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Current Pricing

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Jose Zeinc
Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:34:40 am

I think that this time of challenge will bring us all a good experience of what value is, and what our creativity can do, so thats why i am refocusing my gig so i want to ask you what is the standard actual price for a :

30 sec spot
corporate video
music video
program show production

i need this to refocus myself and check if my prices are case sensitive to the actual reality of the economy


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Chris Blair
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:47:51 am

Wow...that's a broad question that I don't think can be answered. We've produced TV spots for $1000, and we've produced spots for $25,000. And there are probably people on these lists that have spent $25,000 on craft services for a very high-end, international TV spot! (I'm only half-kidding)

I don't believe there's any way of giving you set prices for any of what you list. For instance, a broadcast television program could conceivably be produced from anywhere from $30,000 up to millions depending on the type of program.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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Jose Zeinc
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:49:40 am

sorry maybe i put the question wrong, you are totally right im referring on a mid range product just simple


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Craig Seeman
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:59:52 am

My cost of living and the cost of the gear I use remains the same regardless of project the cost remains the same on all projects unless there's motive for a "bulk" discount (filling up more hours/days then I could otherwise).

If the job involves additional expenses then I add them plus markup depending on the expense.

If you're asking these questions and you've already been in business for a while you might be in deep trouble. One of the first things you do is examine your business model which includes expenses, profit, margin needed for growth. Profit is where you have the greatest flexibility and that may be dependent on your skills and the market. If you can't meet your costs (and that includes your food and housing) then the business will be finished in short order. If you don't include money for growth or at least maintenance your business will be finished in "longer order."

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grinner hester
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 5:44:16 am

The standard is based by the hour or day. You'll simply budget by multiplying how long it otta take by your rate.
One can't really ask "how much does a car cost?" It depends on everything from performance to options to MPG. Too broad for a global answer.
My world is the fast food of video. My clients like to have a one day or less turn around so her, I can tell ya a 2 minute corporate video is about a grand for post-prodction. If I shoot it too, I like to keep that same wage per day so the math is easy for me. I look at a grand a day, multiply it by how long it'll cost and that's my bid. The rounding down always comes in the revisions so I don't do that in the math.

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walter biscardi
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 12:12:03 pm

30 sec spot - $200 for bad cable local production to $1 million and up

infomercial - $10,000 to $100,000 are the numbers I've heard

corporate video - What does this mean? Training, marketing, image, event highlights, recognition....?

music video - $10,000 to over 1 million.

program show production - What does this mean? Local cable access, regional, national....? National television shows can cost $5 million and up per episode.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 2:51:40 pm

The cheapest I've made a TV PSA was ten bucks for blank stock, took one hour to shoot and one to post, and it won a local award over my buddy's spot, which was in the same category but had a thousand-dollar budget( he hired some clowns and had some special effects for his ).

I'm so used to working on small budgets, I'm afraid I wouldn't know what to do with *real* money if they ever gave me any. But I know I wouldn't waste it.

When clients ask me what a standard price for a video is, I ask them what's the difference between a mansion and a shack, if they both keep the rain off your head. What's the difference between a Lexus and a Yugo, if they get you across town in the same amount of time. The difference is all in the level of details, the customization. The quality of the finish. When you tell me how you like to live and how you like to drive, I can tell you about what that kind of house and that kind of car cost.

Every job I do is a custom job; at a standard fixed rate, the only variables you have are time and quality. You get an estimated cost by knowing how long the various parts of the job will need to take, given no unforseen surprises, and multiplying that by the rate you've set.

How good you are will have a bearing on how long some things take to do, so even if your rate is higher than another guy's, if you're faster because you're better, the overall cost could come out about the same as the slower guy. The question then is: is the quality at the level you wanted?

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Mick Haensler
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 5:27:15 pm

My cost of living(average gross yearly salary requirements) = $50,000...
Business debt repayment = $7000 annual
Static overhead= $5000 annual
New equipment, software, training= $7000 annual

Gross Annual Revenue Requirements = $69000

These are averages plus 15%. These are specific to my area and my cost of living which isn't that high.

Billable hours in a week = 20 average

$69000 divided by 1040 annual hours billed = $66 per hour

The last :30 I did took 25 hours, crappy local cable = $1500

These numbers are specific to me and my situation. I live in a small market with even smaller thinkers. Fortunately the cost of living here is quite low compared to a lot of areas in the US. It is impossible to answer your query in that one would have to calculate the specifics to your situation which only you can do.The model I used to calculate what I need to charge was formulated by talking with a lot of people in and out of the business. It also is dependent on how much you want to work. For my situation, I started this business after working a 70-80 hour a week job for 3 years. I have no desire to ever work that hard again. So for me it was a matter of compromise, balancing the need to make a living with the reality of my specific market with the need for a balanced life that doesn't revolve around my work, but rather work that revolves around my life. I hope this helps.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media

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Brendan Coots
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 6:20:21 pm


As these comments illustrate, there are a lot of variables that go into pricing, and if someone answered your question with hard numbers they'd be lying. The formula that Mick posted is a very sensible way to figure up what you need to charge to stay solvent, but you'll have to take it a few steps further for your business to survive.

The next step is to evaluate whether or not your desired rate is in line with your local economy. New York, LA or San Francisco artists/businesses can get a much higher rate than someone in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The ideal approach is to research your competition to see what they are charging. If that is not an option to you, it might be helpful to research what the average income is in your area and compare it to your desired rate. While it varies considerably, it is not uncommon for video production artists to make 1.5 - 2X the average local hourly rate for medium-skilled labor. If your desired rate is too high for your local economy you will have a tough time landing ANY work so this is a crucial step in figuring your rate.

You will also need to honestly evaluate your skill set, as compared to local competition, to determine if you can actually command the rates you want. Skill level is key here, because someone with a rock-solid portfolio of stunning work is going to earn more, plain and simple. If your work isn't as good and you are charging the same or more, they will get all the work.

Doing this type of self-evaluation will let you know if your expected hourly rate is reasonable and will actually land you work. If you find that your needs far outweigh local earning potential, maybe it's better to go work for someone else. This is the reality-based workup that all smart business owners do before launching any business to determine if it has a chance of being successful long term.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Nick Griffin
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 6:53:18 pm

At the risk of being overly business & marketing-like in the business & marketing forum, this is a SALES issue. Everything that's been said here has merit, BUT should be looked at from a bigger perspective.

Gentlemen (and the occasional lady), we are NOT in the COMMODITY BUSINESS. As Mark points out so well... (tell me again, Mark, why you don't think you should be on the Biz & Mkt masthead?)... "Every job I do is a custom job." We can estimate a job based on a fixed set of factors, we can bend or hold to that estimate when factors change, but it all comes down to what the customer/client is willing to PAY and, if after having paid it, they come back for more.

If you work in New York or LA (or Chicago, Atlanta, London, Paris, etc, etc), have dedicated studio space and a large following of agency people clamoring to fill your every open hour, then you can charge top dollar, especially if you are able to produce a unique "look" that not everyone can provide. However, if you're in a medium-sized market where there are a limited number of prospects, you're working from a spare bedroom and you have a lot of competition all pitching work very similar to yours in look and quality, then the cost structure you present has to be somewhat more reasonable.

It starts with having basic of knowledge of your market -- what do OTHERS charge -- what are their capabilities, specialties -- what options do your prospective clients have and, importantly, how familiar are THEY with the options they have? How satisfied are they with past projects from other production companies, OR does a group of potentially lucrative clients have little experience with video and does getting them in as first timers offer an opportunity to make serious money.

Then market knowledge is used to drive SALES strategies and tactics. Not to say that many of us don't work from a pre-set rate, or set of rates, but the success of any sale comes from:

A) You not leaving enough of their money on the table that you find yourself later smacking the middle of your forehead for being such an idiot, and

B) Not having the client feel after the fact that they've been taken to the cleaner and received anything less than stellar value from you.

All of this requires asking a lot of questions -- both in the marketplace and of specific client/customers -- and using what you learn to hone what you offer into what the prospect wants to buy at a price he or she is comfortable paying. It's important to note that this is not a one-time or static process. It's an on-going process of ready-aim-fire, aim-fire, aim-fire, and so on.

All of that said, Walt Biscardi's post provides a good overview of market costs in general and also shows that the range from the lowest levels of production up to Hollywood full tilt is tremendous. Your job is to make sure there's a good match between what they're paying and what they're expecting. Therein lies professionalism.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:08:40 pm

Another way to figure how much to charge is:

COGS + Overhead + Profit = Total

COGS = cost of goods sold, or how much it actually costs you to do the work. If it is a 8 hour shoot plus 40 hours of editing, multiply by your hourly rate, this is how much you get paid.

But how much you get paid is only part of the puzzle.

Overhead is rent, utilities, phone, gas, equipment financing, etc. You could be a hero and take these costs out of your COGS but that leaves you with a low hourly wage. You are a skilled professional and have the right to fair pay.

Profit is an easy one. You are in business to make money, not to simply survive. What you do with the profit is up to you. You can share it with your employees, contribute to a 401K, reinvest in the company with equipment or facility purchases, or save it for a rainy day.

Thus, the amount you charge a client should be divisible by 3 in a fair manner to all 3 buckets. For example, if you list your hourly rate as $300 on a proposal, this does not mean you personally get that per hour, but it covers your expenses.

My dad always used to say "Pay yourself first."

Mike Cohen

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 10, 2009 at 9:28:57 pm

We do actually use a per-finished-minute formula with three tiers.

Basic Editing (some graphics, long shots, not much broll cutting)
$150-300 per finished minute

Medium Effort Editing (interviews, broll graphics and some animation or effects with CCOR)
$400-700 per finished minute

Full Tilt editing spectacular (lots of broll cutting lots of compositing ccor etc)
$1000-1500 per finished minute

Full-Tilt animation spectacular (some broll - everything composited, green screen etc)
$1500-2500 per finished minute

This formula is not how we create estimates, but it has held pretty solid on these kinds of projects.

Midwest market, average $175-$200 an hour for a standard def NLE suite, and up to $275 per hour for HD editing.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media

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Bill Davis
Re: Current Pricing
on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:55:24 am

Personal opinion here.

I *HATE* selling time. Let me repeat that. I *HATE* selling time. Hours or minutes or days or whatever.

First and foremost, your irrecoverable inventory is constantly disappearing. That sucks for a start.

Plus time billing puts NO premium on talent, judgement or experience.

Two editors. A is OK and takes 10 hours to produce a pedestrian cut of a project - for which he charges you $1k via $100 an hour.

Editor B is experienced and creative. She has an inspired idea. She turns out an OUTSTANDING program but takes only 2 hours to accomplish it do to her focus and efficiency. So even if her "rate" is $250 an hour she's supposed to take home HALF what the hack billed?

When you bill for time, you're essentially accepting the idea that the person who's talented and experienced and therefore efficient - is worth LESS than the person who's a mediocre plodder.

Bad idea, in my opinion.


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