How much do I charge for this shit?

It’s pretty common for a stagehand to have GAS. I’m not talking southern catering aftereffects here. I’m talking about Gear Aquisition Syndrome. Don’t give me that look. I know you use a vintage par in your bathroom to dry yourself after a shower. It’s no secret, I’ve seen it on Stagehand Humor myself. It MUST be true. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all do it.

Where we go wrong though, is in the same manner as the toilet paper hoarders. We just collect piles of the shit and sit on it like we’re some sort of production gear dragon. For gear to be valuable, you need to actually utilize it to get income. In order to do that, you’ve got to figure out a fair price to charge your client.

If you’re like me, I have an epic collection of misfit gear. It’s not like you’re going to look it up in the VER catalog and find out what they charge. It’s like comparing apples to the whole produce section, Anyway, unlike VER, all of my cables work. Just sayin…

Comparing the methods that other people cite, I believe I have come up with the best way to determine a fair market price for your oddball audio consoles and obsolete but fully functional lighting equipment.

In this method, you factor in what you actually paid and how long it will take for the item to depreciate. Usually, a piece of gear will be taken out of service before fully destroyed. You’ll need to know what value you will get out of it after that point. Are you going to eBay it for 30% of the original cost “like new”? Take note of that amount.

Next, figure out how long the rental period will be. Is it a weekend, a three-month tour? The next important thing is, how much of this thing do you need to pay off with each rental? Are you making payments on some specialized monstrosity that only gets taken out for two weeks a year? Each rental will have a greater significance in that scenario than in the case of an SM58 that you’ve warranty returned once a year for the last decade and bring with you as part of your basic kit four nights a week.

Finally, you’ll need to know your overhead. Do you rent a shed for the monstrous thing that gets used twice a year or does it bounce around in the trunk of your car? Do you maintain it, wash it, store it, feed it? Don’t sell yourself short. The average overhead on production gear is about 40%. More if you work with morons. Much more…

Here comes the fun part.

Take COST OF EQUIPMENT x  (RENTAL RATE / DAYS OF RENTAL PERIOD) and divide that by (365 / DAYS OF RENTAL PERIOD) to get your rental fee per day.

As an alternative, you can take COST OF EQUIPMENT x  (RENTAL RATE / DAYS OF RENTAL PERIOD) and multiply it by (TIME UTILIZATION PERCENT x PERCENT OF RENTAL FEE THAT IS NOT OVERHEAD) to calculate your YEARLY PROFIT on the rental gear. Once you figure out who is going to rent that Strand M Series you have in the garage 80% of the time.

Cake! Stagehands can do math, right? Lampys can get at least to 512 before they have to “power cycle” something. Audio engineers make have the first two down anyway. They always seem allergic saying three for some reason… Okay, I’m getting that look again, The “isn’t there an app for that” look.

Of course, there’s an app for that. I was able to get the formula figured out once. It’s waaaaaay too much work for me to do for each piece of gear I own. I run sound. I wrote an easy online calculator so I wouldn’t have to pick up a pen every time I wanted to use it. 

My mommy told me I should share. You can use my calculator for free here.

Production Rental Price and Profit Calculator

If you like this article, go ahead and listen to mom. Share!

Interested in developing an app based on the calculator? API access is available for developers. Email:  [email protected]


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