Hi & welcome to another AAA Blog

The topic of whether or not it is acceptable or indeed adviseable to work for free is one that I consider to be a very important one. I have taken on a mini crusade of sorts to try and encourage individuals, particular in my chosen field of Sound Engineering / Production  to not offer their services for free but am I right in doing so?

I believe that as a professional Sound Designer, who has paid to gain qualifications and experience through education, private tuition and the costs involved, that I should be entitled to charge a modest fee for my services. In reality I should probably charge more if we were comparing my level of skills to what I get paid but thats a different conversation entirely ; )

The problem arises when another individual, who may or may not have similar skills, offers up his or her services for free. My automatic reaction to this is that this individual is devaluing the industry and indirectly devaluing my own skills. In offering services for free there is a suggestion that engineering for a band, artist or company is more of a hobby that anyone can do than a skilled profession

On occassions I have worked for free. Much of my studio experience was gained assisting free of charge but I do consider this to be fundemantally different. If anything I think I was getting a good deal on many of these sessions and let me explain why. Working with professional engineers and musicians at the top of their game is an amazing opportunity and learning experience. Physically micing up instruments, patching the bays and working the desk in a working studio is an amazing way to learn and further your knowledge.

There may well be a shortage of work in the sound industry at the moment and lots of competition but working for free isn’t even working for minimum wage and I believe as sound engineers, if you’ve taken the time to educate and train, we are worth more than minimum wage. If some among us continue to work for free it gives the artist the impression that it can be done by anyone, there is little skill involved and anyone with a pro tools rig can record them for fun or “use it to put on your CV” (you’ve heard that one right?)

Give them the opportunity and many artists will seek out the freebies, don’t give them the option and they can’t. They will soon find that if they want great sounding recordings and mixes they must be prepared to pay a professional. Value your skills and others might well value them aswell ; )

Neil

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