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How much to charge for this, and what about tax?

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Sebastian Alvarez
How much to charge for this, and what about tax?
on Apr 7, 2012 at 5:17:30 pm

I'm in contact with the owner of a dance institute that will have a dance recital in a few months and I need to know how much to charge for this. Basically there will be three recitals for three different age groups of children and teenagers, of which the first two are about two hours together and will be sold in one DVD. The third recital will be two and a half hours and will be sold as another DVD.

My equipment for this will be two Canon XF100s and it will be edited in Edius, the pro version. The total recording time will be about five and a half to six hours, and obviously it will take a lot of time to edit since it's multicam.

For what she tells me, there would be approx. 125 parents purchasing the first disc, and about 90 purchasing the second one. Of course I would have to produce all these discs, which means cases, printable media, a good quality paper for the covers, and most expensive of all, ink.

What is a good base price to charge for each of these discs? I want to give this person a good price because I can get more business from her, both for more recitals as well as other types of events, but at the same time I don't want to end up working for almost nothing.

Separate from this, am I supposed to charge tax on each of these DVDs? I live in North Carolina, if that's of any help. I plan on going to the tax state agency on Monday to find out more, but I wanted to get an idea from other videographers because when you go to government agencies in my experience you can either get a helpful person or one that will basically expect you to know almost everything and you have to pry the information out of them.

Sebastian R. Alvarez

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Bill Celnick
Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?
on Apr 9, 2012 at 5:50:45 pm

Hi Sebastion

I think you need to clarify your intended arrangement with the dance studio's owner. There are several different possibilities, each having a bearing on the price you might charge and taxes you might need to collect.

One situation might be where the studio is paying you a production fee to shoot and edit the recital, then provide copies for her to sell to the parents. Under this situation you're working for a fixed rate, have no direct relationship to the families, and would not be involved in collecting tax from the families.

Another, more likely situation might be where you are in effect shooting for no production fee, but strictly for whatever revenue the orders bring in. In this case, you probably would get order forms along with checks from the families, they would be your direct customer, and then you would be required to collect tax (at least you would in my state, NY).

As far as what to charge - you need to do both some cost calculation on your own end, plus you need to do some market research - find out what other studios in that area have charged for similar work - talk to the dance studio owner - has she done this before, what was charged etc. If past videos sold for $15, you might have a hard time selling for $30.

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Mark Suszko
Re: How much to charge for this, and what about tax?
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:34:31 pm

You should have a good idea of your hourly and day rate, that makes it easy to multiply rate times time spent to get a figure. Check COW files for "calculate day rate" and you'll find a book's worth of posts. Then add a markup for whateevr you think the market will bear.

I used to shoot recitals. And I worked in a Video Yearbook company as a salesman and a producer, having to go to many schools and try to get kids to order and then pay for a product.

Here's what I think about recital jobs; taking orders, especially after the thing is done, is a suckers' game you don't want to play. Once a product is delivered, you have zero leverage with the customers who can string your payment along and even just not pay at all, for any reason, legit or not. The best deal for YOU is to bill and get paid up front in full for your time and a reasonable profit, before the show, and let collecting for each disk be someone else's problem. Too often using the advance taking orders method, you'll be left waiting a long time to break even, if you ever do, thanks in part to easy piracy and slow collections.

If was to do a recital today, I'd figure my shooting time and edit time, my rental expenses and any crew costs, multiply that by my established rate card, and then add some reasonable markup for profit. Then I'd ask for a full payment due the week before the show. Dubs, I would offer to make at a fixed rate up to a set number, but I would not plan to make money off the dubs, only to break even on them.

You'll typically not get many orders more than a day or so after the show, because everyone that did want it will get it at the first chance, and later, people will share one order or someone will pirate free copies or put it online. Hold all copies "hostage" until everyone has paid. Once you hand out one copy, you've opened the door to piracy, so make sure you got paid before that first dub gets out...

... or run the game in such a way that piracy and collections doesn't matter.

What I mean by that is, if you can get a sponsor to underwrite the production costs and the dubbing, in exchange for some advertising on the disk, you can hand out the disks for free, and nobody has a financial incentive to pirate them. A pirate won't bother to dub something if there's too small a profit margin for his time spent on the project. Indeed, you'd encourage people to copy and share the subsidized content to distribute that advertising farther. Possibilities for underwriters would include local soft drink bottlers and distributors, military recruiters, car dealers, fashion outlets, the mall, local merchants that are also sports boosters, things like that.

If someone has to take orders, make it the moms that handle it, not you, since they can use the threat of gossip and peer pressure to keep each other from ripping the school off. Charge the moms up-front, this is important, and let THEM work off the costs on fulfillment and calling up the families for collecting payments. You have a business to run.

One other thing that wasn't mentioned, and it is big enough to take it's own thread: rights and permissions. Has the music and the "book" for the recital been cleared, not just for the rights to perform it on stage, but to be taped, edited, and distributed for money? I will bet you a donut it has not. A license to perform a number on stage is not usually also a license to tape it and distribute it for profit. They are taking money for tickets, or for DVD's and they are paying you, so this becomes a for-profit enterprise. Completely different rules then apply. You could be liable for damages in this litigious world. You have mechanical reproduction rights and synch rights to cover, at the least. AND any copyrights on the songs themselves. Most small timers just ignore this problem on the theory that obscurity equals security and that ignorance excuses mistakes in the law. Which is no comfort at all when they take your house for damages. It's Russian Roulette to take such a risk today without protection. In today's web world, your video WILL eventually be seen by people you can't control, some of whom will be lawyers.

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