BILLIE’S BONES ALBUM BUDGET

Here’s a read-out of what went into our budget planning. It’s what you don’t see here that made the difference between my being able to record this album the way I wanted (with the band and production crew I wanted), or not.  After recording over twenty studio albums, I have a pretty good idea of what items need to be covered in advance, but I still check and double-check with my production crew and business managers.  We try to estimate as closely as possible; when in doubt, we estimate high.  And we always add in 10% as a “contingency fund”, just in case.

What’s not in here are:

Studio cost for the six weeks of overdubbing and editing, because we could do all that at the home studio.

Assistant engineer for overdubbing and editing, because Philip is on salary and could handle it. Savings: 6 weeks at @ $1500 a week minimum, $9,000.00 

Production assistant cost, because Tina is on salary. Savings: 12 weeks at @ $1,000 a week, $12,000.00 

Rental cars and taxis: Having Tina there eliminated any messenger service, taxis or car rental costs for the out-of-towners, delivery fees and the like. When Marc needed a car, he borrowed Philip’s or mine. Savings: rental car 10 weeks $2,000, messengers etc $1,000; total $3,000.00

Bookkeeping costs, because I and my business managers (who are on a percentage of my income) did all of that. Savings: @ $3,000.00

Rentals for microphones etc. during editing and overdubbing.  Rentals can become exorbitant if you don’t watch out; when Michael Jackson was recording an album a few years ago, he was using three studios around the clock, and renting a DX-7 keyboard for $50 a day. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply it by 90 days, you might as well buy one. Savings: @ $3,000.00

A lot more rentals for tracking; we saved because we brought in Marc and Jeff’s equipment. Savings: 3 days times minimum $800 per day; $2,400.00

Accessories: On big-budget albums, guitar strings and the like are paid through the budget. I went through about 50 sets of strings this record, between sessions and overdubbing; D’Addario provided the strings gratis, which saved about $350.

Instrument rentals; fortunately, between the production crew we owned enough keyboards, guitars, percussion equipment etc. to cover whatever we needed. Savings based on previous albums, @ $2,000.00

A lot of the equipment we'd normally have to rent, or purchase, because we were working in the home studio a lot. We owe all the endorsers a huge thanks for providing everything from mic stands to headphones. Savings: @ $1,500

Cartage for Brock, who drove in with all his gear, saving us about $250.

Hotels for Marc, who stayed with Philip instead, saving us about $4,000.

Union fees for me, because we were allowed to self-pay.   Although my “fee” went on the final books, and my pension was paid through the union, otherwise it was a wash, and I saw no need to charge it to the budget. Savings: @ $3,600.00

Producer’s advances: since the chance of making royalties off an album, even an independent one like this, is so slim, most producers take their money up front. Neither Marc nor Jeff received an advance, saving us somewhere between $5,000-$100,000.  (Really - and the “famous” producers get as much as $50,000 per song!)

Engineering fees: Although they’re in here as a lump sum, they were really low.  Jeff and Marc just asked for enough to cover their own basic expenses (mortgage, rent, utilities and the like) for the duration of the project.  If I’d paid them by the hour, it would have cost between $35,000-$55,000.

Artist advance: I didn’t take one; all the advances I received went straight into the budget. That meant my own living expenses weren’t covered, which is part of why we began financial planning for this album two years ago – so there’d be enough in savings to squeak through.

Arranger fees: A lot of albums bring in an arranger, someone who chooses the musicians, writes the charts, rides herd on the session. I did it instead, for free, and we saved somewhere in the region of $4,000.

Copyist fees: The advantage of having had to earn a living as a copyist during my lean years stood us in good stead; I could do the charts, and even orchestrations if necessary.  A copyist for this amount of charts would have added at least $3,500 to our budget.

Roadies: Some big-label budgets include fees for the player’s “assistant”, usually a roadie, who’s there to change strings, tune the instruments, set up and tear down. Philip took care of my equipment, and each player took care of his own. Savings: anywhere from $2,000.00 to $5,000.00

Down time: That happens when nothing’s happening due to various factors – a lightning storm that shuts the control room down for a few hours (but the musicians still have to be paid); a singer who shows up six hours later (I’ve seen it  happen) while the musicians and engineers wait, and the like. Savings: inestimable!

Sushi: I’ve seen big-label producers decide they’re hungry, and order take-out sushi for fifteen without blinking an eye. While we had catering, it was reasonably priced, and everyone knew if they needed more, they had to bring it with them. Tina is diabetic and needs to “graze” all day; she brought her own supplies for that.

Stupid stuff: With a big budget, you can bring in a sushi chef, take a sick day and still pay everyone, buy some spare equipment you don’t need for the project but are going to use on tour, pay for a masseuse to come in at the end of each session, have a dog handler so Fifi doesn’t have to be alone while you’re at work, hair and makeup artist so you look good every day in case there’s a photographer… I’ve seen acts charge all of those things to the budget, and more. There was no stupid stuff on this album budget!

 

 

spasm inc./rude girl records

janis ian new studio album budget items

 

 

 

 

 

 

DATE

CATEGORY

PAID TO/REC'D FROM

FOR?

NOTES

04/14/03

Advance

Oh Boy Records

Advance on commencement

Some contracts call for me to receive an advance when I sign, some when I begin the record, some when I turn in the record, some when the record's released. As you can see, it takes a fair amount of juggling to make sure the advances are received soon enough to get the bills paid!

11/15/03

Advance

Oh Boy Records

Advance on turning in studio album

08/28/03

Advance

Beaver Music

Advance on signing

08/04/03

Advance

Cooking Vinyl

Advance on signing

01/15/04

Advance

JVC Victor Japan

Advance on turning in studio album

05/01/02

Advance

BMG

Buyout

When Windham Hill dropped me after telling me for two years that they wanted the next album, my lawyer negotiated a buyout that provided the start-up funding for "Billie's Bones"

06/05/03

Artwork

Maude Gilman

Graphic design

Usually there'd be one photographer and one shoot, but this album went a little differently.  (See the Timeline for details.)

10/17/03

Artwork

Debra Wingo

Makeup, hair for booklet photo shoot

10/17/03

Artwork

Beth Gwinn

Photo shoot for booklet

09/26/03

Artwork

Lisa Powers

Photography front and back covers

11/14/03

Artwork

Colourworks

Processing

The artwork has to be processed - converted into Quark or another software program, plates laid, etc; sometimes the whole thing has to be turned into film, or in this case, digital film format.

11/07/03

Artwork

Colorhigh

Re-touching

Not so I'll be prettier, but so things like shadows don't interfere, and so the colors match one another in things like faces and hands.

06/09/03

Cartage

Thunderground Cartage

Cartage Balding tracking

Drummers, guitarists, engineers have "racks" of equipment, or boxes of instruments, that have to be delivered to the studio, then removed. Jeff has two or three huge hard cases with multiple layers of engineering tools; Dan has a dozen different types of guitars, dobros, banjos etc., all of which have to come to the studio - you don't want to say "Can you play mandolin on this?" and wait two hours for someone to run home and get their instrument!

06/09/03

Cartage

Session Services Unlimited

Cartage Dugmore

06/12/03

Cartage

Session Services Unlimited

Cartage Stinson

07/17/03

Cartage

Kuehne-Nagel

Moreau equipment back to LA + insurance

We thought of having Tina drive to LA and back for Marc's equipment, but it turned out not to be cost-effective.

05/22/03

Cartage

Kuehne-Nagel

Shipping Moreau equipment to Nashville

06/09/03

Catering

Frugal MacDoogals

Champagne end of tracking

Our one catering indulgence

06/14/03

Catering

Kroger

Studio food - home studio

For the home studio, we just bought sandwich makings and kept them around; on "god & the fbi" we barbecued a lot, mostly sausage & potatoes because it was cheap.

06/08/03

Catering

Sigi (Rachel Newman)

Studio food - tracking sessions catering

Rachel provided a hot meal at 1 pm for the three tracking days, with protein, carbs, and roughage.

07/09/03

Catering

Various

Studio food - vocal sessions

For vocal days, Tina would take orders, then run and bring back take-out.

04/26/03

Copyist

Judy Green Music

Charts - calligraphy pens, music paper

We could have done this a little cheaper by using a magic marker, but it wouldn't have changed much - or been half as pretty.

06/08/03

Copyist

Kinko's

Charts - copying

We Xeroxed the charts for the three engineers, rather than hand-writing them, since they could all be the same.

07/10/03

Engineer

Chad Carlson

Assistant engineer tracking

An assistant engineer is an absolute necessity when you're trying to get five songs done each day. He keeps track of the multiple takes, re-sets the board while the engineer is re-setting the computer for the next song, "logs" the session information (everything from the time (BPM, or beats per minute) to instruments played, microphones used, and on. A good first engineer was usually a well-trained assistant engineer at some point.

09/11/03

Engineer

John Saylor

Assistant engineer 2 days mixing

Jeff has two assistants he likes working with on mixes.

09/26/03

Engineer

David Bryant

Assistant engineer 4 days mixing

06/11/03

Engineer

Chad Carlson

Assistant engineer vocals

On vocals, it's easier to use the same person you used for tracking, since they're already familiar with everything and everyone.

 

Engineer

Marc Moreau

Engineering

Because they were engineering as well as producing, Jeff and Marc both received engineering fees, though well below their usual!

09/26/03

Engineer

Jeff Balding

Engineering

02/24/03

Equipment

Comp USA

Firewire

For making backups (safety copies) and doing transfers in the home studio.

06/08/03

Equipment

SoundCheck

Gaffer tape

For anything and everything. We go through tons of it on tour, but had none left over.

06/12/03

Equipment

Radio Shack

Headphone extension cables

Because sometimes Philip, Marc, Jeff, Tina and I all needed to be listening to a vocal or guitar overdub at the same  time.  You can't  listen through the speakers because of leakage into the vocal or guitar mic from them.

01/31/03

Equipment

Comp USA

Home studio equipment supplies

Everything from CD's up.

01/31/03

Equipment

Walmart

Home studio insulation

See  Janis on Guitar Overdubs and the Janis Diary for more information.

05/15/03

Equipment

Broadway Music

Mackie 24 track board

Philip and I carry an 8 track Mackie mix board on tour, but it wasn't nearly large enough. He found a good used 24 track, cleaned it up (made repairs as necessary, double-checked it all worked), and now we can use it for the next album as well.

01/31/03

Equipment

Sweetwater Sound

Mic preamp

Now that the home studio was truly being used as "a studio", we needed a preamp for some of the mics; it was cheaper to buy than to rent.

01/31/03

Equipment

Sam Ash

Mic stands

Because we changed from the Audiotechnica mic to a Neumann for vocals on this album, we needed some new stands.

 

Furnishings

Furniture Warehouse

Home studio furniture - couch

We furnished the home studio mostly with odds and ends, but some things were necessities (tables for the computer and mixing board).  And Philip found a cheap set of couches, so five or six people could sit and listen comfortably. The couches also helped to absorb echo bouncing off the cement walls of the room.

01/06/03

Furnishings

Furniture Warehouse

Home studio furniture - for Moreau stay

It was a lot cheaper to have Marc stay with Philip than put him in a hotel, but he did need a bed, so Philip found a used frame and mattress for him. We contributed some old sheets and pillows.

06/08/03

Gas

Various gas stations

Gas Abato

Tina gets reimbursed for the gas she uses driving to and from New Jersey, as well as any she uses here, since all she did was cart musicians and run around town on album business.

07/14/03

Gift

Accent Flowers

Flowers to Dolly Parton

How could you have Dolly sing and not send her flowers afterward?

07/15/03

Hotel

Extended Stay America

Hotel Abato

Tina stayed in a reasonable priced hotel because there was nowhere else to put her; the rest of our houses were full up! Brock and Davis stayed at the same hotel when we were tracking, which made life easier all around. Fortunately, none of them are divas; a clean room, working shower, decent bed was all they asked for.

04/11/03

Hotel

Travel.com

Hotel Brock

04/11/03

Hotel

Travel.com

Hotel Davis

06/11/03

Musician

Dugmore, Stinson, Brock, Davis

Tracking sessions

Musicians got paid an AF of M approved total for each day they worked.

06/11/03

Musician

Jim Brock

Tracking sessions - overdubbing

Brock got paid for the two extra days of percussion overdubs.

06/11/03

Musician

Dugmore, Stinson, Brock, Davis

Health and welfare

The union requires us to pay something toward the H&W fund for each musician.

06/08/03

Parking

BNA parking

Pickup Davis

Tina got reimbursed the two dollars it cost for  parking when she picked up Richard.

06/11/03

Studio extra

Sound Emporium

Piano tuner

We brought the tuner in for only one day, and planned "When I Lay Down"  and any piano overdubs around it.

06/09/03

Rentals

Underground Sound

Mic, Digidesign work station for Balding

We were lucky with rentals this album; we borrowed from friends, and the engineers had mostly their own gear. But the vocal mic and work station needed to be rented, since purchasing them was way too expensive.

07/03/03

Shipping

Various

Various

We shipped everything from the worktapes and rough mixes to musicians, to  the final parts that went out to our affiliates in England, Hong Kong, and Japan.

06/11/03

Studio time

Sound Emporium

Studio A, tracking, 3 days

We rented the studio on a "buy-out", meaning we paid a flat fee per day, whether we worked one hour or fifteen. That way we made sure our set-up could stay exactly as it was from day to day; nothing would be disturbed by another band coming in inbetween our sessions.

07/14/03

Studio time

Sound Emporium

Studio B, vocals & overdubs, 4 days

We moved to Sound Emporium's smaller studio for these, mainly because it was a lot cheaper, but also because the smaller studio was more intimate. We thought of doing vocals in the home studio, but it wasn't time-efficient because of outside noise.

10/10/03

Studio time

Independent Mastering

Mastering 

Includes making copies for the affiliates.

09/23/03

Studio time

Emerald Sound-Moore  Recording

Mixing 6 days

 

06/06/03

Sundries

Costco

Home studio - sundries

With up to 6 of us spending 8-10 hours a day there, we needed things like bathroom supplies, paper towels, and extra detergent - Philip shouldn't have to pay for that out of his pocket, just because the studio is where he lives as well.

09/08/03

Tape & writeable formats

NTS Promedia

AIT-2 tapes for mixing, backup

While working digitally saves a lot of money on tapes, you still need something to backup the music. Usually one set of backups stayed with the engineer and the studio, and one set came home with me. That's because once you've finished tracking, the paranoia of "what if the studio burns down, with my only copy in it?!" isn't really paranoia - it's just common sense.

05/01/03

Tape & writeable formats

Comp USA

CDR's and jewel cases

Worktapes to players, production crew; rough mixes; everything gets thrown onto the CD's.

09/05/03

Tape & writeable formats

NTS Promedia

DATS for mixing, backup

Sometimes we use DATs instead; I don't know why, but Philip, Marc, and Jeff do.

06/06/03

Tape & writeable formats

MacHollywood

Hard drives and tape

We had to buy extra hard drives for the recording and mixing; Philip searched around for the cheapest and safest (too cheap, and you risk them not accurately holding data.)

06/08/03

Tip

BNA skycap

Davis bass arrival

A tip for the skycap who carried Richard's bass to the car, since he couldn't handle that and his luggage.

06/07/03

Tip

Pho Bac 54

Dinner production team et al

Our final pre-production meeting, two days before we began tracking, was in an inexpensive local restaurant.  Heck, I wasn't going to cook for eight people two days before the sessions!

04/14/03

Travel

Airline

Flights Davis

We booked everyone's flights months before, so we could get them for less.

07/16/03

Travel

Airline

Flights Moreau - date change

Marc ended up staying longer than planned,  so there was a date change penalty from the airline.

12/31/02

Travel

Airline

Flights Moreau - preproduction

Marc flew in for the pre-production weeks (see the Timeline).

04/16/03

Travel

Southwest Airlines

Overweight Moreau

Marc brought all the equipment he could carry, to cut down on shipping costs; even with the overweight charges, it was still less.

06/12/03

Travel

Northwest Airlines

Overweight Richard Davis

Unfortunately, there's no way to disguise an upright bass in a hard case as an ordinary piece of luggage.

06/13/03

Travel

Jim Brock

Travel Brock

Brock drove to save us money, but he still had to be reimbursed for his gas both ways.

06/13/03

Union

AF of M Pension Fund

Pension fund payments

While the union allowed us to pay the musicians directly for their payment and H&W, we still had to pay into the union pension fund for each of them.

08/06/03

Utilities

Philip Clark

Utilities extra home studio

Philip's utility bill was considerably higher with Marc staying there and all of us working there, so we factored in a little extra on the budget to reimburse him.

07/25/03

Vocalist

Harry Stinson

Vocals "Forever Young"

Harry didn't get paid much, but he did get paid for his vocal part.

07/16/03

Vocalist

Dolly Parton

Vocals "My TN Hills"

Dolly took the same low fee Chet Atkins and Willie Nelson took when they worked on "Memphis" with me; still, it was part of the budget.