Pricing & Negotiating: Album Cover and Collateral for Rock Band

Aug 21, 2013
Consulting Case StudiesPricing & Negotiating

Shoot Concept: Environmental group shots and individual portraits of a well-known band.

Licensing: Advertising, Collateral and Publicity use of 12 images for 1 year. However, the images would primarily be for use on the album cover and in the album booklet.

Location:  A scenic outdoor location in California.

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Lifestyle and Landscape Specialist.

Client: Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band represented by a mid-sized record label with offices in the US and UK.

Here is the estimate:

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Creative/Licensing: The record label originally approached the photographer with a request to create 12 images of the band. One of the images would be placed on the cover of the band’s upcoming album, and the other images would end up inside the album’s multi-page art booklet. It was also likely that the images would appear on the band’s website, iTunes page, various collateral pieces, merchandise and publicity materials.

Before speaking with the record label about their budget, I had an idea of what we might be up against. The music industry is notorious for paying very little while requiring extensive licensing. While larger budgets might be available for shoots with big name artists, those projects account for a very small percentage of the shoots that take place in the music industry. Based on a number of other projects I’ve worked on in the past, my inclination was that the photographer could expect to get around $5,000-$6,000 for his creative/licensing fee plus expenses, and I was hoping to limit the licensing as much as possible.

When I spoke with the record label, I learned that they had a bottom line budget of $12,500, and they wanted this to not only cover all creative/licensing fees and production expenses for the shoot, but also to include the layout and design of the album booklet. The photographer and I decided to create an estimate that was appropriate for his photography work only, and leave the design services out of the conversation because it wasn’t a service he offered.

When compiling the estimate, I tried to keep as much of the budget in the creative/licensing fee while also factoring in payment for pre/post production (all of which adds to the photographer’s “effective fee”). In most cases, I approach the creative/licensing fee first to determine what I believe is appropriate without taking a budget into account. However, in this case, I laid out all of the expenses, and determined that the amount left over in the budget lined up with my expectations for what his creative/licensing fee should be.

Before submitting the estimate, I did check a few other pricing resources. Getty priced one image for “retail product and packaging” use on the cover of up to 500,000 products for 1 year at $2,300. Corbis had a specific pricing category for CD packaging, and priced 1 image just under $2,000 including use on the cover as well as inside of up to 500,000 albums for 1 year. FotoQuote priced a similar use at $2,700 and BlinkBid didn’t offer specific pricing guidelines for this use. While they would be obtaining licensing for 12 images above and beyond album cover use, scaling the fees suggested by Corbis and Getty would put us far outside of a range I felt was appropriate for a project and client like this.

Assistant: The photographer paid his assistant a bit higher than the rates I typically include (500.00 vs. 350.00), and we would only need him for the one shoot day.

Digital Tech Day Including Workstation: The digital tech would help to manage the flow of file intake and display for client approval on location, and I included $500 for their day plus $750 for the workstation.

Location Scout: The record label/band wanted to shoot at a “scenic” location, and suggested the possibility of photographing the band on a beach. This opened the door to a lot of possibilities in California, and we included two days for the photographer to scout locations in his hometown. If he wanted to outsource this task to a professional location scout, this rate would have also covered their time and expenses as well.

Location Fees/Permits: I spoke with a few scouts local to the area, and we determined that a few hundred dollars would cover a permit for a single location and the time it would take to acquire it.

Photographer Pre-Production Day: This covers the photographers time preparing for the shoot. Before the shoot, the photographer planned to meet the band and the record label contacts to discuss his approach. Also, without a producer, the photographer would be responsible for pulling the production together (arranging transportation, gear, crew, permits, props, locations, etc.).

Van/Prop Rental: The only prop that would be needed for the shoot was a vintage van that the band would be posing in front of. The photographer happened to have a friend who owned just the right vehicle they were looking for, and he negotiated this fee for the van to be used and driven to/from the location.

Equipment: This would cover 2 camera bodies (~$400), several lenses (~$100), a couple power packs and heads (~$200) as well as additional modifiers, reflectors and grip equipment (~$100).

Basic Color Correction and Delivery of All Images on Hard Drive: This covered the photographer’s time to do a minor edit of the files and deliver them to the client. While the client would only be granted licensing of 12 images, they wanted all of the hi-res images delivered to them on a hard drive.  This is a decision to be made carefully. When delivering more hi-res images than the client is paying to license, the the risk of unauthorized use increases dramatically.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc: I included a few hundred dollars just to cover incidentals and any minor unforeseen additional expenses on the shoot day.

Feedback: While the client wanted their original budget to include the design work, they were willing to seek out a designer and come up with a separate budget for that. The only other feedback they provided was that the photographer had to sign a work made for hire agreement, which was not originally discussed despite clearly stating the requested usage in the estimate and defining the language in our terms and conditions agreement. After I explained the differences between the licensing in our estimate and their work made for hire contract, the label asked to see a revised estimate showing fees based on their requirements. Given the fact that we were already a bit over their budget (and the fact they’d still need to pay for the design work separately) I knew we probably couldn’t push the price up that much. After a series of phone calls and candid discussions about their budget, we ultimately presented this final estimate:

estimate_terms_wmfh

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the images will be featured with the band’s upcoming album. Here is the contract they presented:

WORK-FOR-HIRE-2013_original_Redacted-1

We were able to tweak the terms of this contract to be more in line with our terms/conditions, specifically in regards to turnaround time, payment, indemnification, and the fact that the fees were a good faith estimate and that actual time and expenses would ultimately be invoiced. Lastly, I revised their contract to say that they would need to register the images with the US copyright office, rather than the photographer doing this (which should be part of every photographer’s workflow).

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Tags: craig oppenheimer estimating music photography pricing and negotiating production shoot production