I'm starting to compile quote for music scoring on my Antarctic expedition documentary. The first I've received is $166/minute of finished song-like music, then $83/minute of underscore music. So that means with 24 minutes of song music and 6 minutes of underscore, I'm looking at $4482 in cost. Is this in the ball-park? I'm a small producer, so that's a pretty serious amount. Is this what I should expect from other music developers?
That sounds fair. It's been a few years since I commissioned original work, but your cost is consistent with mine. I never paid by the minute, but the end result is in the ballpark. You might save a bit by using a music library, but you'll spend a lot of time searching for appropriate music.
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The lowest I've commissioned someone for was $100 per finished minute, and it was easily the worst experience I've had working with a composer. Just like anyone else on your project, you almost always end up saving money in the long run by paying more for a more experienced/talented person.
I will say that on shorter films (under 20 min), I've had luck contacting and working with composers who are fresh out of school. They work for lower rates in exchange for the experience and with the smaller scope, it's easier to walk them through the queues.