The "I can rent it for less" rant

Lone_Poor_Boy

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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.

Most people? Not if you know how to vet service providers and contractors. This is a pretty inaccurate generalization. Cheap people; people who don't listen to good advice; people who want to believe the 'deal'; People who want to be told what they want to hear. Yes, those people will get screwed.
 

chris m.

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I can see this from several angles.

Somehow I became the dedicated sound guy for our band. I would be totally happy to pay a sound person as essentially our 7th member, especially if he/she brought their own gear and dedicated as much effort to their craft as we have dedicated to our instruments. That would be awesome. Haven't found that person yet. It's a drag for me to do it on multiple levels and I ain't all that good at it....but I'm learning!

I have played in festivals where there is pro sound and a full backline, pro lights, multiple sound and light guys running main board, monitor board, etc.-- the whole shooting match. Some of them have been incredibly awesome, and some of them have really been pretty mediocre. Worst of all is when they have a negative attitude where they're probably thinking something like, "I should be doing sound for the Rolling Stones, but instead I'm stuck doing sound for this cheesy festival with a bunch of amateur bands".....

The potential to totally "roll your own" is getting higher and higher, mostly because of modern technology and dropping prices. You can buy a wireless stage box, an iPAD, some mikes, some cords, and some powered mains and be in business for pretty darn cheap. Add a cheap headphone amp or some IEM rigs and you can go that route instead of monitor wedges very easily now, too. EQ, compression, and other settings are getting easier now that there are canned presets that are pretty awesome. Similarly there are automated room tuning algorithms and automated feedback suppression algorithms.

There will still be a solid role for professional live sound guys for big money events and venues. But for small bands, local events, small churches, etc., it might make more sense to embrace the new reality and offer services as a consultant to help an entity learn how to do it themselves. You can also be on call to provide additional consulting and assistance in the future, especially as they look to upgrade or to solve a problem that they haven't been able to figure out on their own. Rather than fish for the band or church, you teach the band or church how to fish, and feel OK about that....no, you actually feel GREAT about that. You actually encourage them to take photos of all your settings because the goal is to help them become self-sufficient.

Think of yourself as a teacher (and charge for it) rather than a performer. An analogy-- as a guitar teacher you are not looking to play guitar in the band, you are looking to help the guitar player get better at guitar. I would happily pay someone to consult with my band on the most economical gear solution, and to help us set up optimized pre-sets, etc. I just can't afford to pay pro rates for every gig-- ain't never gonna happen. I would pay them a full band member share, which typically comes out to a whopping $50.

Some would think of this model as being paid to put themselves out of business. I see it as accepting market realities. There are two tiers-- low budget stuff where the best option is to get paid to teach folks how to do it; and high budget where folks definitely need and can also afford pro services. But they better not be condescending jerks about it when they do show up with their amazing gear and knowledge.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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Sorry to hear (no pun intended). I was squeezed out of a sound tech job I had at a bar. The manager's housemate thought he could do better. Hearing a few stories was a good chuckle, but also sad. I enjoyed the work and meeting the bands. I took pride in doing a good job and had positive comments from audience and band members alike. But in the end, someone thought otherwise.
 

G&Lplayer

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I have been mixing professionally for 37 years. I explain to people that no one pays me to mix, I love doing that and it is the reason I do the gig. However, I am not inexpensive. What you are paying me is for being a insurance policy for the show. For example when the sound board blows up and you finish the last 4 songs with a 4 piece band mixing through a USB interface into the PA. Or when the cross over dies during the opener and the talent keeps playing through fill speakers and monitors that are re-tasked. The headliner would have loved to have had subs, but what I got working was enough to do the show. Yep, you can cheap out on a sound person, have fun when something goes wrong.

I have played in festivals where there is pro sound and a full backline, pro lights, multiple sound and light guys running main board, monitor board, etc.-- the whole shooting match. Some of them have been incredibly awesome, and some of them have really been pretty mediocre. Worst of all is when they have a negative attitude where they're probably thinking something like, "I should be doing sound for the Rolling Stones, but instead I'm stuck doing sound for this cheesy festival with a bunch of amateur bands".....

I often find myself on the other end of the equation here. Currently my summer gig is a small outdoor theater where we have mostly acoustic music, mid level acts in Americana and Bluegrass. I get bands and guest engineers who think that since I am here that this is all I've ever done. We just did a band where the bands engineer, who was great by the way, realized the last gig we did together was a festival that had 48,000 in attendance.
 

Mouth

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Save that email, blank out the names and use it when someone balks.

The high cost of being cheap.

Yes, there were shops that might be a little cheaper, but our shop not only made the neon "light up", but it would last a LONG time AND be safer. (improperly wired neon causes fires very often) But explaining that to customers sounds like you're just "selling" a higher price. :(

There's a place near me TITLE LOANS their LE is frequently out. Maybe that's their real game though. Pawn your airbags for funbags.
 

nojazzhere

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Save that email, blank out the names and use it when someone balks.

The high cost of being cheap.



There's a place near me TITLE LOANS their LE is frequently out. Maybe that's their real game though. Pawn your airbags for funbags.
There are videos on Youtube that show signs with letters missing that make the words funny, and even obscene. Like most people, I get a kick out of them, although I can tell that many of them are hoaxes or photoshopped. Neon signs with larger, individual letters can have one or two letters go out, but smaller signs, with "connected" neon letters can't. If the neon letters are all one "unit", if anything goes out it ALL goes out. Still amusing, though. ;)
 

oregomike

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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.

Yes, this. It's all pretty sad. Fast, cheap, good. Pick any two.
 

oregomike

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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

Yeas ago, I was in the bicycle industry in the Silicon Valley area and you wouldn't believe the entitlement and that same attitude that'd walk through the door of our shop. Lot's of folks with Venture Capitalist throw-away money, complaining that we charged (at the time) $20 to true/tension a wheel. "What? That took you all of 10 min?" Me being the curmudgeon that I am, would always say, "It took me took many years and 1000s of wheels to get to that point. That's what you're paying for." That was the polite version of what I wanted to tell those customers. That attitude is everywhere now, unfortunately.

Edit: Another favorite. "Why can't I get it repaired now/for free/at a discount? Do you know how much I spend here?" Lol. I could write a f&*king book. Hmmm.
 
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telemnemonics

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Along with the whining of some white collar dressers about the cost of hiring a professional, we have the odd situation where 20 somethings are moving in with Mom & Dad after expensive college lands them $17/ hr, and meanwhile licensed skilled trades are so strapped for hiring that they offer on the job training and paid classes plus sign on bonuses in jobs that can easily reach six figures if one sets their mind to it.

In fairness to "whining white collar dressers", I found plenty of whining lower income/ blue collar people too, and figured out that I just choose clients who are not whiny.

I know poor people cannot afford costly home repairs and I reached a point where I let the beginner contractors work cheap.

I charged high enough rates and just said OK good luck to potential clients that couldn't afford or didn't want to pay a fairly high rate.
Most ended up happy to pay for good work and recommended me to friends & neighbors.

I've had the conversations with many friends in the trades and it's hard to force them to turn down jobs when the client starts going on about their brother in laws buddy who could renovate their bathroom for $4000.
Run for the nearest exit when you hear that crap!

One who couldn't bring himself to charge his value, now works overnight on bridge repair for a union carpentry contractor.
He loved what he did before in homes but kept getting suckered by whiny clients.

It was a bit hard for me too, hard to say $50 and hour when i was willing to take $25/ hr.
But oddly enough, the white collar clients willing to pay were generally pretty good to work for, as long as I communicated clearly.
Communication skills and ensuring both parties understand and agree is worth $20/ hr.
 

chris m.

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Unlike the medical profession, at least it is possible to get fairly good recommendations, and to get written quotes from potential contractors in the trades.
If you do your homework before you get that new roof or hot water heater it is possible to get good work at a fair price. But it definitely takes doing
a bit of research and not just focusing on the lowest bid.

Where I live there are some guys that definitely do great work, are reliable, and tend to charge significantly less than some of the other guys. These guys are GOLD,
and they have no shortage of work. The worst is someone that charges top dollar and is neither reliable nor good. That leaves a sour taste whether it's a mechanic,
plumber, HVAC person, whatever.
 

Guitarzan

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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 $$.

Voss has some good recommendations on how to condition prospective customers to expect your price quote to be really high and then relieved when it is not as high as you made them think it was going to be.

https://www.harpercollins.com/products/never-split-the-difference-chris-vosstahl-raz
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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Yeas ago, I was in the bicycle industry in the Silicon Valley area and you wouldn't believe the entitlement and that same attitude that'd walk through the door of our shop. Lot's of folks with Venture Capitalist throw-away money, complaining that we charged (at the time) $20 to true/tension a wheel. "What? That took you all of 10 min?" Me being the curmudgeon that I am, would always say, "It me took many years and 1000s of wheels to get to that point. That's what you're paying for." That was the polite version of what I wanted to tell those customers. That attitude is everywhere now, unfortunately.

Edit: Another favorite. "Why can't I get it repaired now/for free/at a discount? Do you know how much I spend here?" Lol. I could write a f&*king book. Hmmm.
I worked in aviation. No, you can't borrow my tools to do your own work.
 

Timbresmith1

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I'm curious about the "bad experience" with the "$500 guy"......was the sound bad?.....was he not punctual?.....was the audience unhappy?
All too often, people don't understand the difference that occurs. Unless they know what "great" sound is like, they don't realize how inferior the "bad" sound is.
Like you, I frequently had situations when I was a neon glassblower with people wanting neon repaired. Yes, there were shops that might be a little cheaper, but our shop not only made the neon "light up", but it would last a LONG time AND be safer. (improperly wired neon causes fires very often) But explaining that to customers sounds like you're just "selling" a higher price. :(
Singers will let you know!
 

oregomike

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I worked in aviation. No, you can't borrow my tools to do your own work.

Oh, yeah. That was very common. I used to work at Wheelsmith where we were required to have our own tools (usually in a Chicago case or similar), Everything except the cutting tools. Mechanics didn't even share. It was a no-no. Wheelsmith's service dept ran on the auto service dept. model. Paid by the job. It was great if you were efficient and detail minded. If you tried to rush and did a half-ass job, your work would get sent back on your time, so it encouraged good work. And those who couldn't manage, left for (cough) lesser shops.
 
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stxrus

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I get tire kickers every once in a while.
I tell them what the first hour will be and what every half hour after that is.
How long will it take to clear my sink, tub, etc?
I don’t know every job is different.
Oh. Ballpark?
I repeat my rates
I’ll call you back. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t.

I’m busy enough. Actually, I’d like a 1/4-1/3 decrease in my work load. I just don’t see that happening
 

nojazzhere

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I have been mixing professionally for 37 years. I explain to people that no one pays me to mix, I love doing that and it is the reason I do the gig. However, I am not inexpensive. What you are paying me is for being a insurance policy for the show. For example when the sound board blows up and you finish the last 4 songs with a 4 piece band mixing through a USB interface into the PA. Or when the cross over dies during the opener and the talent keeps playing through fill speakers and monitors that are re-tasked. The headliner would have loved to have had subs, but what I got working was enough to do the show. Yep, you can cheap out on a sound person, have fun when something goes wrong.



I often find myself on the other end of the equation here. Currently my summer gig is a small outdoor theater where we have mostly acoustic music, mid level acts in Americana and Bluegrass. I get bands and guest engineers who think that since I am here that this is all I've ever done. We just did a band where the bands engineer, who was great by the way, realized the last gig we did together was a festival that had 48,000 in attendance.
Your post reminded me of a story I had forgotten. In the early nineties, a band I played in was hired to open a private birthday party for a wealthy attorney. They had hired an unknown guitarist from Austin, Ian Moore. As part of Ian's contract, they had a great sound guy doing the PA. Halfway through our set, our bassist's crappy Fender amp blew out. The sound guy immediately assessed what had happened, and quickly brought up a cable from his board, plugged into the bass guitar, and we were back in business, with the bass going through the PA.....probably less than sixty seconds.
 




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