Ah, c'mon! You record your own band for nothing...
This is a problem, I would venture to say, for anyone who owns/works in a studio (or even just has some recording equipment) and also has a band.
What tends to happen is that, being the recording person, a friend's band decides it's time to record something, and they figure they can get a 'FRIEND' deal from you. This is fair enough on the face of it. Most recording engineers/studio folks I know Do usually offer their friends a pretty sweet discount. Some go so far as to completely cut out the usual charges for either the facility or their own services to run the facility. On rarer occasions they even reduce the fee on what it is they are still charging for.
So, let's say the studio charges €200 for a 10 hour day (the standard) and the engineer also charges €200/day. That breaks down to €20 per hour each. That means with no deal you are paying €400/day (€40/hour) to record. A 10% discount works out to €360/day. A 20% discount works out to €320/day. And 40% would be €240/day.
In the real world any of these discounts would be considered good under most circumstances. However, with the 'FRIEND' deals I know about people are offering 50% discounts (€200/day) and sometimes even as much as 62.5% discounts (€150/day)! AND quite often the days go for longer than 10 hours without the bands being charged for the extra time!!!!
NOTE: This example is at the almost unrealistically low end of the scale. Charges are based among other things on quality of the facilities, gear, and personnel. There is usually a damned good reason for the prices they charge.
THE SHOCKING THING IS that bands will still give their friends grief about how high those extremely discounted rates are. The bands still feel like their friends are TRYING TO RIP THEM OFF. And I think I can explain why...
These bands see their friends with this studio/gear. They then see/hear really good quality recordings of the bands directly associated with these studios coming out; knowing that the bands didn't need to raise extra money to record. They also think that this gives these bands an unfair advantage. As a result, they feel that their friends should, by virtue of the 'level playing field', give them the same advantages for the same 'NO COST' prices.
What these bands seem to be able to ignore is that although the studio related band didn't need to fork out the money for the daily rate of the studio nor the engineer (maybe!), there was still a huge investment made in these recordings.
The original cost of the recording equipment alone would probably be beyond most band's recording budgets by a long shot. There is also the cost of buying/renting the facilities known as 'the studio'. And last but most certainly NOT LEAST is the cost of getting the professional knowledge and skills to engineer/produce a recording properly!
Now, for that last point, there are usually a never ending number of hours invested in gaining invaluable experience and often doing menial, unpaid grunt work just to be around to glean some knowledge. None the less, even if the only investment was doing a music engineering degree at a college or University, that costs a fair few thousand just in tuition fees (not counting the other costs of doing a degree).
The fact is, and this sentiment seems to pop up in all parts of this blog, studios need to make money to survive. Even if you are not lucky enough to have a 'FRIEND' to take advantage of, the costs you (and you should) negotiate may not go as low as you hope, but that does not mean you are being ripped off. As with all businesses, there is a point at which lowering prices more equates losing money. Would YOU do that?
Of course, your recording business friends are going to take advantage of their situation and record their own bands for 'FREE' and then charge you to record your stuff! If a friend of yours is a carpenter and they use their knowledge, tools, and experience to build themselves a house all by themselves with only the immediate costs being that of materials, would you ask, no... EXPECT that friend to do the same for you?
So, when you are asking for a 'FRIEND' deal to get your brilliant material recorded ask yourself, "Am I asking my FRIEND to cut their own throat in the name of our friendship?"
ONE LAST THING TO ADD... IF YOUR FRIEND OR ANY BUSINESS DOES A BAD JOB OF RECORDING YOU, THERE IS NO DISCOUNT BIG ENOUGH TO MAKE IT WORTH WHILE!!!