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     In a number of places in this website it is mentioned that you might consider hiring out some or all of the various tasks associated with your oral history project — the recording, interviewing, editing, mastering and archiving processes — in order to minimize your own equipment acquisition expenses. This is the page where I show you what it will cost to engage our services (myself & a reporter friend who has conducted thousands of interviews for clients).

     There are five categories of expenses that must be taken into account when engaging our services --- some of the charges are variable, depending upon the nature of the project, while others are fixed, irrespective of the scope or duration of your project. The expense categories are:

  • Equipment Charges - a charge of $150 per interview trip for one-on-one or one-on-two fixed-site interviews. Interviews involving four to eight primary (non-tourist) individuals will incur a $500 equipment charge for a fixed-site interview. Interviews involving nine or more individuals will incur our maximum equipment charge — $750 per trip (we really don't like doing these; they are exceedingly difficult to record well in the typical home environment, requiring substantially more equipment to conduct). And, depending upon our interviewer's pre-interview discussions with family members it may be determined that it would make no sense to attempt to interview that many people at once, anyway.

    For mobile interviews, one-on-one interviews will incur an equipment charge of $300 per interview trip; for one-on-two or two-on-one interviews the trip equipment charge will be $500; and, for two-on-two interviews the trip equipment charge will be $750. (wireless radio microphone equipment + portable mixers and recorders don't come cheap)

    Other expenses arising from a mobile interview (bicycle rental, state park permits, sunblock, insect repellant, calamine lotion, etc.) will be billed at cost (our interviewer and audio engineer really don't want to ride a bicycle 20 miles to sit on a blazing hot sand dune next to a swamp and feed the mosquitos for six or eight hours ... your interview subject will probably be of a similar mind, and if you are just the "producer" you too would need to ride along with the rest of the unhappy crew --- none of this "I'll wait in the car, sleeping" nonsense).

    You will also be required to engage the services of our own recording engineer who will perform all equipment set up, conduct the recording process, and perform the equipment teardown. Our equipment is not available for separate rental.

  • Recording Engineer - $50 per hour (or fraction thereof), from the time of arrival until the time of completion of equipment teardown. There is a minimum charge of 4 hours. Meal breaks & other off-site times are excluded.

    If it is necessary for the recording engineer to come to the proposed site for the recordings in order to scout it (locate power plugs, determine seating types, availability and layout , listen for distracting sounds, etc.) the standard travel charges will apply plus an hourly charge of $25 once on-site, 3 hour minimum, until site suitability is confirmed or rejected (it is a good idea for the project's producer to have at least one alternate site selected if the preferred site is deemed unsuitable for use).

  • Interviewer - $75 per hour (or fraction thereof), from the time of arrival until the time of completion of the interview process. It carries a minimum charge of 4 hours, meal breaks excluded. The time includes the (non-recorded) on-site pre-interview questioning of family members to ascertain desired topics of coverage, the interview itself, and the post-interview followup (unrecorded) questioning of family members as to the desireablity of additional questioning and on what topics. You may choose to conduct the interview yourself and avoid these expenses.

    If it is necessary for the interviewer to engage in one or more pre-trip discussions with family members by phone you will also be charged $40 per hour for that service, plus any long distance telephone charges. The time required for those additional discussions will not count towards the 4 hour minimum required on the day of the interview.

  • Mastering - a $75 equipment/software fee per project plus $25 per hour for transferral & editing + production of one "master" set of audio CDs or flash memory cards. This is also considered an optional expense; if you choose not to use our services we will provide you with the original "raw" recorded media so that you may perform these tasks for yourself or have someone else do the work on their own equipment and on their own time.

  • Miscellaneous Expenses - These charges will vary based upon the circumstances of the recording duration, environment and consumed media. Included are:
    • Recording & Mastering Media - at cost (no markup).
    • Transport & Mileage - We charge 53¢ per mile, round trip, measured from East Lansing, Michigan to the location of the recording. We also bill $15.00 per person per hour of driving time, to and from the recording site.
    • Vehicle Parking & Road Tolls - as charged to us (no markup), if necessary
    • Lodging - varies, based upon day of week and number of individuals making the trip (each housed in a separate room).
    • Per Diem - $30 per person, per full or partial day, for trips outside of the immediate Lansing area
    • Archiving - just the cost of the storage media for the first five years; after that, $2 per year per project, up to an additional five years. Since the solid state media & disc-based media have a finite "reliable" shelf life of approximately 10 years we strongly urge individuals to have existing archival materials migrated to newer media every ten years ( preferably every seven or eight years).

     All recording project trip durations must be determined in advance --- due to other work & family commitments we will be unable to extend an engagement beyond the originally agreed duration.

     Since this is a third job for us our availablility to conduct interviews will only be for weekends. Our strong preference is to limit the radius of travel to 100 miles from Lansing. The time that we spend conducting these interviews comes out of the time that we have for other personal activities; we'd like to help you out, BUT ... the hourly rates that we charge for our services on your behalf are already significantly discounted from the hourly rates that we earn at our regular places of employment — asking for a (further) discount would dis-incline us from participation in your project. We do not conduct freebies — no "I want to write a review of your services ... could you please provide a sample of your work by interviewing my mom for me" kinds of requests.

     For two day recording sessions outside of the immediate Lansing area (25 mile driving radius) we would leave Lansing Friday evening, driving to the recording site & check into a motel. Saturday morning would involve equipment setup starting by 8:00 am. If the recording session ends by 5:00 pm on Saturday evening we will return to Lansing that day; otherwise, a second evening at the motel will be billed. Staying on-site Saturday night will mean that there would be no necessity to tear down the recording equipment setup and then re-build it the next morning. We need to be finished with teardown and be on the road back to Lansing no later than 7:00 pm on Sunday evening.

     For the mastering process we will also work primarily on weekends. Depending upon the original "raw" recording medium it may be necessary to perform the transferral in real-time (such as with an analog tape recording). You may wish to limit the amount of time we expend editing the recordings --- snipping out every little "dead" spot, hem, haw, & cough may take many hours of dedicated work. Production of the final "master" product from the edited source materials is usually the easiest (and shortest) block of time for which you would need to pay.

NOTE: We anticipate that our earliest one-day availability will occur in December of 2014, with our earliest two-day block of available dates occurring in mid-February of 2015 (yep, our schedule really is that overloaded).

We can handle only one interview project per month right now — a week to do pre-interview work, the interview weekend, the editing/mastering, etc. + a weekend off will burn an entire month of our "free" time". If you are planning to do your own interviews you may well find that our limited schedule mirrors your own.

     For a simple 4-hour one-on-one project in the Lansing area you should expect to spend in the $400 to $750 range for the most basic charges (equipment & engineer only). For an all-day session with equipment, engineer and interviewer the cost would more likely be in the $1,000 to $1,250 range. Add in the editing & mastering charges and you are looking at around $1,500 from start to finish (but does not include production of additional distribution copies of the interview). Need for us to travel to the Detroit, Muskegon, South Bend, Mackinac City or Benton Harbor areas? Expect to spend upwards of $2,500 to $3,500 for a weekend's work, travel, meals & lodging. We would require a deposit of 50% of the anticipated expenses (travel, lodging, per diem, etc.) before the start of the first interview session; the remaining expenses, hardware fees & the personnel time fees would be due at the time of delivery of the "master" recording.

     In addition to everything else that is mentioned above, we would really like someplace indoors to place our equipment containers; someplace that is in close proximity to the room in which the interview will take place (but not the room in which it will take place unless it is a really large room). We will need to unpack the equipment containers to remove the items that we will be using to do the recording and then repack them at the end of the interview session. Walking back and forth from the equipment tub locations to the interview room burns time; getting our equiment tubs close to the interview site will save you money & will leave more time available for the actual interview process.

     We created this website as a way to explain what we are doing and to provide a how-to guide for the individual that wishes to do everything for themself. Simplifying and minimizing equipment acquisition/rental, travel and project complexity should save you a bundle of cash if you are prepared to go it (nearly) alone with the most bare-bones setup and a severly limited number of people being simultaneously recorded (we reiterate: one-on-one interviews are the best, from a planning, cost, conducting and listenability perspective). Yes, we are trying to talk you out of hiring us, but if you insist upon doing so, plan to fortify your checkbook's working balance!

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