It’s every freelance, self-employed and business owners’ nightmare – you do the work, pump your blood, sweat and tears into a job, invoice the client and wait for payment. And keep waiting. And wait some more. Finally, you’ve realised that the jerk isn’t going to cough up, despite your hard work. Unfortunately, the music scene is not an industry that is exempt from this occurrence.
There are dodgy promoters around. These fly-by-nighters look to make a quick buck at the performers’, décor artists, stage crew and rigging professionals’ expense. Let’s check out what you can do when a client doesn’t pay.
First up – Prevention is the Best Medicine
When working with a new promoter, do some research before committing to appear and play your set. First, check out their internet presence. Is there a website, social media accounts and the like? Are their reviews or comments by anyone? Positive reviews and feedback and testimonials are a good sign, disgruntled punters and performers are a red flag.
Also, rely on word-of-mouth. Especially if you play in a niche genre like breakcore, psytrance or dub techno. Chances are the scene is smaller than more popular genres and bad eggs get a rep quite quickly. Make some subtle enquiries with your contacts and avoid anyone who has outstanding bills.
If you’ve invoiced and they have missed the due date, it’s time to start writing. Politely email or text them saying you haven’t received the payment yet, the due date is passed and ask when you can expect the money. If they don’t reply, it’s time to up the ante. You have a few options. One that has worked well for me in the past is sending the invoice again, with compound interest added for every week or fortnight that the invoice is late. That can get people to pay up quickly. If that doesn’t work you can follow with a letter of demand with a threat that you will take legal action. The threat of getting the bloodhounds into action can get a flaky client to pay up promptly.
As a Last Resort
If you’ve tried all the options listed above and you’re still seeing a static bank account, it could be time to take it to social media. Naming and shaming is never enjoyable, but it may shock them into action, if only to save their reputation. At worst, you may still not receive your money but you’ve alerted other DJs and performers about a dodgy promoter, and others may not have to experience the same stress that you have!