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Fixed price videos

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RandyFixed price videos
by on May 18, 2006 at 9:02:27 pm

I had a print/CD duplication business that wants to offer video to their clients, using me to do the video work, which are mainly bands and asked me for pricing. Their business has fixed-package pricing for their posters, CD design/packaging and wanted me to come up with some package pricing for videos to offer to their band clients.

I initially told him that every video project is different depending on the needs of each client and gave a per hour rate also. He understood that but wanted some package pricing for things like music videos, electronic press kits and any other video that could be offered to their band clients. Is package pricing realistic for videos of this type?

What other types of videos can be produced for bands these days?


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mark SuszkoRe: Fixed price videos
by on May 18, 2006 at 11:18:04 pm

You can look at sites like discmakers for "packages" that give you a per unit rate for a duplication run of a finished program with printed discs, sleeves, etc.

But you are right in that making each master is a different set of circumstances, and while you can quote a range, locking yourself into a fixed price for the production is insane; you're guaranteed to be either way low or way over the target. Both ways, you lose money.

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RandyRe: Fixed price videos
by on May 19, 2006 at 3:16:01 am

Actually, I wouldn't be doing any of the packaging/duplication for this company just the video content. They have the clients already coming in for CD design/duplication and posters.

What would be the best way to offer video services to bands that are already spending money on CD packaging and posters? This company that approached me seemed to think a fixed package price is the way to go and that bands would be hesitant with a per hour rate.


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mark SuszkoRe: Fixed price videos
by on May 19, 2006 at 3:44:17 am

Sure it's the way to go, for THEM.

They can get the same price for working you ten hours or twenty or fifty, that's a GREAT deal. FOR THEM.

If you are not very careful, you could wind up working for less than minimum wage on a fixed-price schedule. Smaller projects, lower-budget projects, can be MORE complicated than expensive label-sponsored endeavors. When they are paying Spike Jonez six figures or more to make a video, they can afford everything to be top of the line, so as to minimize the unknowns. Everything is planned out, storyboarded, tested, approved.

When it's some garage band that's not even on Myspace yet, you usually have more constrictions on budget and staff, more compromises to make, more chances for problems to crop up that will need a time-consuming fix in post. You need to be paid well for that extra time, effort, and creativity that saves the project.

A fixed price does not allow for that. You can charge a fixed price for dubbing DVD's because it's a mechanical process that never varies and is identical all the way: you load a machine with blanks, you pick up the finished units. The editing and design work is craftsmanship, these things are hand-wrought, not stamped out. I feel strongly about this.

If you set a fixed price you will either be overcharging for the finished product, which is good for your immediate bottom line but hurts your future marketability, and cuases unfair comparisons to your work quality versus the value, ("you paid HOW MUCH for THAT?") or you lowball it and lose money on the deal, which pegs you as a poor businessman and a risk, or worse, an easy mark for people that want to take advantage of you. When you try to raise the rates later, or compete for higher-level projects, you are never seriously considered. You get buttonholed as "the low budget guy". Instead of "it's worth what it's worth".

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Mike_SRe: Fixed price videos
by on May 19, 2006 at 8:48:04 am

Your print guy wants a fixed price deal, and I think we can understand that - it makes for nice, easy, clear selling pitch and buying decisions.

Buyers want quality and value, sure - they also want to know what they're getting into, and most want to be sure they can control their costs.

We, on the other hand, want a fair rate for the job. And we know that jobs vary. A lot.

So - you can walk away, and watch your printer use another contractor (s/he will, if there's someone else around, and it fits better with her/ his general business branding approach).

Or you can try to work with her.

Why not offer a couple of fixed price packages - basic, and deluxe - with clearly specced e.g n days prep, m hours shooting, x location, y hours of editing?

Then CONTROL YOUR PRODUCTION. The client doesn't get to extend the shoot / prep / veto the location / extend the edit without your agreement and paying extra. They get the best you can give them within what they're paying for, and everyone should be happy .... no?

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Nick GriffinRe: Fixed price videos
by on May 19, 2006 at 11:11:45 am

As said above, have a clearly defined "package" and go from there. If at all possible have a location / stage / studio over which you have control and the package includes x hours there. Then if the band wants something else it's an extra location charge. If they want a fog machine, that's extra. Use this as a selling opportunity. The whole trick is to not come off as nickle and dimeing them. Presenting a relatively complete schedule of services and costs at the very outset should accomplish this.

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Michael MunkittrickRe: Fixed prices are for milk, toll roads and politicians...
by on May 19, 2006 at 12:21:15 pm

Personally, I disagree with the "standard package" idea as it puts you in a position where you

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Ron LindeboomRe: Fixed prices are for milk, toll roads and politicians...
by on May 19, 2006 at 2:01:44 pm

Respectfully said, I think that you may be reading more into people's words than what you seem to think they are saying, Michael.

I don't think that people are suggesting fixed prices set in stone that do not allow for any kind of flexibility. What I think the point is, if I am reading them correctly, is that by having fixed prices within certain parameters and limits, which a customer signs off on and acknowledges that they understand

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Michael MunkittrickRe: Fixed prices are for milk, toll roads and politicians...
by on May 19, 2006 at 4:25:54 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "I don't think that people are suggesting fixed prices set in stone that do not allow for any kind of flexibility."

Of course not as it would prove lethal to almost any creative business plan. My statement is that defining a platform for negotiation by saying "I'll shoot up to one hour of video, edit three hours, do 20 boards and 50 titles for "X" amount of dollars" is not a favorable stance for creative services companies (or individuals) to start from.

[Ron Lindeboom] "Anyone who goes into a job without clearly defined limits that spell out how much for how much, is asking for trouble."

Here here! I am of the mind that making a set priced package offering with respect to this type of work will prove to be a loosing scenario for both the musician and the producer. I don't deny that an assembled package might give a decent place from which to start, but the reality of this exact type of work is very easily thrown under the bus when

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RandyRe: Fixed prices are for milk, toll roads and politicians...
by on May 19, 2006 at 7:44:04 pm

I totally agree that music videos are so different for each client that a package price would be very hard and risky to use. That will be the one type of video that I won't submit a package price on to this print/CD company.

What other types of videos can be done for bands that could be more easily created using fixed package pricing? For example, videos that could be shot in a day and edited in a day. One example I can think of is an interview with the band. I think this could be safely set at a package price and this is what the print/CD company is looking to offer their band clients. They want to create a list of these more basic videos that the band can choose from. From there the band could choose to have the videos authored to DVD by them or simply given videos masters to do whatever they want with them.

How are bands effectively using video in todays market beyond music videos? What would be the most effective use of the DVD format for bands? What types of videos are included in a electronic press kit?

I need to submit a demo reel and price/rate sheet to this print/CD company so that they can show it to potential clients. I'll be putting some music videos and TV commercials that I've done for bands on the demo but what else could be added to attract and sell bands on using video? Remember this print/CD company already has the client in the door spending money on print/CD packaging/duplication.


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Nick GriffinRe: Fixed prices... Yea, yea, yea.
by on May 19, 2006 at 8:46:53 pm

Just about everything said so far is correct depending on the situation and one's perpective as a provider of production services. But this began as Randy being asked to provide a fixed price "package" price for a "packaged" service of which the people asking seem to have very little understanding. They sell units so they just want to know how much a unit will cost. We know the variables are infinite. They don't.

So does Randy want to try to find a way to accomodate this that protects him from the dreaded "projects from hell that never end" or does he just want to turn them down?

There was an earlier reference to wedding packages. Maybe the best answer is that approach. A basic shoot with 1 camera pretending to be 2 or 3 in the edit, not to exceed X hours, a down and dirty edit session with some simple efx thrown in and viola... here's an example of what the purchaser gets for $X,000. On the same demo put an example of a much more elaborate production indicating that specific requests are available by bid.

The key to making this work is the clarity of your sales materials. You must specify what they are getting and provide a highly realistic expectation of what they're getting as the finished product. Buyers are at their unhappiest when they expect one thing and get something else.

And sorry to ask the obvious (and perhaps in doing so point out the fallacy in my suggestion above) but, what band is going to want a "packaged" music video that looks anything like someone else's "packaged" music video? Having shot stills for bands in a past life I seem to remember that the goal was always to NOT look like anything they'd seen before.

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RandyRe: Fixed prices... Yea, yea, yea.
by on May 19, 2006 at 10:35:11 pm

I was trying to come up with a list of videos that could potentially be offered to bands at a fixed price. Package prices could be developed by combining videos.

These videos wouldn't have as many variables as doing a music video and would be easier to control the time spent on them. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. General interview with the entire band
2. Individual band member interviews
3. Band or song writer discussing specific songs
4. In the studio with the band

Any other ideas?


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Michael MunkittrickRe: Fixed prices... Yea, yea, yea.
by on May 21, 2006 at 4:34:36 am

Okay, if you've got a good reel put together, place it and a breakdown of a comparable estimate for a few projects that you have done. If they are looking for associative values, this would be the most effective way of showing a cost-per-shot layout without defining any rock-hard figures.

Also, you could certainly do preset prices for on-camera interviews with intercut footage so long as there are defined limitations to your agreement. However, even with that said, I wholeheartedly believe that putting the dollars and cents on the table make negotiations more complex than doing each job a per necessary with the cost being very closely relegated to the exact specifications that all parties expect.

Finally, there's no shame in not being certain about the cost for a job without defined terms. The sad thing is that you, more often than not will not be in the position to define those terms after the point of pitching a "generic package". While you may be very, very gifted and the artist may be incredibly easy to work with, the deal, as it were is between you and the promoter/CD-packager. That is a difficult place to be with the idea of predefined values.

Good luck with the project.

Michael Munkittrick
Gainesville, Florida USA

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Bob ColeRe: Fixed prices... Yea, yea, yea.
by on May 22, 2006 at 3:58:32 am

Thanks for this thread -- it raises important questions.

The most important thing to recognize about clients who require a fixed price is that money is often not the main issue for them. Their main goal is CONTROL. Making movies is a scary business, with thousands of details. Directors can order 20 takes for a scene; editors can "tweak" for just about ever.

If you want business from clients who require fixed pricing:

1. Respect their POV.
2. Provide consistent, clear communication on the ongoing charges for the project. (Law firms provide a good model for how to avoid disputes. They provide estimates of the final bill, and then give the client timely updates (as often as daily) on the hours and other charges that are incurred.)

If you do that, in my experience, many clients who start by requiring fixed pricing will wind up authorizing additional charges, because you will be respecting their need to feel in control.

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