How your Rates and Pricing Displays your Value
I do a lot of freelance music composition and sound design for games, films and other projects. I have
experienced many kinds of employers ranging from people who don’t pay, people who will not sign
contracts, people who just do not understand how to communicate with a musician… you get the idea.
I have dealt with a lot of people, and when dealing with these people, it’s easy to get intimidated and be
manipulated into thinking that you should change your prices, give them a free sample, treat them with
extra care if they have a good project. There have been times where I can tell that someone is struggling
financially and have (mistakenly) decided to lower my prices for them.
I’m all for helping people out, and if I could do music composition for free with insurance that I have
lifetime financial security, I would do it. But the fact of the matter is that this is business and you don’t
want to be used or undervalued for your work. I have experimented a lot with pricing my music and
seeing how to value my work. I have given away music for free, traded it for credit, given away the
licensing, fought to keep the licensing and so many other things.
While of this is all fairly unique to music, I have learned a lot about the value of your creations and how
other people value it too. I will be comparing a few different stories and experiences to show how you will
get treated depending how you display and carry yourself. If this article interests you,
check out my article showing How to Get the Most out of Business Relationships.
How Giving Away Things for Free Devalued My Work
My first example is of a game development team on twitter who I follow. A cool thing that a lot of game
developers will do is show works in progress, concept art, coding errors and anything that could be
useful or interesting for other people to see. So this team was in the middle of their development process
and I remember thinking how awesome their game looked and I wanted to make a contribution.
I decided to send them a tweet telling them I had some sounds for their game if they needed any. So one
of the developers of this team who I regarded very highly, added me on skype and we began talking.
Except, we didn’t really talk. I sent them the sounds with an everlasting hope that I would be credited and
applauded for my work for giving them some sounds and helping them along further with their game.
But they didn’t.
I messaged them a week later and they were as distant as ever. They did not care about the sounds that
I had kindly given them at all and it seems as if they had completely forgotten about it. It was a pretty
crappy feeling. I consider the quality of my work is high, but in this moment I felt used, and like I had no
value to my work.
How Having Higher Prices Made me more Valuable
My second example is when someone I worked with some time ago came back for a new project he was
working on. I had done a few songs for a game that went on Steam (Steam is an online vendor that sells
video games) and I suppose that he liked my previous work.
It had been a few years since I’ve worked with him, and I have improved a lot in my music by this point.
He asked for a quote, and I know that I have greatly improved on my music since the last he heard it and
I have been charging a lot more since I had worked with him. Needless to say, with the increased price I
was a little nervous that he would turn it away and find another musician, but I wasn’t going to drop my
If he didn’t want to pay it, I have plenty of other clients I can work with and there is someone who I’m
sure could meet his budget. So when he asked for the quote, I gave him one that was at least $1,000
more than his previous game and explained the details of why it cost the amount. He simply replied,
“Okay that sounds good! We will do a kickstarter for this”. So what I learned from this is that the
monetary value that I held myself to not only was accurate, but people were willing to pay it, and in this
case raise enough money so that they COULD pay me.
My value that I presented to them, even with the largely increased amount of money, made them still
want to pay it. Remember that if what you have is of high quality, make sure your prices reflect that.
How Raising Prices makes you Sought After
The third example is of my friend who’s mother is a doctor. She has been a doctor for quite some time
now but was getting a bit older so she decided that she wanted to work a little bit less. However, she
wanted to also make the same amount of money she was making as before. So she decided to raise her
rates in order to compensate for the fact that she was going to work less.
But it actually turned out that she was getting more work than ever before. The fact that she increased
her monetary value made others value her more. The fact that she had high rates meant to other people
that she is a more reliable doctor and they would be in better care than other ones.
Value Your Worth Honestly
So what I learned from all of these examples was that if you put a higher price on your work, you will be
valued more. Obviously you need the work ethic and quality to back this up, but since a lot of business
gets word of mouth, I think you would be able to figure out pretty quickly whether your rates are correct
or not. My advice is to take a good look at what you have to offer, and perhaps even compare that to
other people to see how yours stacks up against it. With this, you will be valued highly by others, make
more money, and most importantly, you will hold a high value within yourself. If this article helped you,