money doing record covers for low rates. no way. for a medium size record label (fake indie) i charge 5-10 grand. for a major, all bets are off and i ask for what i can get. if they say no, there's no sweat off my balls. i've done over 1000 record covers at this point, and i really don't care if i ever do any more.

    sometimes the only power you have is the ability to say no. if they want what you can offer, they'll just have to pay you. it's not like they aren't turning around and selling your work for as much as they can get. fair is fair.

  6. #6

    Default

    All very good points Art.
    It seems you have been pretty quiet lately.
    What's new in St. Louis?


    It's so hard to convince "broke" bands that they have to pay for good design. I guess that's the bane of graphic designers and illustrators everywhere. It's also where my lack of salesmanship really bites me in the backside.

  7. #7
    Helter's Avatar

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    Default

    Hmm. Okay. I'm going to ask the band a bunch of questions and then quote on it, and try to balance how much I'd like to do it with not getting ripped off. No more lowballing.

    Thanks for all your experience and advice.

  8. #8

    Default Mixtapes,

    What should I do if this is my first time, but it's with a small and local rap group's mixtape? Would they slap me if I said 50 dollars? Or is that an ok price?

  9. #9
    Premium Member
    kylewbaker's Avatar


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    @Helter

    Yes you'll end up sending/uploading the art digitally, probably directly to the supplier (the band may want help with that, and I'll plug oasiscd.com coz they've been good for my peoples).

    It's a particularly tough project to price out I think. Only done 4 albums myself but I've done tons of other stuff and it's definitely stickier.

    For one thing, if you have a relationship where you have an understanding of what they want and they trust you to deliver, you can come lower on the price b/c you won't have to waste time on developing multiple comps w/ revisions which can be endless. And your biggest enemy, time and money wise, is a client who has no idea what they want but are fickle and moody about what they do like.

    For that reason I highly recommend working on an ESTIMATE and not a quote. If you do a quote you have to be more explicit about what that quote is buying. And the formality alone could scare off your client. Which normally, that's just fine, you have to vet prospects and scaring them off is the best way to do it -- but you're dealing w/ the "talent" directly (sounds like) and you gotta cut them some slack b/c they're not going to be accustomed to buying creative.

    @MrDrDr

    Do it for free or don't do it at all. That's my advise. Working for an indie-friendly / friends-and-family discount is one thing; working for peanuts is a losing proposition for you (and possibly your client). If you do it for free, more creative control is in your hands. It's a portfolio piece; treat it as such.

    If they're paying you -- anything -- it doesn't matter to them how much as far as it relates to them calling the shots. They hired you; there's a huge chance they'll clobber the project trying to art direct it / whatever, and you could end up with something crappy that you still didn't profit from (assuming it takes you more than two hours all told). Does that make sense?

    And if you work for peanuts, and they love it -- they'll want to hire you again. For peanuts.

    Just for the record, I'm a very positive, optimistic person, but I've been able to learn a lot from my own mistakes and thankfully from many others (like right here on this board) and if you're on your own you'll only last so long if you undervalue yourself. Gotta start somewhere, no doubt, but you can be smart about how you approach that.
    Last edited by kylewbaker; 06-27-2010 at 04:23 PM. Reason: typos
    bakerprints.com | BP GP | BP twatter | BP facespace
    Quote Originally Posted by crosshair View Post
    Kyle travels through time to help people. What the fuck do you do?

  10. #10
    Bahr's Avatar

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    Default

    @Kyle

    Helter probably figured it out some time in the last 6 years.

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