I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999. I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100! Some prices worked better than others. Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge.
$5-$10 A SONG
*Less money equals more clients. Walmart has millions of more customers than Dillards for a reason. Cheaper = more sales.
*There's a lot of competition in this range, but there are a lot of broke artists too!
*If you don't have any credentials, you're much more likely to get work at this lower price. After you establish yourself you can always raise your rates.
*You'll get in A LOT of garbage (maybe 35%). Horrendous mixes.
*Garbage in means a lot more complaints and refund requests. Since a lot of the mixes are poor, the mastering results will be too.
*Lots of work for little pay. You have to master 200 songs to make $1,000!! 200! If you charged $50 a song, you only have to master 20!
$15-$20 A SONG
*You're making 200-400% more money per song compared to charging $5-$10 per song. That's a BIG jump!
*You're still very affordable at this rate.
*Garbage submissions go down to about 10-15%.
*There isn't that much competition in this price range.
*You don't need to have too many credentials to get business at this price range.
*Again, the per song amount is kind of low. You're still working more than twice as hard as the guy charging $50 a song.
$30-$40 A SONG
*Roughly 29 songs gets you $1,000. That's WAAAAAY lower than the required 200 songs at $5 each!
*Garbage coming in is under 5%. Refund requests are even lower if you're decent at mastering.
*This is the second most competitive price range.
*Mastering engineers with pretty decent credentials are in this range. If you don't have any, you're not going to get much business.
*Once again, high rates means less work for more money.
*Horrendous mixes coming in are very rare.
*A lot of people think if they pay more, they get better mastering. They won't even get mastering from a company if it's under $50!
*You're now competing with mastering engineers that have worked with commercial artists. If YOU needed mastering and were going to pay $550 for your 10 song album, would you go with the guy who mastered (Slipknot, The Killers, Britney Spears, and Bruno Mars) or the guy who mastered (The Harry Met Sally Band, Weird Tom, and The Polka All Stars)? I don't even need to answer this question....
*Now your talking Abbey Road and some of the top mastering engineers in the country. Honestly yes, you might be just as good as them. REALLY!
But Abbey Road worked with the Beetles and you worked with the Meatheads. Yes, I agree but that was over 60 years ago, 30 years before computers were invented! And, all the engineers on those records are dead!
But it's all about "the name." Just like a leather purse can go for $8,000 because of just the name. Who cares it was made in China and cost them only $5 to make it - It's A LOUIS VUITTON!!
There are PROS and CONS for every price range, but I guess the recurring theme here is competition and credentials. Learn the art of mastering, provide great customer service, strive for excellence and build your credentials!