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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having just finished a Motown Revue show, in which I orchestrated the horn parts. The music director has asked me to do complete arrangements for the show.

Now I have no problem with doing the arramgements ( my major at college was arranging/composition), my question is how are the wages determined for doing such work?

Do I charge by the chart, by the hour, by the page? How should I charge? What is the union scale for such work?

Any comments appreciated.
 

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Selmer Balanced Action Tenor Saxophone, Powell Flute
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I have done a lot of arranging for people in the past and I must say that the charges have varied. It all depends on how much work you think it will be. Here is a base/bottom dollar scale for what I charge.

1. All easy motown/ rock & roll / funk tunes i.e My Girl and stuff. Horns only $50/Chart.

From there depending on difficulty my prices go up. Earth, Wind and Fire charts end up being $75 - $100/chart and Tower of Power can go even higher.

2. Big Band and Full Orchestration Charts end up costing about $250/Chart. Once again more or less money depending on difficulty.

3. I will offer people who want a whole book or show arranged more of a package price which depends on the show, but normally ranges from $1500ish - $2500. This covers all parts, edits and anything else they need changed after the fact. This seems like what you should look into doing for the show.

Final Note: All of this being said. It all depends on how much work you think you will have to do and how hard it will be to do it. I have done charts for friends for free or a really discounted price. shhh don't tell. I think a fixed price works better for the buyer and hourly for the arranger because we both know how many hours you can easily put in tweaking the arrangement just to get it perfect. I guess there is no right or wrong way in my opinion. It's whatever works and is fair to both of you. Good LUCK!! Let me know how it goes.

** I don't know about Union scale as I am not in a place where the Union is active. I would be interested to find out though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Simon,
Thanks for the note. I think I'm in the right ballpark. While these are fairly easy Motown tunes they are looking for full arrangements, 3 or 4 horns, lead and background vocals, and full rhythm section.
At 38 songs for the show I was thinking for about $2k to arrange and get everything packaged into books. just plastic bound, nothing too fancy.

BTW, do you keep the right to your arragements as intellectual property? I did this on the first show and got a bit of flak from one player, who thought the book was his to keep! I told him no they were my charts and got the book back.
 

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I am interested to know who in practice, keeps the charts too. A contract should specify who retains the rights to as to th arrangement. If no contract what is the usual practice if any.
 

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Selmer Balanced Action Tenor Saxophone, Powell Flute
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Always keep the rights to your charts. Unless you arrange a deal to sell them. If you are doing an arrangement for this whole entire show you can say 2K for the arrangements and then 1K for rights to the charts. That means that after you finish the person who hired you to do everything gets to keep all of the books so they can perform the show again. Not the individual players. If they don't want to pay you for the books then you get them back at the end, and can rent them out to people whenever they want to perform the show. This is basically how broadway shows work. If your local theatre company wants to perform Annie, they have to contact the production company and rent the score + books. So in short. Yes always talk to the person hiring you about the rights to the work. Offer them a deal to buy it and if they don't want to let them know that they have to give them back at the end of the run and can rent them again anytime. Also I would recommend getting a contract together for the job to protect you and them.

P.S. 2K is right in the ball park. That is $52 ish per chart. you could even go up to 2500 or more depending on the difficulty. Keep me updated.
 

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Thanks for the insight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Great insights! Thanks!

What kind of contract am I looking for? Statement Of Work kind of thing?
 

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Yes. Anything simple or complex that states.

1) who you are (person being contracted to do arrangements)
2) who they are (person hiring you to do arrangements)
3) cost of arrangements. cost of rights to the charts (if they decide to do this, if not make sure you put in the contract that you retain the rights and get all copies of the charts back when the show is completed.)
4) a detailed list of what work you are going to be doing. What and when he will receive the final product and how many times he can ask for edits. This is very important to be detailed on so he doesn't come back wanting you to "rearrange" everything if you catch my drift.
5) signed copy by both parties and a witness if you wish and then copies for both parties.

That is it in a nut shell. writing your own and letting them look over it has always worked well for me. Sometimes they want to edit it, which is ok and sometimes they say looks good and we go from there. Good luck. as always keep me updated.
 

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Yes indeed, written in normal english not trying to be a lawyer. As lawyers have told me, lots of legal words have very specific legal meanings and woe betide any who use them without fully understanding their implications.

Either that or use a standard MU type of contract.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you kindly gents! Will let you know what happens. I heard a rumor that they talking about a Christmas show now! That will give me a lot of work between now and then!
 
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