Betta Have My Money! Don’t Make Performers Chase You for a Paycheck

Posted by: on April 18, 2017

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve been there: the work is done, but that paycheck is gone with the wind. When you get radio silence or the runaround from the person who hired you, it can be a whirlwind of stress, anxiety and anger. As a performer, you have a number of options to pursue, but that’s next week’s post. This week? I want to talk to the folks who hire the performers, because if people are consistently waiting on you for a paycheck, that’s a problem.

You Have a Responsibility

I’ve only not been paid for my work one time – New Years Eve 2009 when I worked for Cirque USA (if you’re reading this, it’s never too late to do the right thing…). After chasing the paycheck for a long while, I eventually chalked it up to a lesson learned. But ugh – what a lesson.

When we hire artists, we feel the responsibility of the commitment that’s made – you perform at our event, we pay you for that performance. It’s not your problem whether or not WE get paid by the client, that’s on us. It’s not your problem if the house doesn’t sell enough seats. It’s not your problem if the company went nuts on hookers and blow and spent your paycheck. You worked? You should get that money. Period. Can’t take that on? You’re not ready to hire anyone.

Disposable Artist Syndrome

We see this ALL the time – venues who regularly hire talent, then make them chase that check. They often suffer from what I like to call Disposable Artist Syndrome – they’re banking on the fact that there are so many artists eager to perform, what does it matter if they piss some off? There’s always another one to take their place. Ew.

Artists are people, not tissues. That’s really all I have to say about that. Don’t be surprised if you start to find it tough to get (and keep) good talent.

Just to Be Clear

It’s so important to be clear about pay – how much you will pay, how it will be paid, and the time frame. If you know it’s going to be 90 days before you can pay, say so at the time of booking. Did you agree to pay sooner? You betta do it. If something insane happens and you cannot pay on time, transparency is key. Be honest about what happened, and how you will make it right.

Not in the habit of giving a timeline for payment? Enjoy the drama. Performers start getting really antsy when they start having to ask about their check, and thus begins the downward spiral. A lot of potentially great producer/performer relationships get needlessly ruined that way – sad.

 

Over 70% of freelancers will report not being paid at some point for work they’ve done. This is not OK. If you are an artist hiring artists, your responsibility is even greater – these are your people, for heavens sake! Money is already a subject fraught with feeeeeeeelings and tension and baggage – don’t be shady. Don’t pull a Donald. Be excellent to each other. Dare to imagine, Laura

 

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