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Rate Guide: Tape Syncs

This guide is part of a larger research project on radio and podcasting rates. See all of AIR's work on rates for a complete guide.

COVID-19 Note: This guide has not been updated to reflect additional costs, in both time and equipment, associated with ensuring that both the recordist and interview subject are protected from transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Please refer to our COVID-19 resource page for guidance on recording safely.  (June 2020)

The minimum base rate for a tape sync is typically $150 plus mileage for the first hour, and $50 for each additional hour. Expectations about how additional hours will be billed should be agreed on in advance.

This is a base rate—it is very unusual to offer less. In many cases, higher rates are appropriate. Experienced tape syncers often charge higher rates and independent contractors are always free to set their own rates.

Producers should expect to pay more for situations that require multiple mics or exceptional expertise.

Where a mileage policy differs from the IRS standard rates that should be clearly communicated in advance. Some networks update their standard mileage reimbursement with the new fiscal year, rather than the calendar year, but mileage reimbursement within the US should never be less than the prior year's standard IRS rate.

What's a tape sync?

When a host or producer can't be in the same room as the subject of an interview, they commonly hire a second producer who can be in the room with the subject to record the subject's side of the interview.

Katie Mingle's 2014 guide to Getting Good Tape (Sync) is a solid introduction to tape syncs.

AIR's work on rates

AIR is actively developing a series of guides designed to help independent producers set fair and reasonable rates, and to help everyone create accurate and realistic budgets. We want to hear from you.

This guide was posted in September 2019 and has not been updated since it was posted. Our hope as an organization is that AIR can keep these rate guides up to date but if you're reading this and it is more than a year old, you should adjust the recommended rate to reflect changes in the cost of work and living.