The "I can rent it for less" rant

Old Deaf Roadie

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As an engineering consultant for about half of my career, we would be brought in to “right the ship” after engineering teams doing stuff that they knew little about. Typically, very expensive lessons and people getting fired.
I personally witnessed an HVAC engineer get fired for not listening to those who knew better, and suffer her ineptness every day I am on the clock. I have little respect or time for the kind of stubborn engineer that believes others should listen to them because "they are engineers" and ultimately fail at fixing an issue, and laud the engineer that understands the issue & brings positive results.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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There are many jobs where people forget you are paying for the knowledge and experience.
For the most part, they are not paying for what you do, they are paying for you knowing how to avoid problems and knowing what to if things start to go wrong.
I feel your pain.
Years ago I was trying to run do wedding videos. I would give a quote and for the most part, people thought I was way too high. One guy, a friend of a friend, wanted a wedding video and went to great lengths to say my quote was way too high, I should be ashamed of expecting that much, etc. He gave the job to his nephew. I heard through the grapevine how it went. The nephew set up the camera, hit record and sat back. He left the auto focus on. The video had some flowers in focus. Worse, the guy set up the video so he was shooting toward a window. Just as the bride got to the altar, the sun came out. The result was a nice video of two slightly fuzzy silhouettes getting married.
Video is expensive and the industry changes so fast that it changed again in the time it took to read these posts.
 

Obsessed

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I personally witnessed an HVAC engineer get fired for not listening to those who knew better, and suffer her ineptness every day I am on the clock. I have little respect or time for the kind of stubborn engineer that believes others should listen to them because "they are engineers" and ultimately fail at fixing an issue, and laud the engineer that understands the issue & brings positive results.
Yup, it is a serious problem in the field and very easy to paint yourself into a corner. I had to learn that lesson too. It is much easier to come in from outside with a fresh perspective.
 

ukepicker

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I can not tell you how many times I have gone into a place and the sound was horrible. I spend ten minutes on the board getting the EQ where it needs to be and setting the system to the room for it to sound good. At least a half dozen times the owner or the Pastor or whoever is in charge will walk up and take a picture of the board. I ask why he is doing that and they say so they can save the settings...

Been there. Churches are the worst: usually a volunteer with no ear, no heart and a painful need for affirmation.

There is one church locally that hires a real pro to run their sound. I've substituted for him a few times. The music director told me that the whole band is paid, but if times got lean, the last person to lose the paycheck would be the soundman. I really appreciated that guy.
 

trapdoor2

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One of my favorite quotes (often attributed to John Ruskin but really isn't his):

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

I have always been given grief (from friends and family) for not using cheap labor (like landscaping, painting, construction, etc.). There are always friends of friends who think they can do the job at half the price...and they're usually very capable of doing half-a-job...
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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I would charge more to go to an a cappella festival too.
Not your father's barbershop. Think of it as a comedy show set to 4 part harmony with lots of dominant 7th chords. The talent level includes past international & national competition champs. These folks are at the top of their game
Been there. Churches are the worst: usually a volunteer with no ear, no heart and a painful need for affirmation.

There is one church locally that hires a real pro to run their sound. I've substituted for him a few times. The music director told me that the whole band is paid, but if times got lean, the last person to lose the paycheck would be the soundman. I really appreciated that guy.
I have found that higher budget churches with current rider-friendly gear will attract a higher caliber tech just for the opportunity to work with a specific mixing console or line array that they normally would not get. Our local big congregation has a real good tech crew. They actually spend money on training, and are enjoyable to have in the house. I know, those are exceptions & not the rule.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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One of my favorite quotes (often attributed to John Ruskin but really isn't his):

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

I have always been given grief (from friends and family) for not using cheap labor (like landscaping, painting, construction, etc.). There are always friends of friends who think they can do the job at half the price...and they're usually very capable of doing half-a-job...
Price is a one-shot deal. Cost goes on forever. In my case, the client saved on price, but the cost is that next year fewer people will subscribe to the webcast, fewer people will return to that venue for that show, and it will be more difficult for them to attract talent.
 

GreatDaneRock

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I was actually told by a prospective client for an a Cappella festival that I am too expensive & rentals are cheaper. I would agree that rentals are indeed cheaper, but that's where it ends.

Maybe you can. But...does it come with an operator with 40+ years experience in the craft or will you just find whoever to trust your show to? Can your guy even set it up per Barbershop Harmony Society standards & still get sound to the back of the room? And do monitors? And do a webcast off a 3rd mix? Will your guy travel the 3 hours to the venue & pay for his own room?

You're not paying me for the time I am there. You are paying me for the success of your show, backed by decades of experience and my professional reputation.

So the show went on without me. The client forgot to remove me from the email group & I was able to find out they had a bad experience with the $500 guy and a music store no-name rental system, and that they should have hired the $1500 guy (me) that has a suitable system and understands what's going on.

Thanks for listening. Spoiler Alert: the next quote they get from me will be for even more $$.

Damn well said. I teach recording engineering and it pisses me off how underappreciated the role we play as sound engineers/technicians is, especially for live performances and events.

I resonated with what you said and with your permission, I'll use it to illustrate the situation for future clients and students to apply: "You're not paying me for the time I am there. You are paying me for the success of your show..."

BRAVO!

GDR
 

Sconnie

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I personally witnessed an HVAC engineer get fired for not listening to those who knew better, and suffer her ineptness every day I am on the clock. I have little respect or time for the kind of stubborn engineer that believes others should listen to them because "they are engineers" and ultimately fail at fixing an issue, and laud the engineer that understands the issue & brings positive results.

What I've learned in the first six years of my engineering career is that 95% of the job is "kicking around ideas" where everyone is on the same level and no one has a fear of saying something stupid. That's a good way to keep egos out of it, cause there's just no room for those. In all this time I've still asked more questions than I have provided answers, and only got "fired" when I put my foot down after my job duties shifted to those of a field service engineer which I didn't sign up for, but I digress.

As for this thread, good on ya OP for standing your ground. You got to be a fly on the wall to affirm your stance! If they come back, I'd just do a good job at the right price to show them what honest and quality work is worth.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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Damn well said. I teach recording engineering and it pisses me off how underappreciated the role we play as sound engineers/technicians is, especially for live performances and events.

I resonated with what you said and with your permission, I'll use it to illustrate the situation for future clients and students to apply: "You're not paying me for the time I am there. You are paying me for the success of your show..."

BRAVO!

GDR
I forget where I first heard that statement. Ultimately, I can't claim credit for it, but by all means, use it! Others certainly are. Ahem...
 

oregomike

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I was actually told by a prospective client for an a Cappella festival that I am too expensive & rentals are cheaper. I would agree that rentals are indeed cheaper, but that's where it ends.

Maybe you can. But...does it come with an operator with 40+ years experience in the craft or will you just find whoever to trust your show to? Can your guy even set it up per Barbershop Harmony Society standards & still get sound to the back of the room? And do monitors? And do a webcast off a 3rd mix? Will your guy travel the 3 hours to the venue & pay for his own room?

You're not paying me for the time I am there. You are paying me for the success of your show, backed by decades of experience and my professional reputation.

So the show went on without me. The client forgot to remove me from the email group & I was able to find out they had a bad experience with the $500 guy and a music store no-name rental system, and that they should have hired the $1500 guy (me) that has a suitable system and understands what's going on.

Thanks for listening. Spoiler Alert: the next quote they get from me will be for even more $$.

Always funny when someone asks you for a service (regardless of service) that they can't do themselves, then complains about the price.
 

Happy Enchilada

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After I got on a friend's motorcycle in college drunk and dropped it breaking my left ankle in 3 places, my dad commented "Experience is the best teacher - that's why it costs the most." Words to live by. The first partscaster I built was a trainwreck: The second one is a masterpiece. Or close.

The OP's beloved festival operators might be bright enough to realize the money they saved with the "intern" sound guy was no bargain. And the OP will be within his rights to raise his rates should they come knocking again next year - $500 would be ironic, to pay for their mistake this year. :D

I have had a few clients over the years that I "fired" due to their constant grousing about rates, etc. They always came back a few months later after using a lower-priced "professional," and I was always either "too busy" or raised the rate on 'em.

As for knowing your limitations, I don't mess with most plumbing and ALL wiring issues around the house. I never did. I figure why exacerbate things and make 27 trips to Home Depot, bust 3 knuckles, injure my back, shock myself, and have2 inches of standing black water to clean up ... when one phone call will get the job done right and quickly and somebody else does the cleanup?

Same with car repair. Gone are the days when you could fix about anything under the hood with simple hand tools and dead reckoning. And even oil changes are beyond my capabilities with my back and arthritis. Better to provide others with employment and keep the economy humming.
 

ukepicker

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The only way I've really made money in music is a cappella sound.

You're right, ODR - they can hear everything and most of the audience is made up of musicians (or self-styled "musicians") and they have ears. Sometimes very good ears.

I did a pinch-hit job running sound for an a cappella festival for a guy (who has a name and company in the a cappella sound industry (is that an industryo_O)) and I took it with very few details from him. He had the flu, lived 1000 miles away and his client was in a pinch. He had heard of me. So I agreed. (It wasn't Tony Huerta - that guy is 100% gold)

I showed up to the venue 30 minutes early, but the producers were 2 hours late.
They guy I was subbing for had rented 24 Guitar Center wireless mics, which showed up even later, and turned out to all be made for the same set of frequencies (I've forgotten what that's called, because I don't care at all anymore). It should've been 12 on one set, and 12 on the other. GC was ZERO help.

I couldn't get all 24 working. I think I got 16 to work, but some were iffy. The groups participating were promised 24 available mics, and it was a problem. Somebody dug up some area mics. I fumbled around trying to maximize the setup, then just try to make it work so that we could have a show. I was balls-to-the-wall from 11am until the show was over. (Oh wait, I stopped to take a leak at 6pm. . ). Sound checks were cut from 30 minutes each, to 5 minutes each and ended 10 minutes before curtain.

The worst part? The venue had a house manager and crew AND all the equipment we needed. Better equipment. And tried and true in that space. I begged the producers to let them set up. The house manager offered. They said "no, our budget doesn't allow it".

So, in the long run, I had three years of my life sucked away. The concert went off okay, but did not sound the way anyone had hoped. I don't recall a single "musical" moment the whole evening (not my fault, btw). They got their money back from GC and flu-guy-with-the-big-name got paid. BS, if you ask me.

While I was tearing down after the concert, the house manager came over to the desk. We looked at each other. "That was a rough one" he said. "Yep. And my last. You're the first to know that I am retiring."

Those same producers called me the next year. "hahah!! No thanks. I'm retired!" I told them.
 

telemnemonics

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Oh working man with skills and experience who can be trusted to fix problems before they cause harm.

Oh we loved you while America was growing stronger and stronger.
We depended on you and we paid you well enough.

But dear working man I'm sorry to inform you we have a trash can here for your next gig.
Empty it or climb in, your choice.

Oh working man with skills and experience who can be trusted...
 

telemnemonics

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Always funny when someone asks you for a service (regardless of service) that they can't do themselves, then complains about the price.

Yeah it's a newer trend in society.

Growing up, we learned about high quality.
Quality goods and services.
Goods that lasted decades, and service providers that could be trusted to do what you paid them for.

Then Wall Street and corporate boardrooms decided they could make more profit if they went with cheap manufacturing rather than quality.

Combined with marketing Amazon style that repeated over and over cheap price and replaced high quality with free returns of the crap if it didn't work or you noticed it was cheap crap.

Consumer society has been brainwashed into wanting buying and liking cheap disposable crap.
As a kid it was clear that consumer society valued high quality, reliability, long lasting, and American made.

We also got things like Angies List telling home owners that tradesmen could not be trusted.
To some degree there was some concern about who you hired for home renovation, but Angie made money using scare tactics and badmouthing working tradesmen and women.
 

Fretting out

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It’s usually cheaper to buy

Depending on how many times you rent said piece of equipment/ how often you would use it
 

Harry Styron

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While the OP’s point is a good one, most people have paid a premium price and received mediocre service. Or have received great service from someone whose price wasn’t so high.
 

Fretting out

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Always funny when someone asks you for a service (regardless of service) that they can't do themselves, then complains about the price.

It’s funny... in every other industry you pretty much know if the person has the money or not to pay

But in my line of work (construction) you cannot ask for a bank statement or proof of financial means

I find it’s always the people that have “easy” money/expendable income are the group that gives a problem and doesn’t want to pay

Almost never have any trouble with people that work hard and have to scrape by/save up to pay for a job

It’s also that lots of people don’t appreciate the skill it takes to do a lot of these things, I always liken it to the person will buy a 12 dollar cup of coffee but something that takes real skill they won’t pay for

It’s all bass akwards us skilled laborers/carpenters/real manual working folk should be the ones making top dollar us folk that actually provide a physical skill/product, not the people that know how to type on a keyboard creating nothing....


I digress
 
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