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Translation Pricing in Pro Audio and Music: Do You Want it Great, Cheap, Fast or Free?

“I understand that the level of service you provide is superior, including the QA process and multiple translators to meet tight deadlines, and going with the cheaper quote there will mean more work for me, but the business has decided to proceed with another freelance translator for this job as the quote came back almost a third of the price” – rings a bell? Well, if you do come back with this kind of reply to the quote sent in response to your RFQ, and what’s worse, you do it time and time again, sooner or later, you’re going to be in big trouble. How come? Let me explain…

This is the reply I got from a Product Manager of one of the leading pro-audio companies last week. It wasn’t the first quote turned down by them, so I started to ask myself: “Does this industry need professional translation at all or they are simply not ready for it?”. The previous time our quote was 2 times higher. This time, when we had reduced the base rate by 26% plus thanks to the CAT technology and tools we use (well, it’s actually a standard in professional translation and localization nowadays), we were able to deduct another €5,000 from the total as well as we included all the value-added services like DTP in the price, we were 3 times more expensive. I know that no one likes to pay more for the same service level. The point is… it’s not the same service level. Of course, we always try to find the best solution to meet the client’s needs, we are able negotiate the terms of collaboration and even if we hear “Your rate sounds a bit speculative to me”, there’s one essential condition: the service must meet certain quality requirements, with no exceptions. So, there’s no way to bridge the translation pricing gap between the work of a freelancer who does not specialize in pro audio (perhaps in consumer audio, but we all know it’s not the same), who does not have their work checked (they would only send you an unrevised translation, without using the 2- or 3-pairs of eyes principle, let alone quality checking or quality assurance) and is simply not able to provide the final target language file properly prepared for traditional and electronic publication. There’s no way it’s possible at all.

The main question you need to ask yourself regarding translation pricing is this: “Do I want it Great, Cheap, Fast or Free?” People are built the way that they love to cheat themselves, although some voice in the back of their heads says something entirely the opposite. They love to convince themselves that they can get a valuable service for peanuts. I know that it’s a decision-makers work to keep all the bars and budget in order, but perhaps it’s time to include translation and localization in the yearly budget? This would make it possible to spend money on value, not price alone. This would enable you to get value for a reasonable and fair price. Translation pricing is not a rocket science: you get what you pay for, as elsewhere. But you need to remember one thing: poor translation ruins your great brand and comes back to you one day. Is it worth going for the cheapest competitor? What are the benefits of this policy? Do you get more from this approach than from going for the value? Is your brand prepared to revise your translation pricing practices that work against you and make you lose your share in the market? These are the questions you will need to ask yourself one day. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.

2 thoughts on “Translation Pricing in Pro Audio and Music: Do You Want it Great, Cheap, Fast or Free?”

  1. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing. fefedgaekebf

    1. Thank you, John, we will try our best to provide all pro audio and music industry with the valuable information regarding professional translation and localization so that your business can grow faster.

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