Song translating - How much to charge?
Thread poster: Creative K

Creative K
Local time: 12:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 1, 2011

Hello: I translated a song that has been recorded and will be included in a CD for worldwide distribution. I have no clue how much to charge for this. It is a difficult song to translate and I will be paid a flat rate (which I need to determine), rather than royalties. Any ideas?

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Cart before the horse? Aug 1, 2011

To those unfamiliar with the expression, it refers to things done in reverse order, such as implementing a computer system before the nsystem requirements have been properly assessed.

Creative K wrote:

I translated a song


Forgive me, but isn't it a little late to be thinking of how much to charge? Did you not agree on terms before you started translating?

How on earth can you negotiate a rate now, when you have absolutely no bargaining power at all? They've got their song, but you don't even know how much money you need / want / are likely to get.

I don't know that there's anything you can do but ask them nicely what they would like to offer you.


 

Creative K
Local time: 12:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reason for the song issue Aug 1, 2011

Hi Sheila:

You are right, that's the way things typically work... However, this was one of those things were friendship stood in between. I told someone I had translated that song, for my own amusement, and then they told me, as a matter-of-fact, that they would use it for their recording... I then asked them about compensating me for it, and they in turn asked me how much I would charge. It's weird, I know, but sometimes things just happen in a way and then you have to try to deal as best as you can. I don't want to go wrong on my price, so that's why I'm throwing the question out there. If you have any idea or experience in this area, I would greatly appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!


 
Good Point Aug 1, 2011

I have to agree with Sheila, that you really missed out on the opportunity to get properly paid for your work.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Well ... Aug 2, 2011

In the circumstances, I can only suggest you think back to how long you spent doing the translation and apply your hourly rate. Then you'll probably want to reduce this figure by a factor to account for the fact that you did it anyway, that it wasn't a professional act at first, they're friends, etc.

I've never translated a song but my husband is a semi-pro songwriter, and has written in both English and French, so I know a little about the complexities involved in writing/translating a song. I imagine that if it's suitable to be sung, as opposed to a simple translation of the lyrics into another language (forgetting scanning, rhyming, the "singability factor" etc) then I imagine it must be VERY time consuming.

It's a shame royalties are not being considered. Logically, they most certainly should be.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:59
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
It IS very time-consuming Aug 2, 2011

... and most professionals ask for higher rates than usual. I found that out from a friend specialising in church hymns, of all things. But then, versioning authors (of musicals, for example) can fall under the tax category of people who collect royalties. So what would apply to this case?

 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:59
English to Polish
+ ...
any idea Aug 2, 2011

How and how much the author of the original song will be reimbursed?

This is clearly not a translation job. It's creative work.

By the way - congratulations. If your text will be sung and distributed worldwide on CDs, it's huge success in and of itself.

[Edited at 2011-08-02 12:54 GMT]


 

Creative K
Local time: 12:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Aug 2, 2011

Thank you all for your feedback. I've been giving this a lot of thought and making calls to people I know in the music world. Soon I'll make up my mind and get this over with. I will also consult with an entertainment lawyer, just to make sure I make the right decision. Thanks for all your help!

 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
translating lyrics Nov 29, 2011

Hi Creative K,

I'm very interested in the outcome, as I've just been asked for a quote per word for translating some song lyrics. I've translated poetry on several occasions, when I charged by the line, but even then, I know that this wasn't nearly enough to cover the amount of time and effort spent on this, given that I had to take rhyme and metre into account.

Anyway, I was wondering how you got on with your entertainment lawyer, and in particular, whether you receive royalties...

Best regards,

Carol


 

Creative K
Local time: 12:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Outcome still pending Dec 6, 2011

Hi Carol. I'm not sure I'll be of much help. I decided to just charge a lump sum for this song, and they agreed. However, I am still waiting to hear back from them in terms of the contract I prepared. I found a generic form online that I adapted to my circumstances. The problem is they want to have this song as a "work for hire" type, and I want to retain certain rights. We are either going to find a "win-win" scenario, or if I decide to do the WFH deal, then I'll charge them more. I did not consult an attorney, because they are being friendly and cooperative now that they know what is going on. We'll see how it all ends.

 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:59
English to German
+ ...
Forget about the flat rate. Dec 6, 2011

As long as you have not been paid a single cent, you have the full ownership of this version. It is your property. Nobody can record or publish it without your permission.

 

George Hopkins
Local time: 18:59
Swedish to English
For a song Dec 6, 2011

Nicole's message is clear. Press on.

 

dreamerdan
United States
Derivative Work Apr 26, 2015

Hi Creative K. I was also concerned about this since I enjoy translating what I think are usable songs into a couple of different languages. This seems to fall under the category of "derivative work". Here is a link that might be useful.

https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-are-derivative-works-under-copyright-law


 


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Song translating - How much to charge?

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