Sydney Recording studio payment dispute
Unfortunately, disputes over payment can occur in any industry. Our Sydney Recording Studio is not immune to such occurrences. However, we do all that we can avoid these circumstances in our Sydney Recording studio. Below is an email to a client that we sent. It outlines, in great detail, our defence. The client was disputing setup time that occurred in the recording studio and asked for a portion of the time to be waived off the bill. This email explains our payment policies and process. In particular, it outlines the purpose of our free consultation time. The dispute has since been resolved. We feel that it is best to provide as much information as possible to the client, prior to the recording session, in order to avoid these kind of issues. Some disputes will still occur, despite best efforts between the involved parties.
The names of the engineer and client have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved in the dispute.
The Email to the Client
The invoice was indeed amended, to add the extra hours and Sydney Recording studio services that we provided to you. We have not waived 45 minutes, and we have expressed that we cannot do so. You would have been aware, having previously paid for two, that our hourly rate is $X + GST. If you were unsure of what each extra hour was going to cost, this certainly should have been something you clarified when you requested to extend your Sydney Recording studio session.
Regarding the three things that you expect from any Sydney recording studio:
1- SYDNEY Recording Studio equipment was set up and tested as much as it possibly could be before your session took place at 1pm. It is absolutely necessary that the artist be present while certain setup and testing occurs, and as such the artist cannot reasonably expect to jump straight into the booth at the starting time of the session. There is too much testing and fine-tuning that needs to be done beforehand. This is covered further along in my email below.
2- A professional video camera is not to be expected at every Sydney Recording studio, as film and video are separate fields to music and sound. However, Crash Symphony Productions does offer video services. It is unfortunate that the camera intended was not available in the studio at the time of your session, but a replacement was offered AND post-production totalling up to 2 hours was offered free-of-charge as compensation. Had you been unhappy with this offer, you could have left off the video portion entirely, or rescheduled for another day when the camera was available. There is more on this point further along in my email.
3- Someone temporarily in charge is ENGINEER B , and he has been taking on the sessions and Sydney Recording studio enquiries since we have been gone. I think you would agree that I have been very involved in the business and quite available to you throughout this time, having responded to your queries to the very best of my ability. And, I believe, in a very professional and timely manner – if you consider that I am on holiday and we are contending with an 8-hour time difference and sporadic wifi availability at this point on our trip.
As mentioned, we cannot waive 45 minutes from your invoice, and hope the following information (based on my communications with you, ENGINEER, and BUSINESS OWNER) will clarify why.
– ENGINEER A invested time into listening to your reference tracks and forming an idea as to how he would go about your session based on the style of these tracks. This ending up being unnecessary on his part as your engineer ended up being ENGINEER B, due to the booking being rescheduled multiple times.
– The dates of your Sydney Recording studio consultation and session were changed three times. We were understanding of this on all occasions. The first change was just a shuffle of the consultation itself, before you decided to book two hours in as well. The second change occurred because you had not paid a deposit and the session time was booked by another engineer whose client paid a deposit. Your Sydney Recording studio consultation time was still booked in, but you wanted to have the three hour block all in one, so the whole three hour block was rescheduled. The third change was made on the morning of your scheduled session (1st August, 2016) – very late notice and this resulted in a loss of business for a time period of three hours, as that time had been held for you upon receipt of your payment (we could have had other business in that time period, had you cancelled earlier). But again, we were understanding that these things do happen, and agreed to reschedule once more. There was almost a fourth change, and you requested a refund, but thankfully you were able to keep your Sydney Recording studio session time as booked and a refund was not required. As mentioned, we were understanding of these changes and were flexible in accommodating you as best we could. Please note that we do not usually issue refunds of more than 50% of your total invoice, as a minimum non-refundable 50% deposit is required in order to book in a session with us. We were being extremely reasonable in agreeing to refund you the full amount as requested.
– ENGINEER A had a brief phone conversation with you, and ENGINEER B a 19-minute phone conversation with you about your project (extended discussion of which is usually covered in a consultation if one has been booked).
– You sourced the backing tracks to the songs you wanted to sing. You sent them through to ENGINEER B, who felt that they were not a high enough quality to use in a professional recording session. He did his own sourcing and found higher quality instrumental versions of the same songs
– ENGINEER B recorded the backing tracks in real time as WAV files in his own time before you had even approved them – again, in order to save time. This would usually be done in paid Sydney Recording studio time, and is a necessary part of the production as it achieves a conversion of the audio file that is compatible in the Sydney Recording studio program. The fact that ENGINEER B did this outside of your session and consultation means that they were pre-prepared for your session in case of your approval, and again: the process was expedited and you could get into singing earlier than ordinarily expected. As it turned out, these files were approved by you in your consultation time, and he set them up in the recording program upon your approval – again, this was not on the Sydney Recording studio clock, so it saved you time once your session kicked off.
Then came the official consultation time: 12pm on August 15th, 2016. By this stage, you and ENGINEER B both had a fairly good idea of what you hoped to achieve in the Sydney Recording studio, thus holding a regular consultation was now rather redundant – this was not to be the very first conversation with an engineer about your project.
Typically, a complimentary consultation involves a discussion about the client’s project, what the client would like to achieve with the project, and how we can help. If it is established that the client would like to go ahead with a booking, a plan is put in place regarding what would be required for the session.
This had all been discussed with ENGINEER B in a 19-minute phone conversations that took place between ENGINEER B and yourself on the 10th of August. You had also had a brief phone conversation with ENGINEER A in the weeks prior. Both engineers had been happy to discuss things further with you in the complimentary consultation booked.
The Sydney Recording studio consultation time is not used as paid recording time. If – by scheduling your consultation immediately before your paid session time – you were hoping to record for free in between the hours of 12 and 1pm, then I need to make clear that that is not how it works. Recording does not take place in the Sydney Recording studio consultation time.
Had the session begun prior to 1pm (that is, with the necessary set up and testing requiring the artist to be present), the clock would have started and the paid portion of your booking would have begun. ENGINEER B was doing you a favor by doing all the additional set up while chatting to you about your project. This is not regular process.
ENGINEER B could have sat directly opposite you for the duration of one hour between 12-1pm, discussing your project and the upcoming recording time with you. This is what would have happened in a Sydney Recording studio consultation.
Then at 1pm, he could have stood up and begun to set up the equipment that he could tweak to suit your voice and self (including adjusting to your height, distance needed from microphone, levels according to your personal vocal tone and projection, etc). He would then apply these settings to the recording program he was going to be using. He could then have prepared/converted the files and imported the song files at this point, as in theory he would have only shown you the backing tracks he sourced and had them approved by you in the consultation hour. The work to convert the tracks or integrate them into the project would have not been done then, as that is not what the Sydney Recording studio consultation is for – that is what paid studio time is for.
I will mention again, the above was all done prior to your paid session time and in conjunction with your consultation, or in ENGINEER B’s own time.
Now, since ENGINEER B and yourself were both present, the clock started ticking for the studio time you had paid for at 1pm. At this point your session was considered well ahead of schedule: a set up test take (with you in the Sydney Recording studio booth, recording) was underway at 1:04pm. This take was deleted (it was only a test and is not required for the final product), but most subsequent takes were kept, and those takes each have timestamps. Timestamps are taken from the computer or device (put in place by the timezone the computer or device is operating in) and are legal proof of the time the audio file was created. Timestamps are not something that can be changed or tampered with.
At roughly 2:30pm, having not yet completed the vocals for the first song, you requested to extend the session to 5:30pm. Our 3pm client had rescheduled their session by this time, and so your request was something ENGINEER B could accommodate. You will have been aware from communications with me and ENGINEER A, that Crash Symphony Productions’ hourly rate is $X + GST, and you had previously agreed to it and paid that rate for two hours of studio time. By your request to extend the session, it is reasonable to expect the additional hours to be invoiced for. If you feel it is unreasonable, this absolutely should have been clarified before continuing the session past 3pm.
The vocals for the first song include 43 takes/drop-ins that were ultimately kept for creation of a composite track and further editing. These are all timestamped between 1:12pm and 3:02pm. This means that the raw vocals for your first track was achieved within the timeframe that you had originally been invoiced for, and which you had fully paid for. Editing and mixing for this song had not been achieved in this time frame.
The vocals for the second song were recorded between 3:11pm and 4:13pm, according to timestamps on the files. There were 30 takes/drop-ins ultimately kept for creation of a composite track and further editing.
Full editing and mixing of one song was completed by ENGINEER B at 5:29pm. You were still present at this time, as it had been agreed that video footage would be shot, since the session had been extended. Had the Sydney Recording studio session ended at 3pm as originally planned, there would not have been time to shoot video footage, and you would have needed to schedule more time later on for editing and mixing, and more still for the second song (if you wished), as well as video footage and video editing (if still desired). While ENGINEER B was mixing and editing, you prepared yourself for the video shoot. Since the video shoot was going to be part of the session, this meant that the song edits needed to be done on the spot, as video footage couldn’t be shot without a product for you to mime/sing along to. To deliver a quality product, the moving footage captured would need to match what would be heard in the final product.
ENGINEER B had been unable to locate the professional camera on the day, and so he offered to shoot the footage on his iPhone. Mobile phone cameras have come a long way in terms of quality, and using an iPhone would not have been an option had there not been complete confidence in the footage it would produce. However, aware that the iPhone was still a replacement offer to the camera he originally intended to use, ENGINEER B offered to do the post-production on the video free of charge. This is up to two hours of work, and at our Sydney Recording studio hourly rate is valued at $X, including GST.
I would like to clarify here: had the original camera been available, you would have been charged in full for the post-production work. The reason you were offered the post-production work free-of-charge, was because the original camera intended for use was not available. I stress that this was an offer, and had you been unhappy with the use of an iPhone in place of the original camera, there was no requirement of you to accept the offer. Additionally, ENGINEER B took test pictures for approval before shooting the video for both songs, and filming commenced when it was confirmed that you approved.
I will also note here, that had the professional camera been located, there would have been further set up time – a minimum of 15 minutes, which would dragged the session time out for longer. The iPhone is point-and-shoot, with no extensive setup required for filming.
Suitable video footage was captured for the first song in one take, timestamped at 5:34pm.
While you prepared for the filming of the second song, ENGINEER B continued work on mixing and editing the second song. He completed that at 5:52pm. One complete and one partial take was required for this video, and shooting was completed at exactly 6pm, which is where the clock on your session ends.
To summarise your project in terms of what it’s costing you, purely based on your Sydney Recording studio session and its preparations:
Time you spent in the Sydney Recording studio with an engineer: 6hrs 20 mins
Time spent on your project outside of your presence in the Sydney Recording studio, and not charged for: Minimum 3hrs (video post-production, and necessary pre-production and set up for your project)
Total Minimum Sydney Recording studio Time Invested in Your Project by us: 9hrs 20mins
Total Session Sydney Recording studio Time invoiced for: 5hrs (2hrs has been paid for, 3hrs outstanding)
I am also aware that you would like the audio tracks and video footage. However, we do not release these until full payment has been made. This is made clear in the email that accompanies our invoices. Once the balance payment has been received, we are more than happy to release those files to you, and as previously offered, the USB and postage costs will be covered if you wish to receive a hard copy in the mail. Alternatively, you can pick the files up yourself from the Sydney Recording studio, no issue.
You are welcome to take whatever action you deem necessary if you find the above is unreasonable. Should you choose to pay the invoice as it currently stands, there will be no delay in popping the files through to you as soon as payment is received.
So far, you have paid for two hours of Sydney Recording studio time, so we are more than happy to release whatever work was completed in those two hours to you. Comping, mixing and editing took place outside of these two hours, which the amended invoice covers, but if you would like the raw files of which your paid two hours are comprised, this can be arranged.
However, should you refuse to pay the current invoice, we will be taking action to recover the funds owed for the time spent on your Sydney Recording studio project as per our invoice.
I hope that through the extensive information provided in this email to clarify the process, you can understand that we simply cannot take off a further 45 minutes from your session. Add that to the fact that we charge by the hour, so the extra 15 minutes still ticks over into the new hour, which is chargeable.
Thanks CLIENT, let me know your thoughts.